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How I got into his room, I don’t remember. After all, I was only five. My so-called father was trying to shove himself down my throat. I choked and gagged and resisted and told him that it stinks. He flew into a rage and grabbed me by the throat so hard that it hurt. I looked up into his eyes and saw pure hatred, the likes of which I’ve never seen since. I witnessed evil for the first time and it terrified me. I realized with a wash of horror that I was not safe from the only person in the world left to care for me. He threw me across the bed and molested me. I ran from his room straight to my closet.
I cried out in an agony that was both physical and mental, “Help me. Help me. Somebody help me. Please, anybody, help me.” The more I cried the more my throat hurt. But I couldn’t think of a single soul; there was nobody. I was alone, completely and utterly alone. I just couldn’t live like this. It was too terrible for me to bear. I didn’t want this life and I had to get out somehow. That’s when the strangest thing happened. I found myself beside a small distraught girl with her face in her hands, yet I knew that she was me. I felt just awful to have left her behind, abandoned her, and it was so sad. But then I see that she is no longer distraught. She isn’t aware that anything happened to her. I watched as she got up to leave the closet. I see her from behind yet my consciousness is somehow trailing along. I see the sunlight and the bright room through her eyes. It was a beautiful day. All she cared to do now was play. She jumped up on the bed and I, the traumatized five-year-old, faded away. My life, or rather the memory of my life, had simply stopped and started over as if on a clean sheet of paper.
Such would be the case for every traumatic event from that point on. And there would be a multitude of them. I marvel now at how I could have possibly functioned. How could I have even put one foot in front of the other with such a fragmented mind? And I question how the repeated trauma effected the development and function of my brain. Just how abnormal am I? I have no “normal” to compare myself to because it is the only way I have ever been.
I grew up never being fully engaged in life. I have experienced it all as if from behind a veil, on alert for threats and ready to escape at any moment from what I perceived as a dangerous world. Feelings of helplessness and vulnerability plagued me, born out of an inability to protect myself, and having nowhere else to turn for protection. My life was void of any comforting or nurturing. There were no touches, no words of encouragement or praise. There was no tending of wounds or illness. No guidance or advice. There was no one to believe in me or to even talk to about my experiences or hopes. There was no one to help with the smallest or largest of tasks. Everything was up to me. A nagging fear was always present. I was afraid; afraid of people, mostly. I hardly spoke at all, and when I did it was very low. I wanted to be unseen. Please, just leave me alone. And don’t hurt me.
For whatever reason, Walter decided to get us a housekeeper. Maybe the neighbors or school complained about such small children being home alone and running loose. It’s a wonder that no one ever came in there and kidnapped or killed us. We didn’t lock the doors back in the 1960s and it was usually wide open anyway. Another thing you must know about Walter. He wasn’t about to spend money on anything; not food, or clothes, or shoes, or my desperately needed glasses. He was not going to take us to the doctor or get our decaying teeth fixed. For him to hire a babysitter, there had to have been something drastic that left him no choice. But it wouldn’t matter because he wouldn’t pay them anyway. He made good money working for a large oil company welding pipes. Yet, he always acted like he was broke and maybe he was. It makes sense now that I know he was hiring women.
Our first housekeeper was a small, thin black woman named Pearl. She would lie on the couch and watch television while we ran in and out of the house. She wasn’t with us long before that fateful day when Walter came in early, having shut off his motor before gliding quietly into the driveway. I must mention here that Walter had a gullible friend at work who would clock him in and out on the job. This freed him up for his crimes.
He came in the door appearing angry and demanding to know what she’d done all day. Flustered, she couldn’t answer. I was standing in the living room so he asked me and to her horror, I answered that she’d been lying on the couch watching television. I couldn’t have been much more than six years old. He started ordering her to get in the car and she was hesitating. She said that he could take her home and he simply nodded. That was the last time anyone saw Pearl.
Once again, we were home alone. A few days went by and her nephew came into the house and told me that his aunt Pearl was missing and wanted to know when the last time I saw her was. I explained what happened and he said to tell my dad that there were people who cared about and loved her. When I told Walter later that day he appeared alarmed and asked if the guy looked angry. I didn’t think so. I knew that my dad had done something bad to Pearl, even though the knowledge of murder had not yet intruded upon my young mind.
Pearl was not his first and she wouldn’t be his last. It’s frightening to look back and know that I actually lived with such a prolific killer. He was calculated and premeditated, always on the hunt. My best guess based upon what I now know, is that Walter probably murdered over 100 people between Texas and Arkansas. I base this on at least three a year for 40 years starting at age 16 and ending at his death at age 56. I wasn’t aware of all of them, obviously, but I tell you this, everything that Walter did centered on the driving motive to molest children, rape women, and murder. There was not anything that he did that did not involve ulterior motives towards those ends.
Every serial killer has their signature “modus operandi” and Walter’s was a stabbing knife to the heart. Twice he missed and pierced the highly vascular liver and his targets survived. His second choice was poison.
The second housekeeper would also meet an untimely end. She was a large German woman with a ten year old boy. She would sometimes bring him and he and Roy would enjoy each other’s company. She cleaned the house, did dishes and cooked for us. She was nice and I liked her. Poor lady was trying to support herself, her son, and an elderly mother she lived with, but as could be expected, Walter wouldn’t pay her.
He made a point of showing her a jar of silver coins that was supposed to be a collection he started for me. The jar held about $80. He deliberately left it sitting out as he went to work, knowing that she would take it. We drove to their trailer on a tree surrounded gravel lot. I watched them argue from my position in the back seat hoping he would get my coins back. I understand now that they weren’t really my coins. She said she would give them back if he would just pay her the $350 that he owed. “Oh, that’s how it’s going to be, huh,” he said, before turning and storming away. “I don’t understand what is happening here; just pay me what you owe,” she said plaintively. The woman’s mother came out for support as we drove away from two very concerned women.
We were at my grandmother’s when the policeman arrived to talk to my father who never got up off the couch. The policeman stood warily at the door. My grandmother hovered nearby in the kitchen. He asked my father if he knew what happened to the babysitter who had been found dead. My dad blew him off. He then asked, “Do you know why her mother would say that this woman was afraid of you?” There was a brief look of surprise across my dad’s face of which he recovered quickly before nonchalantly shrugging his shoulders. My grandmother became alarmed and called out, “He’s the nephew of judge Randolph.” My dad ordered her to call him. The officer responded by saying that he would report to the office but would be back if he needed more information. Walter shrugged again. After he left, my father asked grandma what the judge had said. He had said to never call him regarding Walter again.
It becomes obvious that my grandmother knew what Walter was capable of and that he had done this thing. She always coddled him and handled him with kid-gloves. No one ever stopped him, not even the police.
By this time in my life, I’d had opportunity to spend more time with this grandmother. My mother’s side of the family was not in my life. The stories the woman would tell me were down right disgusting. It seemed her mind dwelt upon sexual perversion. Men were brutes and beasts and all they wanted was to stick their “ole’ nasty…” and here she’d say the word. She talked about women with Coke bottles and about what men did with chickens until their bloodied insides were hanging out. This woman was warped and sick. Imagine the psychological effect she had on me as a child, absorbing it all with wide-eyed innocence and no filter.