On November 18, 1977, the body of Jane Morton Antunez was found in the back seat of her car. She had been sexually assaulted and her throat was slashed.
A few months later, on January 11, 1978, the body of Patricia Dwyer was found laying in her home. Her own kitchen knife was used to stab her in the chest and she was also sexually assaulted.
Their cases went cold after some time until it was reopened in 2017. Arthur Rudy Martinez – a person of interest who was on parole at the time for attempted rape and murder – was linked to their murders by a familial match. While interviewing a past girlfriend, police came into possession of one of his old razors from which they were able to extract DNA.
On December 20th 1968, seventeen year old David Faraday and sixteen year old Betty Lou Jensen were two young high school students out on their first date at Lake Herman Road. This was known around the town as a popular “lover’s lane”. Before heading to the spot, the couple had attended a concert at Vallejo’s Hogan High School. What happened directly after they left the concert is unknown. However, what is known is that during the late evening hours they decided to pull off the unlit, two-lane Lake Herman Road, somewhere near the jurisdictional line of Benicia and Vallejo. It was here that they would come into contact with one of the most notorious serial killers of all time.
between 11.05 pm and 11.10 pm, another car pulled up beside where
Faraday and Jensen were parked up in the Lake Herman Road turnout. At
this point, a man approached the car and ordered them both out of the
car with a .22 handgun. To reinforce his orders, he fired off two
warning shots that hit Faraday’s vehicle. One bullet shattered the
right rear window, while the second bullet struck the headliner of
follows next is a bit of speculation based off of the physical
evidence from the crime scene. It is believed that Jensen exited the
passenger side of the vehicle, followed by Faraday exiting the
driver’s side After some time, Faraday was shot through part his left
ear which resulted in a fatal brain injury. He fell next to the rear
right wheel of his car. Jensen, seeing the dangerous turn this night
has taken, attempted to make a run for it (there is a theory that she
was told to run by the killer). She was soon gunned down by five
bullets in the back.
was just the (suspected) beginning of a series of murders that would
be committed by a man calling himself the Zodiac. His next murder was
almost identical – except for one key detail.
4th 1969, nineteen
year old Michael Mageau and twenty-two year old Darlene Elizabeth
Ferrin pulled into the Blue Rock Springs Park in Vallejo, California
just past midnight. Eerily enough, this was just four miles away from
the scene of the previous murder (which – I’m sure – is not a
coincidence). With it being Independence Day, the pair were joined by
large crowds of rowdy teens and fireworks. In time, the crowds moved
on and were replaced by another car. The unknown driver pulled into
the parking lot alongside the couple’s car, turned off his
headlights, and then drove off.
five minutes later the same car returned to the parking lot, but this
time within 10 feet of the rear of their car, slightly to the right
side. Almost immediately, the driver exited the vehicle carrying a
flashlight as he slowly approached the couple’s car. Mageau, with a
blinding light in his face, believed the stranger was a policeman.
Off instinct, he went to retrieve some form of personal
identification. It was then that the man raised a handgun and fired
five rounds at point blank range through the passenger side window.
Although slightly contradicted by the Zodiac’s letters to police, it
is believed that Mageau jumped into the back seat in order to avoid
further harm. The killer began walking back to his vehicle when he
heard a scream or moan from the couple’s car. He then walked back to
the vehicle, fired more two more shots at each victim, and then
calmly made his way back to his car before leaving the parking lot.
want to report a double murder. If you will go one mile east on
Columbus Parkway to the public park, you will find the kids in a
brown car. They were shot with a 9 mm Luger. I also killed those kids
last year…. Good-bye“
The man calling himself the Zodiac was about to embark on a short stint of murder, police taunts, and close calls that would shock the true crime world for decades. In his next attack, his true motives become even more apparent…
Many of us go our days not knowing when our time will come. There is always that little nagging fear of death but otherwise we are able to live our days feeling relatively sure of the next day. Imagine, though, if you were to lose that peace of mind. What if you knew that your time on this earth was coming to an end in the near future? That, unfortunately, is the story of Blair Adams’ final days.
Blair Adams was a thirty-one-year-old Canadian resident working for a construction company in 1996. According to his family, he lived a relatively normal life until things began unraveling. The first signs began when he started having mood swings and episodes of insomnia. When pushed by his mother to explain just what was going on, he insisted that he couldn’t tell her about “it”. Investigators as well his Blair’s friends and family have yet to definitively say what that “it” refers to. However, it must have been something serious as he quickly emptied his savings account and gathered thousands of dollars in jewelry and gold. He then quit his job the next day and purchased a round-trip ticket to Germany (why was his ticket a round-trip? It seemed to me he was trying to permanently escape whatever threat he was facing so what would going to Germany for a few days solve?) which he wasn’t even able to use. Feeling the danger closing in, Blair went to a friends house and told his friend he needed to get across the boarder because his life was at risk. Blair had previously attempted to cross the boarder earlier but being a single male with all of those valuables fit him firmly into the description of a drug runner.
