Thursday, September 4, 2008

We Work For The Dead





There's a serial killer in Los Angeles that has been named The Grim Sleeper because he stopped killing from 1988 until 2002. There's DNA and ballistics evidence, and the MO was always the same. Homicide cops will answer the phone saying "We work for the dead" or "We work for God." The first sounds better to me, after all, the dead need to be avenged, its not about closure, I word I have come to despise. And while some might argue working for God, I stand by my belief that there is a Higher Power, my belief coming from my being born a cripple. If that Higher Power wasn't benevolent, we'd all be goose-stepping Nazis in His/Her image or three-dimensional kids on Camazotz like in Madeline L'Engle's A WRINKLE IN TIME. So, both phrases work, but I like the first. Grounded to the streets. Back in the 70s, it was more mafia hits than serial killings, a neighbor named Lourgis who lived at the corner house at 85th & Springfield (3901 to my 3909) was gunned down in his driveway and I worked for Sam Annerino at Pa's Italian Sandwich Shop on 95th Street, one Monday he went to Mirabelli's Furniture at 103rd & Cicero and three guys shotgunned him on the street during rush hour. Unsolved in the books. A girl was bludgeoned and dumped between McInnerney Funeral Home and the White Castle by Bogan High School when I was a senior. Her boyfriend did it. But back in the summer of 1974, Billy DeSouza went and disappeared. Walked to the carnival set up in Scottsdale Shopping Center at 79th & Cicero, never came home. The cops looked everywhere, I recall my father always talking with other cops about the case. At one point there was reason enough to search a wooded area that is now Orland Park and Homer Glen, many cops were on horseback to cover more ground because by then it was autumn and the leaves were falling. Another Unsolved. Until 1995, when a guy on death row in Connecticut gave up information with the uncanny detail, the photographic memory that I both wish and do not wish that I had. Sure enough, right there in a tree trunk within sight of the Orland Park Shopping Center at 175th, the skeleton of Billy DeSouza, intact. But during the latter part of 1974, my father was one of the Murder Police, and those are the men and women who work for the dead, to give an answer to the corpse's question of why was I killed?.........

8 comments:

G. W. Ferguson said...

Those people needed to read about body disposal techniques.

Charles Gramlich said...

"We work for the Dead" would be a great calling card for a private detective agency specializing in murder and cold cases. Great line. Fascinating about finding that boy's skeleton so long after.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Charles: I can only assume that someone out there has put the words on a business card or a catchy ad. Hope Gustav didn't mess you up too much, Sid told me Pineville got it pretty bad.

GW: I can tell you stories about questions I've asked assistants at the Cook County Morgue. One time a new guy wouldn't answer my question about strychnine, so I just called the Milwaukee Morgue. Of course, this was long before the Internet.

Capcom said...

Wow, what a story.

Could the Grim Sleeper have been in prison during the times that he was "dormant"?

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

If he was in prison, his DNA would be on file. He could have left the state or been recovering from some kind of injury. The last girl from 1988 lived, and said she told him to let her go. Part of what the police are doing is finding out if her comment meant anything to him or if he stopped killing because he knew there was now a witness. I know bad cops give all cops a bad name, but with the Murder Police, you're damned if you do, damned if you don't, in the sense of what leads to follow and try to avoid talking to the press because it would spook the killer.

HemlockMan said...

This serial killer sounds like he was in prison for a long time. I'd look for someone who was in prison for those years, and yet who had an address he could trust where he could have stored that pistol for that same amount of time. A parent, an aunt, cousin, personal home, etc.

It's worth a try.

You know why I never liked that movie called THE PLEDGE (directed by Sean Penn)? Because (spoiler warning), all that cop (Nicholson) had to do was research where in the FUCK you could buy chocolate porcupines (one of his only solid clues). How many such places could there possibly have been out in the middle of freaking nowhere? That's all he had to do, and he never so much as made one inquiry.

When people ask me why I didn't like that movie, that's what I tell them. No story logic, or else the protagonist was stupid and they forgot to tell us that he was stupid.

Alan Moore apparently has a photographic memory. The uncle of one of my best friends has a photographic memory. It's bizarre. He only has to look at something once, and it's locked down forever. Photo, text, whatever. Other than that, though, he's as boring a human as you would ever meet. He has some pedestrian job these days and will vanish into time.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Hemlockman: As I mentioned above, the DNA from victims in 1987, 2002, and 2004 are not in any database. The cold case detectives are trying to see if there were other shootings that might close the gap a bit. The main article can be found in the LA Weekly for August 28th. I try not to rant about films because probably 90% of the viewers (sadly) don't pick up on things, so why should the characters in the films? Most people walk away happy. I went to see a film whose name I forget, where John Malkovich is taunting Clint Eastwood from outside his wondow, Eastwood goes out and grabs the dangling phone without caring about fingerprints. In one of my Did I Say That Out Loud? moments, I pretty much blurted out something about the phone receiver which caused a few people to look at me, but what the hell. Sucks being a writer because by the time I'm halfway into a book or film, I'm already seeing the two or three possible endings that will either make it good or bad.

Samantha said...

"That's a great post. Here's a website on developing
photographic memory. Check out the tips that they offer. They worked pretty well for me. It's at http://www.photographic-memory.org"