Joel finished his visit to the major Oriental rug store in Georgetown, SC. The two rugs he now had in the back of his 11-year-old Dodge Town and Country pleased him. He could mark them up at least seventy-five percent in his Charleston shop. His next stop would be Surfside, just fifteen minutes south of Myrtle Beach on Route 17. He might stay in Surfside. There were many motels that wouldn’t demand a credit card, as long as you paid up front with cash. Joel had no intention of leaving financial forensic trails to document his movements. His instructor in Peshawar, Pakistan, drilled into him the rules of playing the espionage and terrorist game. His instructor would be proud of him. There were many places along Route 17 up the Carolina coast where he could change license plates. Earlier in the year he’d stolen plates from an Ohio car. Even if by some miracle the motel manager checked license plates against his register, there would be no audit trail back to Joel Hankins. Too careful? Not the way he had been trained. You could be too tentative, but never too careful. Success came from dedication and attention to detail. Maybe tonight he could find a young woman. Although the tourist season was not at its peak, Myrtle Beach was a good hunting area. Tourists and young teenage girls, away from home for the first time, hadn’t had time to develop the street smarts to protect themselves. They desperately wanted a good time and didn’t believe people like Joel were out there hunting them.
In the early evening, just after dusk, he’d select a shopping mall and quietly sit in a parking space until he spotted a young girl pulling into a parking spot. At this time of year the girls weren’t wearing much, and he liked to evaluate his target before the attack. If possible, he would move his van next to her car and wait for her to return. All he had to do was slide open the van’s side door, grab his prey and pull her inside. A little chloroform on a small towel held over her face for thirty seconds would end the struggle.
He wasn’t interested in sex. His joy and excitement came from the kill and watching the essence of life escape. That was real dominance. Joel had improved his skill but still struggled to collect the exact moment of death.
The same modus operandi worked on most of his captures. For sure it wasn’t always as smooth as he would like. Sometimes he had to take the risk of getting out of the car or moving the van up beside his victim, pretending to ask a question or flirt, until he could use his chloroform-saturated towel to trap his catch. How surprised they all were when they regained consciousness and found themselves helpless. He had to be careful not to beat the girls too badly or to torture them until they lost consciousness. Once he had made that mistake and she died while unconscious, depriving him of the joy of watching and recording the magic of life leaving her. Her selfishness put him into an uncontrollable rage, and he beat the girl’s body until it was almost unrecognizable. He wouldn’t do that again. Rage leads to mistakes. He had burned everything he had on to get rid of the traces of blood. The inside of his van was also splattered and needed new mats and some of the upholstery replaced.
The victim he selected at the mall wasn’t as young as he first thought, and she put up a strong fight before the chloroform put her out. He took great pictures of her face as she died. Some of his skin might be under her fingernails, even though he did his best to clean them. Maybe the cops would be careless and miss their chance to get his DNA. Not every police department had a crack forensics team. Joel took no time in disposing of her. He dumped her naked body along a deserted road to the beach.