Strangler

Strangler

3.4 5
by Corey Mitchell
     
 

AN ORDINARY LIFE.
To the outside world Anthony Allen Shore was an average guy: a twice-divorced father who operated a tow truck company in suburban Houston. Handsome and charismatic, he generally kept a low profile. But in his mind he was a superstar.

THE MIND OF A GENIUS.
A musical prodigy who never realized his potential, Shore found a way to outsmart

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Overview

AN ORDINARY LIFE.
To the outside world Anthony Allen Shore was an average guy: a twice-divorced father who operated a tow truck company in suburban Houston. Handsome and charismatic, he generally kept a low profile. But in his mind he was a superstar.

THE MIND OF A GENIUS.
A musical prodigy who never realized his potential, Shore found a way to outsmart society-by getting away with murder. And he wanted the whole world to know it. After brutally killing a 16-year-old girl, he called the local NBC affiliate and told an editor precisely where to find the body.

AND THE HEART OF A KILLER.
Eight years passed before DNA evidence caught up with Shore. Subsequent police investigations revealed a violent megalomaniac who had sexually abused his own daughters. He quickly confessed to murdering three females, one only nine years old. And he hinted at many, many more-leading authorities to believe that Anthony Allen Shore could even be the notorious "I-45 Serial Killer," whose bloody legacy had earned for one Texas highway the grisly moniker "Corridor of Blood."

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786018505
Publisher:
Kensington
Publication date:
09/01/2007
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
4.32(w) x 7.02(h) x 1.06(d)

Meet the Author

Corey Mitchell, J.D., is a law school graduate and the author of the Los Angeles Times bestseller Dead and Buried, the true story of serial rapist turned serial killer, Rex Krebs; the critically acclaimed Murdered Innocents, an account of 1991's Texas yogurt shop slayings; Evil Eyes, about Coral Eugene Watts, possibly the worst serial killer in history; and the underground true crime classic, Hollywood Death Scenes. He lives in San Antonio, Texas.

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STRANGLER


By COREY MITCHELL

PINNACLE BOOKS

Copyright © 2007 Corey Mitchell
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7860-1850-5


Chapter One

In 1990, there were purportedly 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States, the vast majority of which came to America for economic reasons, taking some of the lowest-paid jobs to help their families back home.

It was under these conditions that Maria Carmen del Estrada followed her father, Felipe Estrada Santana, from Cuernavaca, Mexico, to Houston, Texas. Estrada, known to her friends and family as Carmen, or Carmelita, grew up in the city of Lerdo, in the state of Coahuila, along with several brothers and sisters and numerous cousins. However, in 1991, she and several of these family members decided to pursue the so-called American Dream. So, she emigrated to Houston and moved into a tiny apartment in the Shady Villa complex, along with her father, her brother Guadalupe Estrada, her cousin Remigio Estrada, and another cousin, Andrea Miranda. Carmen was the only female in the apartment.

In 1991, Houston, dubbed the "Murder Capital of the World" during the 1970s and 1980s, was awfully close to regaining that title yet again. The Houston Police Department (HPD) reported 608 homicide victims, with 84 percent of them male, 16 percent female. In addition, the HCSD reported 102 homicides, with 84 percent male and 16 percentfemale.

The men in Carmen Estrada's family were very protective of her. A very beautiful young lady, she was petite, standing only five feet one inch and weighing 104 pounds, and looked much younger than her twenty-one years. She had long, thick, straight black hair that billowed down to the middle of her back and was always well-kempt, and her smooth olive complexion was offset by beautiful almond-shaped dark brown eyes and red Cupid's-bow lips.

Carmen was determined to make a better life for her and her family, and to accomplish her goal, she arduously worked two jobs. She babysat a neighborhood four-year-old boy, who suffered from diabetes, in a nearby apartment complex from 7:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M., and then went directly to her night job working as a maid on a night shift crew for an office-building cleaning company.

