It was just a short 15-minute drive home. I was being responsible after having one too many cocktails on my third date from Tinder. I didn’t quite feel comfortable enough with him driving me home (because you know, you hear all those horror stories.) Everyone uses Uber…it was a safe service. That is what I thought anyway. In fact, this wasn’t my first timing using the app. I have had to snag a ride through the service a few times before. I knew the drill. I wasn’t scared. I just wanted to get home. I’m not trying to scare you by telling you my story…I’m trying to warn you.
My app dinged with the name Joe. I loved that they let you know the name of the person picking you up. It makes you feel like you have a sense of familiarity with the person.
I opened the front door passenger seat to hop in (like I normally do when it’s just me.) The driver, Joe, acted nervous and told me to sit in the back seat, which I thought was strange. I shrugged it off.
I jumped in the back, buckled up, and we set off to my destination. Six water bottles were placed in a cooler pack in the middle seat along with a tray of snacks consisting of granola bars, jolly ranchers, and goldfish. I loved when the drivers did this, I was going to give him 5 stars, especially after a night of drinking. Those water bottles were a godsend.
I dug through the pile of snacks and plopped a blue jolly rancher in my mouth.
“Hey, Joe, do you have any good tunes?”
He didn’t respond. Surely, he heard me, or maybe I was drunk and slurring…I piped up again, this time louder after clearing my throat.
“Joe! Excuse me!”
He looked at me through the rear-view mirror.
“Oh. Yeah, yeah…”
He proceeded to turn on the radio. A country song that’s overplayed squeaked through the speakers, but Joe was acting fidgety, so I figured I’d just ride this out. It wouldn’t be too much longer till I was home.
After a few minutes of awkward silence, Joe finally began to speak up.
“You been drinking tonight?”
I twiddled my thumbs and looked out the side window, I was so tired and just wanted to curl up in my bed. I replied with a solemn, “just a few drinks.”
He shifted in his seat and kept creeping his eyes up to the rearview mirror, one hand was on the steering wheel as he kept us steady on the road. I could tell that he was trying to catch glimpses of me without me noticing.
He spoke up again, this time a grin spread across his face, “What all did you drink tonight?”
Bored with the dragging of the ride, I figured this was innocent small talk. A little different from what other drivers would choose to talk about, yes, but still, innocent. “I had a tequila sunrise, an old-fashioned, and a few glasses of champagne.”
He sat up in his seat, one arm still on the wheel. Those deep brown eyes kept flickering at me in the rearview mirror, almost every couple of seconds.
He started to pry, “You drink tequila often?”
I casually replied while I kept my eyes out the window, “Sometimes. Just depends on my mood.”
He chuckled, “You drunk tonight?”
This is what made me feel uncomfortable. Obviously, I didn’t want to drive home myself so one could assume that I was at best tipsy. Why was he questioning my level of coherence? I kept my eyes focused out the window because I was getting creeped out by the accidental eye contact we were making through the rearview mirror.
“Oh no, just a little buzzed.”
He kept a tight-lipped smile, then spoke.
“You want to be drunk, though? I have a bottle of tequila back there.”
I stared down at my phone, just five more minutes ’till I was home.
“Um, no thanks. I’m actually good.”
He had both hands on the steering wheel now, he was gripping it tightly and rubbing his hands against the leather. This nervous feeling rose in my gut, and I know that they say to never ignore your gut feelings, but I was already in the car with this guy. I was a few minutes from my house. What was I supposed to do? I sat there and kept my eyes glued to the window. Perhaps, if I didn’t show any interest in conversing with him, he would just get me home without suggesting anything inappropriate. Whatever I was doing seemed to be working, because he changed his tune through his next response.
“So, you’re done partying for the night, huh? Responsible.”
I let out a short chuckle and agreed with him. I was being responsible. He piped up again, this time, more friendly than before and less interrogating.
“Well, help yourself to a water. I have plenty.”
My heart started to slow, and I realized that he was just trying to earn that 5-star review by being accommodating. Maybe he is just trying to be nice. He has all these snacks and drinks in his car and free alcohol. Maybe he was trying to get his Uber score up. Maybe he has a family at home who he is trying to provide for. Was I being too judgmental? I silently scolded myself for the intrusive thoughts.
