Special Edition

Wednesday, April 14th, 2004

Coven Massacre!
The History of the Whispering Pines Commune 

The Whispering Pines commune was established 20 years ago by Elspeth Stewart. Born in Devon, England, Stewart traveled to the United States with several close friends in 1982, visiting several places in the U.S. before settling down in Whispering Pines. 

Ms. Stewart bought the old Jarvis farm and the surrounding area, intending to create what she called "a haven of simplicity." Even with its small numbers, the commune was completely self-reliant from the very beginning. The members could be seen working day and night, farming the land and repairing the buildings that could be rehabbed. Eventually, they created the warm and welcoming environment that Whispering Pines knows so well.

Shortly after establishing itself, the small community began to attract people from all across the United States. When asked what drew them there, Ms. Stewart laughed and claimed it was "a kind of magic."

It didn't take long for Ms. Stewart's gardens to produce some of the finest fruits and vegetables in the area. Such was the popularity of their jams and jellies sold at the Berry Days and Slug Fest celebrations, that the commune opened The Other World to sell them year 'round. The store has since branched out and sells other herbal products and holistic remedies. 

Because it's called a New Age store, the opening of The Other World led to rumors of the commune actually being a coven, with its members rumored to be witches. 

Brutal Attack Leaves 3 Dead

by Claire Olney

Tragedy struck Whispering Pines early yesterday afternoon at The Other World New Age store, when three of its employees were killed during what police describe as a failed robber attempt. A lone assailant, armed with a gun, reportedly entered the store and forced manager Joanna Christianson to the main living quarters of the commune. 

According to authorities on the scene, the alleged invader held the hostages at gunpoint for several hours, demanding money in exchange for their release. When the hostages were unable to meet his demands, the man was purported to have killed Lessa Nightsong, whose legal name is Jane Plunkett. Sarah Caulfield and Katrina Brendan were also killed. Police have not yet released details on the manner of death, though one source believed that all three women had been shot.

The robbery was aborted by Buffy Summers and Rupert Giles. Alarmed by the fact that the store was closed in the middle of the day, the two went up to the community's main living quarters. Newcomers to Whispering Pines, Ms. Summers and Mr. Giles stayed with the commune, long reputed to be a coven in some circles, when they first arrived in town.

The intruder was taken by surprise by their arrival and apparently tried to shoot the remaining hostages before making his escape. Ms. Christianson was shot as she attempted to protect the others, and the intruder was able to make his escape in the confusion that followed.

At press time, the only description of the suspect was that of an older white male, tall and heavyset. The suspect is armed and considered dangerous. Citizens are urged to contact Whispering Pines Police with any information they may have which could lead to his apprehension. 

Most of the women at the commune find the idea of being a coven amusing and have even taken to using the word "coven" in their product names, including the local bestseller, Coven Cookbook.

Management of the community was turned over to Deborah Coleman two years ago, with Ms. Stewart's age cited as the reason. 

Commune Resident Will Be Sorely Missed

Lessa Nightsong was murdered yesterday afternoon at the commune just south of Whispering Pines. Nightsong was an active member of the Whispering Pines community. 

Originally named Jane Plunkett, Nightsong was born and raised outside of Hutchinson, Kansas. At the age of 21, she decided that life on a farm in the Midwest was not for her and struck out on her own. She traveled the country for several months, working odd jobs to pay her way as she went. When asked once by this reporter about the types of jobs she held, Ms. Nightsong said that she could operate farm equipment "like nobody's business" and wasn't above what she termed "grunt work."

Generally found in the community's gardens, there was no denying that Nightsong had a magic touch when it came to plants. She was rumored to be the person to beat in several gardening categories at next year's Berry Days celebration. 

A bright, shining face around town, Lessa Nightsong will be sorely missed. Senselessly murdered along with two of her coworkers by an unknown assailant, she leaves behind what she once called, "my truest family," the surviving members of the commune. It is unknown if she has any surviving family in Kansas.  

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