1. A Cry In The Night
I’m 20, I get home from my job at the local hotel just as my girlfriend is heading off to her restaurant job. I have a few PBRs in the backyard while the dog pretends he can’t hear me telling him not to dig holes, the sun sets, I feel good. I go inside, feed him and myself, and then go to take the trash out.
Immediately, the dog starts freaking out and barking at the garage of the property next door. It’s being gutted and renovated and no one lives there, the only people that ever are around are the work crew doing the renovations and they were never there that late in the day. I assume that a possum or something has taken up residence in there and ignore him. As I’m dumping the garbage in the dumpster next to the garage, I hear the unmistakable sound of a child crying inside. The sliding door is not completely down, but it’s still not my house and it’s dark so I don’t want to just barge in. “Hello?” I shouted into it. There was a pause and then louder crying. I called the cops.
Within ten minutes they are on the scene, asking me if I’m sure it’s not a cat inside. “I’m pretty sure officer, listen for yourself”. We wait, the crying starts again. “Does anyone live here?” they ask. “No, it’s being renovated”. That’s enough for the cops and they throw the door open. Inside is a parked sedan with the driver’s side window open, and reaching out the window is a terrified girl who couldn’t have been older than two. The cops get her out of the car and call for back-up. Soon an ambulance and a social worker arrive for the girl and several more police show up to secure the area and prevent any cars from leaving. Then detectives show up. Then more detectives.
Fast-forward a few weeks: turns out one of the guys on the work crew murdered his girlfriend, who was the foster mom of the little girl. Not knowing what to do with the girl, he drove to the work site, left her in the car, and bolted, leaving the garage door halfway open presumably so someone would hear her and find her. He was apprehended and went to court, I never found out what the verdict was ( I presume guilty).
2. One Turn From Dying
I was waiting for my mom to pick me up from school when I was in Grade 7 (so about 5 years ago to the day). It’s about 4 PM, and I hear 2 or 3 loud bangs. I don’t think much of them because Victoria Day was a few days before (it was yesterday this year).
Turns out they were gunshots around the corner of the block. It was a random shooting, and he decided to take a right instead of going straight. Had he kept walking about half a block, I would’ve been the victim.
3. The Cave
Back when I was in college, a couple of buddies and I went to this other guy’s house to do some 4 wheeling on his property. At one point he showed us this cave that was on an adjacent property that wasn’t too commonly known about, and asked if we wanted to check out the inside. We were cool with it and went in. In the mouth of the cave was some stuff gathered together like someone was camping there, but whoever it was wasn’t around, so we went the rest of the way in the cave and saw the sights for an hour or so and left. That weekend I went home and saw a blurb on the news about 2 guys that were shot to death by an escaped con. The news revealed that the man was hiding out in that cave when the 2 guys went to hang out there. Fearing discovery he shot them and tried to keep running but was caught soon afterward. Me and my buddies apparently had a near miss with fate.
4. The Airconditioner Repairman
In the summer of 1999, my family and I took a trip to Yosemite National Park. While at the park, we stayed at a motel named Cedar Lodge. It was a very nice place in a remote part of the park (the outer edge if I remember correctly.) Anyway, my tubby 15-year-old self came down with a huge fever and instead of infecting everyone else, my mother decided to get a separate room for me. Soooooo I’m laying around in bed, sick as a dog, when my AC stops working. Well, great– I called up the front desk and asked them to come fix the stupid thing. A short while later, the door just magically opens and in comes this gruff looking man with a very distinct handle-bar mustache.
After entering, he proceeds to just stare at me. I remember being pretty scared, but I noticed he was in the Motel uniform with a tool bag, so he must be there to fix the AC. He didn’t say a single word. He swiftly moved over to the AC unit, knelt down, and began fixing my AC. Every few minutes he’d look back at me like I was a piece of meat or something. The entire time, he never said one word. After he was finished, he walked to the door and stopped as if he WAS going to say something, but didn’t. He just closed the door and that was that.
Flash forward a few days later. We arrive back in Florida after a great trip (besides getting sick) and my grandparents and I were watching World New Tonight with Peter Jennings. The main story for the evening was a serial killer that was caught in Yosemite National Park. I immediately start getting a strange sensation in my spine. They said his name was Cary Stayner. Then a picture of CEDAR LODGE appeared on the television. At this point, I’m about to wet myself because I just KNOW I’m going to see that mustache on the screen next.
