You always should be careful when taking rides from strangers because you never know who could be behind the wheel. People often joke that we avoid strangers because you never know if they're a "serial killer" or not, but for once, this joke turned into a serious reality for Loralei. Even worse, she came into close contact with him TWICE!
Loralei was 20 and had just moved from Baltimore to the eastern shore. She'd been battling with addiction and had hoped a change of scenery might kick her out of her habit. Yet sadly, the distance wasn't far enough and she found herself still driving to B'more every couple of days to get her fix. Of course, being involved in this scene, Loralei met some odd people along the way. Some of them were hacks, AKA cabbies that take people into the city to pick up their stuff and charge half the rate of a legit cab driver. She tried not to use hacks, but one night something terrible happened. Her ride went down the wrong way on a one-way street in front of a police officer. Of course, when the officer pulled her and her friend over, he found her friend's stash and they both ended up in the clinker. To this day, she still thinks to herself, 'Idiot.'
They didn't release Loralei until midnight, which meant she basically had no ride, nowhere to go, and it was colder than Antarctica because it was the middle of December in one of the coldest cities in the US. She tried to think of a way out of this situation, and that's when she remembered a guy, Byron, who was a hack. If he was still awake, she could pay him to drop her off at a Greyhound bus station to wait out the night.
She called the guy and thankfully he was only about a ten-minute drive from where she was. Loralei should've listened to her instincts when she thought it strange that he was awake and not far from her at this time of night, but all she could think about was the sweet release from a crappy situation.
Byron definitely gave off very strange vibes when he pulled up. He drove a long, grey sedan, and honestly, much like his car, everything about him reminded Loralei was, well, grey. His hair was long and a deep, solid grey color and even his clothes matched the shade. His face reminded her of some postmenopausal woman. Sort of rough, but soft at the same time. He was pretty creepy, but nothing seemed too out of the ordinary about him. Also, she had to be honest and said in her world, you come across so many weirdos that unless someone seems like they want to murder you, you let a lot of sketchy vibes go. Boy, would she regret her decision.
Loralei remembered she was a bit hesitant to trust Byron, though. After he gave her a little something to help with her withdrawal, he looked her up and down and asked if she wanted to go back to his place and watch TV until the buses started running. A voice inside her head kept telling her no, but he seemed like such a non-threat and it beat standing outside in the cold. She silently hesitated and he automatically tried to assure her and said he wasn't going to try anything. He figured a tiny girl like herself shouldn't hang out at a Greyhound bus station at 2 a.m. Basically, he just wanted to help her out.
After he said that, Loralei thanked Byron for thinking of her and they drove out towards the county. She wasn't sure what direction she was headed --- looking back, that fact terrifies her --- but she knew they were heading to his place, which was about half an hour outside the city. It wasn't in the woods per se, but it was in a definitely wooded area. Then she noticed his behavior started to change the closer and closer they got to his house.
Byron kept saying that either the county police chief or chief's son lived in the same cul-de-sac that he did and how they were friends. He kept mentioning how this guy had helped him out of a few "predicaments." What he meant by that, she could only guess at the time.
Byron's house was right on a lake and even had a dock in the backyard. Loralei knew Baltimore pretty well, but this area looked unrecognizable and she had no idea what county they were even in. Even to this day, when she tries to describe his house, no one she knows has any idea of where he could be.
They pulled into the driveway and Loralei was shocked that his house resembled more of a mansion than a run-down shack like most cabbies she knew. As they walked up to the door, he went on to tell her that it used to belong to his mother and that she recently passed away. That made more sense, but she was still shocked that this grey, ratty little man with a beat-up car and clothes lived in this very expensive house. Plus, she knew he was a cabbie, which meant he basically drove around for pocket change and basically lived off of Dunkin' Donuts.
The situation just made her even more and more skeptical, but she entered the home nonetheless.
Once they were inside, everything matched this ratty, dirty man's image instantly. The inside of the mansion was covered in inches of dust and random knick-knacks. There wasn't a single open surface where there wasn't crap piled on top of it. The shelves, tables, and even the huge old box TV were covered with tacky little porcelain angels and stuff from the dollar store. Loralei glanced at the kitchen and saw even the sink was filled with crap.
One could tell Byron left his mother's presence in the house because there were the usual doilies all old people seemed to have on their tables, nightstand, and wherever else you could put them. Byron's house screamed "weird" and Loralei just wanted to get this night over with.
She decided she'd go back into the living room to see what kind of lock he had on the door just in case she'd needed to come up with an exit strategy. She really hoped and prayed she wouldn't need one, but her prayers wouldn't be answered that night.
While Loralei was in the living room, Byron offered her a glass of water and a hand full of pills. She thought the pills were strange and when she asked him what they were, for he simply said, "to sleep."
It was officially 3 a.m. and she had to be at the bus station by six. She knew better than to take those pills for two reasons: 1) If she knew anything, it was not to take anything from a stranger and 2) They had maybe two hours before they would have to leave, so she definitely couldn't afford to sleep then.
