“The suspect is a single, white male in his early 30s. He drives a dark luxury car with tinted windows. He is attractive and very charismatic, especially around women. He is extremely intelligent, and exceedingly organized. When he is finally apprehended, there is a high likelihood that he has either already been interviewed by law enforcement officers or has in some other way insinuated himself into the investigation.”
As with any predator, he studied his quarry, looking for a weakness that he could exploit to his advantage. It could be something as simple as inattentiveness. A woman walking alone at night, intent on her cell phone or listening to music through earphones, oblivious to her surroundings.
A confident woman wears her composure like a well-tailored suit. Head held high, shoulders back, her steps sure and with purpose. She makes eye contact with people who pass her on the street. There is no question that she would be assertive should she feel threatened.
He looks for the ones who are timid, who already see themselves as victims. It’s as if they expect it, feel that it’s their lot in life to be used and thrown away.
From his vantage point in the mall food court, he could scan the crowd for potential targets. Leisurely drinking an iced tea, he was simply another shopper, not a psychopathic killer. Settling back into his seat, he crossed his legs, taking precautions against telltale signs he had found a likely subject.
The first woman he focused on was slightly overweight, dressed inappropriately for her size, but clearly not as self-assured as she portrayed herself. He rejected her when she was joined by a child. He didn’t want to deal with excess baggage.
Moving to center court, he sat on a bench, ostensibly reading a newspaper. A second woman wandered into his periphery. This one was older, dressed in expensive clothing, make-up expertly applied, yet she carried herself with little poise. He rejected her, believing a woman of substance would be more likely to have people searching for her, and have the financial means to pursue her abductor.
He made another change of location to avoid mall security detecting his lengthy stay and his overt scrutiny of female shoppers. The third one was just right. She was young, but not too young. With more effort she would have been attractive. He could almost smell the stench of inadequacy on her.
It started as a test. She was walking through the mall, head down, focused more on her feet than her stalker. He followed her, matching his steps to hers, inching nearer until he was so close that had she suddenly stopped he would have run into her. Her hair had a light scent of jasmine and vanilla, and she needed to touch up her dark roots.
Breaking way from his pursuit, he resisted the urge to tap the bottom of her foot with his toe, but he didn’t want to reveal himself so soon. Falling back, he continued to pursue her, waiting for just the right moment.
Getting her to leave with him was easy. A little attention, a few innocuous compliments, a flirtatious smile and she was more than willing to join him for drinks at a local bar. She apparently wasn’t a drinker, it didn’t take more than one glass of wine to loosen her inhibitions.
The old abandoned train tracks were the perfect dump site. The only people who drove down the access road were teens searching for a secluded spot for partying or sex. It would also be one of the first places police would look when she went missing.
As a leader in the community, it wouldn’t be suspicious when he volunteered to help with the search. What was difficult was not appearing so eager to be the one to find her. He had to settle on being close by when police cadaver dogs picked up the scent of a dead body.
* I was a martial arts instructor for several years, and helped teach community workshops in basic self-defense for women. The stalker moment actually happened. One of the other instructors related this story as an example of how some women can be completely unaware of what is happening around them. He followed a stranger through a parking lot for at least 50 feet, before freaking himself out and ending the experiment. She never realized he had been so close to her, “that had she suddenly stopped he would have run into her.”