Mario Stories

My Summer as a Serial Killer

THE REQUEST: Write a fun little trivia fact about yourself

Pre-story side note: This story isn't as funny as some of the other ones. But it IS pretty incredible. In fact, I actually told it to my co-workers a couple of years ago (during a game of "Two Truths and a Lie"), and it's now half a decade later, and they STILL all remember it. In particular, my project manager Stacey. She loves to remind me that I'm the only person she knows who might actually be a serial killer.

And there. I hope I've piqued your interest now that this is going to be an interesting one. :)

Okay, to begin this story, let me post a little news clipping for you.

Keep in mind, this is a REAL news clipping from an actual story. This really DID happen in Bellevue during the summer of 1990. In fact, if you grew up in Bellevue at the time, I'm guessing you probably remember it.

It doesn't mention this in the story, but if you grew up in Bellevue I'm sure you probably remember this next particular detail. The woman's body was found not at the McDonald's, but actually in the dumpster NEXT to the McDonald's, behind the Black Angus. The Black Angus Restaurant at Crossroads.

And that's why everyone I knew always referred to this as "The Black Angus Murder."

Black Angus. Business in the front. Body in the back.

By the way, before I get too far with the rest of this story, let me show you how close the Black Angus was to my father's law office. Because I want to show you how close to this story I actually was.

It turned out the body was found practically RIGHT NEXT DOOR to where I usually hung out after school every day.

If you want a better view of what the murder scene would have looked like, here you go. I grabbed these next pictures off of Google Street View.

The Crossroads Black Angus, around 1990. The body was found in the dumpster back here.

What the area looks like today. The dumpster is still there, and it is still hidden behind trees.

In any case, this story isn't about the Black Angus murder itself. Which was horrible, and which was terrifying, and which turned out to actually be the first in a series of serial murders (although none of us were aware of that at the time.)

No, this isn't a story about the murder, it's actually a story about ME.

And about how, on two different occasions, I believe I accidentally wound up as one of the Black Angus murder suspects.

When in doubt, always suspect the guy in the Kareem goggles

Okay, so let me get into the weird little details for you.

So the Black Angus Murder happened on June 23, 1990. Which was a Saturday night. And which was about a week or so after I had just finished my sophomore year of high school. I had just turned sixteen years old.

I don't personally think I looked like a murderer when I was sixteen. But then again it's me, and I'm biased, so who the hell knows. I mean, Gary Ridgway murdered dozens of women, and he basically looked like a frog. So I guess anything's possible.

In any case, here's a picture of what I looked like when I was sixteen.

I personally think I looked rather unthreatening.

Probably hadn't killed anyone

And anyway, here's how the whole thing went down. Here's how I wound up accidentally becoming a Black Angus suspect.

So it's early August of 1990. It's probably about ten days or so after the Black Angus Murder. And as I was known to do back when I was a teenager, it was very late at night (probably around 3:00 in the morning), and I was out for a walk.

Side note: Oh, by the way, did I mention that I have always been a notorious night owl? Basically, between the ages of five and thirty-five, I just never slept. I was ALWAYS up at three in the morning. And night walks were one of my favorite things.

So I'm going for one of my super peaceful night walks, and it's about three in the morning. And I'm just minding my own business. Thinking of how amazing it is to be growing up as a kid in the nineties. And, I'm guessing, reminiscing about how awesome this new guy "MC Hammer" is. And how awesome the Oakland A's are right now.

And then suddenly, as I'm walking home, and I'm about a block from my house... I notice that a police car is following me.

Things you don't want to see behind you at three in the morning

I remember noticing the police car was behind me, and I remember thinking, why? I'm not doing anything. I'm just walking down the sidewalk. Why does he even care about me?

And this, of course, is when the SECOND police car arrived.

Now there were TWO of them following me.

Things you REALLY don't want to see behind you at three in the morning

And at this point I'm like shit. This isn't good.

Because pretty soon a THIRD police car was now following me.