She tried to explain to Byron that that's probably not a good idea because napping was not on the agenda. Byron was definitely not happy about her answer and became insistent that she take the pills. She knew she should've noped out of that situation then, but seeing as she was in an unfamiliar area, had no way to contact anyone, and it was the middle of December, she just couldn't afford to make this guy mad. Loralei laughed off the intensity of the situation and slowly took the pills. Immediately his mood changed and he went to get her some more water.
Loralei wasn't a complete sucker, though, and the minute Byron went to grab some more water, she did the smartest thing she could've done: she spat out the pills and shoved them into the seat of the sofa. When he came back and sat down, they chatted about normal stuff like Baltimore, local politics, the genre of music they liked - nothing too serious or thought-provoking.
At this point, though, Byron started asking about substances, specifically the illegal kind. Even more specifically he wanted to talk about the kind of substances that could knock someone out, but not harm them. Then he hit it a bit too close to home. He wondered how much he would need for someone who was, say, tiny like herself.
Loralei played the role of the best actress she could and pretended like they were discussing sports or the weather instead of this morbid topic. She felt that if she were to acknowledge how creepy this conversation was or where it could be going, Byron would act in a very violent manner very quickly. She believed that she couldn't act as if there was something strange or alarming occurring because the minute she was onto his scheme, he'd have to end her. So maybe, just maybe, if she played dumb she would be fine. She just had to be as non-threatening as possible.
While uncomfortably chatting, Loralei noticed that now Byron would try to get directly behind her. She turned to make sure to keep her eye on him, but for one moment he succeeded and started rubbing her shoulders. Loralei laughed it off, but the truth was she hated massages. She made a quick excuse to go to the bathroom and when she came back, she made sure to sit on the sofa that was up against the wall.
Loralei started to look around for a phone because, surprise, surprise, her cell phone was dead too. She definitely couldn't ask for one because it would get his suspicions up or have him realize she was vulnerable without her cell phone. As the night went on, she noticed Byron couldn't stop pacing around the living room. Even when he sat down it was only for a few minutes and then he'd get back up again. Rinse, repeat. The conversation changed again and he started talking about his mother, how she collected her knick-knacks, how she'd died (it was a heart attack and eventually stroke) and how he'd been wanting to renovate the house, but didn't want to change his mother's home. Things were getting really weird and way too personal real quick. Then Byron said something that made her heart stop: "I want to show you something upstairs." He wants to show Loralei his mother's bedroom.
Loralei reluctantly followed him up the stairs and, at first, Byron tried to make her go up before him, but there was no way that was happening. Once upstairs, they go down a long hallway. Byron opened the first door on the left and walked in. Loralei crept behind him and half-expected to see the dead body of his mother. Thankfully, it was just another dust-coated room filled with knick-knacks. The bed was made and it was either a dark comforter or was so coated with dust that it appeared dark. Byron gestured for her to sit on the bed, which she obliged, still not wanting to make him upset. Then things started to take another strange twist.
Byron sat down on the end of the bed next to Loralei and continued talking about his mother. After a while, he said: "You're so beautiful... you look like a little girl. I bet little girls really like you."__Loralei thought okay, this is getting weird. She tried to shift the conversation back to his mother. Similar to the living room, he got up and walked over to the far wall of the bedroom in a sort of nervous, pacing manner. He then went back to their an even earlier conversation about substances and knocking someone out. He asked Loralei the strangest question: "What would you use to knock out a child for long periods of time?"
Loralei put on a brave face and tried not to freak out, but this conversation was getting darker and darker. She told him she really didn't know; she's just a dope fiend, not a chemist. He asked if what she used to shoot up would be a safe option for kids. She couldn't keep a straight face anymore and she winced at his question. She noticed he could probably tell and the next thing he said was, "I want to show you something." Loralei tried to use going to the bathroom again as an excuse but he pushed up on a cheap "wood" paneling on the wall and a large square piece of it swung open. He gestured inside as her eyes widened.
Byron gestured inside once again and told Loralei he'd been working on this for a few years. The space was big enough for a small woman but apparently made for a child. There was something that looked like a cot with loops on the ends (she thought the ropes were there for restraint...). Enough was enough. She walked out of the bedroom, again saying that she needed to use the restroom NOW. She could feel herself shaking as she walked down the stairs. Thankfully Byron didn't notice because he stayed behind to close the bedroom door and whatever that creepy invention was inside the wall.
Once Byron came downstairs, Loralei pretended to be talking to a friend on her dead cell phone. She loudly recounted what had happened and how she'd called that "nice guy they had met" at the Dunkin' Donuts to pick her up. She mentioned how she was at Byron's house now but would be leaving soon. She then pretended that her friend had offered to come pick her up from the bus stop. Thinking back, she realized how lucky she was that this creep knew she lived out of town, but not exactly HOW FAR out of town. She'd actually lived four hours away, so any friends that would've picked her up would take quite a while to get there.
