NANOWRIMO DAY 5 – TRUE CRIME

I consume an unhealthy amount of true crime related media. Books, podcasts, videos, movies, you name it. This is normal now. All the cool moms are doing it. But I was doing this in middle school when other girls were thinking about how to wear their hair to hide a hickey. Maybe it’s because of my reading materials I didn’t have to worry about that particular affliction. I’ve never been interested in the crime itself. Rape and murder and such happen far too much for my liking. But I was more interested in why they chose that particular victim. I wanted to know how the killer got to the point of picking up the gun, the knife, the brick. What was the straw that broke the camel’s back? What finally pushed them to take that step?
I was a kid in Philadelphia. Crime was a thing. And I’m a younger Gen X, born in the late seventies. My parents were adults during the time of Ted Bundy, David Berkowitz, The Sunday Morning Slasher, Edmund Kemper, and Rodney Alcala. They knew what could happen to a little girl talking to a stranger. I grew up in the time of the Satanic Panic and razor blades in your Halloween candy. Which that last one is actually based on a true crime event about a father who tried killing both his children with pixie sticks.
I’m part of the generation of girls that was told to dress modestly but even then, if someone tries to grab you, scream fire instead of rape or help. No one will come if you scream for help. And then pee your pants. Puke. Scream. Bite. Claw. Fight. They don’t like a gross girl. They don’t like loud girls. They want helpless little girls.
And the question rolled around in my head, but why though? Why were these people like this?
Once I got older I realized it wasn’t about the girl. It wasn’t even about the adult committing the crime. It was about power. They didn’t have it and they wanted it so they took it. And the media gave it to them in the form of publicity.
Here I am, several years later, still affected by those rules my parents passed down to me. The same rules I’ve taught my daughters. Park close to the store, especially at night. Keep your keys between your fingers. Get in the car and lock the door immediately. Be aware of your situation and the surrounding area. Don’t be like Sean from Sean of the Dead. You know, in the beginning of the movie and the zombie apocalypse when he goes to the store and the neighborhood is wrecked but he’s so hungover he doesn’t see anything. In fact, he’s so in his head he just throws change at the homeless zombie. He slips in a pool of blood after closing the door with a bloody hand print on it. My guy doesn’t see he is in a world of death. He just wants his soda and a Nutty Buddy. Is that a British hangover cure? Does it help? I need to know.
And it’s that need to know that has led me to so many discoveries. Not just about serial killers, but life, the universe, everything. I am so fortunate to live in the time of the Internet and Google. Have a question? Google it. Need a recipe. Google it? Want to cause a fight at Thanksgiving and fact check your obnoxious aunt? Google it.
The only problem is the inevitable rabbit hole. I don’t know about you but when I get hyper fixated on a subject, I must absolutely learn everything I can. Right then. No wait. Do it now. And I do. Notebook in hand, I take notes. I am one of those weird writers that actually uses the notebooks I by for writing. Not the nice ones with pretty covers and paper. God, no. Heathen. I use the ones that are twenty five sense at back to school time. Because that makes sense to me. Given enough time, I can easily fill a notebook with notes on what ever I’m learning about. And it’s not always a linear route. The more details you find the more you want to uncover. The more you uncover, the more it makes all the sense in the world. And no sense because now you found another nugget of facts that you need to delve into.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
I’m sure when I die my kids will find those notebooks and wonder what the hell was wrong with their mother. It’s OK, my children in the future, I wonder what the hell is wrong with me now.
But back to the true crime. As a regular and avid listener of podcasts and a child of the eighties, I have a healthy fear and anxiety of people breaking into my home. Even though we live outside of town and have no sidewalks, I still lock the top lock every time I come in the house. I have locked my own mother in law out of the house because of my obsessive need to have the doors locked.
I also live in south west Missouri. And I’m near a casino. The people driving by my house aren’t always sober. Hence I went through three mailboxes in a year. My husband got tired of people using our drive way as a turn about and our mailbox as target practice. Enter the Ring camera. That’s right, kids. We’re one of those people. We have one by the front door, one by the back door, and one in my kitchen looking over the living room, kitchen, dining room, and my kids’ hallway.