Oh great. Apparently the City of Bellevue found out I cheated on that math test.


As you can guess, I'm a little bit panicked now. Because why are three police cars just slowly trolling behind me right now? What the fuck is going on here?

So I start walking a little faster now.

Trying to get home before I actually get pulled over for something.

Annnnnnd of course, I don't make it.

The minute I speed up, they instantly turn their sirens on. And they drive forward, and surround me.

Cops is filmed on location on 152nd Place

Naturally, I have NO idea why the hell three police cars just pulled me over. So I just sort of stand there, trying to look innocent. And when they tell me to put my hands up, I sure as hell put my hands up.

Oh... and... at this point, I guess I should probably show you a map.

Just so you can see WHY I was pulled over.

And why I probably shouldn't have been walking where I was walking.

A map of Bellevue

The dot labeled "1" on the map is where the body was found, behind the Black Angus.

The dot labeled "2" on the map is my house. I lived very close to the area.

The blue line is the route of the walk I was taking. I was walking from my house (2), up to Crossroads Mall (1), and then back to my house (2), at three o'clock in the morning.

And because this was only about a week or so after the Black Angus murder, I guess that made me look a little suspicious.

Also, I'm sure the Pee Wee Herman bow tie didn't help

So the cops surround me. And they make me put my hands behind my head. And they ask what I'm doing out for a walk at three in the morning.

And I give them the most honest answer that I can.

"Nothing," I say. "I'm not doing anything. I'm just going for a night walk."

"At three in the morning?"

"Yeah," I say, "I always go for walks at three in the morning. I'm just a night owl."

By the way, I should point out that a FOURTH police car has now arrived. There are now FOUR police cars surrounding me. And I'm only about half a block from my house. As you can guess, it's three o'clock in the morning, I'm sixteen years old, and I'm TERRIFIED.

At some point, the cops all get together, and they start talking with each other. And they debate if I'm the guy I guess they were looking for. And after about five or ten minutes, they decided that no, I can't be. And this is where I hear the sweetest sentence I think I have ever heard in my life.

"Nah, it can't be him. He's too short."

Yes! Being the smaller brother has finally paid off!

The minute I hear I'm not the guy that they're looking for, I ask if I can lower my hands. And they say sure. And then I ask why I got pulled over. Did I do something wrong?

One of the cops tells me, "Yeah sorry about that. Somebody got jumped up at Crossroads about thirty minutes ago. Got beat up pretty bad. We saw you walking away from the mall and we thought you might be our guy."

I reassure him that I have NEVER jumped anyone up at Crossroads, and I have NO plans to jump anyone up at Crossroads in the near future. And then he says yeah you can go, sorry if we scared you.

And then of course he takes down my name, and my address, and my phone number. And says just in case we need to call you as a witness or something.

Side note: I didn't realize until YEARS later that the whole "yeah we thought you jumped someone up at Crossroads" was probably a big lie. What I THINK happened was that they were looking for the guy who committed the Black Angus Murder. And if you happened to be a guy who fit the profile of one of their suspects, you suddenly got a LOT of attention. My guess is that I looked similar to a guy (who was a little bit taller than me) who was seen with the victim the night she was killed. And I just so happened to be walking around late at night, a week later, in the exact same area. That's my theory, anyway. I mean, why else would I have wound up with FOUR different police cars around me? They don't send four squad cars after you if you're just some random mugging suspect.

I didn't really kill anyone. I promise!

And anyway, this would have been a fun enough story if it had only happened to me the one time. If I had been pulled over by the cops ONCE, for being a potential serial killer, it would have already been a fun little trivia note.

However, it didn't happen to me once. I was actually pulled over for being a potential serial killer TWICE.

And this SECOND time is where this was officially destined to one day become a Mario Story.

Hey, I've got a fun idea. Let's go back to the map!