The story continues to get a little convoluted. After his friend couldn’t be of any assistance, Blair rented a car and made his way to Seattle (how he was able to cross the boarder this time, I’m not sure). From there, he purchased a one way ticket to Washington D.C., leaving his rental car at the airport. Once he made it there, he rented another car and drove it to Knoxville for some unknown reason. He arrived at a gas station where he sought help with his rental car. The attendant told him that he had the wrong keys (…what??) and gave him a ride to a nearby hotel. His paranoia came to surface at the point as he was pacing back in forth in the lobby and walked in and out multiple times before getting a room.
Blair was paranoid for good reason. The next day, his partially nude body was discovered in a nearby parking lot. Surrounding his body was nearly $4,000 in all different currencies, as well as a pack containing the gold and jewelry he gathered days prior. Oddly enough, the correct key to Blair’s rental car was also found at the scene.
At 34 years old, O’Neal Moore reached a significant milestone in Washington Paris history. In 1965 – in the south – Moore became one of the first black sheriff’s deputies along with his colleague David “Creed” Rogers. Being that this was during a time when many police departments in the South were being integrated, racial tensions were running on a high. Moore and Rogers were frequently the targets of harassment and death threats from the locals – which took a deadly turn at its apex.
that night, the two of them were being tailgated by a pickup truck
which they didn’t find to be much of a concern.. Continuing on their
patrol route, they came across a fire on the side of the road. The
pair quickly discerned that it was just a trash fire, and nothing
malicious, so they made a u-turn and headed back south. On the their
drive, they passed the same pickup truck from earlier, which began to
follow them again. In a terrifying move, the pickup truck pulled up
alongside Moore and Rogers and the occupants opened fire on the new
passerby came onto the scene to help the men but, unfortunately, it
was too late for one of the men. O’neal Moore was dead. Fortunately
Rogers survived, though he was very badly injured. He was rendered
blind in the left eye, but luckily was still able to give a
description of the pickup truck and the shooters. The police embarked
on an immediate search for the killers and their truck which saw them
breaking ground less than an hour later. The driver of a truck very
similar to the one the shooters were riding in was picked up only
twenty miles away in Tollertown, Mississippi. Ernest Ray McElveen was
arrested and bonded out on $25,000 bail. However, the charges against
him were dropped due to a lack of evidence.
With the climate of O’neal’s time period being the way it was, the Ku Klux Klan became the obvious suspects of this murder. However, to this day, no one has ever been charged and the main suspects have since died.
For more information on the investigation is Moore’s death, you can read the case file from the Department of Justice here .
On the evening of August 24th, 1998, Sondra Better was working as a sales clerk at Lu Shay’s in Delray Beach, Florida. At some point during her shift, she was brutally murdered. An autopsy that was done found that Better was stabbed twice in the neck and repeatedly struck in the head with a blunt object. Putting up a fight, she was defensive wounds on her hand and a severed finger by the time the attack was over. Surrounding her body were several objects including shards of glass, an ashtray, and two decorative marble balls. Although witnesses reported seeing the killer, not positive identification was made.
In an interesting turn of events, 51
year old Todd Barket was arrested for Sondra’s murder. How did police
find him? Barket was applying for a job as a nursing assistant. That
job requires you to undergo fingerprinting and Barket was seemingly
unaware that he had left his on one of the marbles at the murder
scene. Once his fingerprints were entered into system, police almost
immediately got an AFIS hit.
For more interesting facts on this case, you can check out heavy’s article here.
Eighteen-year-old Kaitlyn Arquette was the daughter of famous mystery writer Lois Duncan. She had plans to attend medical school one day after she had graduated high school in June of 1989. Soon after her graduation, she moved into an apartment with her boyfriend Dung Nguyen. They paid for it with the help of money that they had received from an insurance settlement – which will come into play later in this case.
Six weeks later, on the afternoon of July 16, Kaitlyn told her parents that she and her boyfriend had been having problems ever since they moved in together. She planned on breaking up with him and wanted Lois to lie about her whereabouts if he were to call looking for her. She visited a friend from 9:30 to 10:45pm. After leaving her friend’s place, she headed toward her parents’ house. When she reached an intersection, another car pulled up next to her and fired into her car.
Her parents didn’t learn she was in the hospital until shortly before midnight. They wouldn’t even find out that she had been shot until they got to the emergency room. The police decided to begin investigating and arrived at her apartment about five hours later. There, they were met with a surprised Dung who was home alone and apparently unaware of the shooting. He told the police that he had been out with friends, doing various activities. On the coffee table, an investigator found a note that Kaitlyn had written to him in which she informs him that she had stepped out and would be back a certain time. After being pressed, Dung told investigators that he argued with her, but was unaware that she may have wanted to end the relationship. Later, Dung joined the Arquette’s at the hospital. Tragically, she passed away from her injuries twenty-four hours later.