Evidently, he murdered 4 women right before we traveled to the National Park. To this day I still get shivers when I think about it. I was all alone with that man. He could have EASILY killed me, no problem. It’s strange when I think about those gazes he gave me… probably contemplating where he’d bury my body.
5. Beers With A Child Molesting Priest
When I was 13 I was invited by a couple of friends of mine to go to a movie night at their church. As I wasn’t raised with religion it wasn’t something I’d normally be interested in doing but my friends insisted that it’d be fun and that the reverend was a nice guy.
Turns out it was just the three of us and the reverend who lived in an apartment that was attached to the church. Well the Reverend wound up being a guy who seemed at the time to be very cool- we watched The Shining and he even offered us beer. He spent a while chatting with me and gave me his phone number in case I wanted to get together again to watch more movies.
A year or so later he skipped town after it came to light that he had molested (at least) two boys.
So that’s the story of how I was hit on by a child-molesting priest.
6. Nearly Killed While Walking To McDonald’s
My high school was kinda in the ghetto. There were drug dealers in the neighborhood. It was at this high school that I learned a tire in a yard meant there was a drug dealer and that a man approaching you on a bike wants to sell you drugs.
Anyway, there was a McDonald’s nearby, and I would walk there (past the strip club), get some food, then walk back to school for play practice and such. On this particular day, I was walking back when a car rolls up to the stop sign I was crossing by. A guy leaned out of the passenger window and pointed what looked like a submachine gun at me. I just froze, not sure what to do. He then gets back into his car, and they drove off. Scariest moment of my life.
7. An Older Friend Turns Out Not-so-Friendly
Back in the 80s, this guy would come over my house sometimes. I knew him from ddial (a kind of dial-up precursor to IRC in the 8 bit days). Back then, because you were dialing up on phone lines, things tended to be a lot more local and you tended to meet a lot of the people you chatted with online (through ddial, anyway. Not as much with BBSes).
My mother never trusted him – she never had much of an issue with my friends, and she tolerated him but she always told me she didn’t trust him for some kind of instinctual reason. He was several years older than me at the time, but she’d tolerate full grown adults (I think he was about 21 or 22 at the time – I was 15 or so) coming over with disk cases and all sorts of computer equipment. She only got a weird feeling from him.
“A kindergarten teacher from Monmouth County who thought he had used the Internet to arrange a sexual tryst with an 11-year-old boy was arrested in a motel room by police who set up the “cybersting,” authorities said yesterday.
Lawrence Cohen, 31, who teaches at P.S. 307 in Brooklyn, was seized at a Wall Township motel Friday morning as he waited with a stuffed dog, a dog’s collar and leather restraints for a rendezvous set up by the State Police.
“He came there with a trunk full of apparatus to use on this child,” Monmouth County Prosecutor John Kaye said in a news conference in Newark. “He planned to be there the whole weekend. He even brought a change of clothes.”
The guy was literally “run out of town.” I’ve heard that phrase before, but never actually met anyone who was “run out of town.”
8. Nearly Stabbed In The Eye With A Pencil
So it was my Freshmen year in high school and I was quite a little shit back then. My Algebra class was run by a first-year teacher fresh out of college making it a free-for-all for all the bad freshman.
One day in Algebra class this kid calls me a spic (I am half-Hispanic) and we naturally get in each other’s faces and almost fight.
Turns out later that night the same kid I almost got into a fight with ended up stabbing some kid in the eye with a pencil and went to jail for a long time.
9. The nicest killer
I had an apartment on this mountain with your very stereotypical Hill Billies. They were all really good to me, and we use to and still do drink together a lot. There was this one guy that lived on top of the mountain that lived in a shack with no electricity or plumbing. He looked a lot like Charles Manson. Turns out when he was 14, he stabbed his Grandmother, Mother, and sister to death on a bad acid trip. He was in a youth prison until he was 18 and released. It scared the shit out of me when I first heard about it. He was the nicest guy though. He never once showed a sign of anger and would give you the shirt off his back. He died this past winter when he got trashed and passed out on the floor of his shack without starting a fire in his wood stove and froze to death. I even went to his funeral.
10. A Killer’s Only Friend
My sister’s story.
