The Day I Was Mistaken For A Serial Killer!
This could actually happen to you.
I'm swear that I'm not making this shit up. I actually WAS mistaken for a notorious serial killer.
I was reminded of this incident the other day when I saw a report about serial killer and the death penalty.
Okay....so...here's the deal. This should be a really quick tale because it happened so damned quickly that it just COULDN'T be a long story.
Oh well....it IS me telling the story so....here goes. I'll try and keep it brief.
Back in May of 1985, a maniac who believed he was Jesus Christ abducted and murdered a young girl in Lexington, SC. Her name was Shari Smith and she lived on Platt Springs Road. So did I.
Larry Gene Bell was the maniac who killed her.
Bell was in his thirties, had medium brown, longish hair, a beard, had attended Eau Claire High School, was somewhat large if not actually overweight and about six feet tall. Oh yeah...he was known to drive a large, burgundy colored Oldsmobile sedan.
Well.....ditto on ALL OF THE ABOVE for ME!!
Granted....I was only driving the Oldsmobile land yacht because my car had died and I was driving my father in law's car but...aside from that small detail....
And of course....that whole SERIAL KILLER thing......
I may have well have BEEN.....Larry Gene Bell.
Okay....so as if THAT wasn't weird enough....Shari Smith's brother was actually working for me in a building supply store where I had conned myself into a job/partnership.
Hell, I didn't know a hammer from a chisel but, somehow I had managed to get the job but....that's another story.
Anyhow.....Shari's brother Robert was a good young kid.
Shari Smith had been abducted from her own driveway by Larry Gene Bell on the 31st of May. She was an extremely popular young lady and reports of her disappearance spread like wildfire in our small community.
Several days into her disappearance, I was at work and speaking with a customer, Mike Black about the case. At the time, Mike was a Lieutenant with the state bureau of investigation. We had grown friendly while we dealt with the construction of his new home. I sold him almost everything he needed to build the house and we drank a lot of beer together on the job site.
To this day, I remember something that Mike said to me.
“Damn Ron....you know....I hate to say this man but....you look one HELL of a lot like those pictures of Larry Gene Bell!”
I remember laughing at that comment.
I had agreed to go out to his job site to measure some stuff that afternoon (and have a few drinks!) and since his site was near my house, I figured I would simply drive my father in law's car home after the appointment.
So much for planning.
I agreed to let Mike lead the way and we left the parking lot. I remember listening to a local sports talk radio station as I followed Mike to his house. I was simply going through the motions of driving when we came to an intersection.
Mike took off through the intersection and I looked both ways before following.
Just as I got through the intersection, the whole world seemed to go crazy.
Cars came out of nowhere, lights were flashing, sirens broke through the sound of my radio and the air conditioner and I was pretty much freaked out!
I slammed on the brakes and came to an immediate stop.
As I looked around with my head on a swivel, all I could see was armed, uniformed officers with rifles and pistols approaching my car.
Instinctively, I shut the engine down....FAST!
As I sat there, I heard the roar of men screaming at the top of their lungs but alas....I couldn't tell what the hell they were screaming!
I tried to roll down the windows but, being power windows, I had to turn the ignition back on. In my haste and confusion, I went a bit too far and actually re-started the engine.
You would have thought I'd have hit the nuclear button!
As I rolled down the windows, sounds of absolute mayhem came crashing around me as it seemed that the entire world was screaming at ME!
I can still recall the words which randomly washed over me.
“HANDS.....HANDS.....LET ME SEE YOUR FUCKIN' HANDS!”
I remember wondering what the hell was so damned special about my hands....I mean REALLY...I've got nice hands but what's THIS about?
“GET OUT OF THE FUCKING CAR ASSHOLE!”
Now that was just RUDE.
A megaphone or loud speaker sparked into life.
“LARRY GENE BELL......exit the vehicle with your hands up NOW!!!”
It hit me like a ton of bricks!
These folks thought that I was a friggin' murderer!
Slowly, I opened the door and eased out with my hands WAY over my head. I moved so slowly that I can't believe they even saw me move at all. I was like a snail on Valium.
I remember that even as I followed their orders to move slowly, they kept screaming at me to “HURRY UP”.
How the hell do you do both at the same time?
Well, anyway.....once I had exited the vehicle, I big black dude in body armor ran over and gently shoved me face down across the hood.
Just kidding.....this guy spun me around and pushed me so hard that my face went flat against the hood.
Luckily for me, my nose broke my fall so....my face only took part of the punishment.
I was gushing blood like a stuck pig when just short of one million cops descended upon me.
The next few minutes were frankly terrifying.
Thankfully, a few minutes/seconds into the ordeal, I heard Mike Black hollering at the top of his lungs.
He had seen the whole episode transpire in his rear view mirror and hustled back to the scene with his pistol drawn.
“He's NOT BELL!” he hollered over and over till they finally eased up on me.
Well....there was much bowing, scraping and apologizing for the next half hour as you can imagine. Hell, the even called out an ambulance to check out my bruised and battered nose but....I was pretty pissed off. Mike Black did his best to calm me down but I was still smoking as I got back in my car and drove home.
I must admit that I was still pissed off for several days until I heard the circumstances of Shari Smith's death. After that, I got over it quickly.
Turns out Bell had given her the choice of being shot in the head or smothered with duct tape. She choose the duct tape. What a horrible way to die.
The poor young girl even left a letter for her parents in which she FORGAVE Larry Gene Bell.
Yep.....who was I to stay pissed off about a sore nose after what she had gone through?
Well....that's all for this tale of Ron's woe back in the day.
See ya'll again soon.