As the author of a blog about addiction and prostitution I get to hear a lot of stories people never felt free to tell anyone else. I used to judge people bc I tried to extract self worth out of feeling superior to others. That strategy does not work. And even if it did I’m in no position to outcompete anyone. Now I am interested in people’s stories and I am privileged to be able to put there stories in print for the first time. When I read a portion of someone’s biography, and they hear someone else’s voice telling their story, the response is magic. I could write like this for the rest of my life and be happy.
Here’s Susannah’s story about her encounter with an infamous serial killer.
Surviving an encounter with a serial killer. Interview:
My name is Susannah. I used to be on drugs. Hard drugs. It feels good to be able to be honest about my life, even if it is anonymously, without worrying that I’m revealing too much. I hate having to hide my past, but I have to bc people will judge me. I’ve had my best friend in my life for forty years and I know she would judge me if she knew my past. As if she has the right to judge? Didn’t she go to prison for being one of the biggest ice dealers on the island? But that’s not the same as using drugs. Drug addiction–well, let’s just say people think that’s the worst thing of all except for murder or child molesting. I only met my best friend when I came to Hawaii from California. I was running away from my family when I was 17 and I never went back. My parents were Greek, as in, from Greece. Traditional. They were strict, especially my father. My dad was so controlling he used to watch every move I made and how people moved around me. He had to correct people if they called me Sue or Susie, nevermind what I was calling myself or how I had introduced myself to them. “Her name is Susannah,” he’d tell the people who were talking to me, not him! It seems like such a small thing compared to everything else but every time I think of it I get so angry. Funny thing about that is, I guess I still listen to him bc I still introduce myself by my full name and I’m older now than he was then. I can hardly believe it, but it’s true.
I was wild as a teenager. Not that I was bad. I fit right in with the timea. It was California in the 70’s and being alive felt like we ruled the world! Who do I mean when I say “we”? I mean young people, people like me. I wanted to get out there and enjoy life. My father wanted me home. A total hypocrite, with all his girlfriends on the side. He was a male slut but it’s like he thought I wouldn’t know what he did. If he could run around, so could I. Do as I say not as I do, that was him. And me, I’d never open my mouth in rebellion but my actions told the story of my rebellion. And rebel was exactly what I did. I was too young to drive but it was easy for me to get around by hitchhiking. I modeled when I was young and I had no problem getting rides, if I do say so myself. I’ll never forget one time when I was about 13, I was on the freeway, hitchhiking near the hills where it’s really dry, a lot of desert. A guy pulled over for me and I got in. He was driving a neat little car. He was young–I know that now, but when you’re 13 every grown up looks so old. He was old but not too old. Not old like my dad. His car was a Volkswagen bug, which made him cool in my book. Plus, his car was really clean. Not just without roaches and trash like other cars that pulled over for me, but actually clean. He seemed alright, even though he did not return my smile. I thanked him when I got in and I tried to talk to him, the way I always did when I wanted a stranger to take me as close to where I wanted to go as possible and I had no money. He didn’t say a word. Nothing. I never heard his voice. Looking back on it I wonder if he was truly weird or if he was hiding his identity, just in case I might be asked to describe him later. I thought, “whatever, I guess this guy doesn’t want to talk.” Fine with me. The radio was off too, which was weird bc people who picked up hitchhikers always seemed to be into the best music. There was no Bob Dillon that night. We rode along in silence not talking or looking at each other. I was uncomfortable but my gratitude blocked out that feeling. I was so glad he wasn’t trying to feel me up, that’s what I focussed on. When I checked in with myself, the way I do in new situations,⁰ overall I felt alright.