I grabbed the water bottle, twisted the lid off and took a couple gulps.
I saw the turn for my street ahead, and a rush of relief washed over me…that is, until he passed it. That’s right, he completely passed my street.
I sat up in my seat, screwed the lid back on the water bottle and spoke up. “Oh, that was my street you just passed…”
Again, I spoke up, louder this time since my driver seemed to have a hearing problem.
“You passed my street!”
One deadpan answer from him made my heart jump into my throat.
I put my foot down this time.
“I need you to turn around. My house is back…” Before I could finish my sentence, he interrupted me. “Shut the fuck up you little whore.”
I sank back in my seat as panic set in. I still had my phone in hand, I could call for help still. This calmed me down until he slammed the breaks on.
Spit hit the dash as he screamed. “Damn it!”
The good thing is that I had my seatbelt on, or I surely would have slammed into the glass. The sudden break flung my phone from my hands. I could still see the light of it though, it had slid underneath his seat. He did a donut on the street, then started to speed in the opposite direction we were just driving in.
My voice was shaking, and I’ll admit, I was beginning to freak out. “What is going on? What are you doing?”
He didn’t answer. He kept driving faster as sweat broke down the nape of his neck. Again, I tried to muster up the strength to grab my phone from under the seat when a wave of exhaustion hit me. What was going on? Things began to get blurry, and I knew I needed to grab that phone.
I tried to keep my eyes open and my body balanced. Where was he taking me? Why was I feeling so…out of it? I didn’t need to ponder his actions for too long, because I saw what he was speeding from – red and blue flashing lights. It didn’t take long before the car was swerving in all directions off the road, which I later found out was the result of a spike strip strategically placed on the road. All of this was a haze, and I passed out a few seconds after my body started to flail around the back seat.
I, of course, had a dozen questions after the initial shock of everything wore off. I’m still in shock from everything and almost can’t even believe what the authorities have told me.
They told me I dodged a bullet. They told me I must have had a guardian angel looking after me.
The shocking part was that my Uber driver wasn’t actually an Uber drive at all. Joe, poor Uber driver Joe was murdered long before I was picked up. The guy that had been driving me (which I later discovered his actual name was Trevor Krop) had murdered Joe after being picked up. Joe had been dead for 18 hours, leaving Trevor a trail of five different girls to be picked up under the guise of Joe.
All five girls were brutally murdered by the hands of Trevor. By the time he had picked me up, the authorities had caught on. They were able to trace the GPS attached to Joe’s Uber app, which is how they were able to trap Trevor the way they did.
I don’t know what or who tipped the authorities off, but I’m so thankful that the game of cat and mouse ended with me safe and sound. I feel horrible for those girls that didn’t make it, and I can’t even comprehend how scared they must have felt.
The true weight of the situation was revealed when I turned on the news the next morning. The headline story talked about the five girls who were murdered, but the description of how they were found is what made my stomach heave in disgust.
All five girls had Rufilin in their system. They found that there was a high quantity of the drug in a tequila bottle found in the car. Also, six bottles of water found in the back seat each had high levels of the drug. That’s right, the water bottle that I drank from. That explains why I became so out of it. Again, I thought I was being responsible…little did I know.
Each girl had their ears, nose, and lips cut off. Based on blood analysis, the girls were alive during this. They were then brutally raped and left naked in a ditch to bleed out.
It still haunts me to think about what would have become of my situation if the authorities hadn’t found us. I’d be mutilated in a ditch right now. Like they said, I dodged a bullet, all in the name of responsibility.
For now, I am just thanking my lucky stars that there were SEVERAL good people that saved my life from ONE bad person.
As far as Uber goes, I’m not saying they are to blame. They are a great service that you should still use. In fact, you’d probably get in more trouble driving drunk than having something like my story happen to you. Just be careful. “Joe” pulled all the different plays with me. He tried the party girl attempt which didn’t work. He outsmarted me. He took the friendly, nice guy approach. I drank his little concoction thinking it was just plain water.
Like I said before, I’m not trying to scare you…I’m trying to warn you. This is the important takeaway from my story; there are bad and good people everywhere. It is your job to be aware of your surroundings, and if something feels off, believe it. I know I will think twice before trusting a stranger, regardless of the circumstance.