Someone is leaving the bodies of child molesters along Interstate 69. Still alive and completely naked, they are tied securely to a fence post or tree; a matter of convenience really. A killer, known as Mr. Smith, employs a pair ordinary garden pruners to severe their hands from their bodies. As they sit dying, Smith promises his victims that once they have passed on, he will let their friends and families know the evil that they have forced upon the poor innocent children.
After molesters move from this world to whatever awaits their depraved souls, Mr. Smith sets the scene. In their laps are their clothes folded neatly, along with their wallet, and their severed hands on either side; one holds a confession, and one holds a flash drive that documents their evil. Once completed, he simply walks away, leaving his victim sitting naked and alone, waiting to be discovered by the most unfortunate passing motorist.
Ben Oneal is the product of a barber and a telephone operator. Yes, a man who could give a close shave as well as a haircut, and a woman on the other end of the phone, politely asking, “Number Please?” He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Industrial Illustration, and he found his career as a lamp designer for General Motors. It was at GM that he worked with a depraved individual who was described as “a modern-day Bluebeard.” This man was suspected of killing his mother and two wives before he was finally convicted of killing his third. It was this experience that piqued his interest in criminal psychology, and in particular the broken mind of the serial killer.
The first day of summer was still a few weeks away, but the early morning breeze that blew across Interstate 69, just a few miles west of Port Huron Michigan, was warm indeed. The crickets played their chirping symphony as the other creatures of the night joined them in serenade. Clouds shrouded the moon and stars, creating an almost unspoiled darkness, save for a few stubborn fireflies that insisted on shining brightly against the hazy canopy.
Perfect, he thought as he gazed up at the cosmos, before returning his attention to the child predator at his feet. “Eric Conrad, you are the worst kind of cancer.” After a pause and a shake of his head, he continued, “No, to call you a cancer is to do that disease a great injustice. It sickens me to imagine the depths of your depravity.” Mr. Smith pulled his hood off and squatted, till he was eye level with Mr. Conrad, the child predator, entirely naked, gagged with his own filthy sock, and tied to a fencepost. He was so close that the smell of Conrad’s terror sweat overshadowed the scent of the wildflowers beyond the fence.