Two months later, the police found another girl. Her name was Katie Redmond, and her empty Datsun had been found idling at a rural intersection. Police believed the killer had rear-ended her and attacked her when she got out to check the damage—a strikingly similar scenario to what police believed had happened to a Salem girl named Sherry Eyerly in 1982. Eyerly was supposed to have been delivering pizzas to an address out in the country, but her car was found by a passerby with the motor running and the door open. She was never seen again.
With these new developments, Terri and I became obsessed with the cases. We scoured the papers and bird-dogged the local television stations for any new information, but there wasn’t much to be found. Back then, there were no 24-hour news channels screaming for justice, no Wikipedic sources of specious information. So every night we discussed it over the phone, with a fervency and passion only teenagers can achieve, eventually coming to two conclusions: First, whoever killed Becky Darling and Katie Redmond must have been the same person who killed Sherry Eyerly; and second, we needed to do something about it—because we weren’t willing to leave it up to the fearful adults surrounding us to avenge their deaths.
So, armed with the supplies we felt were necessary for the apprehension of a violent criminal—two baseball bats, a can of Aqua Net, and a pack of clove cigarettes—Terri and I snuck out one night and drove to the same intersection where Katie Redmond’s car had been found, hoping to bait the killer into making a move. Sipping bright pink wildberry wine coolers and listening to a Loverboy casette tape, we talked about what must have been going through Katie’s mind the night she was killed. We speculated about the killer, wondering why he hated girls like us.
But as the fruity alcohol began to work its magic, we forgot that we were sitting in a serial killer’s known stomping grounds, forgot about Katie and Sherry and Becky, and reverted back to the silly teenagers we were, gossiping about our classmate Blake Wheeler’s bad taste in prom dates and hatching a plan to get our parents to let us go to the next Journey concert. After two hours, we drove home—drunk, yes; stupid, yes—but at least very much alive. It turned out we were still just kids after all, lured by the abstract idea of the dark side, sure, but not quite ready to focus on it for more than the 15 minutes our teenage attention spans would allow.
A few weeks later, on April 25, 1984, William Scott Smith was charged with the rapes and murders of Becky Darling and Katie Redmond. As the end of the school year neared, and the summer found us, once again, tanned and carefree, we forgot about the case almost completely.
Almost. Last December, Terri sent me an e-mail with a link to a story that had run in Salem’s Statesman Journal: Smith, already serving two consecutive life sentences in the Oregon State Penitentiary, had finally confessed to murdering Sherry Eyerly. Above the link, Terri had written just one word: Remember?
I did. I thought I’d forgotten all those people—Sherry, Becky, and Katie; Jerome Brudos; and the other Oregon killers who had come before and after him. But as I stared back at Terri’s e-mail, they reached out to me from the past, reminding me of my teenage self, when my hair was perfectly feathered and berry wine coolers actually tasted good. When I was still young enough to be sheltered from an ugly reality, but old enough to search it out on my own—and naïve enough to think I could do something about it.