Authors: Ann Rule
Copyright © 2014, 1983, by Ann Rule
All rights reserved.
This edition published in 2014 by:
Planet Ann Rule, LLC
MOBI Edition ISBN
Cover Art by Leslie Rule
This book is dedicated to the late Albert Govoni, editor of
, with gratitude for fourteen years of friendship and superior editing in crime writing.
I wish to thank a number of people and organizations who have helped with the research on this book, and who have shared their memories, reliving the emotions they felt. Although the subject matter is horrific, the book is presented in the hope that it may add to the psychiatric research that may one day find a way to treat aberrant minds before they explode into violence. Barring that,
is written in the belief that the more we learn about the serial killers who rove America, the more quickly we will stop them from ever killing again.
My gratitude goes to: Lieutenant James Stovall, Salem, Oregon Police Department; Detective Jerry Frazier, Salem Police Department; Lieutenant Gene Daugherty, Oregon State Police Criminal Investigation Unit; Sergeant Rod Englert, Multnomah County, Oregon Department of Public Safety; Detectives B.J. Miller and "Frenchie" De Lamere, Corvallis, Oregon Police Department; Archives Department of the Oregon State Supreme Court; Special Agents John Henry Campbell, R. Roy Hazelwood, John Douglas, and Robert Ressler, of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Behavioral Science Unit, Quantico, Virginia.
Special thanks to Sharon Wood, who survived to relate a terrifying encounter. Most of all, it is my profound hope that some intelligence gained herein will mean that Linda Slawson, Jan Whitney, Karen Sprinker, and Linda Salee —did not die in vain, and that understanding their tragedies may save young women old enough to be the daughters they never had.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
She bent her head against the blast of rain-drenched wind and shifted the heavy case she carried to her other hand. It was January 26, 1968. She was nineteen years old, pretty, slender, and … discouraged. Selling encyclopedias door-to-door was not the glorious career her area instructor had promised. It was difficult and scarcely rewarding. Every morning she left her home in Aloha, Oregon—a suburb of Portland—full of enthusiasm, and every evening she returned with her sales book empty. She knew that if she could sell just one set with the yearbooks and the atlas and all the frills that went with it, she would be able to pay rent for a month, buy groceries, and maybe even a few new clothes. That was what kept her going—thinking that each day would be the day. She had listened to the enthusiastic teachers who gave the indoctrination, and she'd memorized all their suggested spiels. She'd even practiced in front of her bedroom mirror, but her prospective customers hadn't reacted the way the roleplaying "customers" had in class.
When she knocked on doors, people listened impatiently and then shook their heads and shut the door in her face. When she was given a lead, she usually found that the customer wasn't nearly as interested as she'd been led to believe. Most of them didn't have one book of any kind displayed in their homes, and she couldn't believe they were going to shell out several hundred dollars for a whole set of genuine leather bound encyclopedias. The best pitch was supposed to be that encyclopedias would make their children succeed in school and grow up to be doctors and lawyers and professors, but it always bothered her to stress the "guilt" approach. "Don't you want your children to have all the advantages you never had? Concerned parents
buy encyclopedias for their families, you know."
It bothered her to sit on couches so worn that their bare spots were covered with quilts or towels and suggest that the answer to being poor was to buy her product. She could see the people felt bad enough as it was. She knew if they signed up, they'd be stuck with payments for her fancy books for years. Well, nobody bought anyway, but she always left thinking she'd made them feel worse about being low on money.
The well-to-do homes she approached already had encyclopedias. And those people made
Linda Slawson had come from Rochester, Minnesota, to live in Aloha. She had somehow expected warm, balmy weather in Aloha. She had thought of Hawaii and California when she pictured the West Coast and Oregon. Boy, had she been wrong. It rained so much in Portland that it seemed like she never got dry. Sometimes it just drizzled and sometimes it poured and sometimes it blew in soppy gusts—but it always rained. Locals said it got better in the summer, and she should really go into Portland for the Rose Festival in June, but …
Her feet hurt. She never should have worn high heels, but she had figured she wouldn't have far to walk from the bus to the address the company had given her near Forty-seventh and Hawthorne. She liked to dress nicely; it made a better impression on customers. But high heels on a darkening rainy night had been a really dumb choice.
Her hands felt numb from carrying the satchel full of heavy books, and she thought the weight of it was what was bothering her neck. When she finally got back to her apartment in Aloha, she was going to have a good hot bath and just forget all about encyclopedias. She paused under the streetlight, set her gear down, and reached into her purse for the slip of paper with the address on it. The ink smeared instantly in the rain and she couldn't tell if she was supposed to go to 1541 or 1551—or maybe it was 1451. She was tempted to just pack it in, wait for the next bus, and go home.
Indecisive, she-started walking again. And then she saw a man in the yard of a house a little way up the block. Maybe she was in luck. He was looking at her, and he waved as if he was expecting someone.
She smiled at him. "I had an appointment to show some encyclopedias to someone. Could this be the house?"