Theory #1 – Kaitlyn’s Murder Was “Random”
I would have to assume that this theory came about as a result of an extreme lack of evidence tying suspects to Kaitlyn’s death. In all my years of Unsolved Mysteries watching, this is one of the few times where that explanation has been presented by the police. The belief is that someone was driving around angry and looking for someone to shoot at. It would be obvious, then, that Kaitlyn had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Do I think this is impossible? Of course not. However, do I think that the truth is a little more intricate than that? Yes – and nothing gets more intricate than theory #2.
Theory #2 – Kaitlyn Was Murdered In Order To Silence Her
With this theory comes an insanely convoluted story. It puts Kaitlyn’s husband, Dung, at the center of her death but from the perspective of a catalyst and not an aggressor.
Kaitlyn’s mother, Lois, believes that Kaitlyn was killed by a hired assassin because she knew too much about her boyfriend’s criminal activities, which included staging accidents – car accidents (remember the insurance settlement money they used to pay for their apartment?). A private investigator looking into the case found evidence that she was afraid of her boyfriend’s friends. Why? Well, those friends allegedly belong to a Vietnamese gang and were behind a lot of risky business Kaitlyn was unknowingly involved with. Two months before her murder, she and her boyfriend took a trip to Southern California. During this time, she apparently became an accomplice in a lucrative car insurance scam. Her sister learned that Dung had staged an accident a few months earlier in a similar manner. Bringing his girlfriend’s family further into his criminal exploits, Dung had used a car that Kaitlyn had rented with her mother’s credit card.
The accident that paid off their apartment was allegedly orchestrated by an organization comprised of powerful members of Southern California’s Vietnamese community…and Dung. Everyone involved in the accident complained of soft tissue injuries that were later treated by a doctor who was also in on the scam. A paralegal working out of an Orange County law office handled the insurance claim. Kaitlyn and her boyfriend were given $1500 for their part which was the money for their apartment. Lois believes that, since Kaitlyn was breaking up with her boyfriend, the other gang members feared that she would go to the police. (This belief would only be possible of Kaitlyn was either a willing participant in the insurance scams or became aware of them shortly before her death. Either way, this has yet to be proven).
A few weeks after the murder, Lois discovered that three phone calls had been made from Kaitlyn’s apartment at virtually the same time she died in the hospital. If you remember, her boyfriend was with them. So, who made the calls? So far, that is unknown. However, the calls were made to a Vietnamese paralegal that worked in Orange County. This was the same one that had set up the car accidents referenced earlier.
I told you – convoluted. To read more about the evidence found that supports this theory, click here
Six months after Kaitlyn’s murder, an informant led the Albuquerque police to a man named Robert Garcia. He identified three men as being involved in her murder. He claimed that he was in the car with them when they shot her. They were arrested and were charged with her murder. However, the charges were later dropped after it was discovered that Robert was in jail at the time. After this lead did not pan out, investigators re-questioned Kaitlyn’s boyfriend. He admitted to being involved in an insurance scam. However, police do not consider him a suspect in her murder.
So, I’m sure I am not the only one who has noticed the recent uptick in Ted Bundy related material. I’ve known of Ted Bundy for a while – just like I’ve known of Jeffrey Dahmer, Dennis Raider, David Berkowitz, Ed Gein, and John Wayne Gacy for a while (I studied criminal psychology in college). All of them are serial killers and all of them took the word “heinous” to a shockingly dangerous level. Yet – for some reason – it is Ted Bundy that has remained in the public eye despite the fact that he was executed over two decades ago. It is Ted Bundy that is having the upcoming Netflix special Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, as well asExtremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile starring Zac Efron. It is Ted Bundy that people are still trying to “figure out”. Figure out what, exactly? Well, the answer to that says more about society than it does about Bundy.
“Handsome”, “good looking”, “charming”, and “charismatic” are all words you’re likely to hear if you watch a Ted Bundy documentary or read an article about him. Hell, I googled “what made Ted Bundy famous?” which gave me a search result for someone on Quora asking as the same question. From those seven (reasonably though out, might I add) answers, the word “handsome” is used in the first six and the last one refers to him as “charming”. From the time he was caught, all the way up to present day, Ted Bundy’s physical appearance has accompanied his crimes. It was almost as if you couldn’t separate the two. The more that you read, the more that you begin to see what it is that people cannot reconcile within themselves when it came to Bundy.
didn’t appear as a serial killer was “supposed” to.