She is a very compassionate person and was always trying to be a friend to the social outcasts at school. She just hated that some kids were picked on and bullied. One of the kids to whom she was pretty much his only friend was Gavin Mandin.
I still remember how crushed she was when we heard the news. Gavin had been with his family at their cabin and killed his step-father and mother first while his 2 sisters were out walking. Gavin actually went outside and hid while waiting for his younger sisters to come back. The evidence showed that he actually killed them from his hiding place in the bushes as they were arriving back at their cabin. All this because he thought his mother was too strict with him (it came up specifically in the trial that he killed them all specifically because she forced him to wash dishes).
11. The IT Director who was a rapist
I’m a registrar at a regional career college. Our IT director was a very friendly, amiable guy who did some work under the table for Apple. They used to pay him in merchandise for tax evasion purposes. He’d then sell the merchandise on eBay or something. When the iPhone first came out, he got a stockpile of them. He would use them as incentives in his classes (perfect attendance, stuff like that). He seemed to have an endless supply of them. Every time he came into my office, I would make him give me his iPhone and I would marvel at the amazing things it could do. One day he got tired of giving me his phone all the time, and said, “I’ll bring you one tomorrow.” I thought he was just kidding, but he actually did bring me a brand new iPhone.
The term went on and final exams came. He didn’t show up for his final. We (the admin) were at a loss as to where this guy could be until one of our students said something to the effect of “didn’t you see the news last night?” Turns out that Mr. iPhone was picked up the night before for abduction of a minor, rape, forcible sodomy, and two or three minor charges. He was luring girls to the area with promises of a free phone. The one that finally got him busted came all the way from Connecticut.
Upon re-looking into this, turns out there was lots of child porn too!
12. Traveling Asia With A Fugitive
I traveled for ten days overland in Asia with a guy, who I later found out was wanted by Interpol. He had decapitated his wife and thrown her body in the Ohio River. I was 26 at the time. The thing of it was this fella was extremely testy and his eyes were lifeless, blank looking. I sensed something was up with him but had no idea what the real scoop was. He was not your usual chill fellow backpacker, that much was clear.
We parted ways after crossing the India/Pakistan border in Punjab. He went to see the Golden Temple and I went to Bombay. Four days later Interpol came to my hotel in Juhu flashing a pic of the character and asking if anyone had seen him.
That’s when I found out he was fleeing the law, and why. Gave me chills. He was a Vietnam vet and said to have all sorts of PTSD issues. A couple of times we argued and he threatened to knock my block off! Unfortunately, I knew nothing of his plans after visiting the Golden Temple. So that’s all I could tell Interpol.
When traveling it’s easy to hookup with travel buddies, and with this one exception all other times friends I made on the road were pretty damn cool. Still, this was a scary experience and I began listening to my gut more as a result.
13. The Cook Needed Money
My first “real job” when I was 16 was as a Steak n’ Shake waiter. I worked a later shift and at night the only people that came in were large groups of cheap high school students who wanted 9 waters, a small shake and a small order of cheese fries. One night one of the cooks who I didn’t really know asked me for five dollars. I had been working a few hours and had likely barely made that much yet (I don’t remember exactly). I asked him what it was for and he said he needed a haircut. I pointed out to him that he was bald and said no. He asked me once or twice more and then left me alone.
I found out on the news the next day that there had been a shooting at the Steak n’ Shake that I worked at. The cook that asked me for the money had been shot and died about thirty minutes after I got off work by a couple guys he owed money to. Oops.
They caught the killers, who had apparently driven down to St. Louis from Chicago to kill him. I figure they didn’t make the trip for $5 so I don’t hold myself responsible, but still…
14. Giving Manson A Place To Sleep
Back in the 60s, my Mom was out with a friend. Her friend needed to stop by another friend’s apartment. My mom didn’t know her friend’s friend that well. Her friend’s friend occasionally took in drifters. There she met this creepy guy who was staying on the couch for a few days. Apparently, her friend’s friend was afraid of this guy and wanted him to move on. So my mom, her friend, and her friend’s friend convinced this creepy guy to leave. This was in Ohio, the drifter was trying to get to California. Sometime later, he made to California, where he became famous.
My mom never caught his full name. It was either Charlie or Chuck or something like that. Then she saw him on the news. It was Charles Manson.
