Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Handcuffman

1985: Attack on Max Shrader

In the years following his divorce, Bob Bennett divided his time between Towanda and Florida, where he stayed with his disabled mother in winter and spring. Annabelle Bennett had been in a bad car accident while vacationing in Kenya and had been left paralyzed as a result. Her major comfort was the devoted son who doted on her as she had doted on him while he was growing up. While he spent much time comforting his mother and keeping her company, Bennett could be verbally abusive to both his father and his mother, Notte remembered. An acquaintance of the Bennetts recalled that Bob Bennett made comments sometimes that she could irritate him to the point he wanted to scream. We said, Bob, you probably do a lot of things to make her scream.

In 1983, Bennett was banned from the Gallus, an Atlanta bar and restaurant with a predominantly gay clientele. The ban came about when a gay male prostitute complained to Sergeant J. D. Kirkland that Bennett was known to pick hustlers up and injure them. On Nov. 4, 1983, Bennett signed a document saying he understood he had been barred from the premises of the Gallus restaurant and that he could be arrested without further notice and charged with Criminal Trespass if he returned to it.

In 1984, a young man named Myers Von Hirschsprung was standing on a street corner near his home waiting for a bus to take him downtown. A car approached him.

Need a ride? the driver asked.

The youth did. He got in the car and exchanged introductions and pleasantries with the middle-aged man behind the wheel.

Im a professor at Georgia Tech, the driver told Von Hirschsprung. As Myers recalled, the mans speech had a rather slow cadence to it. Im doing a study about peoples drinking and their tolerance levels for it. Ill pay you $100 to drink whatever kind of liquor you want to, Myers, if youll drink it as quickly as you can. Well go somewhere and youll drink and then walk and if youre walking OK, youll drink some more.

Von Hirschsprung was instantly suspicious. They were near his destination, and the young man decided he did not want to earn $100 that way. Please just let me out, he told the supposed professor.

The man did, and Myers escaped.

In 1985, a gay male prostitute who used the name Chico was picked up in Atlanta by a dark-haired, bespectacled white man. As he was driving, the customer showed Chico a pair of handcuffs. Try them on, he urged. I just want to see how they look on you.

Chico was instantly wary. Please stop the car, he said.

No, was the reply.

Chico saw that the door lock had been removed and the handle covered with duct-tape. The window was open, however, and the terrified, and small, Chico dove out of it as the vehicle was moving.

He was badly bruised and scratched from his fall but escaped without other injuries.

Others were not so fortunate.

Max Shrader (Fulton County D.A.'s Office)
Max Shrader
(Fulton County
D.A.'s Office)

Max Shrader was a handsome, slim and streetwise Atlanta youth who sported small black tattoos on both forearms. One sunny day in April 1985 he was hanging around the streets of Ponce de Leon and Barnett and, in his own words, looking for some money when he spotted a potential source.

A man in a car kept driving around the block The man parked at a curb and motioned for Shrader to approach.

Get a hard on for me, the driver said. Ill drive around the block and come back. True to his word, he took off and circled back to the same place. Would you like a drink of vodka? he asked Shrader.

Yeah, the hustler replied.

The John handed him a brown drink.

I mixed some coke in it, the customer explained.

Shrader began drinking. Almost immediately he felt woozy, then crumpled to the ground. He knew the drink had been laced with something. Semi-conscious, he was pulled into the passenger seat of the mans car. Dont hurt me! he begged. But the vehicle took off.

The stranger drove Shrader into a wooded area and began taking Shraders clothes off. He pored a cold liquid over the drowsy young mans genitals.

Then he set Max Shraders genitals on fire.

The helpless man lay on the ground shrieking for help as his attacker sped away.

Someone heard Shraders cries and called the police.

Shrader spent two months in the hospital, in pain and often heavily sedated. He could not walk during much of his hospital stay and had to wear a diaper-like gauze over his genital area.

But the Handcuff Man was not satisfied. On June 10, 1986, two Atlanta pals, Michael Johnson and Anthony Tony Poppilia, were hanging out on Ponce De Leon between the Goofy Gofer and the Pegasus. Poppilia was wearing a tight blue fishnet tank top, blue jeans, cowboy boots, and a black hat.

A man called to Poppilia from a car, and Poppilia approached him. The driver introduced himself as Jim and asked if Poppilia wished to earn $50 by participating in an Emory University study on the effects of given amounts of alcohol. Poppilia told Jim to wait a minute.

Then Poppilia ran back to his friend Michael. The two friends usually gave each other the license plate and description of guys who picked them up, and Poppilia did so this time.

When Poppilia explained that he was going to drink some alcohol for this researcher then walk a straight line, Michael said, You can do that if you want to, but remember youve got to be at work tomorrow at seven. He also warned his friend to be careful because there was a weirdo around attacking guys.

Jim drove Poppilia around for awhile, serving him vodka. Eventually, Jim stopped his car behind the Texas Drilling Company bar. Would you like to put on a pair of shorts so youll be more comfortable? Jim asked, holding a pair of cut-off jeans.

Poppilia agreed. Underneath the emergency stairs of the bar, Poppilia peeled off his pants and put on the shorts. They had no pockets, so he had to leave his wallet and other personal items in his own pants.

The two men went into the bar and downed a few drinks. Poppilias memory of the night is fuzzy after that. He recalled that, when they left the bar, Jim seemed to want to get away from him, but Poppilia followed him to the car because he needed his pants and wallet. Poppilia was able to get into the passenger seat, but Jim took off and pushed Poppilia out of the vehicle while it was moving.

Poppilia called to a man carrying a garbage can nearby, and the man approached.

I just got mugged, Tony explained before losing consciousness. He was wearing only his undershorts, and he had suffered several abrasions and bruises. He was later unable to recall removing his shirt or the shorts he had been loaned.

When he came to, three men were crowded around him.

Where are you living? one of the men asked.

Poppilia gave him his address and directions before passing out.

When he awoke, he was at a Dunkin Donuts with two Atlanta police officers. Could you identify the man who called himself Jim? one asked.

Yes, Poppilia replied.

He didnt have to wait long. Jim was standing in the parking lot of the donut shop. Two men who had been alerted to the crime had blocked his car with their own vehicles. One of those men was Poppilias friend Charles Fallow, who had also been mugged by Jim. About nine months earlier, Fallow said the two of them had been drinking together and the man had handcuffed Fallow, then beat and robbed him.



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