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Acclaimed for her "devastatingly accurate insight" (The New York Times Book Review) into the criminal mind, Ann Rule has chronicled the most fascinating cases of our time in her bestselling Crime Files series. For this sixth stunning collection, Rule has culled from her private files the most-asked-about homicide cases – riveting accounts of seemingly normal men and women who are compelled by a murderous rage to suddenly lash out at innocent victims. Torn from the headlines, here is the case that shocked a nation: the Seattle city bus ride that turned to mayhem and murder at the hands of a gunman. Ann Rule unmasks the forces that drove quiet, clean-cut Silas Cool to shoot the driver, causing the bus to plunge off the Aurora Bridge into an apartment building. The catastrophe left three dead – including Cool – and dozens injured. While the scene unfolds as in a terrifying movie, Rule finds very real answers to the haunting question "how could this happen?" - and expertly constructs the unseen chain of events that resulted in an explosive and shattering tragedy. Included here are six other sensational cases that illuminate Rule's unique and authoritative view of the human psyche gone temporarily berserk. No one can match Rule's meticulous research, or reveal the motives to murder in such explicit and chilling detail. You may think you know who is safe and who is dangerous; in A Rage to Kill, Ann Rule frighteningly shows that none of us are truly protected from the flashes of irrational violence that can erupt from the killers among us.
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Ann Rule is a former Seattle policewoman and the author of more than two dozen New York Times bestsellers. She is a certified instructor for police training seminars and lectures frequently to law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and forensic science organizations, including the FBI. For more than two decades, she has been a powerful advocate for victims of violent crime. A graduate of the University of Washington, she holds a Ph.D. in Humane Letters from Willamette University. She lives near Seattle and can be contacted through her website AnnRules.com.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
From: A Bus to Nowhere
This is a case that might well have come out of a bad dream. It demonstrates how little control humans have over their own destinies, and how disaster sometimes comes while we are involved in the most mundane pursuits. Along with a million other people, I watched it unfold on my television screen. But don't jump to conclusions; this is not a review of the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colorado, although the motivation behind the two incidents are, perhaps, almost identical. Rage and resentment hidden beneath a bland facade can explode in ways we might never imagine, and sometimes that kind of hatred can smolder for a very long time, even for decades.
On the day after Thanksgiving, 1998, I was cleaning my kitchen, which, for me, was playing hookey from writing. Like many moms with big families, I had spent all the day before cooking and this seemed a good time to try to create some kind of order in my kitchen drawers and cabinets. This was my idea of a holiday, polishing silver, lining cupboards and washing dishes while I watched daytime television.
But I was snapped out of my reverie when I heard the announcer cut into Oprah with a news bulletin; his voice had a nonprofessional edge to it that gave away what was clearly his own shock. I looked up at my little kitchen TV set to see an image there that made no sense at all. I recognized a familiar bridge, but everything else was a jumble of crushed metal, emergency vehicles, victims with bloody clothing, and sobbing bystanders. For the next three hours, I watched, transfixed with horror.
We all tend to think that really bad things are not going to happen in the town where we live -- that we are somehow protected by the law of averages, fate, and even angels. The classic quote from bystanders who cluster around a murder or a multiple fatality accident is always, "Things like that don't happen in our town." Television reporters seem to love that quote, no matter how predictable it has become. But sometimes, terrible things do happen right down the street from where we live. The tragedy that occurred in Seattle on the day after Thanksgiving, 1998, was like that, and the reasons behind it made for an unfathomable puzzle at first.
I set out to try to find some answers. What I eventually discovered was shocking. More than any case I've written about to date, this one demonstrates that there are people who live and breathe and move among us who live in a completely alien world. In Seattle, on the day after a holiday that traditionally signifies warmth and love, one of those people brought untold pain to perfect strangers. I had to know who he was, what he looked like, and, most important, what drove him to do what he did. You couldn't really tell who he was from the statements of almost forty eyewitnesses; he might have been a dozen different men.
And no one knew who really lived behind his handsome, pleasant facade.
The Thanksgiving holiday, 1998, was no different from any other holiday, although Thursday, the day itself, was fairly quiet. Most residents of the western half of Washington State were grateful that the week's tumultuous weather had tempered just a little, and that there was power to roast their turkeys, since a storm packing 70-mile-an-hour winds had swept in on Monday and knocked power out in 200,000 homes. Ten inches of snow fell in the Cascade Mountains and the first gully-washing rains of what would prove to be a winter of record rainfall had begun. Thanksgiving Day itself was mostly cloudy, a little rainy, but the gale-force winds had diminished to only breezes. Friday was the same. That was fortunate for anyone living along Puget Sound or Elliott Bay; high tides of over twelve feet were expected and 70-mile-an-hour winds would have taken out a lot of docks and bulkheads and carried away boats and buoys. That had happened often enough over the Thanksgiving holidays of the past.
