Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Artist and the Killer: Frank Bender and Hans Vorhauer

The Eyes of a Killer

The garbage truck rumbled down the alley behind Vorhauer's house, the compactor making its predictable racket. The task force did its best to do exactly what sanitation workers normally do so as not to arouse suspicion. Bender was so focused on his mission - getting pictures of the house, the cars parked out back and their license plates, and retrieving the Vorhauer's trash for clues - he hardly noticed the sour stench emanating from the truck.

As they pulled up to the rear of the house, an odd thought occurred to Bender. Of all the task force members, Bender felt that he would be the one Vorhauer would focus on. There were too many similarities between them. They were both artists and both of German heritage. Connections ricocheted through Bender's mind. Vorhauer's father has been a Gestapo officer during World War II. Bender's uncle, who was also an artist, had fought in that war and had been captured by the Germans. Convinced for some reason that he was Jewish, the Germans sent Bender's uncle to a concentration camp, which was, of course, run by the Gestapo. Miraculously, he survived the camp.

But Bender wondered if on some strange level Vorhauer was out to finish the job his father hadn't finished on his uncle, that Vorhauer specifically wanted him dead.

The deputy walking behind the truck with Bender retrieved the Vorhauer garbage and set it aside so that it wouldn't be compacted with all the other trash. Bender took cover along the side of the truck and started snapping pictures as fast as he could, capturing all the cars in the area. He zoomed in on the windows of the house, starting with the first floor and working his way up. When he got to the second-story window on the far left, his heart nearly stopped.

The room was dark, but the blinds were bent in the middle as if someone was standing there, peering down. Bender felt that Vorhauer was looking down at him and that he'd seen Bender taking pictures.

Bender slipped out of sight and tucked the camera back into his coveralls. He wanted to look up at that window again, but he forced himself to keep his eyes down. He didn't want to look suspicious, and he didn't want to give Vorhauer cause to start shooting.

Bender went back to work grabbing garbage bags and feeding the hopper, all the while sweating bullets, waiting for the crack of a rifle. He and the deputy were out in the open. Schneider and the other deputy were inside the cab. Bender thought about going up to the cab to say something, but he feared that even this would look suspicious. He told himself maybe he was just being paranoid. Maybe the blinds were just broken. Maybe there was no one there at all. Maybe Vorhauer wasn't even in the house. Maybe.

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