OPINION: How I became consumed by true crime

Adriona Murphy

Adriona Murphy

In 1978, 15-year-old Mary Vincent was attempting to hitchhike from Las Vegas to California when 50-year-old Lawrence Singleton picked her up.

She drifted in and out of sleep during the drive and sensed something was off when she realized they were going in the opposite direction. He eventually pulled over to use the restroom, and Vincent stepped out to stretch her legs and tie her shoes, preparing to run. This is where the attack began.

I won’t go into all the horrible details, but at the end of the attack, he cut off both of her arms right below the elbows, leaving her to die in a ditch.

Despite this, she was able to pack mud around her wounds, crawl out of the ditch and get help like the badass she is. She testified against him, not once, but twice. He only went to prison for eight years. (He was eventually released, then moved to Florida and murdered a woman, resulting in the death penalty.)

Over the past couple years, I’ve noticed an increase in the amount of attention the “true crime” genre is getting. From new television shows, movies, podcasts and YouTube series, it seems the general public is becoming obsessed with the idea of who killed who.

Like most of the true crime enthusiasts I know, “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” and “CSI” were what started my fascination with all things murder-related — although, I still won’t watch scary movies or attend haunted houses to save my life.

After that came the late-night Wikipedia holes on famous serial killers and mysterious disappearances until my friend introduced me to what would become my first, and admittedly favorite, podcast: My Favorite Murder.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. My favorite murder? Who has a favorite murder? How twisted can you be?

But here’s the thing: It’s not about reveling in someone’s gruesome death or being envious of someone’s ability to do absolutely horrific things.

For me, it’s about being prepared for the worst. For some reason, in my head, learning about all the terrible stuff in the world makes me feel like it’s less likely to happen to me.

There are a lot of stories I’ve heard that don’t scare me, but there are a select few that have somehow scared, inspired and angered me. The story of Mary Vincent is one of them.

Also, If you need one reason to never get in the car with a stranger, this is it.

Adriona Murphy is a columnist. Contact her at [email protected].