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By Wensley Clarkson
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 1996 Wensley Clarkson
All rights reserved.
Almost thirty-four years earlier, Susan Grund was born Sue Ann Sanders in Vincennes, in southern Indiana. Not long after her birth, on October 10, 1958, the family moved to Peru, a small town more than sixty miles north of Indianapolis, known primarily for the constant sound of the freight trains blowing their horns at all times of the day and night as they shunted across the dozens of level crossings spread through the town.
Susan's father, William Sanders, was a serious alcoholic whom she later claimed had sexually and physically abused her. To add to the family's problems, she had an older brother who was retarded and died at age thirty-two in 1981. Another brother, Eddie, died of cancer on May 9, 1983.
When Susan was in second grade at school, her father got drunk and whipped her so hard she thought she was going to die. She suffered an appalling burn on the back of her left hand during the attack. The scar is still there to this day.
By the time Susan reached twelve, she was a striking-looking brunette school girl of almost five feet six inches in height with a pretty, well-defined face and deep, dark saucerlike brown eyes. Within months of arriving at Peru High School, she was on the must-date list of almost every eligible boy in town.
Susan's mother Nellie had been born on a farm just outside Vincennes and came from a family of French settlers, who had been given five hundred acres of land near Vincennes through an incentive scheme set up in the late 1800s to encourage new settlers to move to the area.
Nellie married Susan's father William Sanders when she was just eighteen. He worked in the steel industry at the time. It was a tightly knit community, run on similar lines in many ways to the strict Amish.
Nellie was an honorable, honest mother to her children, by all accounts. Her motto in life was (and still is): I am not going to lie 'cause lying'll get you round and get you back and get you more trouble than it's worth.
She had seven children in all: Eddie, Rita, Randy, Darlene, Susan, Symbolene, and David. Susan always stood out because she was very pretty and possessed a determined streak that made her seem much brighter than her other brothers and sisters. She was the little princess who would one day find a rich and handsome prince and live happily ever after in a palace up on a hill. Living as part of a family who were too poor to afford anything but the most basic possessions was shaming to Susan. She was determined to do something about rectifying that one day.
Meanwhile, she had to make do with living in cramped conditions with the rest of her vast family in the most rundown house on the street where she lived.
The Sanders children all got along fairly well when they were younger. Susan was always good at helping out in the house and made a real effort to keep the place spic and span. She wanted to ensure it was a home to be proud of, if ever she invited a friend home from school. But, gradually it dawned on Susan that her scruffy home was too shaming to let her friends see so she tended to go round to other children's houses instead.
From a remarkably early age, Susan was very good at always remembering to give her mother birthday cards and Mother's Day cards. Susan also developed a virtual obsession about what clothes she would wear and she was constantly changing the color and style of her hair. She used to make an average of one new dress every week and then pretend to her school friends that her mother had bought the dress.
Susan did not get on with her father from the time he started attacking her. In later life, the very thought of what he had done to her would make her clench her fists in anger. Her voice level would rise and she would repeatedly see the images of what he did to her over and over again.
Susan ultimately became a self-destructive person following the psychological and emotional damage inflicted by her father. As a child she did not receive the sensory stimulation she required and could not establish a boundary between herself and the world beyond her tightly knit family. Even as a pretty young child she began to become an all-encompassing individual, seeing something from her own perspective and no one else's. Her brothers and sisters soon noticed how fearless Susan became and the way she would rule the rest of the family without any sense that she hurt anyone else. Whenever Susan would do something bad, she seemed to feel little remorse and showed little sympathy for her "victim."
But beneath the bubbling, pretty exterior there lay within Susan an inner sadness caused primarily by the fact that she seemed incapable of actually enjoying any childlike preoccupation. In reality, she never seemed to learn how to be genuinely happy. Childhood should be a pleasurable experience in which the developing individual learns how to be happy and derive happiness from as many situations as possible. But Susan's family and few childhood friends soon came to the conclusion that she was not physically capable of sensing pleasure.
Then there were the dreams that Susan experienced as a child; the continuum of reality was so often shattered by nightmares that seemed to project such horrific images that she found it impossible to believe that life could be happy. All her loved ones and relatives who had died filled these dreams, but there was one over-riding character who would keep coming back for more — her father. Those dreams should have been as pleasurable as they were fearful.
