Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Gary Krist: The Einstein of Crime

Out of Control

Gary Krist
Gary Krist

From puberty to young adulthood, Krist's life was a dizzying blur of car thefts followed by inevitable incarceration.

In August 1963, a few weeks before college classes were to begin, he stole an El Camino and fled to Oakland, Calif., abandoning a pregnant girlfriend in Ogden.  

After just a few days in California, Krist wrecked a stolen MG in Ventura and was sent away to a state juvenile jail.

During his 14 months there, Krist spent idle hours planning his magnum opus crime.

He believed that most kidnappings failed due to poor planning and execution. He vowed to do it right.

Krist decided the perfect target would be a young woman. Children are too much of a hassle, he reasoned, and abducting a male victim could be a physical challenge.

Holding a victim while awaiting ransom can be another challenge. Krist conjured a solution: Bury the victim alive in a secure tomb.

He worked out dozens of other detailsthe modes of contact with the victim's parents, how and when the ransom drop would be made, getaway plans and contingencies.

Krist, still just 18 years old, resolved to bide his time and wait for the right moment to pull off the crime.

He was freed on Dec. 4, 1964, and made his way to Palo Alto, where his brother was studying at Stanford University.

In March 1965, he married Carmen Simon, a young woman he met at a Redwood City rolling skating rink.

Within weeks, he was back in jail for car theft, serving a four-month sentence.

Krist's car thievery was beyond self-destructive. It was obsessive, even sociopathic.

He stole cars from parking lots, from driveways, from car dealerships. If he saw a key in an ignition, he considered it a gift. He had to steal that careven if he had nowhere to drive it, and even though he knew he would get caught again.

He couldn't help himself.

Krist celebrated his first wedding anniversary by beginning a five-year prison sentence for auto theft. His son Vince was born while he was locked up.

But after just eight months, Krist got an early release by scaling two fences at a prison in Tracy, Calif., and running for his life.

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