Think of all of this unfolding as if you were watching a movie. There is a beginning (women start disappearing and turning up dead), a middle part where the climax happens (the world is made aware that a serial killer is on the loose and the hunt begins), and the end (the serial killer is caught and a face is put to the crimes. Now, in Bundy’s case, he escaped prison twice and represented himself in court so there was a lot more to his story from a substance standpoint). The dilemma with Bundy came from feeling that his face was incongruous with his crimes. For the longest time, American cinema has centered around beauty for both its male and female stars – specifically when it comes to the roles that they play. Whenever I heard people talk about Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, or Elizabeth Taylor from their era, it is always about their beauty. As a matter of fact, I initially though Marilyn Monroe was a model due to the fact that no one I came across who spoke about her so much as mentioned her acting ability. In present day, you see the same thing with a lot of male actors. For example, there is no way that someone isn’t aware of the strategic casting of Jason Mamoa as Aquaman. This is big with superheroes, actually. Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downy Jr., and Chris Evans are all widely regarded as physically attractive and all of them play heroic, noble parts. That is the main component of this; playing the part.
the part of the “villain” is one that an actor would have to fit
physically, but this time on the negative end of the spectrum. Our
villains are people that standout like a sore thumb. They would
typically have some type of physical deformity that makes them
unappealing at first glance. This is for no other reason than that we
attribute negative qualities to things that don’t look very pleasing
to our eye. Movies even began using these assumptions as somewhat of
a twist where the good looking character actually turns out to be the
villain all long; or the stories in which we the viewer are made to
sympathize with an unattractive main character – who, in most
cases, is actually facing a lot of ridicule from the other characters
around them. This has stayed consistent throughout America’s history
with serial killers. Ed Gein is probably the prime example of this.
His upbringing was so uniquely terrible it was the inspiration for
Psycho’s Norman Bates, Texas Chainsaw Massecre’s Leatherface, and
Silence of the Lambs’ Buffalo Bill. He had an overbearing and abusive
mother who’s death proved to be the catalyst for his killings.
Currently, I have yet to see an article or a documentary that
referred to Gein in anyway that had to do with attractiveness. The
conversation stays strictly on his crimes and there is seldom a shock
surrounding his capacity for committing them.
why is Ed Gein an easier pill to swallow than Ted Bundy? What they
both did was horrific yet one has way more trouble being “understood”
than the other. One has an ever growing array of movies and
documentaries dedicated to getting inside his mind while the other is
just taken at face value for being the monster that he is? The answer
that is the Halo Effect.
does this apply to Ted Bundy? Well, it is basically the explanation
for a lot of the media’s obsession with him. The thing with Bundy is
that he broke the mold of what society thought a serial killer was
supposed to look like. Bundy himself (in the clip above) explains
that people were fascinated with him because he was a “normal”
person. He even goes so far as to say that people would never look at
him and think he was the “type of person” to do something bad. If
you listen to the trailer of the Netflix special, that same sentiment
is echoed by two different women at the time of his trial. Back then,
serial killers were never thought to be people you found attractive
or charming – which made Bundy the last person anyone would suspect
of being a serial killer. If I had to guess, that is because the
general public assumed serial killers commited their heinous acts
because of their difficulties in a social setting or with
women. After all, the majority of the nation’s serial killers up to
that point had deep seeded issues that came to light after they were
caught. More than that, though – they looked the part. Going back
to the movie metaphor, Jeffrey Dahmer looked like the type of
character you would give a “socially awkward loner who struggles
making connections with people” backstory in a script. That is the
type of character audiences can feel is more prone to committing
unspeakable acts of violence. Ted Bundy doesn’t fit that role when
you look at him – at least not back then, he didn’t. A good looking
guy was always the hero. They were assumed to have none of those
troubles back then – which Bundy didn’t. He used his good looks and
charm to put his victims at ease. The problem was the other troubles
– like the compulsion to murder women for sexual gratification – was
something the general public couldn’t imagine living inside someone
who was good looking.
Hopefully, at some point, the documentaries and movies surrounding Ted Bundy’s story will cast some light on this issue. Every clip played where someone harps on the disbelief that someone good looking could be capable of wrongdoing only serves to reinforce the societal perception. In Bundy’s case, this only served to help him disarm his victims and evade capture for as long as he did. Part of the reason he wasn’t looked into at first is because he didn’t fit the mold of what a deranged killer was “supposed” to look like. That is where the lesson lies, not in questioning how a good looking guy becomes a killer.
Compared to the last case, this one is way more straight forward. This is more a case of a “did he kill himself or was there a cover up” type of scenario. For that reason, there are only two theories and, in my opinion, one of them is not even close to being the truth. With that said, let’s dive in.
During the early summer of 1992, 29 year old Mario Amado, his girlfriend “Paula” (this is an alias to conceal her identity), Mario’s older brother Joe, and Joe’s girlfriend, Debbie, all left Los Angeles to go to Rosarito Beach, Mexico. The group wanted to take the trip as a little vacation of sorts and went there to party for the night. They arrived at around 1:00AM on the morning of June 6. A relative of Paula’s happened to have had a condo in that area and allowed them to stay there for the night. At around 3:30AM, Joe and Debbie decided to go to bed while Mario and his girlfriend stayed up. Joe and Debbie were woken up at around 7:00 AM by the sound of Mario and Paula arguing. The argument got so bad that Mario entered their room claiming that he wanted to go home. Just a few hours later,however, they two had reconciled and things proceeded as normal. With this new sense of calm, Joe and Debbie went on a drive around the coast of California that afternoon.