But Susan's sleeping fantasies had their own twisted symbology, steeped in terror of some dreadful memories and fears that seemed to be permanently stored in her mind. However, according to certain friends and family, the most disturbing aspect of all this for the young Susan was that she would sometimes find herself in a half dreaming, half waking state that combined memories and terrors with reality of some of her terrible experiences at the hands of her father, or some other demonlike figure. She would find that these dreamlike fantasies would intrude upon her life with increasing frequency and without warning and she would often find herself in a world of her own terror-filled living nightmares with no basis for determining whether she was dreaming or waking. In these dreams, people's identities would become confused. Susan started to become more and more locked inside that dream world while the real world seemed to be filled with people without real identity and meaning.
Susan kept telling herself when she was a teenager that she would never punish her own children the way her father had hurt her. She was going to be a good, calm mother whose children would love and adore her. Unfortunately, the children of violence frequently repeat their own parent's mistakes.
Susan was fifteen when she started dating her first serious boyfriend. Chip Groat was a member of a reasonably well off local family who owned the main truckstop on the edge of Peru. Susan worked there weekends and soon ingratiated herself to Chip. Compared to her impoverished family, the Groats seemed wealthy. So, when Susan had a major bust up with her family after yet another attack by her father, she persuaded Chip's folks to let her stay at their big house on the edge of town. It was Susan's first taste of the good life. She soon became doggedly determined never to be poor like her family. She decided she would do whatever it took to make sure she had everything she wanted and needed. Her first move in that direction was to change her name from Sue Ann to Susan as it definitely had a much classier ring to it. That also meant she could distance herself from the dreadful assaults that were inflicted upon her when she was Sue Ann. Now she was Susan, she could step back and consider things from a fresh perspective.
However, life at the Groat household turned sour for Susan when she and Chip fell out. Soon after that, she was asked to leave their spacious property. The thought of returning to her squalid home appalled Susan, so she drifted twenty miles south to the relatively larger town of Kokomo and fell in with a group of musicians, led by a handsome lead singer called Ronnie Lovell. She never once considered going back to her family. They were already becoming a part of her distant past.
The night Susan first met Ronnie Lovell, she made love to him up against a wall behind the hall where he had just performed. Her friends teased her that she had behaved more like a groupie than a respectable country girl. But Susan did not look at it like that. She was proud of her conquest of Ronnie and openly talked about every single detail of their sexual encounter.
But her friends were astonished when — just a few weeks later — Susan married Ronnie Lovell. She was aged just seventeen. Ronnie was in his midtwenties and spent most evenings working in local bars and clubs, but anything had to be better for Susan than the boredom and drudgery of life with her family back in Peru.
Ronnie's band was called Mannequin and they produced the type of heavy-metal sounds that have made groups like Aerosmith rich and famous. Ronnie moved into a cramped apartment with Susan on Washington Street, in the center of Kokomo. She worked as a hostess at the local Ponderosa Steak House and would travel with Ronnie when he played gigs at local high school dances. Sometimes, she even joined the group on stage as a backing singer.
There were occasions when Susan suspected that Ronnie was sleeping with other women. Once or twice she caught him in a clinch with a girl when she turned up unexpectedly at a gig.
Ronnie's biggest problem was that he adored himself before anyone else. He was always glancing in the mirror, combing his long, wavy brown hair. Susan started to realize that Ronnie was married to Ronnie, rather than anyone else.
This intensely irritated Susan because she kept wondering why he did not pay her more attention. Eventually, Susan got her revenge by having sex with other men when the fancy took her. Two can play at this game, seemed to be her motto in those days.
Ironically, Ronnie and Susan eventually moved to an apartment back in Peru, just a short distance from her family home. This bothered Susan a great deal because she had managed to escape the clutches of her father, and now she was back on the same tatty street to which she had sworn she would never return. It annoyed her a great deal to be facing a daily reminder of her poverty stricken past.
Eventually, Susan encouraged her wayward husband to move back to his hometown of Oklahoma City, where Ronnie was offered a reasonable deal to join a local group singing in bars and clubs. Susan continued to sleep with other men at this time and even lost a baby. No one ever dared ask her if she had an abortion or a miscarriage.
Once in Oklahoma City, Susan managed to persuade some of her brothers and sisters and a few friends to join her, and soon she had a collection of friends and relatives living with her in the same apartment block.
However, on the work front, things were not going so well for Ronnie. The band he had joined did not have enough gigs to support themselves full time, so he worked on construction sites by day and Susan got a job as assistant manager of the Brookwood Village apartment complex on SW 89th Street in Oklahoma City where they all lived.
Three doors down in that same block was a handsome-looking trucker called Gary Campbell. He often hung out with Susan and her pals, particularly when Ronnie was working late. Soon, Susan and Gary started an affair.
