Vivian's mother had no way of knowing that when she kissed her
3-year-old goodnight it was actually a good-bye kiss. Within a few hours
the child would be snatched from her bed and murdered.
At six the next morning the parents were startled to find the kitchen
door standing wide open. Two packs of Kool brand cigarettes and a pair
of red-rimmed sunglasses left on top of the television set the night
before were gone.
The mom was afraid as she ran upstairs to check on her seven children.
Vivian, her three-year-old, was gone!
While neighborhood children walked to school that day, a large-scale
police search was in progress. Helicopters coordinated the 35-man ground
search. But there was no trace of the child.
The next day detectives received a telephone call saying what looked
like a "hand" was sticking out of a pile of cloth beside a short-cut
path to Five Points, a fashionable shopping area near the University of
It was Vivian. She was wrapped in a minister's blue robe with red
piping. The little girl's body took up only a small space in a black
The autopsy report said the child died by suffocation, and the case was
officially stamped "kidnapping/murder." Weeks later, the completed
autopsy report would indicate the victim had also been raped.
Hours after the body was found, a patrolman cruised another area looking
for a stolen auto. Luck was on the officer's side. In a short radio
report of the "found" car, the officer said there were two packs of Kool
brand cigarettes and a pair of red-rimmed sunglasses on the dashboard.
The primary case officer, Investigator "Chub" Chambers, heard the call
and radioed back to the patrolman: "Secure that vehicle and don't touch
anything, I'll be right there!"
Chambers knew the kidnapper had to be nearby. As two detectives and a
uniformed officer searched the car, a man across the street peered at
them from behind a tree. When one of the officers called out to the man
he ran between two houses and disappeared in the darkness.
The officers heard a squeaking sound as they searched the back yard.
With three flashlights shining on the garage door, they ordered:
"Police! Come out of there with your hands locked behind your head!"
With a bit more coaxing, a man timidly walked out — backwards, with his
hands locked behind his head.
Inside, investigators found several minister's robes hanging on the
walls. There was a makeshift altar decorated with Sunday school
attendance badges. An American flag was hung upside down. During
questioning, the suspect said it was his brother's garage, and his
brother was in the hospital having an operation.