I don’t know if Ted Bundy’s ’68 Bug really qualifies as a “celebrity car,” because it’s kind of hard to envision a serial killer driving one of those. I would probably place most psychopathic killers in old police auction Caprices or Crown Vics, if I had to profile. Maybe today I would say a normal car like a Camry or an Accord, so as not to attract the undue attention of law enforcement. Then again, in the ’70’s VW Bugs were “normal cars.” I am (to my Dad’s and my son’s chagrin) not terribly enamored of air-cooled VWs for a few reasons. Air cooling means no hot water heat, which most of us take for granted when it’s 20° below. The old Bugs had a charming trait when it was that cold. One would have to scrape the frost off the inside of the windshield. The one winter- I think it was ’87 or ’88- I was unfortunate enough to have to drive the ’72 every day I got frostbite in my feet and ankles. When I finally got another (water cooled thank God) Rabbit I was overjoyed.
I love the old Bugs as a curiosity, but as daily drivers they are a pain in the rear unless you live somewhere that’s it’s 70° and sunny with low humidity every day. Ohio is NOT 70° and sunny every day, and the humidity is only low in the dead of winter when it’s too frozen to have humidity. Old cars in general don’t like temperature extremes, but the Bugs are particularly temperamental. If it’s too hot they can overheat easily, as well as it’s hotter than the stygian depths of hell in the car if it’s not moving. I probably still have burn scar imprints of the vinyl nubbins from the ’72’s seat emblazoned in the skin of my thighs. If it’s too cold they are difficult to start- though they generally will run OK in the cold- but driving one in the extreme cold gives the word frigid a whole new meaning.
I freely admit I have more than a passing interest in the macabre. One of the reasons I took it upon myself to learn about criminal profiling and how to avoid being a victim is that I grew up witnessing a lot of bizarre shit. Yes, I grew up in a small town, but in small towns much of the crime happens under the radar. Unless it’s something most dramatic or egregious, it gets swept under the rug. You got to make it worth Channel 10’s while to send the Eyewitness Mobile Spy Cam 45 miles out in the middle of nowhere when there are shootings and stabbings and flaming car wrecks just up the road.
Sometimes people think that because one lives in a small town that there’s no violence or crime and everyone’s like Ozzie and Harriet or the Brady Bunch, but the reality is that small towns have never been nearly as pristine as the people who live in small towns want you to think. There’s every bit as much scandal and probably then some- because those who live in the city just don’t have the time and energy to get so obsessed with other people’s lives.
When I was growing up what would now be called domestic violence was just stuff that happened. Men beat their wives and kids and it was (not right, mind you, but it was) considered normal. One lady who lived directly behind us (and was part of the reason why Dad insisted on moving out of that house) had enough of her old man coming home drunk and beating her. He worked at one of the local factories. For about two weeks he didn’t show up at work. She kept calling him in sick, so some of his co-workers took it upon themselves to go check up on him. When she could not explain why he wasn’t there at home in bed, the guys got suspicious. Then as they were leaving, the door to the utility room was open. One of the guys peeked in the door and noticed shelves and shelves of large canning jars with strange looking meaty stuff in them. She had killed him, chopped him into Mason-jar size pieces and canned his happy ass- most literally. He was sort of a big dude, so I wonder to this day if she had a chain saw or a saws-all or did she just do it the (quieter) old fashioned way with a hacksaw? I also wonder if she planned to eat him. Why keep the evidence unless you’re planning to do something with it? She probably would have gotten away with it if she’d just loaded him up in his truck and dumped him out in Killdeer Bog where the copperheads, coyotes, raccoons, possums, and other assorted swamp critters would have done away with him.
Yummy. But they do pick the bones pretty clean.
I was about 5 years old when the Dismemberment and Canning Incident happened, because I remember asking Dad why the yellow tape said, “POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS.” I bet that was one time he didn’t appreciate my early reading ability- or hyperlexia- one bit. It was bad enough I read the newspaper, road signs, billboards and any other printed word I could view- whether I should have been viewing it or not. I found out the full story many years later, because the local paper had a big write up on her when she was paroled. I think she only escaped the death penalty because there was a brief window in which the death penalty was suspended in Ohio- personally I think we should take a cue from Texas and ramp it up a bit- but she was partially exonerated (I think) because her old man beat her and she was technically a battered woman. In 1974 no one had heard of a battered woman defense, but by the late ’80’s I think that sort of thing was starting to come to light.
In this poor woman’s case (I can also remember hearing this couple’s rather heated fights in the middle of the night) I think paroling her was the right thing to do. I know how difficult it is for a woman to leave an abusive relationship, and I also know that there’s the predatory killer who kills for the thrill of it, and the desperation killer that kills out of self-defense or even out of the reservoir of pent-up rage.
My best friend in high school had a rather nasty boyfriend who liked drugs and who got most violent when he was high. I didn’t care much for the dude even when he wasn’t stoned, but I was completely pissed off when I’d gone to her house only to find him chasing her around with a knife. This was back in the day before cell phones, and the nearest pay phone was about a quarter mile down the road at the Dairy Mart. For whatever reason I hit the chronometer on my watch and ran like hell to the Dairy Mart to call 911. It took the cops almost 20 minutes to get there, and the only reason she wasn’t dead was that he had cornered her in the bathroom and she had grabbed a behemoth can of hair spray (this was the late ’80’s after all) and bashed him in the head, putting him through the shower door and knocking him unconscious. He was out cold when the cops got there. Bastard deserved it- but back then a woman had to press charges to get the cops to do anything, which of course she didn’t do because she was afraid of him.
Today the cops have to take someone in if they are called out and they so much as suspect domestic violence, which sort of makes sense, and then sort of doesn’t. A poke or a shove or a little mark could all be it takes to send someone to jail for the evening and perhaps longer. I have to wonder how many people get carted off for simply defending themselves or their kids?