He smiled back and beckoned her in. He was a big man, pudgy but not fat, and he had a moon face. "Come on in."
"Oh, that's good. I thought I was really lost." She moved toward the front steps, but the man took her elbow and pulled her with him, heading to the back.
"There's some company upstairs. We can talk without being interrupted downstairs. My workshop is down there. I'm really interested in buying encyclopedias. You don't mind?"
She looked at him and debated. He was big, but he looked harmless. Kind of dumb, almost—but he seemed serious about buying, and that hadn't happened in a long time. "Well … "
"My mother and my little girl are upstairs, and they have visitors. It would be so noisy. And I want to hear what you have to say."
She followed him into the basement through a rear door and sat on the stool he pulled up for her. She could hear footsteps overhead, the floor above her creaking.
"So," he said. "Tell me about your encyclopedias. Could I buy them tonight?"
"You could order them. I could get the whole set out to you in … say, a week. If you have a little girl, I think you'll be interested in our children's books, too. How old is she?"
He seemed distracted, impatient now. "Oh … she's only six—but she's very smart. She's starting to read."
"Good. Here, let me show you … " She bent to open the case with her brochures and the sample books.
"Let me turn that light on." He moved behind her. She heard him fumbling with something, and half-turned.
The last thing Linda Slawson felt was a crash against her head. She fell heavily from the stool, brilliant lights exploding behind her eyes, her ears ringing, and then black velvet covered everything.
He was breathing heavily, although it had taken so little effort to swing the length of two-by-four against her head and feel the satisfying "thunk" when it hit. She had dropped like a stone.
He knelt beside her and checked to see if she was still breathing. He thought he detected a slight movement in her ribs. And then he placed both his hands around her neck and squeezed for a long time. Her neck was so frail; he could feel little bones inside crushing under his hands. When he was sure she was really dead, he let go and stared down at her.
He felt such exhilaration. He had planned and fantasized about doing this for so long. He had come close so many times. Now he had done it, and she belonged to him to do with what he wanted.
He didn't like her hair. It was short—so short that she almost looked like a little boy. He would have preferred a woman with long, flowing hair. Someone who looked like the pictures he'd collected. No matter, really, though, because she had a nice body and she was wearing high heels—the kind he liked.
Footsteps sounded overhead, and he jumped, startled. He wouldn't be able to do all the things he wanted to do if his stupid mother decided to come down and interrupt him.
. He'd always hated his mother, and now she had to be here when everything else was going so well.
He worked at quieting his breathing, pulled himself together, and walked upstairs. His mother was there, playing with his daughter. She'd never taken very good care of him, but now she was sure happy to come over and baby-sit. And his wife was always wanting to get away from him, so she just welcomed the old bat every time she showed up.
"I'm starved," he said. "Don't bother with dinner, though. Why don't you take the kid and go get some hamburgers?"
"It's raining. It's nasty out there. Why don't I just fix some—"
He peeled a five-dollar bill out of his wallet, ignoring her dithering. "I want a double-cheeseburger. You get what you want for you two. Stay there and eat yours, and then order mine when you're ready to come home. No hurry. Knock on the floor when you get back."
When they were finally gone, he hurried back to the basement. The girl was still there, still lying just as he had left her. He was so excited; he hardly knew where to start.
But just as he bent over her, he heard someone upstairs again.
The steps were heavy male footsteps, and he heard someone shouting his name. Hurriedly he grabbed the body under the arms and dragged it to the shadowy place under the steps. He kicked the satchel full of books into a corner. Then he went out the back door and around the house to the front door. His friend Ned Rawls was there. All happy and glad to see him and walking in like he owned the place. He never should have let Rawls have a key to the place.
He had to make small talk with Ned, and be careful not to show impatience. There was so little time before his mother came home with the kid, or his wife and the new baby came back. He laughed at some joke Ned told him. He explained he had a project in his workshop he had to finish, and promised to call Ned later. It took ten minutes to ease the guy off the porch and back into his car.
When he got back downstairs, he was trembling with anticipation. He pulled the girl out from under the steps. She looked so pale. Normal, as if she was still alive—and that was good—but so pale. Like a big doll. His to play with.
Her skirt and blouse weren't very interesting. He liked pretty clothes, and hers didn't do anything at all for him.
But he had a pleasant surprise when he undressed her. Despite her boy's haircut and plain clothing, she was wearing wonderful underwear. A blue bra and slip and girdle, and beneath the girdle, bright red panties. They were perfect; he couldn't have picked better himself.
He looked at the underclothing and touched it, and removed the garments one by one, especially pleased with the red panties. He redressed her in her fancy bra and slip and girdle, carefully hooking all the hooks. He was good at that. He'd practiced so many times.
He had a long time to play with her before his mother came home with the hamburger for him—but he was frustrated when she rapped on the floor. He had to go up and get the damned thing, thank her, and sit there and eat it as if he was hungry. And all the time,
was waiting patiently for him in the basement. He smiled to himself. At least
wouldn't go away and leave him, not until he chose to let her go.