Jonau and Fournier headed to Pirate’s Alley, an appropriate area in which to find their subject. Legend says that the one-block-long alley, which runs from Chartres Street to Royal Street, was once a safe haven for pirates, although its very location, with the historic St. Louis Cathedral to the right and the Cabildo, the site of the Louisiana Purchase transfer, in 1803, to the left, contradicted the tale. The Faulkner House, where William Faulkner wrote his first novel, is located near Royal Street in Pirate’s Alley and attracts thousands of tourists each year. During the day, the alley is welcoming, filled with artists and street performers, but in the wee hours of the morning, when sin runs rampant in the Quarter, Pirate’s Alley takes on an eerie cast. Its salvation, perhaps, is the huge cathedral that overlooks the alley, reminding the sinful below that God is in this place.
Van might have been looking for a safe haven when he chose to visit the cathedral, some absolution for his sins before he was forced to pay his penance. Or perhaps he wanted to view the cathedral’s organ and the artwork of Italian painter Francisco Zapari, who mimicked Michelangelo by painting the arched ceilings of the church in the bright colors of the Renaissance before adding his own Baroque signature.
Van walked to the front of the church and exited through a side door into an alley. The rectory was directly in front of him, and he went inside.
When Fournier and Jonau arrived at the rectory, they learned from the receptionist that Van was still there. He did not resist when they took him into custody.
Van admitted to being cruel to me, locking me in his footlocker, and abandoning me because he and Judy had decided they didn’t want me. “We didn’t have the money to feed it,” he told the officers, who noted that this father had referred to his son as “it.” They took him to the First District station and booked him as a fugitive.
The next day, April 20, the headline in the San Francisco Chronicle read, “Love on the Run: Ice Cream Romance’s Bitter End,” and Paul Avery detailed the capture of the runaway couple. Another headline announced, “Ice Cream Romance Ends on Bourbon St.” All across the country, newspapers repeated the tale of the lovebirds who had become fugitives to be together, only to be torn apart by the product of their love.