In late September of 1978 then 15-year-old Mary Vincent was hitchhiking from Berkeley, California when she was picked up by 50-year-old Lawrence Singleton. Singleton stripped and bound Mary in the back of his van and repeatedly raped her. When she begged him to set her free, he evilly said to her, “You want to be set free, I’ll set you free.”
Singleton pulled out a hatchet and hacked off Mary’s left arm right below the elbow. Mary, who did not go into shock and felt everything, started kicking and screaming as Singleton grabbed her right arm and began chopping. Because she fought back, this mutilation took longer. Mary recounted seeing Singleton flicking his arm afterwards, because her right hand held on even after he cut her arm off. Believing her to be dead Singleton dragged Mary, naked and bleeding profusely, to the edge of a 30 foot cliff and threw her off the side.
Despite wanting to go to sleep, Mary fought the urge because she “couldn’t have him do this to someone else.” Mary packed her bleeding arms with dirt to stop some of the bleeding, and climbed her way back up the ravine. She recalled being able to make out the sounds of a freeway, and began walking that way to find help. The first car, a red convertible with two men, took one look at Mary who was covered from head to toe in blood and had no arms, and sped away. After walking over 3 miles in search of help, a couple on their honeymoon who had gotten lost found Mary. They helped her into their truck, raced their way to a phone to call the paramedics, and a rescue helicopter lifted Mary to the hospital.
10 days later Lawrence Singleton was identified by his neighbor from Mary’s description and police sketch, and he was arrested and charged. The next time Mary saw him was six months later at the trial. He was convicted of rape and attempted murder, and sentenced to 14 years in prison which was the maximum term allowed under California law at the time. When he was done testifying and Mary was leaving the courthouse, Singleton whispered to her, “If it’s the last thing I do I’ll finish the job.”
Singleton was granted parole in 1987, after serving just 8 years. He returned to his native Florida after his release, and was arrested in 1997 for the murder of Roxanne Hayes. He was sentenced to death, but died of cancer in 2001.
Mary Vincent has two sons, a boyfriend, and is an accomplished artist who has frequently spoken out about victim’s rights.