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The Stocking Strangler: My Home Town Serial Killer (A True Story)

When Theresa writes non-fiction, it is always somehow related to an event or something that touched her personal life in some manner.

I've been around for a long, long year

Stole many a man's soul and faith

... Pleased to meet you

Hope you guess my name

— The Rolling Stones "Sympathy for the Devil"

Wilhelm Gallhof-Halbakt.jpg 10 January 2010

Wilhelm Gallhof-Halbakt.jpg 10 January 2010

You're resting peacefully and comfortably alone in your own home, when suddenly without any warning, experiencing the horror of an unknown predator creeping into your home like a lion out to kill a sleeping sheep, all the while never saying one word to you while on top of you, punching you in the face, raping you and then choking the life out of you with one of your very own stockings. Before leaving you to succumb to death, this predator places a pillow over your face, not to suffocate you, but as some sort of final ritual.

Unfortunately, this was a horrific reality for seven mature women living in my home town at the hands of a serial killer known as "The Stocking Strangler," for obvious reasons.

Author's Note

My intent in publishing this article is not to rehash the entire gruesome story of these heinous crimes, but rather attempt to recreate the sense of fear that gripped my home town. Interestingly, however, I do have a bit of a small connection to part of the story ...are you intrigued?

The Fountain City

File: Columbus Historic District Fountain 4th Street.JPG Author: Deutschlandreform 12 October 2012 CC-BY-SA-3.0

File: Columbus Historic District Fountain 4th Street.JPG Author: Deutschlandreform 12 October 2012 CC-BY-SA-3.0

On the Grounds of the Bradley Library

My mother and my middle sister, sitting on a bench on the grounds of the Bradley Library in my home town.  My mother always cut my middle sister's hair like Dorothy Hamill for some reason.

My mother and my middle sister, sitting on a bench on the grounds of the Bradley Library in my home town. My mother always cut my middle sister's hair like Dorothy Hamill for some reason.

A year before I was to be married, beginning in September of 1977, my lovely home town, Columbus, Georgia, was terrorized by a serial killer of the most heinous kind, targeting mature women living alone in the affluent and historic area of the city known as Wynnton.

I was familiar with the Wynnton area only because my dear mother loved to take my siblings and I to the Bradley Library, which was located in that area of town. The grounds are beautiful, as I remember, filled with endless azalea bushes, pine trees and dogwood trees which all present as a floral wonderment during Spring. In addition to that, my mother loved to take all of us children to the different parks around my home town, including a beautiful one located right in the heart of the Wynnton area. I was a young child then, but still remember loving to go there, as there was much shade from the beautiful Oak trees, swing sets and picnic tables. Many people enjoyed jogging around that park for its peaceful and lovely setting. I mention this fact about the jogging for a specific reason as you will note later.

My home town is, or was, such a friendly city, yet modern in a lot of ways, with much going for it. It is a bustling city where one can always find something interesting to do. Columbus is also called the "Fountain City" because so many homes and churches have fountains. Columbus also has a national historic district in its downtown area that contains historic homes from the 19th century.

Although I refer to Columbus as my home "town," it is actually the second largest city in Georgia (Atlanta is the first). Columbus is located about 100 miles south of Atlanta. It is located on the Chattahoochee River. The Army base of Fort Benning adjoins the city.

My home town was known for having a high quality of life all around. One of the best aspects as far as quality of life was its low crime rate for a city of its size, which may have made it all the more shocking when a serial killer terrorized my home town.

At that time, I worked at the A&P (Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company) grocery store as a cashier just up the road from my home. I worked to save up to help pay for my upcoming wedding in September of 1978. We lived far from the historic district. Again, there is a reason I mention this fact here.

Columbus Historic District

File: Columbus Historic District Sign Fourth Street.JPG 12 October 2012 Author: Deutschlandreform CC-BY-SA-3.0

File: Columbus Historic District Sign Fourth Street.JPG 12 October 2012 Author: Deutschlandreform CC-BY-SA-3.0