On August 9th, 1990 (about a week after I was pulled over), our mysterious killer murdered the second one of his victims. And I'm not going to get into the details of this one too much, because this crime scene was far more icky than the first one. Also, the victim in this particular case was the mother of one of the girls in my school. So I'm going to keep this second murder as vague as possible, I hope you understand.

All I will tell you is that the second murder was located on the map above as spot number "3." And it was FAR less publicized than the first one had been (the "Black Angus Murder.") In fact, like a lot of people who grew up in the area, I didn't even KNOW that we had a serial killer in Bellevue until a long time later. For YEARS, I grew up thinking the Black Angus Murder had been just a scary, unsolved little one-off. The police didn't exactly publicize the fact that it was just the first in a series.

And so anyway, yeah. Let's go back to the map.

Because spot number four is where I was pulled over for the SECOND time

Like I said, I didn't even KNOW that we had a serial killer in Bellevue at the time. No one did. As far as I knew, we only just had the Black Angus Murder.

And that's why I didn't understand why the cops swarmed around me one night at three A.M. outside Taco Bell.

Pro tip: Don't get the munchies during an active serial killer investigation

And yeah, that's pretty much exactly what happened.

So it's three A.M. one night in the middle of August. And as usual, I can't sleep. And as usual (remember, I'm a sixteen year old boy), I'm STARVING. Sixteen year old boys are always starving. And because I had just gotten my driver's license, I remember thinking, "You know what would be a good idea right now? How about I drive up and I get me some Taco Bell?" I mean remember, this was the early nineties, so tacos were still only like two cents apiece or something. To a sixteen year old boy, a ten pack of tacos sounded like nectar from heaven.

So I got in my car. And I drove up to Taco Bell. Which was only a couple of minutes away.

And knowing me, I must have driven the long way instead of the direct way. Because that's what I tended to do back then. Whenever I went out for late night drives (which was often), I would almost always drive the longest route possible. Just because it was fun to finally have a driver's license. And because it was fun to drive around at night when no one else was around. That's just sort of what I DID back then. I loved night drives.

Which meant my route to Taco Bell that night probably looked something like this.

From my house (#2) to Taco Bell (#4) in the longest route possible. As one does.

Well guess what?

Because it was three in the morning, and because I appeared to be meandering all over Bellevue, and not particularly going anywhere, and because I looked suspicious as all hell driving through side streets and residential neighborhoods (including past a couple of known crime scenes), guess who suddenly starting drawing a little bit of police attention? And guess who was about to get pulled over, and given the old Ted Bundy treatment?

Hey, guess what. I'll give you hint.

It was this guy

And yeah, remember everything that happened when I got pulled over by the cops the first time, when I was just walking?

Well here it came again. Only this time they surrounded my car.

Again. Things you DON'T want to see behind you at three in the morning.

So I get pulled over by a cop, who apparently had been silently following me for a while. And then he's joined by one of his buddies. And then he's joined by one of HIS buddies. And all of a sudden there are three cop cars surrounding me, right outside the Overlake Taco Bell. And I'm like great. Here we go with THIS shit again. Again, having NO idea that this probably has to do with an active serial killer investigation.

The first cop eventually comes over to my window, and he asks me to roll it down.

"Do you know why I pulled you over?" he asks.

"I have no idea," I say. "I was just here getting some Taco Bell."

"Well do you know you have a broken taillight?"

FUCK! I wasn't even aware of that. Oh yeah, I guess I should point out at this point that my first car was a complete piece of shit.

My car. Basically.

So the cop questions me about why I'm driving around with no taillight. And why I was driving around a bunch of residential areas where I don't appear to live. At three in the morning. And why I'm just driving around aimlessly, and I don't appear to actually be going anywhere. And my defense to him is, honestly, "Well because I'm hungry, and because I wanted some Taco Bell. And because I just like driving around at night." I wish there had been more to the story than that, but that was basically it. I like Taco Bell, and I just like night driving.

And THEN, unfortunately, when he looked in my car, came maybe the absolute worst coincidence in the HISTORY of bad coincidences. And you're going to laugh out loud when you read this next part.