Carmen's best friend was a young woman named Rosa Agreda, who originally migrated from Mexico City to the United States in 1985, under the same conditions as Carmen, and even attended school in the United States. Rosa, though, dropped out before ninth grade, and by the time Carmen met Agreda, Rosa had two children, both of whom were conceived and born in the United States.

Carmen was introduced to Rosa by her father, who said he had been friends with Rosa's grandmother back in Mexico.

And it was actually Rosa who referred Carmen to Janice Travis, the mother of the young boy with diabetes, after Agreda, who had taken care of the little boy, got a job as a leasing agent that paid more money.

Carmen was usually the first passenger on the #72 Westview bus, which she took every day to her babysitting job, according to the bus driver, Patrick Bolger. Bolger always attempted to engage her in small talk, but she would demur only offering him a smile, paying her bus fare, and quietly ambling toward her seat. Over time, Carmen loosened up around Bolger and began reciprocating "Hellos" and "Have a nice days," albeit in Spanish. She never spoke to any of the passengers on the bus.

Rosa recalled Carmen as painfully shy. And the fact that she did not speak any English did not make things any easier for her. She almost never dated. Even when Roas would introduce Carmen to one of her friends, Carmen would maybe say "Hello" but would then recoil and not participate in the conversation.

Carmen's bus routine was pretty indicative of her social existence. She spent the majority of her time with her friend Rosa under some professional circumstance. The women had a daily routine: Carmen would go to Rosa's for breakfast before 7:00 A.M., then she would help out with the kids. Afterward, the ladies would head over to Mrs. Travis's apartment, which was less than a mile away. Rosa would act as an interpreter between Carmen and Janice, and then she would take off for her leasing job. The two young women would meet back at Rosa's for lunch, return to their jobs, and then return to Rosa's for dinner after work. Rosa referred to their time together as "our world, just us two."

Needless to say, Carmen had very little spare time for socializing. She did, however, meet a nice young Hispanic man named Jesus Torres de la Cruz, whom she began to date around December 1991. The couple led a very chaste relationship. Carmen believed in the sanctity of purity and informed Jesus that she would not have a sexual relationship with him until they were married. Jesus had no problem with her request, especially since the couple had begun to make wedding plans.

Chapter Two

Thursday, April 16, 1992, before 7:00 A.M.

Metro bus driver Patrick Bolger was concerned. The young man counted on Carmen Estrada's presence at her bus stop every Wednesday morning. On this day, however, she was a no-show. He actually waited at the corner for five minutes to see if she would appear. Maybe she slept in late today or Maybe she's sick, he thought. Bolger finally threw the bus into gear and slowly pulled out into the street. He glanced over at his side-view mirror for one last check, but did not spot his favorite passenger.

Chapter Three

Thursday, April 16, 1992, 10:30 A.M., Dairy Queen Restaurant Drive-thru, 6707 Westview Drive, Houston, Texas.

Douglas Jackson wheeled his old beater into the Dairy Queen drive-thru. He and his coworker, Isaac Houston, had been bagging diapers on a local assembly line. The men had only worked three hours of a long twelve-hour workday, yet they were already famished. So, as was Jackson's daily routine, the two men took an early lunch at Dairy Queen, the world-famous fast-food ice cream and hamburger joint that Texas claimed as its creation. (Though, it originally did open in 1940, in Joliet, Illinois.)

After the two men placed their orders, Jackson threw his car into drive and pulled forward to the restaurant window, where the food was served piping hot.

Again, Jackson shifted his car into drive and slowly pulled forward. After only a few feet, he was forced to turn left, as there was a wooden fence to the right and a chain-link fence in front of him, but something caught Jackson's eye next to the concrete back wall of the Dairy Queen.

It was a half-naked body of a young woman.

Houston was staring at the girl's dead body, his mouth agape. Jackson looked back at the girl, but instead of stopping, he hit the gas pedal and took off.

They drove on, speechless.

