For most people, a car is a means of transportation, a way to get from one place to another. I admit that it is a bit reductive, because for many of us our vehicle is much more than just a way to move from point A to point B and becomes an important environment for fun. We choose the comfort features in our cars more than any other option, and many of us customize our trips inside and out to express ourselves and make the car in which we spend most of each day, in a more comfortable place.
But for some people their vehicle is an expression of something darker and is used in all disgusting activities. From serial killers who use their cars to chase their next victim, to others who turn their car into a mobile crime scene, some cars have become part of the shame simply because of the crimes of their owners. Today I am going to take you through some of the most grotesque crimes known in history, and the vehicles involved.
The Manson family is a 1959 Ford Falcon and a 1935 Dodge Power Wagon
What began as an idealistic expression of the hippie counterculture movement and the teachings of a charismatic leader turned into a horrific nightmare in 1969. After his release from prison in 1967, Charles Manson began gathering followers in the San Francisco area of California and then set up a ranch for himself and his “family” in Los Angeles County. Heavy drug use, pseudo-religious teachings, and Manson’s ability to communicate with his followers led to a rampage of crime that culminated in the catastrophic culmination of the evening of August 8 and 9, 1969.
Members of the Manson family drove a yellow 1959 Ford Falcon to the homes of Sharon Tate 8th and Lena and Rosemary Lobyanka 9th. Family members entered the homes and killed seven people in two nights. A few months later, when investigators shut down the family, one member named Tex Watson fled on one of two 1935 Dodges. Powerful cars that Manson had for trying to get around the ranch. Eventually it failed and broke down, although Watson was able to hitchhike to Texas, where he was arrested and sent back to California to be tried along with other family members for the murders.
Ted Bundy – 1975 Volkswagen Beetle
One of the most infamous serial killers in U.S. history, Ted Bundy has often been described as charismatic, handsome, and likable – even during lawsuits when details of his horrific actions became public knowledge. The way Bundy approached his potential victims was grotesque and remarkable: he wore a cast and sometimes used crutches to look powerless to make women feel at ease and reduce protection. He then asked them to help him with something to bring them closer to his 1975 Volkswagen Beetle so he could steal them.
Some of the earliest reports from witnesses to the abductions and those who last saw the Bundy victims reported seeing a “beige”, “brown” or “brown” Volkswagen Beetle. On August 16, 1975, a traffic patrol officer spotted Bundy circling the neighborhood and stopped him. Approaching, the officer saw that the front passenger seat had been removed; this prompted him to search for a vehicle. The officer found a ski mask, crowbars, handcuffs, garbage bags, a rope and an icebreaker – Bundy tried to explain that he liked skiing, found handcuffs in the trash, and the rest – ordinary household items. Although he was arrested, he was released the next day and immediately cleaned his car, destroying a huge amount of potential evidence.
Ed Gaine – 1949 Ford Sedan
While Ted Bundy’s method of enticing victims could have inspired “Silence of the Lambs,” other films such as “Psyche” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” were based on another monster: Ed Heine. On November 16, 1967, the owner of a hardware store in Plainfield, Wisconsin, went missing – her son realized he had seen Ed Gaine in the store the night before he went missing. Later that day, Heine was arrested at a grocery store, and the county sheriff’s department went to Heine’s farm to look for the missing woman.
What they found was something of a nightmare. Prior to that, Hein had spent years robbing graves, stealing bones and other items from the graves of recently buried women. He used these bones to make furniture and jewelry throughout his home – at least one member of the sheriff’s department died of heart failure before the trial of Heine, and many say the atrocities they found on Heine’s farm contributed to his death. Ed Gain’s 1949 Ford Sedan, which he used to transport the bodies of his victims, was sold at public auction and put up for sale by a carnival operator named Bunny Gibbons, who charged his customers 25 cents to see what he called the “Ghoul Car.” Ed Gain.
Sniper Bltway – Chevrolet Caprice 1990 release
In the fall of 2002, a three-week panic erupted in Washington, Maryland and Virginia. The shootings took place in seemingly random places and on dates, without warning and without apparent cause or motive. There was little evidence left on any of the scenes, and it was clear that the shots were fired by snipers from a great distance. Early witness reports included the presence of a truck with a white box, which police began searching for; only after later shootings did witnesses mention a blue Chevy Caprice.
By the time the riot ended and arrests had been made, 17 people had been killed and 10 wounded – between a Beltway sniper shooting and some previous shootings. It turned out that the two individuals worked together, with Blue Chevy what eyewitnesses saw was used as a mobile sniper nest. They modified the 1990 Chevy Caprice so that one of them could climb through the back seat to get into the trunk, where they drilled a small hole right above the license plate. The shooter lay prostrate in the barrel with a rifle aimed through the hole, and fired at his unsuspecting victims, showing great cowardice and cruelty.
Bittecker and Norris – GMC Vandura 1977
From June to October 1979, Lawrence Bittecker and Roy Norris committed some of the most horrific abductions and murders in U.S. history. They met when both were in prison in 1977, and quickly became close because of a common interest in misogyny and sadistic fantasies. Unfortunately for the whole world, as soon as they were released from prison, they met again and began to turn these horrible fantasies into a nightmarish reality.
In February 1979, Bittaker purchased the 1977 GMC Vandura panel van: he chose this model because it had a sliding side door. This allowed the two men to drive up next to the potential victim alone and walking down the street and then drag them into a minibus without having to stop so they could quickly escape from the scene. Disgustingly, the two of them nicknamed their van “Mac Murder”, and, tragically, it lived up to its name, as it was the scene of the deaths of five teenage girls before they were finally detained in November 1979.
For most of us, our car is a place where you can relax after a long day, ride on the weekends and help us cope with the tasks. Unfortunately, others see in their cars the potential to commit horrific acts against other people. We are lucky that such people are relatively rare, even if their actions have led to the fact that some cars remain in disrepair.