She glanced over at the creep's face and it darkened instantly when she mentioned her friend would come to pick her up. It was the look of a snotty, spoiled little kid who had just been told "no" for the first time. Only he didn't have the face of an innocent child - he had the face of a serial killer.
Loralei was able to leave that situation unscathed, thank God. She managed to deceive Byron, who she'd forever call the Dundalk Creep, and he dropped her off at the bus stop and quickly sped away without a second glance. Despite all she heard and saw, she felt he hadn't done anything gruesome... Not just yet, anyway. She still feared that some woman or child would be trapped in that dark prison he created.
After that first encounter, Loralei took down his license number and contacted a friend who was a Baltimore City police officer. She gave him a description of the creep's house, car, license number, first name, cell number, and a detailed account of everything that happened that morning. She hoped this would be the end of this terrifying story, but sadly it was just the beginning.
A few weeks later, Loralei and her friend Tom decided to go to Baltimore to pick up her stash for the next few days. Because of traffic, they were late to meet their first dealer, but thankfully she still knew someone in Dundalk who would have what they need. She made Tom wait for her in a Goodwill parking lot since she knew this Dundalk dealer was very skeevy about strangers, even if one explained they were a friend of yours.
Now alone, Loralei walked to the meeting spot, keeping her "look down, never look a stranger in the eye, if a car honks ignore it, respond to nothing" rules in check. Her rules wouldn't save her this day, though. She was about a mile away from her meeting point when a black sedan pulled up next to her. It was none other than the Dundalk Creep. He opened the passenger side door from the inside and told her to get in. She knows it was stupid, but she had made herself believe it was even more stupid how overdramatic she was about the situation at his house, so into his car she went.
Loralei put up the same act she did last time and pretended to be out of it, happy to see him and just completely ignore any weird vibes he gave off. She asked him what he'd been up to and he responded in a very monotone voice that he'd been trying to call her. He asked why she hadn't answered, but she brushed it off saying that she used throwaway cell phones. Less to her surprise but much to her horror, Byron, of course, drove past her meeting point and where he'd promised to drop her off. She calmly told him he'd missed her stop but he simply said, "Don't worry, I'll take you where you need to go." He just "wanted to talk to her for a minute first."
Loralei felt sick to her stomach as he pulled off of Dundalk Avenue. She noticed he was turning into one of those little parks with jogging paths and a few token swings for kids. She remembered also noticing either a school or government building and wondered if her best option was to simply jump out of the car. While trying to keep calm and observe her surroundings, Byron kept going on about how he'd been looking up sedatives and how he wanted her help in getting them. Then he made a disturbing comment that a park like this would attract little girls. Then came the final, ultimate confession: he would use the dock behind his house to get rid of the bodies.
Loralei didn't know what to do. She just kept slinking more and more into her seat, trying to act like she was passing out or just too out of it to understand what he was saying, but he just kept going. She noticed, too, that he was reaching for something under his seat and he was definitely trying to be sneaky about it, so Loralei tried to act as sleepy and nonchalant as she could despite her heart absolutely racing.
Byron continued circling the park as she tried to come up with an escape plan. She found an opening as he slowed down, still reaching for whatever it was under his seat, Knowing it was now or never, she bolted out of the car and ran without looking back once.
Loralei pulled out her cell phone and dialed her friend frantically to pick her up from one of the stores on the corner of the street. She could barely get the words out as she sobbed. It dawned on her on how close she was to going back to the Dundalk Creep's dungeon and she couldn't believe he described all the things he wanted to do to little girls...
About two or three months after the incident, Byron called her. She didn't answer since it was an unknown number, but he left her a chilling voicemail. He told her he'd changed his number and wanted to let her know. He'd also finished "renovating" the house and wanted her to come see it. He also told he'd put an ad in "some paper" and was letting out various rooms to women only and that he wanted to discuss some "interesting ideas" with her. Loralei quickly forwarded the new number to her cop friend and changed her own.
Her friend, the police officer, then asked if she still had any of the info she originally gave him, which sadly she no longer did. It turned out her friend had lost everything she'd given him, that is if he even wrote anything down. He told her how there'd been several disappearances of young children in the very same areas that the Dundalk Creep mentioned when Loralei last encountered Byron. Her heart stopped.
Trying to track him down, Loralei went to the Dunkin Donuts that the creep used to go to every morning, but the owner said that he stopped coming over a year ago - right around the time Loralei had her first encounter with him. Distraught, she looked out the window and then another unsettling fact hit her. There was a bus stop right across the street, but it wasn't an ordinary city bus stop. A yellow school bus pulled up and she watched as elementary school-aged kids got off the bus.
To this day, Loralei has tried to find that creep's house, however, this happened during a dark period of her life, so it was hard to recall all the details. All she could do was hope that she never ran into the Dundalk Creep again and no women would ever answer those "ads" of his. But most of all, she hoped that it was only mere coincidence those children started disappearing from that bus stop.