Chapter Four

Thursday, April 16, 1992, 10:35 A.M., Dairy Queen Restaurant Drive-thru.

Robert Levy II backed his large Mrs. Baird's Bread truck to the rear of the Dairy Queen restaurant. Levy was a deliveryman for the bread giant, whose day began at 5:00 A.M. and sometimes lasted until 3:00 P.M., and the Westview Drive Dairy Queen was one of his several stops.

The drive-thru exit shares space with the back door to the restaurant, and Levy was forced to wait while an old beater pulled around and exited the parking lot. Once the back area was clear, he pulled the big bread truck toward the back door. When he checked his driver's-side mirror, he spotted something unusual-something too big to roll over. He depressed the brakes and shifted into park. The truck was mere inches from the object.

Levy climbed out of the cab of his truck to see what was blocking his path. What he originally thought was a large trash bag turned out to be the corpse of a young woman.

According to Levy, the body lay face first on the asphalt, right forearm tucked under right hip, and only a few inches from a small hallway that led to the delivery door at the back of the restaurant. Her left arm stretched forward above her head as if she were swimming the butterfly with one arm. Her legs were daintily crossed at the ankles. She wore a bright, short-sleeved silk blouse, with pink orchids and green-and-yellow plant patterns, which appeared to have been pushed or pulled up to the middle of her back; one-half of a white bra, which had been sliced down the middle between the cups, peeked out from underneath the left side of her blouse. The upper portion of her body lay directly below a yellow metal gutter drain.

She wore a pair of rainbow-colored cotton panties that appeared to have been torn in haste on the left side and dark tan pantyhose which had been pulled down to midthigh. Her panties were also rolled down and were intertwined with her pantyhose. The young woman's well-shaped bottom was exposed for the whole world to see.

Levy scooted past the body, onto the concrete backdoor hallway, and began to bang on the large metal door at the back of the restaurant. The Dairy Queen manager came out back to see what all the fuss was about.

"Call the police," Levy barked.

The manager locked eyes with Levy, then followed the deliveryman's glance toward the dead body.

This was not the usual morning delivery.

Chapter Five

Thursday, April 16, 1992, 11:30 A.M., Dairy Queen Restaurant Drive-thru.

Sergeant Stuart "Hal" Kennedy, nineteen-year veteran of the Houston Police Department, and ten-year veteran of the Homicide Division, received the call at the downtown police headquarters at 1200 Travis Street. Kennedy and his partner, Sergeant Rick Massey, took almost thirty minutes to drive out to the Spring Branch location. Upon arrival, the sergeants were greeted by a uniformed patrol officer and a couple members of the Crime Scene Unit.

After conferring with the first responders, Kennedy and Massey walked around to the back of the store to look at the dead body. Based on the position of the body, Kennedy determined that she had probably been killed elsewhere and dumped behind the restaurant like a discarded hamburger wrapper. Kennedy also believed that the killer probably pulled her out of the driver's-side door, based on her position.

He also noted that he saw neither slacks nor a skirt near the body, and quickly determined that the young woman was probably a victim of sexual assault.

Sergeant Kennedy asked the medical examiner on the scene to turn the body over for a closer inspection. The young woman's right front side was covered in gravel from the asphalt parking lot, but amidst the gravel, the sergeant noticed something unusual on her left breast, surrounding her areola. It appeared to him that there were human bite marks.

Kennedy skimmed over the victim's neck area, where strangely the victim still wore a gold chain, but it was covered in long, thick black hair. He moved up toward her face. Her eyes were partially open, and her tongue had swollen up in her mouth and was partially distended beyond her lips. Her lips were also swollen and bloody, and had turned copper black. The cut was on the right side of her mouth and extended at least one-half inch outward. Blood from the cut acted as an adhesive to her long black hair and held it intact on her right cheek.

Sergeant Kennedy made sure that all of the evidence on the victim's body was properly recovered for any possible DNA specimen and she was swabbed in the usual areas conspicuously associated with sexual assault. He also later made sure the medical examiners clipped Estrada's fingernails to check for any possible skin scrapings that she may have picked up in case she defended herself against her attacker.

