Remington Beagle here. Everyone knows the power of a beagle’s nose, but not many people are aware of our incredible ability to reason and reach phenomenal conclusions. I am a graduate of dog training classes and consider myself an intellectual and raconteur. The story I am sharing with you is a true one told from my perspective as I traveled in time back to solve the mystery of what happened to a little Polish nun whose story and bones were hidden from view for many years.
Time travel is an exciting and invigorating experience. It’s something I just sort of fell into, but as I have investigative talents and a scientific mind, it has come in very handy. For example, one day, I was riding in the backseat of Sue’s car on a beautiful summer day, August 23, to be exact. We stopped at a crossroads, and I could see a church, some additional buildings, and then a cemetery. We stopped and took a stroll through the cemetery. In the middle of the graveyard was a large cross; when I got close to it, I started to feel strange. I began to tingle all over, and then suddenly, I was in the same place but different. Some of the nearby buildings were completely different. I didn’t know what to do, so I just started sniffing around.
All of a sudden, I noticed two women arguing. One was a nun, and the other woman was older and not a nun. The older woman had a shovel in her hand and hit the nun in the head. The nun fell to the ground, and the older lady dragged her into the church building. This was not the red brick church I had first seen, but a white-painted wood building. I could hear the sound of a shovel striking the dirt from the basement. Beagles have exceptional hearing, and our olfactory benefits are awesome as well. I knew what was going on in that basement was not good. I wandered around the church, the convent building, and the school the rest of that day and night. Eventually, I saw some people at the farmhouse across the street and went for a handout. Those friendly people fed me some table scraps and then I curled up in their barn, exhausted, and slept soundly.
The next day there was a ruckus all around the convent and rectory. People gathered from all over, searching for Sister Mary Janina. I knew where Sister Mary Janina was and could have led them there, but they were not interested in me or in what I could tell them. I followed the searchers around all that day. The people from this little farm community loved Sister Mary Janina and were anxious to find her or discover what had happened to her. The corner of East Gatzke and South Schomberg Roads became a hive of activity in the search for the nun. That’s where I met Bruce the Bloodhound. I tried to get him somewhere near the church basement so he would pick up the scent of what had happened there, but his handlers headed him out into the field and then into a swampy area where they found some footprints. Bruce got confused and thought the scent from the footprints was the one to follow, and it all went downhill from there. I was kicked away when I tried to get near Bruce to lead him in the right direction. People can be so hard-headed.
Futile searching went on for days. Some local people began to think that maybe she had left on her own for a different life. Some thought she might have been murdered, but where was she? The priest, Father Bill, kept looking and spent a lot of his money looking for her. The housekeeper at the rectory was called Stella, and I knew she was the one who killed Sister Mary Janina and did something with her in the basement of the church.
The community gradually returned to normal, and it seemed they would never learn the truth. Then one day, when I was sniffing around the church, trying to find a way in, I got that tingly feeling again. I knew there had been some advancement in time, but the church and the buildings looked the same. However, the priest was different. Enter Father Ed into the scene. Luckily for me, he was a dog lover and adopted me immediately, and then I learned more about the story.
Stella was gone, and a pretty, sweet, young girl was in her place. Her family lived on a farm nearby, and she came daily to clean and cook for Father Ed, who liked her very much. Father Ed and his congregation were intent on building a new church. They had plans drawn up and were raising money to complete the project. But then Father Ed got a call from a Wisconsin priest telling him there was likely a body buried in the basement of his current church. He cautioned him to be careful because if a body was discovered in the old church building, it could cause a scandal that would not be good for the church. Father Ed was shaken by this news and decided to see if what the priest said could be true.
I followed him over to the church from the rectory and went with him down to the basement. The basement was not used much and had a dirt floor. Father Ed was looking around in the dim light of the basement. My nose enticed me over to a pile of lumber in the corner. I knew I had found Sister Mary Janina and made a little yelp, bringing Father Ed right over to me. The sexton joined us, and together we moved the lumber and started moving dirt. I did a lot of the digging; I carefully flung the soil in a pile behind me, and as soon as my paws felt something harder than dirt, I stopped and let the guys take over. They brushed the dirt away carefully with their fingers, and it didn’t take long to locate human bones and pieces of cloth from a nun’s habit that had not completely disintegrated. Sister Mary Janina disappeared on August 23, 1907, and it was now 1918 — eleven years had gone by, but what should we do?
There was nothing we could do to bring Sister Mary Janina back, but we could avoid a scandal that would be detrimental to the church. That’s what we did. Father Ed, the sexton, and a beagle were the only ones who knew where Sister Mary Janina was. The gardener built a beautiful wooden box, and we placed the sister’s bones in the box, and in the dark of night, we buried the bones under the big cross in the cemetery. But taking care of the sister’s bones was only one scandal avoided.
Father Ed was very busy trying to build a new church while dealing with his personal problems. He had just learned that his housekeeper was going to have his baby. They decided she would have the baby and give it up for adoption to an agency downstate. Once again, they were more focused on avoiding scandal than anything else. Returning from a trip to the adoption agency, Father Ed told the young housekeeper the story of finding the body in the church’s basement. He swore her to secrecy, but she told her parents as soon as she returned home. They did not keep it a secret, contacted the police, and soon everyone knew.
The rectory was a sad place for all concerned when the truth was finally publicly known. Father Ed moped around, guilty and humbled for his part in the deception. He had initially learned the story of the body in the basement because the murderer confessed to killing Sister Mary Janina and burying her alive in the church’s basement to a priest in Wisconsin. The priest was unsure what he should do about a confessed murder and looked for advice, so some in the church knew that Stella had killed Sister Mary Janina and kept it secret to avoid scandal. Stella Lipczynska was soon arrested but pleaded not guilty to the charge.
I was there when the authorities dug up the box at the foot of the cross holding the remains of Sister Mary Janina. I thought it was a shame that the poor sister’s remains couldn’t be left with some respect at the foot of the cross, but the prosecution needed evidence for their trial. Her skeleton was on display at the trial for all to see.
I heard the story of the trial from others because beagles were not allowed in the courthouse. The nuns from the convent all attended, and each day would hug me and relate the events. While in jail, Stella talked to an undercover agent, who she thought was an inmate, and described how the murder occurred. She was devoted to Father Bill, and disliked Sister Mary Janina. She began to notice that they had developed a relationship that was more than professional — they were having an affair. When she found out the nun was pregnant, she killed her in a rage.
Stella said, “First, I stunned her, and then I dug a hole under the church, dragged the body to the hole, and put her in it. As I was trying to cover the head, it would rise up. I threw two or three shovels of dirt on the head, but each time it rose up. Then I took the backside of the shovel and knocked her on the head three times with all my might.” Stella later claimed not to have said this. The jury did not believe her, and she was convicted of first-degree murder. She was given a life sentence but was released after seven years. Stella spent the rest of her life as a housekeeper and cook in a convent in Wisconsin.
We know where Stella went, but where did Sister Mary Janina go? That is the mystery that remains. There is no gravesite or memorial. Her order of nuns, the Felician Sisters, record only that she is missing. If you ask any official, they beat around the bush, finally shrug their shoulders, and walk away. Sister Mary Janina is missing for the second time. Or that’s what they say, but I know the real story. I witnessed both the second and third burials of the sister. She’s under the cross again and bless her soul. She is finally at rest.