There are no holidays in a homicide unit; there are only detectives who have the day off, detectives who are on call, and detectives who are on duty. When something catastrophic happens, the whole police force is, of course, available. Those in the first category in the Seattle Police Department's Homicide Unit can breathe easy on a holiday, but the next two are either listening for their pagers to beep or working on open cases. Holidays tend to breed homicides; people who manage to avoid each other -- and are wise to do so -- the rest of the year are thrown together, with sometimes fatal results. They drink too much, get too little sleep, are worn out by travel, and generally tend to behave badly if they have a propensity for badness in the first place.
Detectives Steve O'Leary, John Nordlund, and Gene Ramirez were only on call on November 27, and thankful for that. They figured they were through the worst of the weekend by Friday. Steve O'Leary and his wife were having a delayed holiday dinner with her grandmother at a restaurant called Claire's Pantry in the north end of Seattle that afternoon. Between his turkey and his pumpkin pie, O'Leary happened to glance up at the television set placed there in deference to football fanatics. "When I saw what I saw," he recalled, "I wondered why they hadn't called me. A moment later, my pager sounded. And that was the beginning of it."
Traditionally, in every city in America, the day after Thanksgiving is the kick-off of the Christmas shopping season. Die-hard shoppers have barely digested their turkey dinners before they are up and headed to the malls and downtown. That was true in Seattle on November 27, too; most of the shoppers drove private cars, but hundreds of them took advantage of the Metro Transit park-and-ride lots located on the borders of the city. They rode the bus -- no parking hassles that way.
Forty-four-year-old Mark McLaughlin was well into his twentieth year as a bus driver for the Metro King County bus system, and he was a familiar and cheerful presence on the Number 359 daytime route from Shoreline in the far north end of Seattle to the downtown area. Mark was a big man with broad shoulders, a deep chest and a comfortable belly. He was six feet, two inches tall, and weighed over 250 pounds, and his partially white beard made him look a little older than he really was. Many of his regular passengers felt that he was a good friend and they looked forward to his kidding, just as his fellow drivers and the mechanics at the bus barn did. He could wrestle the huge articulated buses with an ease a smaller man might envy. McLaughlin loved his job, and he was a complete professional in a career that required a driver to be not only skilled behind the wheel, but adept at dealing with the problems, complaints and eccentricities of the passengers who hopped on board and took a seat behind him.
Driving a transit bus has never been an easy job in Seattle. Three decades or more ago, the buses got their power from overhead electric wires. They were half trolley/half bus, and their connecting rods were forever detaching and swinging free. Drivers had to stop, get out, risk getting a shock as they struggled to get their rig back on track. Later, Metro went to regular buses, but when the transit company purchased sixty-feet-long, forty-thousand-pound, articulated buses, everyone eyed them with suspicion. These buses had an accordion-like midsection that connected one ordinary-size bus to another. Articulated buses could carry twice as many passengers, and slide around corners like a Slinky toy. At first the concept didn't seem natural -- or even safe. But some of the drivers, including Mark McLaughlin, were willing to give them a try. Before long, the behemoth buses were taken for granted.
Mark McLaughlin lived away from the city in Lynnwood, halfway between Seattle and Everett. He was divorced and had custody of his two sons, who were sixteen and thirteen. His seventy-eight-year-old mother, Rose, lived nearby, and he had brothers and a sister close by, too. After Mark graduated from Ingraham High School in 1972, he married his first wife, a local girl. He enlisted in the Army and trained to be a medic.
When his Army stint was over in 1979, he went to work for Metro. His first, young marriage ended and so did his second marriage, but he didn't give up on the possibility of finding someone who would be right for him. He raised his boys, drove the big buses, and hoped for a happier future. He found it in what had become his world -- on the bus. Sometime in 1990, Mark was driving through the suburb of Bothell when he met a young woman who was a regular passenger. She was pretty and petite with long blond hair and she always got on with two small children, a baby carrier and a jumble of bags that held diapers, bottles and other baby paraphernalia. Mark always got out of the driver's seat and helped the young mother get settled. The sight of her struggling with her babies and their gear touched his big heart.
Her name was Elise Crawford. When the bus was nearly empty during off-peak hours, Elise and Mark talked. He learned that she was alone and he told her his second marriage had ended. After months, he asked her out and she said yes. Inevitably, perhaps, they fell in love. They became engaged and joined their families, moving into a modest three-bedroom house in Lynnwood. Mark welcomed Elise's children; he was such a natural father that he had been awarded custody of his second wife's son by her earlier marriage. Now, Mark and Elise had four children -- his two, her two.
Mark and Elise had wedding plans for the spring of 1999. They were going to marry at his mother Rose's home, and his sister Debra was helping Elise with the plans. It wouldn't cost a ton of money, but they would have spring flowers, bridesmaids in pastel dresses, and a great buffet. Mark and Elise had each known lonely days, and this marriage was going to be forever.
When he wasn't driving a bus, Mark McLaughlin was an avid fan of the Seattle Sonics and Seahawks. He loved the outdoor opportunities in the Northwest, and he was a hiker and an amateur photographer...
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