Kennedy was almost done with the perusal of Houston's latest casualty when he again looked at the young lady's neck. It almost went unnoticed a second time. Just above the gold necklace, Kennedy noticed a line across the victim's neck. It appeared as if she also wore a thin choker necklace.

It was a tiny, thin white rope cord. Kennedy lifted her head slightly to follow the path of the cord. The cord had been twisted tightly around her throat and knotted together on the right side of the back of her neck. These were not knots from tying one's shoes. These were a series of overhand square knots. Enclosed within the cord and the girl's hair was a small wooden dowel, which measured almost two inches in length and appeared to have been used as a tightening mechanism.

Kennedy had found the killer's weapon of choice, but it was the first time he had ever seen such a device used on a human. The detective, born in Wharton, Texas, had seen it used on horses. It was called a "twitch," a device used by ranchers to keep horses in line. It works by placing a rope in the mouth of the horse and slipping in a wooden piece and twisting it down. The end result is that the animal will move in whichever direction the rancher wants because it is at the rancher's mercy. By placing the twitch on her throat, the killer insured that his victim would not fight back. The girl's killer had to be one sick individual.

Chapter Six

Sergeant Kennedy spent the next few hours tending to the Dairy Queen crime scene. He interviewed all of the employees of the restaurant and no one had any idea who the girl was, nor had they seen any suspicious activity. There was also no video camera on the premises.

Some of the employees, however, were able to give a description of a vehicle that had used the drive-thru window at the approximate time that the body may have been dumped. They described the vehicle as a beige or tan four-door 1981 Pontiac Catalina. Also, they were able to give a description of the driver as a white male in his late thirties or early forties, short light-brown hair, and a mustache. The man wore dark-blue work pants and a short-sleeved button-down white shirt. He appeared to be medium weight and height.

The area surrounding the Dairy Queen is predominantly Hispanic. Practically no one in the area speaks English. To deal with this obstacle, Kennedy summoned the "Chicano Squad"-a group of Spanish-speaking police officers who focused on gangs. Once the Chicano Squad arrived, Kennedy ordered them to canvass the area and interview as many residents as possible.

Though most information collected proved to be fruitless, Kennedy turned the crime scene over to the capable hands of the Chicano Squad and then returned to police headquarters.

It wasn't until nearly 10:00 P.M. that a determination was made as to who the dead girl was.

Sergeant Kennedy was approached by a group of Hispanics led by a distraught-looking man. The older gentleman clutched several photographs in his hand. He heard about the murder of a young woman and was worried because his daughter had not come home from work that evening.

The older gentleman, Felipe Estrada Santana, handed a photograph of his daughter, Carmen Estrada, to Sergeant Kennedy.

Right away, Kennedy knew he was standing before the father of the dead young woman.

CH7[ Thursday, April 16, 1992, 3:05 P.M., Office of the Medical Examiner of Harris County, Joseph A. Jachimczyk Forensic Center, 1885 Old Spanish Trail, Houston, Texas.

Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Aurelio Espinola stared at the corpse of Maria del Carmen Estrada. He began the clinical procedure with an external observation of the victim's body. Carmen measured only fiveone and weighed in at 104 pounds. He noted that she had long, dark brown hair that measured approximately ten inches long from her scalp.

Her brown eyes matched her hair color. The whites of her eyes, however, were covered with tiny red dots known as petechiae, which are caused by a constriction to the air passage by some form of outside pressure. There were also signs of petechiae on the left side of Carmen's face and neck.

As Espinola continued his observation, he noticed a simple piece of white nylon string that only measured an eighth of an inch and was tied around her neck and knotted on the right side. The string was somewhat loose on her neck.

(Continues...) ]CH7


Excerpted from STRANGLER by COREY MITCHELL Copyright © 2007 by Corey Mitchell. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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