The Christmas following their move to Oklahoma City, Susan was spotted by Ronnie coming out of Gary's apartment. Instead of confronting his wife, Ronnie asked one of her best friends if Susan was having an affair with Gary. The friend shrugged her shoulders with embarrassment.
When Susan reappeared in her own apartment a few minutes later, Ronnie angrily confronted Susan about her relationship with Campbell. She immediately started packing her things. Realizing she was leaving, Ronnie changed his tune and begged her not to go, but Susan had already organized a bed for herself in Gary Campbell's apartment.
* * *
Gary Campbell was a well-built, fair-haired twenty-four-year-old who tended to live in cowboy boots and jeans. At first, he had insisted to Susan that he did not want to get involved with her, but Susan had already decided he was going to become her next full-time man.
Susan divorced Ronnie Lovell shortly after moving in with Gary Campbell and they married in the summer of 1979. She was already pregnant with Gary's child, and on her second marriage — and she had not yet reached her twenty-first birthday.
At first, the couple's relationship seemed to have been made in heaven. Susan was a very attentive wife, waiting on her husband, keeping an immaculately tidy home, and providing him with the best sex he had ever experienced.
But Susan could not keep up this facade of happiness for very long. Being the perfect wife was an enjoyable role for a year or so because it meant she could forget all about her troubles back in Indiana. But, as is so often the case, Campbell gradually began to fail to return the love she showered upon him and she started to nurture a deep resentment toward him. After the birth of their son Jacob, on June 12, 1979, Gary showed less and less interest in his wife.
During this period, Susan would frequently turn up back in Indiana on the doorstep of her good friend Mary Heltzel. One time, she and Mary went to a nightclub together and Susan caught the eye of a handsome man called Tim McBee and immediately began dancing with him.
Minutes later, she linked arms with McBee and waltzed out of the club into the night. Mary next saw Susan the following day when she returned to Mary's apartment having enjoyed what she described as a fantastic night of love-making. As usual, Susan was keen to share every single detail of her sexual experiences.
Back in Oklahoma City, Susan was finding husband Gary Campbell increasingly unresponsive in bed. She often spent more time alone with her fantasies instead of enjoying an active sex life with the man she had married.
Then a number of bizarre incidents occurred. One day, Gary Campbell tried to be affectionate to his wife and started to embrace Susan, an unusual move considering he had been seriously neglecting her for months. Suddenly — for absolutely no apparent reason — Susan stabbed her husband in the chest with a pair of scissors.
As blood dribbled down the front of his hairy chest, Susan started fondling Campbell. It was clear to the startled husband that his wife had got some strange, sexual kick from inflicting that injury on him. She wanted to make love to him as his wound bled all over them. Gary was appalled and pulled away. That was just the first of many sexually motivated incidents that began to make Gary Campbell wonder exactly what type of woman he had married.
Another time, Campbell informed his young wife he had injured his ankle in an accident at work and she, again for no apparent reason, stabbed him in the leg through his Levi pants with a knife. This time, Susan shouted bitterly at her husband, "Now you won't think about your ankle too much." Then, within moments of her outburst, she grabbed at his groin and started fondling him once again. Her breath was uneven and she was panting in expectation. Gary surrendered and allowed Susan to make love to him, but he was seriously concerned by what was happening between them.
Even more strangely, Susan would often go out jogging with her husband and make a point of "punching him around" as part of their fitness routine. Later at home, she would always try to hit him even harder. Gary Campbell never really fathomed whether this was because she was angry with him or sexually excited by inflicting pain. But love-making sessions after her "punch around" were usually highly charged and erotic.
During their marriage, Gary and Susan regularly went out shooting guns on ranges together. Gary was impressed by what a good shot Susan turned out to be. He used to tell her she had an evil eye. There was even one occasion when Susan shot a can in water from a bridge seventy-five feet away. Gary couldn't believe his eyes. Susan treated it as if it was an everyday occurrence.
Gary also never forgot how Susan would lose her temper sometimes when their baby cried, and then spank him ridiculously hard.
There were other more traditional moments of domestic discord like the time Gary noticed that $300 was missing from his dresser and he accused Susan of taking the cash. She denied it, but he knew she had the money.
Another time, Gary took off his family ring and put it in his toolbox and it went missing. Susan emphatically denied stealing the ring, but two years later Gary noticed Susan's father wearing exactly the same ring, during a rare get-together with her family.
Excerpted from Deadly Seduction by Wensley Clarkson. Copyright © 1996 Wensley Clarkson. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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