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Grey Matter


Highway Killers

I hate to return to the topic of serial killers, but it is what is on my mind. A couple weeks ago, I came across this article.

Over the past 30 years, over 500 dead bodies have been found along highways in the US. Those are just the ones that have been found and let's face it, this is a big country with thousands of miles of highway -- burying bodies just a bit might keep them from ever being found.

The FBI thinks that it is likely the killers (likely there is more than one) are truck drivers.

It reminds me of of stories that parents would tell teenagers, back when I was a teenager, to discourage hitchhiking. It isn't that I totally dismissed those stories, but I had always thought it was something that only happened once in a blue moon. Not true, 500 bodies over 30 years works out to around 17 bodies per year -- that is more than 1 per month and again that estimate based only on the bodies that have been found.

Actually, I once had a strange experience with a truck driver. When I was around 17 years old, I lived out in an area called Edgewood. That area is now fairly built up, but back then there was really nothing between there and Albuquerque except a truck stop called Woody's. One day my car broke down right at Woody's. I lived miles away from there, having walked it once it was well over an hour walk. Still I had no choice and started walking. A semi pulled up and the driver asked if I wanted a ride. These days I would say no, but I was young and stupid and said yes.

Somewhere along the drive the guy asked me why "none of you young girls wear a bra?" This really irritated and scared me and I quickly pointed out that I was wearing a bra and pulled the strap out from beneath my collar to prove it. Now I realize that this guy probably had mistaken me for a truck stop hooker, something I didn't even know existed at the time. He seemed very embarrassed when he realized that I was truly just some girl whose car had broken down and was trying to get home. He apologized a lot. I doubt he was dangerous and was more likely looking for a good time, but I would still never take a ride from a trucker again.

That story was a rather long way to get around to the victims of these crimes which seem to mostly be truck stop hookers. No doubt there are a few stupid teenage girls who didn't want to walk home too, but mostly hookers.

Once again, as in my column a few weeks back, I believe that if there were this many middle and upper class women disappearing we would be hearing a lot more about it.

Serial killers seem to have found some sort of loop hole. If you only prey on those that are on the fringe, the hookers and drug addicts, there is no panic and nobody seems to work very hard to find you.

I think that I understand the problem and it isn't totally the fault of law enforcement. Many of these women may have come to a truck stop in New Mexico (or wherever) from Kansas (or wherever) and their bodies may be found along the road in Montana. They may have nobody to report them missing. They may not contact family often enough for anyone to be sure they are missing.

They may have someone in Kansas report them missing and years later their body turns up in Montana and the two are never connected. It is all too perfect for anyone wanting to commit this type of murder. I can't even come up with anyway for law enforcement to make it harder to commit this type of murder. The women for whatever reason have ended up there, they have to get into the truck because they have to make some sort of money and how can you stop that short of some horrible police state? I don't think it can be done.

This is esoteric in a certain way. In the way that evil is esoteric. If you prey on the most helpless people in society - I don't think there is any question that you are evil. Most of us know that there is no way to stop evil entirely. We try with laws and punishment, but it doesn't stop any of it. It only allows us to lock away evil people so that they stop committing evil deeds, but there are always more and they are not always caught.

There are many excuses for the evil of serial killings. The killer was abused, he or she had an abusive horrible childhood is the most common. Still, speaking for myself -- I know people who had horrible and abusive childhoods and they turned out the complete opposite. So somewhere there is a choice that is made. There is a path that is chosen.

In most cases it is not the actual killing that thrills them -- it is the power they have over the person to take their life. It is not the actual deed, it is the power they feel from being able to do the deed. It is, of course, a false pride. It is false because anyone could do it. It isn't because they are strong or smart, a small girl can take the life of a defenseless person of either sex assuming she wants to and is prepared to do so.

Now, as I finish this, some sort of prevention does come to mind. Serial killers never start with humans. They always start with defenseless animals. Normally, you will find after they are caught having killed humans there is someone who knew about animal torture and killing when they were young. If animal abuse were more often reported and taken seriously in our society, if nothing else because it is a warning sign, these people might be caught when they are young and maybe helped. If we would just take this as a sign of a very disturbed person instead of a childish prank -- there could be lives saved from that.

So how long does it take society to realize that abuse and murder of animals is wrong, no matter what, but also directly relates to the same way such people are likely to treat humans? I know there are far more knowledgeable people that have made this connection. Why is it that nobody pays attention?

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