15. The Toeclipper Robber ;)
I worked at an IHOP restaurant when I was in high school. One night, I was working the 10pm-6am shift, it was about 4:30 in the morning and the place was completely empty, besides me and the line cook. When an average looking man came in, he ordered a cheeseburger for carryout. He waited patiently in a booth, and when I came to ring him up for his order, he proceeded to pull out a nail clipper and a pencil and tried to rob me and the cash register. I told him I wouldn’t give him the money, and he had to pay for the cheeseburger. He apologized about 5 times, paid for the food, left me a 10 dollar tip. To this day, I am still not sure whether he was serious or not about trying to rob the restaurant.
16. A Killer Tries To Apply For College
Back in College, I worked as a student officer for the campus police station. We handled lockup, escorts, patrol, and bank drops. One day, returning from a bank drop, I ran into a very startled looking man just outside of our new offices… offices we had just finished moving into that weekend.
Previously, they had held the registrar’s office.
This gentleman was the prime suspect in a murder of a graduate that summer. He had followed her from Colorado, and he “loved her.” When she graduated and he didn’t, he went nuts, checked out books on poisons, and poisoned her.
She died, not of poison, but because he disposed of her in a drainage tunnel, and she got stuck on the ladder and choked to death on her own shoulder.
The reason he looked so panicked is because he, at this time, was still a student and wanted to know if he was able to register, despite being a suspect. When walking into what he thought was the registrar’s office, he ended up seeing a Sheriff’s deputy, a state cop, a local cop, and the campus chief. I can only imagine he thought, “YOINKS! The jig is up!” when he stammered his intentions.
Since they didn’t have all the evidence yet but were well aware who he was, he was able to walk away. That was when I ran into him, pale, sweaty, and scared for his life.
Oh, the reason why all those guys were there? The chief was the head of a local police training association and they were ending a meeting about it.
He was later arrested, and charged in WV, instead of OH, which would have given him the death penalty.
Dennis Rydbom was his name.
17. Sitting Next To A Killer
Thanks to alphabetical seating, I sat in in the desk immediately in front of Sean Sellers in my high school science class right up until the day he killed his parents (so he’d already killed the Circle K clerk months ago). Talked to him a few times, but he was really pretty much weird enough that you just kind of ignored him. I do remember him having a book of runes as he was trying to learn to write using them, and I had a conversation or two with him about that.
18. An Escaped Con Comes Knocking
A friend of mine in Tulsa was woken up in the middle of the night to the sound of her dogs barking. Her boyfriend got up to see what was bothering them and realized there was someone trying to get in the back door. The boyfriend grabbed the shotgun and sat tight, wondering if he was going to have to use it. I’m not sure if he tried to talk to the guy or not (you know, to let him know he had a shotgun and he should just move right along). After a few minutes, the guy ran off and was tackled across the street by the cops who were following him.
They found out the next day, on the news, that an escaped convict had been on the run through their neighborhood overnight. Which explains the helicopter and all the cop cars.
That story still gives me chills to think about. It could have turned out much differently if the guy had gotten in, or if her boyfriend hadn’t been home, or if they hadn’t had the shotgun on hand.
19. Assassin Comes By The House Campaigning For The Mayor
In the late 90s, doorbell rings, two cops in long trenchcoats are at the door. They are campaigning for the Mayor, who is corrupt and notoriously insecure; this is the first opposition he’s had in a decade and its just token opposition, some guy running against him with no real backing. The Mayor has a small team of ‘enforcers’, a few cops he’s chummy with, whose purpose is to intimidate or harass people who “interfere” in local politics. While the existence and activities of the ‘enforcers’ was more word-of-mouth and rumor than evidence-based, it was immediately clear at the time that these two were not normal cops doing normal business.
One guy, an unusually cold character with tired dead-looking eyes, went thru a short monologue about the mayor being up for election and how good he is for the town. While the other was just watching me, either sizing me up or reading my expression. The second guy was more of a goofball but who something wasn’t right about. The whole thing had only the thinnest veneer of politeness, with a predatory feel just beneath the surface. After the cold dead eyes guy did the campaign monologue, then the goofball asked a few questions very informally, asking what I thought of the mayor and how he was doing. I didn’t really care about local politics at the time and relayed that, and they were on their way.
The goofball? Drew Peterson.