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On September 30, 1978, a honeymooning couple was driving in Northern California. They accidentally got off at the wrong exit on I-5, when suddenly they saw something odd in the middle of the road.

As they drove closer to the object, they couldn’t believe what they were seeing:  a naked woman covered in blood was crawling to them. She had no arms.

11. A Chilling Tale


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Mary Vincent was just 15 years old the day she was found in the road. The poor girl had been walking along the road for three miles, just looking for help. Mary was from Las Vegas, and she had decided to hitchhike from Northern California back home. Her parents were going through a difficult divorce, and Mary felt like she was caught in the middle. She ran away from home.

Mary had hitchhiked all the way to the Bay Area, where she quickly became friends with other youth living in Berkeley. There were many other homeless teens, but Mary unfortunately hooked up with an older, abusive man. By September, Mary knew she had to get away, so she started the long trek home. She was with two other hitchhikers, thinking that there was safety in numbers.

10. They Told Her Not to Get in the Van


Image: sick chirpse

Soon a white van pulled up and offered a ride… but only for one of them. Against the advice of the other two, Mary decided to take her chance with the man. She would live to regret it.

Although it was obvious the empty van could’ve held three riders, Mary was tired and just wanted to get home. The 50-year old driver’s name, she would later learn, was Lawrence Singleton.

9. Singleton’s Diabolical Plans


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Singleton was shady right from the start. He told her he was headed to Reno, NV, but could only take her as far as Los Angeles. But Reno is northeast of where she was picked up on the road. They could’ve headed straight to Nevada. Los Angeles is very far to the south of Reno, which was a clue Singleton was lying.

Mary fell asleep for several hours. When she woke up, she soon realized they were headed the opposite direction. Singleton was headed to the far east, to the least populated part of CA. Mary tried to tell him to take her where she needed to go, and he pretended to play along.

8. A Nightmare Encounter


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Singleton finally pulled off the road in a dark, deserted area. He said he need to go to the bathroom. Mary’s gut was telling her something was very wrong. She got out of the van and bent over to tie her shoe, preparing to run.

Tying her shoe was the last thing Mary remembered. Singleton had bludgeoned her head with a sledgehammer, causing her to black out. When she came to, she was naked and tied up in the back of the van. Singleton assaulted Mary six times. She would later say she wanted to die.

7. He Chopped Off Her Arms


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Singleton took a break to sleep, but later woke up and continued his assaults. Mary was tied up and could not get loose. As the sun rose, she begged to be set free. Singleton agreed, but what happened next was horrific.

Singleton took out a hatchet and hacked off Mary’s arm, just beneath her elbow. As she fell backward, grasping onto him, he then hacked off her right arm. Blood was everywhere. Mary fought like hell, but he eventually thought she was dead, so he dragged her to a cliff.

6. Left for Dead


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Singleton threw Mary off a 30-foot cliff and left her for dead inside a culvert. Mary knew that if she fell asleep or lost consciousness, she would bleed to death. She forced herself to stay alive, knowing that she had to identify her attacker and stop him from doing this to anyone else.

5. An Amazing Climb


Image: california sea grant

Mary somehow packed her arms in the dirt to stop the bleeding and proceeded to haul herself back up the 30-foot cliff, without any hands!  The climb took Mary all day in the blazing hot sun. It was nighttime again before Mary made it to the desolate road. Unfortunately, the first car that spotted her slowed down, took a look at her, and then sped away.

Thankfully, the very next vehicle was an old truck driven by the honeymooning couple. They raced to the nearest pay phone and called 911. Fortunately, the 911 operator realized an ambulance wouldn’t be fast enough. They send a helicopter.

4. In the Nick of Time

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The helicopter got to Mary just in time. She had already lost half the blood in her body. At the hospital, Mary gave police such an accurate police sketch that when it was shown on the news, Singleton’s next door neighbor knew instantly that it was him.

Mary testified against Singleton in court, even though he threatened to “finish the job.” Under the law at the time, the judge could only give him 14 years in prison. Unbelievably, when California passed a work incentive law to cut prison overcrowding. SIngleton was released early, after just eight years.

3. Nobody Wants Him

San Quentin

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After Singleton was paroled, he had trouble finding a place to go. The city of Antioch, CA, refused to take him. As he prepared to go live with relatives in Tampa, FL, that city also refused. San Francisco took out a restraining order against him ever setting foot in the city. Finally, officials allowed him to move into a trailer on the San Quentin property, where he lived until his parole ran.

2. The Monster Attacks Again


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Years later, in 1997, he was living in Tampa when a neighbor witnessed Singleton attacking a woman in his home. Singleton had murdered a woman by stabbing her 12 times. Mary Vincent again bravely testified against the monster. He was given the death penalty, but died of cancer instead.

1. The Triumph of Mary Vincent


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Mary eventually married and had two sons. Although the marriage didn’t last, Mary continued to live well as the best revenge. Mary Vincent started a foundation to help other women who survived trauma come to grips with what they had been through.

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