The cop appears to buy my story that I'm just a dumb kid who wanted some late night Taco Bell (I mean, he SHOULD buy my story. I absolutely WAS a dumb kid who just wanted some late night Taco Bell.) But then, when it appears our conversation is over, and I'm just going to get out of it with a warning, that's when he shines his flashlight into my back seat. And holy hell, I had COMPLETELY forgotten what I had in the back of my car.

That's right. A five foot tall, carved walking stick.

The cop sees this huge walking stick that was laying on my back seat. And he asks, "What's that?"

And I was like, "What, you mean BEHIND the rape kit and the burglary tools?"

Just kidding.

I turned my head around, and I saw the walking stick in the back of my car. The one that I had carved two summers ago, when my mom had sent me to hiking camp. And for some reason I'd eventually stashed in the back of my car. If the cop hadn't shined his flashlight on it, I wouldn't have even remembered that I HAD the dumb thing.

"Oh," I said "That's a walking stick. I made it at camp."

"And all you do is walk with it?", he asks.

"Yep," I nod. Apparently I was just a big hiker.

And remember when I said this was maybe the WORST coincidence in the history of bad coincidences? Well let me you throw you a little side note here that... well... I guess in the darkest way possible... is going to make you laugh out loud.

I mean, they say that laughter is pretty much the line where tragedy meets comedy. Right? Well here you go. HERE is the line where tragedy officially meets comedy.

Side note: The signature of the Bellevue serial killer (a guy named George Russell) was that after he killed people, he would often insert a long rigid object into their body. It was sort of his calling card.

And oh SHIT.

Had I KNOWN there was a serial killer out there who was doing this, then perhaps (just PERHAPS!) I might not have been driving around with that dumb thing.

Hikers. Basically just murderers.

And so anyway, there's my story.

The cop sees the walking stick in the back of my car. And he asks what it's for. And I tell him. I say it's not for bashing women over the head. And then cutting into the flesh. And then tearing the flesh. And then wearing the flesh. And then being born into new worlds where their flesh becomes my key (tm Phil Hartman.) Nope, it's just a dumb walking stick. I carved it two years ago back at summer camp, and that's all that it is.

And then the cop shines his flashlight into my eyes.

And he looks at me for a moment.

And I imagine he probably wonders if a dumb sixteen year old kid outside Taco Bell could POSSIBLY be the dreaded Eastside serial killer. I mean, could such a thing even be POSSIBLE?

Could THIS sweet little kid be a killer? No way!

At the end of the encounter, luckily, the cop decides to let me go with a warning. He tells me to fix my left taillight. And with that, he drives off.

And just like that, I'm free, and I get to go back to my life.

Where I was free to not kill again, to my heart's content

And boy oh boy was I surprised a couple of years later, when I learned we'd had an actual Bellevue serial killer roaming around (I learned it from a book - "Charmer" by Jack Olsen.) And I was even MORE surprised when I eventually put the pieces together in my head, and I eventually started to realize that... HOLY SHIT!... I had probably been one of the suspects! And this is where we come to maybe my all-time favorite trivia fact about myself. The one that all my co-workers love to constantly remind me of.

I am the only person you know who has been suspected of being a serial killer. TWICE.

Postscript: Don't worry, it really wasn't me. Like I said earlier, the Eastside Killer was eventually determined to be a guy named George Russell. He killed three women during the summer of 1990, and he was eventually caught (through DNA), and now he is currently in prison. Oh, and in case you're wondering, it couldn't possibly have been a case of them mistaking him for me, because George Russell is black, and in the words of my friend, Kjel Holmberg, "No offense, Mario, but you're the whitest person I know." Also, he was thirty-two years that summer, and I was only sixteen. So there is absolutely, positively, zero percent chance that I could have been the Eastside Killer.

The real bad guy

I've never, ever murdered a girl I met in a bar. I promise. :)

The proof

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