And the damn things are hooked up to my phone. So, I get a cute little wind chime sound when Amazon shows up, my kids wake up and walk into the living room, or the spider on my back porch walks across the camera. So fun.
Don’t get me wrong. This thing has come in handy. Like catching teens sneaking in or out at too late an hour. We caught the person who drove into my driveway and turned around in my yard, leaving tire tracks. That event has my husband looking at how to install an automated gate at the end of the driveway. But recently we have had two events that chilled me.
The first was every mother’s nightmare. I got the alert someone was at my front door. I looked to see if it was a package. Instead of UPS and their brown shirts, there was a man with no shirt. Talking to my nine year old son. That’s right. My dear and loving, super smart kiddo answered the door for a stranger. And proceeded to talk to the guy. He went so far as to tell him mom and dad weren’t home. I didn’t know my husband was watching it live as well. His voice boomed through the speaker telling my son to close and lock the door. He had some choice words for the guy but I’ll leave that to your imagination. My son was not home alone. It just happened that he woke up before his sister that morning. I can’t express this enough. No matter how much you’ve told your kids not to open the door or talk to strangers, do it again. This isn’t a one and done conversation. Especially with younger kids. Especially with kids with attention issues. Drill it in them. I know, I’m being super dramatic. And that’s OK if you think that. But my anxiety for the following month was so bad and I’m trying to save you that anguish. Because I have the camera, I had a screen shot of the guy’s face. Naturally, I put it up in my neighborhood group on Facebook. That went over like a fart in a telephone booth. His mother is in that group and she proceeded to tell me he’s a good boy and wasn’t going to hurt my kid. The guy’s baby mama also messaged me to let me know she just filed a restraining order on him for domestic violence. Then the guy himself messaged me saying he was just asking about some trash I had by the road and if he could have it. Nothing was sticking out my trash cans. This happened on a Wednesday; my trash day is Tuesday. I had nothing by the road. But I’ll let you be the judge if I overreacted.
The second incident happened last Sunday. I was sitting in my usual spot on the couch. This gives me full view out my window. And through my window I see another shirtless guy walking up to my house. For the record, it fifty degrees and drizzling. Do with that information what you will. I stood up to answer the door. My husband was already headed to the gun safe. And my thirty pound furry potato was ready to chew his Achilles tendon. I opened the door and this guy asked if I had a charger he could borrow for his phone. This is where all the years of true crime consumption kicked in. Naturally, I wanted to ask what kind of phone. But then common sense kicked in. What was he going to plug it in to? How would he borrow it? Would he be coming back? I politely said I didn’t have anything for him. He looked to the left and I saw the car. Before he could ask another question, the unmistakable sound of a shotgun being cocked, readied, whatever the word is – you know the sound. The chickchick sound. Well that sound came from behind me. The guy beat a hasty retreat. And yes, I watched. He ran to the car, got in the passenger side and they peeled out, tire tracks, rubber smoke, the whole thing. For the record the gun wasn’t loaded, but that sound is super effective. Cue my anxiety for another month at least of worrying if this guy is going to come back while we’re not home. And yes, I put his picture in my group. And this time I got a very different response. This guy made his rounds. He tried that and the my tire is flt can you help. We sent the information to the police. We haven’t heard back. Shocking. I know.
Now with these things happening and my background research in true crime, you would think I would be more cautious. But let’s face it. You can’t be on high alert all the time. Eventually you have to relax or your going to snap. So, relax I did last night. Again, there I was in my spot on the couch. Home apothecary items were being added to my wish list on Amazon. And my husband looks at his phone and says, “Someone’s at the front door.” Y’all, when I tell you I didn’t even hesitate. I didn’t look. I just got up, went to the door, and pulled the curtain back. And screamed. Then I turned the porch light on and saw my middle kid’s best friend. She laughed. Middle kid thought I was crazy. And I tried to push my heart back into my chest. My husband says, “You could have just checked the phone.” I’m aware. Thanks.
So, here’s to all my Gen X moms trying to raise safe kids that aren’t afraid of their own shadows. Or a knock at the door. And I’m not sponsored or have an affiliate with Ring but I would strongly recommend them. But don’t believe every ghost video you see on a Ring camera. It’s usually just compression causing those weird images. Now if I could do something more about the weird people that show up on my steps.

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