A Checklist for Murder
Eighteen-year-old Natasha lay in the seat listening to the metallic sounds as he tinkered under the Cadillac. Was it safe to move?
She still had a little physical control left, despite her cuffed hands, her bound ankles, her blindness inside the canvas hood. But long hours in captivity being force-fed a combination of alcohol and some kind of an unknown drug had served to take a severe toll. Even though she was healthy and she had always been athletic, by this point it took all her effort just to make her slim body obey her.
She reached out over her mother's unconscious form. Slowly, she ran trembling fingers down the steering column until at last her fingertips brushed the ignition. The key was still there, but she pulled back. Could she start the car even though her hands were cuffed in front of her? Could she shift the transmission into reverse even though she couldn't see, stomp on the gas even though her feet were tied? Most of all, could she do it fast enough to run the car over him before he heard her and scrambled out of the way? She had to try. There was no longer any doubt that he was about to kill them both. Once again she leaned over her mother, stretching her cuffed hands out toward the key.
But just as her fingertips finally reached the ignition, she realized the sounds under the car had stopped.
* * *
Sometime before 4:00 a.m. on July 22, 1987, a motorist named John Dozier pulled over to the side of a desolate road. He peered into the early morning darkness and struggled to focus on a jumble of twisted wreckage off the right hand shoulder. It seemed to be a single car wreck; no one was moving at the scene. He looked closer. A thin wisp of smoke was rising from the undercarriage of an old Cadillac resting near the side of the road. The rear of the car was still on the gravel shoulder, but the front straddled the remains of a wooden telephone pole. It appeared that the heavy `71 sedan had rammed the pole with such force that it splintered and collapsed. The front of the car had come to rest on top of the remains of the pole as it lay on the ground.
Dozier realized that the wreck must have happened only moments before and that he was the first to come along. He knew that on an isolated strip of road like this one, it might be hours before anyone else chanced by in the darkness.
He hurried over, opened the driver's door of the Cadillac and discovered a petite woman lying inside. She gave no signs of life. He tried to pull her free but she was jammed under the dash board beneath the steering wheel. On the floor beside her he could hear a female passenger moaning softly, but the door on the passenger side was jammed in place and there was nothing he could do to free the second victim, either.
Then he remembered the thin wisp of smoke coming from under the car. He realized an explosion could happen at any second.
Dozier hurried away to find a phone and call for help.
* * *
Natasha was in the place dreams come from. Dreams, or nightmares. Her eyes could register forms moving. Her ears could register sounds. But her conscious mind had been knocked aside and the messages coming in through her senses were getting lost somewhere deep within her. They mingled with the rest of her unconscious, with memories, with hallucinations. Whatever was taking place in the three-dimensional world around her, or even in that tiny part of the world right outside of her own skin and bones, it would all have to go by without her help, without her attention, without her even taking notice.
INVESTIGATION DISCOVERY, December 20, 2015
episode: "A CHECKLIST FOR MURDER"
Anthony appears on camera and co-narrates with Natasha Peernock, Victoria Doom, and key members of the investigation and prosecution. Available free online.