While they were gone, Mario and Paula got into another argument – and this one escalated a bit. She attempted to kick him out of her family’s condo, but he refused to leave. Mario was arrested a few minutes later when the police arrived. He was taken in for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. Oddly enough, however, he was not formerly charged with either.
Joe and Debbie returned to the condo at around 6:30PM. They saw from the outside that the place was empty. Soon after, they noticed that the spare key under the mat was missing and they couldn’t get in through the front door. Debbie had to crawl through a window to get inside the house. Just a few seconds later, four police officers arrived, asking for Paula (think of how weird it is for police officers to show up at your house and call for one of your family members by name). Suspicious, Debbie decided to follow the officers. They went to a bar and seemed frantic, searching for Paula.
When Paula returned to the condo, she was confronted about the whereabouts of Mario. Unfortunately, she claimed that she didn’t know where he was. A couple of hours later, detectives got to the scene and informed the group that Mario was dead. Joe immediately went with the detectives to the police station. He was shown pictures of his brother’s body and couldn’t understand why he was missing his shirt (this will be poorly explained shortly).
Joe was told that Mario killed himself. By hanging. With his sweater. He tied his sweater around his neck and hung himself from a bar that was three feet off the ground. Joe, being reasonably skeptical, asked the detectives why no one stopped him. They claimed that everyone at the station was asleep while all of this was going on – forgetting the fact that this apparent suicide occurred at 5PM, a time where most likely none of these people were sleeping. Of course, Mario’s brother wasn’t buying this story. To make matters worse, Mexican authorities wouldn’t even let Joe return to the states with Mario’s body. They needed time to complete an autopsy that would take an undetermined amount of time. Not surprisingly, when the autopsy was finished a week later, it listed the cause of death as a loss of oxygen to the brain from hanging himself. To make matters even worse, the Mexican authorities were in violation of international agreements by not contacting the United States to make them aware of Mario’s death.
Joe went back to the states on a mission. He contacted congressman Howard Berman and gave him a rundown of the situation, as well as his suspicion of the ruling. After getting the congressman on board, Joe went onto hire his own independent pathologist. He conducted his own autopsy on Mario and found internal damage to his liver. This was not only strong evidence that he was punched in the upper abdominal area, but such an injury would prevent him from even being able to hang himself. Joe and Congressman Berman came to the (very likely) conclusion that Mario was beaten to death and then a hanging was staged to cover it up. The Los Angeles County Coroner reviewed both autopsy reports and agreed that Mario had probably been murdered.
Theory #1 – Mario Killed Himself
Theory #2 – Mario Was Murdered
Out of the two possible options, this is the only one that has any merit. The thought that Mario got punched in the stomach (by who is another mystery) and then decided to take his shirt off and hang himself with it is just a little absurd. There has been no mention of a cell mate either so – as mentioned before – who punched Mario in the stomach? How did Mario know everyone was asleep and he would be in the clear to hang himself? Well, those are easy to answer. Mario was beaten up by the police at the station. I’m not entirely sure why (perhaps Mario was a little drunk when he was being brought in and agitated the officers that brought him in) but they almost certainly roughed him up while he was there. At some point, they went too far and – I would assume – nearly killed him. The only reason I don’t think they full on killed him is because the independent autopsy would indicate one of the blows to his body did him in and not asphyxiation. While having Mario near death, they killed him and then (poorly) staged his suicide.
The one massive question mark on this case is where “Paula” fits into everything. Paula had Mario arrested, taken away in police custody, and then disappeared for some undetermined amount of time. The strange part is that when Joe asked her where Mario was, she responded by saying she didn’t know. But she did know. She called the police on him. Then there is the question of why the police were looking for her specifically. The pulled up to the house where they picked up Mario asking for Paula by name. If they were just looking for someone to inform of Mario’s death, they would have asked questions of the two people who seemed to be staying at the same house where he was picked up. Then, they went to a bar looking for her? The whole thing seems strange. The problem is that this was their case and they question who they want to question (which, in this scenario, was nobody).
Congressman Berman contacted the President of Mexico and got him to reopen the investigation. This lead to yet another autopsy for Mario in January of 1993. An autopsy which basically solidified the theory that he was murdered. There were rope fibers found embedded in his neck, as opposed to fibers from the sweater that police say he hung himself with. In May of 1993, police officer Jose Antonio Verduzco Flores was tried and convicted of Mario’s murder for which he was sentenced to 8 ½ years in prison in May of 1996. Unfortunately (though, if you look into their history at that point, unsurprisingly), just a few months later, his conviction was overturned in the Mexican court of appeals.
