Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Fetish Killer


Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon

Late in the afternoon on April 21, 1969, Sharon Wood, 24, left her secretarial job in Portland to meet with her estranged husband, who wanted to discuss a divorce. She entered the basement level of a parking garage to look for her car when a tall, pudgy man approached her. She later told police (that Ann Rule accessed for the book The Lust Killer) that she had sensed someone behind her and had tried to return to an area where she could hear other people. But then someone tapped her shoulder and she turned around. The man was holding a pistol.

Sharon Wood
Sharon Wood

He told her not to scream, but this sudden encounter both frightened and enraged her. In a split second, she decided to fight. She screamed and stepped away from him, and he grabbed her and put an arm-lock around her throat. He was much taller than she was and outweighed her by nearly one hundred pounds. She had barely a chance against him, but she believed that if she didn't struggle while someone might still hear her, she'd die that day. Instinct told her that this man had murder on his mind.

Sharon kicked at him with her high-heeled shoes and screamed again. She also grabbed the gun and gave it a hard twist. When the man tried to silence her with his hand, she bit him, hard. She knew that she'd drawn blood. He tried to free himself, but could not, so now he was struggling. He grabbed her hair and tried to force her to the floor, but she continued to resist with all her strength. She was not going to let him assault her.

Yet he managed to slam her head on the concrete, dazing her. She relaxed her jaw and let him go. She then heard another car coming, and her attacker picked up the gun he'd dropped and left. She knew no more. Someone apparently called the police and Sharon found herself giving a shaken statement. It had been a tall man with blue eyes and freckles, she recalled. She'd know him if she saw him again. Yet when the police questioned others in the area, no one recalled a man by that description. Sharon learned only later that this man's frustrated attempt to abduct her had only shifted his MO in approaching women and strengthened his resolve to be more careful. She survived, but not long afterward another young woman did not.

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