So, we are driving along and I’m closely watching the freeway signs since he didn’t exactly acknowledge he knew where I wanted to get out. I always got in the car then said where I was going because I thought I had a better chance if I didn’t give drivers the chance to drive off without me if my destination didn’t work for them. I can’t even remember where I told him I was going, I only know I thought we had a deal since he drove off with me in the passenger side seat. He had to have meant “yes,” right? I tell him we are coming up on my exit. He says nothing but I was used to that from him already. What surprised me was him speeding past my exit. I knew right then I had to get out. Automatically, I went to grab the door handle but I didn’t feel it. I was still too young to know to check that there’s a handle for the passenger side door before getting into a stranger’s ride. When I looked for the door handle it was too late for me to find out the door handle was missing. I couldn’t get out! Right away I knew everything about the situation I was in and nothing about the situation.
I look over at him. His eyes are glued to the road and he was still driving, still not looking at me, He must have been waiting for me to find out I was trapped but he didn’t show anything on his face. I knew there was no point in talking. I had to fight. By now we were in the hills with hardly any traffick. I can’t tell you where.
As far as self defense ,some girls put razor blades in their hair for protection. I was afraid of cutting off my long straight brown hair when I had to take the razor out. That’d be just my luck. I loved my hair and I spent a lot of time making the perfect center part that was the in thing in the 70’s. I even used an iron for clothes on my hair bc curling irons didn’t get hot enough to make my hair perfectly straight and I had to have it just so. Anyway, I didn’t really believe anything that bad would happen. Not to me. But just in case, I did the next best thing. I carried a stilletto in the back pocket of my bell bottom jeans. Or maybe it’s called a switchblade. Whatever it was, I grabbed my knife and started flailing away with it. I was punching him, stabbing at him, screaming, kicking. He was mostly defending himself against me instead of attacking me. If he had attacked me I would not have been able to do anything about it. But it was like he knew he could overpower me, but he’d rather not. We must have stopped driving, but I don’t remember. And I don’t remember how he got the passenger side door open during the fight, but he did. He shoved me out if the car, which was not moving–I know this for sure. Then he and burned rubber speeding away from there. It wasn’t exactly the middle of nowhere, but it was pretty isolated, and I was lost. Lucky for me someone heard all my yelling and before I could get too scared about being stranded alone at night in the desert a car pulls up. It turned out to be a pastor and his wife. I told them everything like I was a little kid again, tattling to the teacher. They wanted to help. They were nice enough to take me home bc they did not know that was the last place I wanted to go. But what else could I do? They did not know how bad it would be for me when I got there. I would never have thought to tell them about my dad anyway. Back in those days you didn’t tell people what went on behind closed doors. Even if they knew about my dad they probably would have thought I needed his kind of discipline. That’s how it was in those days. People hit their kids. Men hit their wives. And it was no one’s business.
My father beat me within an inch of my life. I know what that expression really means. Within. An. Inch. Wasn’t that the truth? About three weeks later I was home with my mom, taking a break from running the streets. The news came on and I saw him! “Mom! Mom! It’s him! It’s the guy from the hills!” He was not famous, yet. That was the first time I heard the name Ted Bundy. I had gotten away from Ted Bundy. I was just his type with the long dark hair. He had been taking me to where he liked to kill women. I think he let me go bc I didn’t cry and beg. I fought him and he did not dig it. The way he looked on tv was just how I remembered him and his volkswagen.. Neat. Clean cut. Harmless looking. You would never guess the truth by looking at him. He was smart too. He was some sort of professor. He was even his own attorney and he did a pretty good job, if I remember right. I’ve seen other women on tv who got away from him, too. I feel like I am in a special club.
Can you believe I had that sort of meeting with one if the worst serial killers and I’ve never been able to tell anyone except my mom. She only knew bc she was there when the news came on and I was totally shocked in that moment. In was starting not to tell her stuff at that point.
Now I can tell you about something that happened at the beginning of the drug days. You can write about a life I really lived to the fullest. I have hundreds, no-+thousands, of stories about my life in Hawaii–and other places, after I left home when I was 17 years old. But this is the only story about me and a famous serial killer. I love telling you the story. I appreciate you really listening. But just so you know, if anyone asks me if it’s me, I will say “no.” I can’t take other people’s judgment.
Susannah, March 01, 2021