Like the rest of the country, I recently watched the Lifetime docu-series titled Surviving R Kelly. I was stuck in the house due to a thunderstorm and wound up watching all six parts in one night (part six just happened to premiere an hour after I finished part five. If that wasn’t a sign, I don’t know what is). The special thing about this documentary is
the common effect it had on most people – or at least most of the people I spoke to. Whether I was talking to family, friends, or reading people’s reactions online, I was bound to hear/read someone say “I knew he messed up but I didn’t know it was that bad” or something to that effect. It really opened people’s eyes to just how disgustingly sick an individual we had playing on our radio stations for decades. The documentary really begins that eye opening process in its last two episodes. The first four parts of the series detail Kelly’s early struggles with sexual abuse – both as a victim and a perpetrator. The last two parts delve into present day where we learn that he has been operating a sex cult. Us, as viewers, watch as women who escaped detail what life in his cult was like, parents relive their anguish to producers, and one incredibly brave mother travels a long distance to rescue her daughter from his grips. Seriously, watching all of that unfold over a two hour time span was an emotional roller coaster scripted scenes could never come close to putting you on.
After I finished the series, I was discussing it with my brother who didn’t even know that it existed. At one point, I said to him that I didn’t even know cults operated like that. “The most I ever knew about a cult was The Centre on Boy Meets World”. That’s when it hit me:
Mr. Mac is just like R Kelly (more or less).
For those of you that don’t know, Boy Meets World centers around a young boy named Cory Matthews as he grows up and meets all of the challenges the world has in store for him. Cory’s best friend, Shawn Hunter, is probably the most unfortunate TV show characters to be a mainstay on one of these wholesome family show lineups. Shawn grew up being judged by the other kids for living in a trailer park, still got judged by the his high school peers for living in a trailer park, had his mom walk out on him, his dad left him in order to chase after his mother, and he wound up living with his teacher until his dad decided to give up and come back home. That’s basically where we leave off by the time the episode “Cult Fiction” comes into play – and Shawn couldn’t be more of a prime target for a predatory cult leader.
As this episode plays on, there are some many instances where Mr. Mac may as well be called the pied piper that it’s almost scary. Just to list a few:
He Has Other Kids Do His Bidding
In the docu-series, one of Kelly’s alleged victims claims that, after beginning her sexual relationship with him, she was then set up to be “trained”. Trained in what? Being a sex puppet. She would be staying at one of his homes in either Chicago or Atlanta and become accustomed to doing demeaning and calculated acts such as: asking for permission before doing ANYTHING, referring to R Kelly as “daddy” at all times, engaging in sexual acts whenever he wanted and with whomever he wanted, and cutting off contact with her friends and family back home – only speaking to them with his permission. None of this training was done by Kelly himself, by the way. He had his “top girl” handle that. Now, Boy Meets World was a family show so they weren’t going to get that graphic; but Mr. Mac conducted recruitment in a very similar manner. Whereas Mr. Mac didn’t have his iconic status to lure people in, he did have other means. Shawn, while somewhat of an outcast due to his home life, was his grade’s womanizer. A joke at one point in the series was that all Shawn had to do was run his hands through his hair and he caught the interest of a random girl in the hallway. It would come as no surprise, then, that the person who caught Shawn’s interest and introduced him to The Centre was a pretty girl in his class. Now, chances are that Mr. Mac didn’t specifically tell her to go get him; rather he most likely told them to bring in anyone that they saw were “being judged”. Speaking of judgment, that was one way in which Mr. Mac “trained” his newcomers. He taught them that the detractors in their lives were judgmental and that The Centre was a judgment free zone; as well as a place where everyone hugs to express love for one another and they personalize their conversations by using your name incessantly.
He Targets High School Kids
This one is an obvious, no brainer connection. The only difference really is the why – and even then there are still some similarities. The difference between the two is the sexual component. R Kelly, and I’m not exactly going out on a limb by saying this, is attracted to High School aged girls (at the very, absolute least, he enjoys being around them a great deal). That’s where the differences really end in terms of their preferred targets. While Mr. Mac didn’t want to have sex with any of the kids, and he didn’t exclude male members, he was specifically looking for young High School kids. For him – and I suspect R Kelly as well – it was about control. Teenage kids are at a weird point in their life where they are rebellious against the adults implementing rules and routine into their lives which makes them much more open to an adult that presents himself as the opposite. Mr. Mac, with his “no judgment, be who you want to be” presentation speaks directly to the teenagers he’s preying on which goes into my next point.
