It was September of 1978 when fifteen-year-old Mary Vincent ran away from home in Nevada to seek the company of some friends in California due to an ugly divorce between her parents. After some time, she changes her mind, feeling homesick, to hitchhike back to Nevada. Hitchhiking wasn’t unusual during this time as many people used it as transportation until recently. When she was waiting, there were two other people holding a sign for a similar direction when someone in a blue van pulled up to offer her a ride. The older man said there was only room for one person, pointing at Mary, but the other two people shook their head, encouraging her to wait a little longer for another ride but Mary was exhausted and accepted the ride anyway without even thinking of what kind of person he was. Mary fell asleep, and when she woke up, she pointed out that he was going in the wrong direction and his response was to pull over on a deserted road with the excuse of having to relieve himself.
Mary had seconds to plan her escape with an untied shoe, and few options to speak of at that point. Those precious seconds to jump out the car to tie her shoes costed her when he attacked her with a sledge hammer to her head. The force of the hit caused her to black out, by the time she regained consciousness she was tied up and he was began raping her. “Why would you do this?” she asked, but he refused to answer. This man raped her approximately six times before falling asleep, leaving Mary defenseless, scared, and without options to escape.
“Set me free, please. I won’t tell anyone.” Mary begged and pleaded to this man until the sky went dark and even when the sun rose the next day. They were still in the middle of the dessert when he finally says “you want to be set free? I’ll set you free.” He said as he pulled out a hatchet from his tool box. In one swing he took her left arm when she became faint and fell as he took another swing. Mary grabbed his arm as she tried to figure out why she was falling, but that was the arm he took. All the pain rushed to her in a hot, stinging of extricating shock. She continued to scream and wail, and kick as he kept chopping the right arm. Mary noticed that he was waving his arm around wildly, flicking something away until she realized her arm was still gripped on his arm.
This monster of a man, if you could call him a man, decided to throw her off the cliff where she broke four ribs, bleeding out, missing two arms, and alone in the desert. At this point she was ready to go to sleep, exhausted from everything. “Don’t go to sleep, he’s going to do this to someone else.” A voice in the back of her mind repeated as she fought to stifle the bleeding and return to the top of the cliff where she was thrown. Mary’s quick thinking led to her putting mud over the wounds where her arms were to stop the bleeding enough to climb up the cliff despite her lack of hands and forearms. By the time she reached the top, it was already dark. Led by nothing more than the moonlight and the faint sound of cars as though another freeway were nearby. A red convertible car pulled up, but they were so shaken by the sight of poor Mary’s blood soaked, arm chopped appearance for miles.
A couple, a newlywed, finally stopped for her after getting lost. The couple helped her into their truck where they found a phone to call paramedics and got her helicoptered to the hospital. She made a great recovery, though she needed prosthetics. The next time she met with her attacker was in court where she found out his name. “If it’s the last thing I do, I’ll finish the job.” He says as Mary passes to her seat in the courtroom. Lawrence Singleton, the name to the face, a man that had less than nothing for a heart in his chest when he decided to do something so heinous. Lawrence was fifty-one when this occurred, was sentenced for fourteen years, the maximum sentence for the crime he committed; extremely upsetting if you ask me. He was released after eight years. After his sentence, when he was technically a free man, he did it again.
Paroled in 1987 for good behavior, there was controversy of where he’d be held as every county from California to Nevada petitioned for him to be restricted to stay in their area. and murdered another woman, Roxanne Hayes, in 1997. He was sentenced to death row but died of cancer in 2001 at the age of seventy-four.
This sad and troubling case has been covered by numerous people including podcasts and television shows like “I Survived” season three episode one but seeing as it’s still an important message to remember, I decided to write about it. I’ll be including links below to get more information.