Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Herb Baumeister

The Dark Side

"Evil is unspectacular and always human

And shares our bed and eats at out our own table."

Herman Melville

Tony Harris had seen and talked to the killer. In fact, in retrospect, he seems to have miraculously escaped with his life. Over the next several weeks, Tony made several visits to Vandagriffs office, each subsequent one yielding a little more information as he recalled it or chose to tell it. Simply, Tony feared for his life. But, as he came to know and trust Vandagriff and his secretary Connie Pierce, he opened up more and more each time. His interviews were recorded with his permission.

According to Tony, he had chanced upon his suspect in a local gay bar in town; the 501 Club; actually, he had seen him before in Indianapolis gay night scene, but couldnt place him tall, lanky and silent but they had never spoken. On this particular August evening, what had drawn Tonys attention to the man was the extreme way he seemed to scrutinize the Roger Goodlet/Missing Persons poster that hung behind the bar counter.

"I just had a feeling by the way he was captivated by that poster that he was the man who killed my friend Roger," Tony told Vandagriff. "Something in his eyes."

Tonys story unfolded. Suspecting this stranger of Rogers disappearance, he introduced himself to the man in hopes to find out what he might know. The man, who called himself Brian Smart, evaded Tonys subtle inquiries about Roger, but, smiling, invited Tony out for the night. He explained he was a landscape artist from Ohio, currently living in an empty house outside of town that he was preparing for the new owners yet to move in. "Lets go back there for a cocktail and a swim," he asked Tony. Tony reluctantly agreed. And then a night of abstract weirdness began.

Outside, they got into Brians gray Buick with an Ohio license plate. They headed north on Meridian Street where "it turned into U.S. I-31...the downtown expanses disappearing behind them as the greener suburbs emerged," writes Fannie Weinstein and Melinda Wilson in Where the Bodies are Buried. "Tony didnt often venture this far north of Indianapolis, but he knew they were heading into rich people territory." They finally drew off the highway "somewhere past 121st Street," made several more turns, then entered a quiet locale "dotted with expensive new homes and horse farms, set off by split-rail fences. At an asphalt driveway marked by a sign atop a landscaped stone embankment, Brian slowed. Something Farm was all Tony could make out on the sign."

The Buick paused before what was a large Tudor country mansion, unlit. They alighted from the auto and entered the dark house through a side entrance, passing through the garage where Tony spotted several cars parked, among them an antique car. Entering the house, Tony thought it seemed haphazardly furnished; even in the moonlit dimness, he could see that there were items of furniture and boxes everywhere. He followed Brian through a succession of rooms until they came to a descending stairwell. "Cmon," Brian motioned down, "theres electricity in the basement," and led him to a large recreation room at the bottom of the steps. Like the upper quarters, this room with its wet bar and connecting indoor pool might have been pleasant were it not for an array of clutter. The site of mannequins around the room, staged in various poses, shot a chill through Tony.

"I get lonely down here," Brian noticed Tonys interest in the grotesque forms. "They give me company."

Refusing to take a drink as offered, Brian noticed his hosts countenance darken. Nevertheless, Brian insisted that they party, but first excused himself briefly. Upon his return, he seemed looser, less timid; gabbier. "Tony thought for certain that he must have done some drug in his absence cocaine, he speculated," Weinstein and Wilson add. "Hed seen the same buoyancy in other people who were coked up."

Brian convinced Tony to go for a swim in what, he discovered, was a lap pool with equal depths at both ends. While the guest swan naked, Brian talked about a number of subjects. Eventually, however, his expression changed. "I just learned this really neat trick," he whispered, gathering up the hose that lay serpentined on the edge of the pool. "If you choke someone while youre having sex it feels really great. You really get a great rush...

"You just want to pinch these two veins," he continued indicating the cartoid arteries in his own neck. "And its such a great buzz. You should see how someone looks when youre doing it to them. Their lips change color thats how you can tell its working."

Listening to this Brian, if that was his real name, carry on about his asphyxiatic/ sexual delights now convinced Tony that Brian had murdered Roger and God knows who else!

"Do it to me!" Brian said. He stripped and lay down on a foldout couch in the corner of the room and directed Tony to slip the hose about his throat. As he did so, he masturbated.

"By then, Tony was so horrified, so numb, he felt compelled to do whatever Brian wanted . Too, it was clear...that Brian had been through this routine many times," Weinstein and Wilson resume. "The only way to find out how these particular sex games ended, Tony reasoned, was to take it all the way with this guy."

Tony placed Brians hands on his neck now and lay down, awaiting the next step with horror. Brian instinctively took the bait. Bending over his new playmate, Brian tied the choker tight around his throat, his face flushed with anticipation. As the garroting became intense, as the blood pressure mounted in his head, Tony didnt wait for further results. He feigned unconsciousness.

Eyes closed, he felt Brian ease up. A silent pause. Brian whispered his name. Another pause before he began shaking him violently. When Tony opened his eyes and grinned, Brian raged. "You scared the shit out of me! You know you can die doing this! There have been accidents!"

With that, Tony decided to be frank:" Is that what happened to Roger Goodlet? Was he one of your accidents? Were there others?"

If Tony hoped, however, to raise a confession, he was disappointed. Brian only stared at him, not comprehending, lost in a daze of whatever substance he had ingested. His only response was a fools grin. "Brian acted as if the whole thing...were an amusing little game that he controlled completely," continue the two authors of Where the Bodies Are Buried.

Eventually, Brians speech slurred and he was overcome with sleep. This gave Tony a chance to scout the upper quarters of the house, for he didnt believe Brians story that he was only the landscaper here nor that the estates owners had not yet moved in. His doubts were confirmed, for in the dark house above he encountered childrens toys and womens clothing in all the rooms; the place was obviously lived in for some time. Now, if only he could find out Brian Smarts real name. This one sounded phony and, he figured, the police would love to have this dudes real identity.

Creeping back downstairs, he began fingering through Brians tossed-off trousers for a wallet. But, when the other snorted and shook, as if awakening, Tony dropped the trousers. Unfortunately, before he had another opportunity to spy, Brian awoke.

It took some convincing, but Tony finally made Brian drive him back to town. Dressing, searching for his car keys, he then led Tony back to the Buick, which he nosed back toward the direction of Indianapolis.

"Hey, youre a good sport," Brian congratulated his partner. "You really know how to play!" As the car rolled into town, he made Tony promise to meet him at the 501 Club the following Wednesday.

* * * * *

Tony wasnt very clear where Brians house was actually located, but it seemed to be in either Westfield or Carmel, both very exclusive suburbs in Hamilton County. By the directions given, Vandagriff knew the place was outside Marion County, in which Indianapolis sits. The trouble was that the vague description of the house as stated by Tony could fit almost any one of a hundred estates in that area. All he had to go on was that a sign posted near the driveway read something about "Farms".

But, Vandagriff drew anxious as the appointed Wednesday neared for Tonys and Brians rendezvous. He posted one of his men, Steve Rivers, outside the bar while Tony loitered inside. Because Tony had spotted several cars in the deviants garage, Rivers watchful eyes studied the faces of anyone in any automobile that seemed to cruise by. No one fit Brians description: brown-haired, long-faced, pale.

By the time the bar closed that evening it became apparent, much to Vandagriffs disappointment, that Tony Harris had been stood up.

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