He Preys On Their Vulnerabilities
With any sort of manipulator, this is almost like some weirdly natural instinct. They know how to spot people’s vulnerabilities and play on them in the most effective way possible. In the docu-series, one of R Kelly’s accusers said something to the effect that she and Kelly had conversations where he inquired about her personal life – particularly aspects relating to the strength of her support system. In a very spot on interview, she said (more or less) that she was a draw for Kelly because of her lack of just that. It made it that much easier for him to convince her that she had no one while simultaneously presenting himself as her only option. Mr. Mac does this in a slightly different manner. Instead of propping himself up, he plays on the resentment the kids have for the adults in their lives. Once he has them on his side, he starts feeding them thoughts and opinions on those people as he prepares them for the inevitable attempts those kids will face from those wanting to dissuade them from joining a cult. After Shawn shirks off the the concern from his support system, he verbally confirms that Mr. Mac prepared him for this attempt, prompting Mr. Feeny, his long time teacher turned principal, to assure Shawn that he is aware Mr. Mac has given him a thought for every occasion. To Mr. Mac, this is covering his bases. To Shawn, this is just further proof that Mr. Mac knows what he’s doing, but, of course, that is because Mr. Mac has had plenty of practice.
Everything He’s Doing Is In Plain Sight
Perhaps the most frustrating part of ending to the Surviving R Kelly series came in the last episode. Angelo and Alice Clary, parents of Azriel Clary, go to look for her at one of R Kelly’s studios in Chicago. They got word from one of his former captives that he was having her stay there at the moment. Her parents are relentlessly knocking on the studio’s door, screaming their daughter’s name, and doing anything they can to get the attention of someone inside. At one point, they see someone shut the curtains and turn the lights off in one of the second story windows. Unsure if that was their daughter, they call the police. One of the officers says “we have two options: they can either open the door or we can ram it open” only to immediately follow it up with saying “but we can’t ram it open without probably cause”…which was needlessly cruel. At this point, the police leave claiming there is nothing they can do since Azriel has not stated she is being held against their will and no one at the studio wants to open the door. I kept watching waiting for a resolution for the parents only to realize I was waiting for nothing. R Kelly, who spent years denying that he enjoyed the company of underage girls is allowed to house several of them at two different estates. R Kelly, who is in his 50’s, is apparently doing nothing wrong in the eyes of our justice system.
That same frustration and confusion came from watching Mr. Mac conduct his business. Of course, Mr. Mac had his own explanation and description of what The Centre is. A warm, welcoming place and a judgment free zone to escape all of the pressures other adults put on you. “We’re just a place for people who need love in their lives,” he says at one point. Yet, the fact remains that these are high school kids (ages 14-18) who move out of their homes (at the age of 14-18) and live in a building run by some strange adult who tells them that he is the only one who will allow them to live free of judgment (while they are ages 14-18). Yet Mr. Mac is allowed to go about his business unhindered as well. Mr. Feeny at one point makes it known that he is well acquainted with The Centre and has spent years trying to get it shut down. Unfortunately the fact remains that if you have a bunch of young kids at or past the age of consent, they’re seen as being autonomous in terms of their living situation – regardless of whether or not the adult in question got to them when they were young and impressionable.
He Puts Parents In A Situation Where The Onus Is On The Kids
This piggy backs off of the last point but it is probably the hardest obstacle for a parent to face when it comes to removing them from a manipulator. You see, as previously stated, predators such as Mac and Kelly need to make sure they have plausible deniability. Part of that – probably the largest part – revolves around the law. This is especially apparent in Kelly’s situation where you see that he went from pursuing fourteen and fifteen year old girls to putting himself around girls aged seventeen (the age of consent in Illinois) and up. This change in preference “coincidentally” came about after his trial in which he was acquitted of having sex with a fourteen year old girl, prompting nationwide discussion about his affinity for being around girls that young. All of this leads to a situation where, by law, police cannot forcibly remove the girls from Kelly’s residence. They have to want to leave. Just like in Boy Meets World where Mr. Mac – faced with pretty much every member of Shawn’s support system – looks them all in the eye and says “that’s up to Shawn” when responding to the assertion that he couldn’t bring Shawn back to The Centre with him. Of course, both Mac and Kelly make sure their teenagers are well groomed so as to greatly minimize the chances of them even wanting to leave if given the chance. At the end of Surviving R Kelly, we find out that the girl who escaped with her mother (her name is Dominique Gardner) went back to R Kelly just three days later. In Boy Meets World, Shawn has ample chances to leave The Centre and stay with his best friend while his dad is out of town but chooses time and time again to go back. There is even a scene where he is visiting his teacher and former guardian at the hospital after a motor cycle accident where Shawn physically feels he cannot even face it without Mr. Mac. With manipulation that strong, I’m sure a parent can feel helpless in a situation such as this.
At the end of “Cult Fiction”, Shawn suddenly finds his faith and inner strength which allows him to confidently walk away from The Centre and Mr. Mac. That begs the (rhetorical) question: what about the kids that couldn’t restore their strength and inner resolve? What about the kids that Mr. Mac accurately targeted because there was no way they would be strong enough to detach themselves from his grip? Well, then we have the ending of Surviving R Kelly. An ending where the black screen comes up only to have bad news after bad news fade in telling viewers that there a parents still trying to get their children to return home. Fortunately, we did have one parent rescue her daughter; but, unfortunately, as Mr. Mac said, “there are many more just like them”.
