You meet a man at bar. He smiles and shakes your hand. He buys you a drink, shows you pictures of his kids, laughs at your jokes. But who is he, really? Sometimes we don’t know until it’s too late.
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1. Yes. It was scary as hell. I was 16, Id just started dating a girl who lived a good few miles away from me. One night, I was at her place and I missed the last bus home. So I had to walk (her family were dead against me spending the night.)
It was around 11pm and I lived about 7 miles away so I had at least an hours walk home.
I’d been walking for about 20 mins when I heard a car in the distance behind me, I stuck out my thumb and prayed. The car stopped the front passenger door popped open.
His first sentence was, “I thought you were a girl!” Which wasn’t quite as weird as it sounds (I had long hair back then) but he did seem to be a bit peeved a spotty teenage boy got in his car instead of a girl.
He asked where I was off to, so I told him it was the next village, it was on his way and wasn’t a problem. Quick 10 minute car ride.
He started chatting about mundane stuff, football mainly. Then he asked if I had a girlfriend and had I had sex with her tonight. With that he tried to grab my hand, laughing and asking to sniff my fingers. I was getting really freaked out at this.
All I wanted was to get the hell out of that car.
My village was fast approaching and at the end of my road, I asked him to stop and drop me off. Which, thankfully, is what he did. As I got out he said, Youre a lucky boy. There’s a lot of nasty people out there who’d have robbed you and took you for a ride.
i mumbled my thanks and legged it home like the devil was chasing me. I was so bloody scared.
Three weeks later on the national news, I saw the guy who had given me that lift. He was charged with the murder of 13 young women around my area.
His name was Peter Sutcliffe. He’s still in prison and he was the reason I stopped hitchhiking.
2. I actually knew the worst serial killer of all time – a man who killed perhaps 500 people. (continued…)
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His name was Harold Shipman. He was a doctor in Greater Manchester (UK) who killed hundreds of his patients over 20 years.
He was the chair of the Parent-Teacher Association at the school where I worked.
A friend of my wifes was a doctor at a nearby office and often signed the death certificates he falsified.
He was unremarkable. A little rude and abrupt but remarkable in his ordinariness. You wouldn’t have given him a second look.
He was a sad man. He mainly killed elderly patients who trusted him and were defenceless. One of the victims was my sons close friends grandmother. Still creepy to think about.
3. I worked for my dad one summer around 1982, at age 15. One of my co workers was named Brandon Tholmer. He was very nice, outgoing and talkative. Everyone was shocked when he was convicted. No one at the company found anything odd or suspicious about him. He was well-liked. Four life terms for murders of elderly women. It reminds you that you never really know people.
4. I grew up on a small farm in Michigan. Little brother and I were quite blond, and we often played in the front yard, which was next to a busy road. One day, a man in a van stopped and offered us candy. For some reason (thankfully) we went to the house to ask Mom if that was okay.
She got to the front of the house to see the mans van squealing out of the driveway. Much later, a small girls body was found and the murderer was, you guessed it the man in the van.
I have a vague memory of this happening (back in the 60s in the Grand Rapids area), but had forgotten all about it until my Mom mentioned it recently.
5. I used to work for the City of Pensacola, Florida as a computer operator. They had two mainframes, one in city hall and the other in the city hall annex across the parking lot, and I had to run backups on both machines. I should mention that Im female and at the time I had long dark hair.
So one night I was walking across the parking lot (I worked at night) and spotted a Volkswagen bug sitting in the parking lot with a funny-looking man in it. (continued…)
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He got out of the bug, and I could see he had his arm in a cast with a sling. He looked raggedy and tired.
Miss, could you come here for a moment? I need some help, he said. I got the creeps from him, and told him Id call 911 (US emergency line) from city hall for him. He said, no, he didnt need the cops, it was just a simple thing he needed help with because his arm was in a sling.
I felt even creepier so I walked really fast (almost running, really) up to city hall and went in the back door. I turned to lock the door and was shocked to see this man LEAP up the stairs and try to push his way into the door, but I got it locked in time.
I immediately called 911 and got an officer to check out the parking lot, but the car and the driver were long gone. I asked the officer if they would mind staying around the parking lot for the rest of the night, and they got that set up.
The rest of the night was uneventful, and I went home in the morning.
About three days later, serial killer Ted Bundy was arrested 2 miles from city hall. In a stolen VW bug, which matched my description.
I dodged Ted Bundy.
6. I met Steven Pennell, the Route 40 Killer in Delaware. He was working as a contractor at a large company in shortly before he was arrested. I would walk a wooded path during my breaks and lunch period.
As I was walking, he started slowly following me in his work van, and tried to engage me in conversation. I immediately felt a “something is not right–this person is dangerous,” slipped off my shoes in case I needed to run, and quickly walked in the middle of a large open expanse of lawn where I knew there was video camera surveillance.
About 6 weeks later he was arrested.
7. Yes, I have. I had just moved back home from Kansas City, MO to South Seattle. I needed to find a job quickly. I wasn’t looking for a job in a tavern, but that was what I got. I was twenty one at the time.
Soon after starting I met a man named Gary, who seemed pretty nice. After work we would talk and have a beer or two. Eventually, he invited me to nearby cocktail lounge for a Mai Tai, insisting that I had to have one.
