Beyond Cruel

Stephen G. Michaud

St. Martin's True Crime

Chapter One
 
The Friendly Stranger
 
This is a tape regarding my goals.
 
Number one my list of goals is to establish a new identity; complete with background, school records, employment records, driver’s license, Social Security card, passport, checking account, savings account. Rent an apartment. Buy a car. Have a job—or a job front. All under a new identity. This new identity would not be able to be traced to me under any circumstances. It may have to be set up in a different location, a different city.
 
Second on my list of goals is to buy a house; preferably buy some land and build my own house according to my own custom specifications and needs. Number one would be a garage, one- or two-car garage to completely enclose a car with no windows so that no one could tell if a car was there or not there. Also a basement area—or work area—which is hidden and unable to be detected by ordinary means.
 
Naturally, of course, I would need secret hidden compartments for stash areas for various things, as well as a fun area—secret fun area—which would include a cage so that I could have a [female victim] locked up!
 
Also of prime importance—top priority!—would be an incinerator capable of incinerating at extremely high temperatures—total incineration. This could be connected to the lower part of the fireplace in the living room above.
 
Third on my list of goals would be Caryn*, or another female victim first, then Caryn. How about eventually both?
 
I would also want as goal number four enough money to last for a year without working.
 
—from an audiocassette tape-recorded
 
by Mike DeBardeleben
 
On May 5, 1978, after serving twenty-three months of his 1976 counterfeiting sentence at the Federal Penitentiary at Danbury, Connecticut, DeBardeleben was released to a District of Columbia halfway house. In June the sallow, softly-drawling 38-year-old ex-convict moved back into the shabby two-story house he owned at 1201 South Columbus Street in Arlington, and took a barbering job—a condition of his release—but soon stopped showing up for work.
 
In late July, at Brown’s Tyson Corner Dodge in Fairfax, Virginia, he bought a dark blue ’77 Thunderbird. This is the car with which the Secret Service believes DeBardeleben abducted student nurse Lucy Alexander*.
 
Labor Day weekend, 1978, the luminous dark-blond Alexander went camping with her boyfriend on the Indian River in southwestern Delaware, not far from the Maryland border. On a partly cloudy Sunday, September 3, with an afternoon high in the 70s, the couple drove a few miles south across the state line to Ocean City, where they partied at a bar called Back of the Rack. Shortly past midnight, after several hours of drinking, Lucy and her boyfriend fell into a quarrel. She stalked out the door, headed north on her own, intent on walking the full distance back to their campsite.
 
By one-thirty she’d trudge approximately five miles and gained Fenwick Island, Delaware, on Route One. That’s when a dark, late-model luxury vehicle pulled up beside her. The driver was a dark-haired, clean-shaven white male clad in a blue leisure suit, very thin—“wimpy looking” according to Alexander’s later statement—who politely inquired where the teenager was headed, and if she wanted a lift.
 
“The Indian River campground,” Alexander replied to his first query. “No,” she answered his second. She’d rather walk.
 
The friendly stranger persisted. He was headed directly past the campgrounds, he said, and it would be no trouble to drop her off. Lucy Alexander hesitated, considered the hour and the miles she’d already walked, and then relented.
 
“How old are you?” he asked as she climbed into the passenger-side bucket seat.
 
“Nineteen.”
 
He seemed surprised. “You look younger than nineteen,” the man repeated several times. “Are you sure you’re not younger?”
 
The stranger was careful not to betray his intentions until they reached the campground. There he stopped the car, suddenly brandished an official-looking badge, declared himself an FBI agent and told the frightened girl she was under arrest for hitchhiking. Before Alexander could protest or even consider escape, he’d handcuffed her wrist behind her and was driving again.
 
At first he said he planned to deliver her into the custody of local authorities at Rehobeth Beach, about ten miles to the north. Then he said he’d changed his mind, and would drive her to the Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown, about twenty miles west. Only after they’d traveled well into the Delaware countryside did he drop the law enforcement charade.
 
He stopped the car in the field. When Alexander began screaming, he gagged and blindfolded her with adhesive tape. He then pushed Lucy over the seat and down onto the back floorboard, covered her with a blanket, and said, “If you listen to me, I won’t hurt you.”
 
She tried to believe him.
 
Alexander spent the next two hours, according to her estimate, lying in the back of his car, bound, gagged and blindfolded as they drove on, her abductor occasionally belching from the root beer he consumed from an ice chest. She’d remember little else from the trip except that in the middle, more or less, they slowed and she could hear the tinkling of tollway bells.
 
He finally pulled to a stop in what she sensed was a residential neighborhood. A dog barked in the near distance. The man guided her from his car to some low steps, then across a porch or landing into the house where he shoved her upstairs to the right into what seemed to be an empty room. There was a mattress on the floor, covered with a blue blanket.
 
Drawing next to her, he removed Lucy’s adhesive tape gag, but left the blindfold in place, explaining that if she saw him in the light he’d have to kill her. Then, as she listened to him rifle through her purse, he announced he was going downstairs to negotiate a ransom with her parents.
 
She hoped that was true, too.
 
He did leave—probably to move his car away from the house—but moments later was back in room, trailing his aura of root beer and stale cigarette smoke. Deprived of sight, Alexander’s only sense was of his fingers as they removed her clothing. He commanded her down to the mattress on her back. She obeyed and lay still, listening as he masturbated before dropping onto her and forcing himself inside.
 
He raped her steadily for an hour without ejaculating, she later told police. “Turn over!” the man at last demanded, and then sodomized her. Alexander later remembered her attacker urgently insisting she call him “Daddy” again and again until he could climax. Afterward, he rolled off her and slept.
 
Her next recollection was of a second vaginal rape, followed by another anal rape, and intermittent periods in which he drank more root beer, smoked cigarettes and ate some cheese while he forced Lucy to fellate him. He alternated fellatio with rape. During the former he frequently warned Alexander that he’d kill her if she didn’t keep his penis in her mouth. During the later he verbally as well as sexually abused her. He also had difficulty maintaining an erection. He repeated instructed her to call him “Daddy” as he neared orgasm.
 
“Subject would also talk about his ex-wife,” read the later FBI report, “saying such things as how they were hard up for money and all she did was spend money and he couldn’t afford to pay the bills. Alexander said he would talk about his ex-wife after he raped her.”
 
In all, Lucy Alexander was raped at least four times, vaginally and anally, and forced to fellate her kidnapper four or five times over an eighteen-hour period. When she pleaded with him to stop and let her go, he said he would “when I think the time is right.”
 
That was late the following night.
 
She could not recall how she was reclothed, only that he took her back downstairs, gave her a drink of water, and then hurried her out to his car with a blanket over her head. Again, he seemed to drive interminably. At one point, he told her that if anything went wrong and a police officer stopped them he’d shoot the cop first and then kill her.
 
By that time death held far less terror for Lucy Alexander than it had the day before. Yet she did survive. At about 2:30 A.M. on Tuesday, September 5, 1978, he released her in an isolated area known as Hardscrabble, about five miles east of Georgetown, Delaware. As her abductor sped away, Lucy Alexander peeled off her blindfold in time to see his brake lights, but nothing else. The next driver she saw was a Delaware state trooper in his patrol car.
 
Copyright © 1994 by Stephen G. Michaud. All rights reserved.