The case of Dale Kerstetter details a 50 year old man from Bradford, Pennsylvania who went missing. Dale worked at Corning Glassworks as their overnight security guard and maintenance man who – just one day – wasn’t there when the next guy came to start his shift.
The police were called in and started searching all over the facility. In his truck they found his day pack, his keys still in the ignition, a full carton of cigarettes and the holster for his .22 caliber pistol. Suffice to say Dale wasn’t planning on going anywhere…and he was one hell of chain smoker (a carton of cigarettes contains 10 packs which equals 200 individual cigarettes. So, yeah. Hell of a chain smoker).
The police had the initial thought that Dale suffered from some sort of stroke or medical issue (which is weird because they searched the building and couldn’t find his body) so they brought in a dog to track his scent. Dale’s scent was tracked throughout the plant – even deviating from his usual security route and ending up at the glass furnace. Of course, the immediate thought was that Dale’s body was incinerated in the furnace – especially because the dog picked up no further trace of Dale after that point. The police ruled that out, though, since the furnace hadn’t even been switched on that night. Next, the police moved onto the tapes.
Where It Gets Interesting
When the police looked at the security footage they saw a masked man with a winter coat walking around the back of the plant. At some point, that masked man is seen conversing with Dale but I haven’t been able to find any indication as to whether that seemed like a volatile conversation or not. The masked man then coerces Dale to begin walking with him toward the second floor’s exit. As they are leaving, Dale looks directly into the security camera, which, surprisingly enough, became a topic of debate. The last time the camera picks up the masked man, he is seen wheeling a large bag out of the building. A bag that most likely contained Dale’s body. Well, that depends on what theory you think is the most believable.
Theory #1 – Dale Was A Victim
This theory is, in my opinion, the most viable and straightforward. It goes a little something like this: Dale was sitting down in the cafeteria about to eat his 11:00pm snack when he noticed something going on. He got up to check and was confronted by the masked man. At gunpoint, the masked coerced Dale into doing his bidding and then marched Dale to a section of the plant where he was going to kill him. Dale, sensing he was about to get killed due to that gun in his back, looked directly at the security camera to signal for help. You see, at the company’s headquarters, there is a worker who coordinates with all the security guards on the overnight shifts. When Dale didn’t check in for a good 8 hour time span, that should have alerted the worker who would have looked at the security cameras to see what was going on. Unfortunately, he was new and didn’t know the protocol (which…seems like a reason to question his ability to do his job) so there was no concern over Dale not checking in. Unsurprisingly, Dale’s family – aside from his son (I’ll get to that in the next theory) – align themselves with this theory. They point to the fact that his car was left in the condition of someone who was not expecting to leave as support for that. His former employers – and his son – don’t really see it that way.
Theory #2 – Dale Was In On It
This theory is mostly driven by Dale’s former employers (some investigators as well). If you watched the Unsolved Mysteries segment on this, you would think there was a longstanding feud between Dale and the glassworks company. They theorize that Dale was working alongside a former employer to steal from the plant. The masked man appeared to move so seamlessly throughout the plant that it gave investigators the impression that he was someone with extensive knowledge of the building. As for a motive? Dale was apparently about $40,000 in debt with various payments and had just received a demotion (which landed him the security job in the first place) that saw him taking more than a $5,000 pay cut on his salary. I should probably mention that during this whole ordeal $250,000 worth of platinum was taken from the plant by the masked man. That would also explain the demeanor of Dale’s former employers when talking about his disappearance. Those that believe this theory see Dale’s displays on camera as him flaunting his crimes and his look directly at the camera as his lasting impression before his disappeared with their money. In one of the more odd interviews on Unsolved Mysteries, Dale’s son said that his dad probably took the money and went somewhere overseas with the plan to return after the statute of limitations had run out and “they couldn’t touch him”. Yeah, he actually said that.
Theory #3 – Dale Was Double Crossed
theory is more or less a fusion of the first two. This theory puts
out the possibility that Dale was working with the masked man but was
killed once he had helped him secure the platinum. This theory makes
zero sense to me. My biggest gripe with that theory is that I don’t
really believe Dale was in on it. I can’t imagine that Dale would
parade himself all over the camera in such an ambiguous way only to
give a debatable look to the camera before disappearing. If Dale were
really “flaunting his crime” as the investigators and his former
employers suggest, there would be way less confusion surrounding what
was seen on the security footage. The one thing that does make sense
to me with this theory is the state of Dale’s truck. If he showed up
to work that day with the belief that he were going to be checking
in, robbing the plant, and then taking off, it would make sense that
he had left his truck in a condition that suggested he was expecting
Dale’s case remains unsolved. He was declared legally dead in July of 2014. Police have investigated several leads in the case, however, none of these theories have been confirmed. To this day, his whereabouts remain unknown.