So, we talked and drank our Mai Tais. He showed me pictures of his then infant son and talked a lot about himself. He was boring, but nice. However, I began to have this growing feeling of repulsion growing in me. (continued…)
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This feeling became so strong that all I could think about was getting away. I told him to just drop me off at the tavern, because I couldn’t stand for him to drive me home. It would have been a long car drive.
The next day he came in the tavern and asked me if I wanted to go out after I got off work. I shook my head and said no. He became angry, slapped the counter and left. I didn’t see him again until many years later.
I was watching breaking news on a local news station. They showed a picture of an older man who I didn’t recognize. Then they showed a much younger photo. It was Gary Ridgway. Also known as the Green River killer. He was convicted of murdering forty-eight women in the Seattle area, but the actual numbers are believed to be closer to 100.
From then on I started paying much more attention to my gut feeling.
8. When I lived in Rochester NY, I walked to work every day (this was back in the 80s). There was always a bread truck outside the door I entered, and the delivery man would be coming out. Older guy. Stocky. I always said good morning and he always ignored me. This went on for I think a year. I always said good morning. He always acted like I wasnt there.
9. Right around that time, there were several murders of prostitutes in the city and there was quite the manhunt going on for the perpetrator. One day we heard that he was caught, so we turned on the news and there, in the courtroom, was the bread delivery guy. His name was Arthur Shawcross.
Debra A. Brown
10. I was in 6th grade (about 12 years old). I was at a water park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I was running on the stairs and sliced open my knee. The cut was about an inch deep. I waited for my sister to pick me up (it took way too long) and she took me to the hospital.
When I got to the hospital a very handsome, charming doctor treated me. I do not remember much, but I remember that he was very nice to me. He was professional and stitched up the inch deep hole in my knee.
A few years later, I saw him on the news. He was a serial killer named Michael Swango, who had killed maybe as many as 60 people.
11. While in college, I worked at the same security guard company as a man who turned out to be a serial killer. His name was Ken Bianchi. (continued)
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At the time, I was assigned to a graveyard shift at Bellingham Harbor and he was a roving supervisor who would stop by once or twice during my shift, make sure I was awake, chat for a minute or two and then head out to the next post.
And nope; there was nothing suspicious about him at all, at least to me. He didnt ring any alarm bells, say anything suspicious or creep me out. He was just another guy with a moustache who happened to work at the same company. All of the fellow employees I spoke with after his arrest were shocked.
In hindsight, the fact that someone so amoral, remorseless and pitiless didnt send up a flare with my instincts did bother me for some time.
12. My mom had some issues with her knees and she was having trouble walking. We consulted one of the best orthopedic doctors in the area and we got the appointment for 2:45 AM in the morning. To our surprise, the waiting hall was jam packed with patients.
At that moment a tall guy with a broken left arm sat beside me. Trying to overcome my sleepiness I started a conversation with that guy. He told me that his arm was broken into pieces by the police and now they are paying for his treatment.
I sympathized and asked him as to why the Police resorted to such a behaviour. He replied that he had killed his wife on discovering her infidelity. He had actually caught the wife and her lover red-handed.
In my sleepy mode I just sympathized with him and then he gave his life advice to NEVER MARRY.
On leaving I saw that his right hand was handcuffed to a cop who looked at me and smiled. So, that is how a met a serial killer.
13. Oh, yes. I have met a serial killer. I just didn’t realize who he was at the time. (continued…)
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He was Gary Ridgway, the infamous Green River Killer. I lived near a big intersection south of Seattle at the Kent-Des Moines Road and Highway 99. And after they caught Ridgway, I recognized him, and then I remembered the police wanted poster on him was pasted right on the door at the place where I saw him.
He was in line in front of me at the local Seven-Eleven. Pretty ordinary guy. And believe it or not…no one ever recognized him from the police sketch and wanted poster. Neither did I.
(He was caught when DNA technology caught up to a swab he had provided years before, and they went to where he worked as a truck painter for Kenmore Trucks and arrested him without incident.)
So…after they catch him, I find out he’s living just up the street from our apartment. It was a dead-end road that ended in a cul-de-sac. He had a house there in the cul-de-sac. I think they caught him about a year after I saw him at the store. But the weirdest thing was finding out he lived two blocks away at the time.
14. When we moved to Milwaukee in the eighties, my dad was in a lather to get us to see as many of the local sights as possible. We went on the brewery tours and drank clear beer (7-up); we watched the bear at Grand Avenue Mall teeter between the balconies on a unicycle; we saw the Olympic ice rink; we fished off the giant boulders at Port Washington. And we went to the Ambrosia Chocolate Factory.
At the time they had a tour, which we took. I watched endless employees shuffle around with trolleys of chocolate and they all looked the same to me, with their blue smocks and their big puffy hairnets. Afterward, we went to the gift shop and got a chocolate pizza, which was basically a big round slab of milk chocolate covered in chopped red and green maraschinos and drizzled with white chocolate.
Later, the world was introduced to Jeffrey Dahmer:
whose tenure at the Ambrosia Chocolate Factory coincided exactly with the time we were there.
I dont know for sure that I ever laid eyes on him during the tour. There were hundreds of employees working and Im sure hundreds more we didnt see.
It was still a bit close for comfort, to me.