Friday, August 25, 2006

Serial Killer Van Hall of Fame

From A&E's "American Justice" to mediocre network dramas to CrimeLibrary.com, serial killers are a never-industry. They're as much an American staple as wheat. But while killers grant interviews from death row and auction autographed prison mail on eBay, who remembers the vans that made so much of their horror possible? What becomes of these soldiers of the street -- are they left to languish in some backwoods junkyard? Not if Vandemonium has a say.

So we've created the Serial Killer Van Hall of Fame, and there's no better inaugural van than the silver 1977 GMC cargo number driven by Roy Norris and Lawrence "Pliers" Bittaker. While many a serial killer has driven a van, Norris and Bittaker might have been the only ones to name theirs. They christened their terror-on-wheels "Murder Mack," permanently cementing their place in serial killer lore.

The two met in 1978, while serving time an assorted rape and burglary charges in a San Luis Obispo prison. While kicking around the courtyard, they soon discovered they had a few things in common -- primarily rapin' and killin'. There, the two hatched an ingenious plan whereby they would kidnap and murder a girl from each teen age (i.e., one 13-year-old, one 14-year-old, etc.).

Upon their release, these two had nothing but a gleam in their eyes and a hunger in their hearts. But, in true Horatio Alger fashion, Bittaker tracked down a beauty of a van -- a glistening 1977 GMC cargo whose passenger-side sliding door would, in Bittaker's words, allow them to "pull up real close and not have to open the doors all the way" to snatch a teen from the sidewalk.



After a rocky start, the two figured it would be best if one hid under the bed in the rear, believing they'd have an easier time luring doe-eyed waifs who thought this was a Solitary Man Van. Then, as soon as the teen stepped inside Murder Mack, the one hiding would spring forth Ashton Kutcher-like, to punk the unsuspecting hitcher. And by "punk," we mean "torture to death with pliers."

This worked so well that the two stopped doing their rapin' and killin' at a destination site, preferring to go ahead and do things right there in Murder Mack, creating their very own crime-scene-on-wheels. It was a tremendous innovation in the serial killing business.

While some suspect Norris and Bittaker murdered scores of women, they were only convicted of five murders. As for Murder Mack's fate, not much is known. Anyone having information about the fate of this remarkable van is urged to contact the Hall of Fame, so we can offer a complete bio of one of the van world's unsung heroes.

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