Sunday, October 30, 2016

2002... the year I lived in Fredericksburg and had brushes with true crime...

It just occurred to me that 2002 was a really creepy year, even though it was the year I graduated from USC and got married.

Picture it.  It was June 2002.  I had just finished double master's degrees at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina.  Bill and I were engaged.  I had moved from Columbia to Fredericksburg, Virginia.  Bill and I were living in a shitty apartment very close to Mary Washington College (now known as the University of Mary Washington).  I had just turned 30 and was looking forward to our wedding in November of that year.

On June 27, 2002, there was a big news story on all the networks.  Richard Marc Evonitz, a serial killer, rapist, and kidnapper was dead.  This story was especially interesting for me mainly because of geography.  Evonitz died by his own hand after a police chase that had ended in Sarasota, Florida.  But he had spent a lot of time in the same cities where I had been in 2002.

Richard Evonitz was born on July 29, 1963 at Providence Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina.  Having just spent three years of my life in Columbia, I knew exactly where that hospital was.  Many years later, in the 1990s, Evonitz kidnapped, raped, and murdered three young girls from Spotsylvania County in Virginia.  Spotsylvania is very near where Bill and I were living in 2002.  Evonitz was also suspected of a 1994 abduction and a 1995 rape in Massaponax, Virginia, also very close to Fredericksburg.

On June 24, 2002, Evonitz went back to Columbia, South Carolina.  There, he abducted a fifteen year old girl from a friend's yard.  Evonitz took the girl to his apartment, where he repeatedly raped her.  He tied her to his bed and then fell asleep.  By some miracle, the girl was able to free herself and escape.  She identified Evonitz to the police.  Upon finding his captive gone, Evonitz fled South Carolina.  He was finally stopped in Sarasota, where he took his life by shooting himself.  I recently read that the young lady who escaped Evonitz went on to become a police officer.  

Because Evonitz had ties to Fredericksburg, his story was all over the news.  I remember feeling a bit freaky because I had just left Columbia weeks prior to his death.  Now I was in another town where he'd struck.

I remember 2002 was a pretty big year for crime.  That was the year of the Beltway Snipers, John Allen Muhammed and Lee Boyd Malvo.  Muhammed and Malvo had struck many places in Northern Virginia and Maryland, including a couple of places in Fredericksburg.  I remember how Bill would never let me walk behind him.  He was always behind me because he was afraid I might get shot.  That was truly a very scary time because no one knew where the snipers were going to strike next and they were hitting very close to where we were living.

2002 was also the year Erika and Benjamin Sifrit were in the news for brutally murdering and dismembering a couple during a visit to Ocean City, Maryland.  The crime occurred about two weeks after Bill and I moved to Fredericksburg.  It was all over the news because Erika had been a basketball star at Mary Washington.  

It was also the year that Erin McCay George, a woman I was acquainted with in college, was on trial for murdering her husband for insurance money.  The Georges had lived in Aquia Harbor, not far at all from Fredericksburg.  At the time, I had not been paying attention to the trial.  It wasn't until years later that I realized we had a connection. 

I remember when Bill and I decided to move to Fredericksburg.  I had always thought of it as a safe, beautiful city.  But when we were living there, we had some rather eerie brushes with true crime.  Indeed, it was a brush with crime that drove us from Fredericksburg.  In 2003, my car was broken into at the apartment complex where we were living.  At that point, we decided to get housing at Fort Belvoir, which was a hotbed of drama, but at least there was less criminal activity.

Bill and I have been mostly lucky to live in mostly safe places since our first home together in Fredericksburg.  The only other place where I felt less than safe was Converse, Texas.  But we were not really victims of crime in Texas, unless you count the idiot who tried to break into the real estate lockbox as we were trying to move.

Crime does happen in Germany, but it does seem a lot less common here.  Maybe I have a false sense of security, but I am glad to live in a place where I feel pretty safe.  I hope we can stay here awhile.  

I probably ought to quit watching so much Locked Up Abroad.

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