Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Charles Schmid: The Pied Piper

Alleen Rowe

She was fifteen on that ominous night of May 31, 1964. Alleen was only a sophomore at Palo Verde, and she had unfortunately befriended frumpy, nineteen-year-old Mary French, a friend and lover of Charles Schmid. Alleen's mother, freshly divorced, had just moved her children to Tucson the year before. One of Alleen's favorite things to do was walk in the desert, gathering unusual stones. She liked the hot sun because it made her feel alive. Her hope was to become an oceanographer, and with her above-average grades, she had a shot. Blond and blue-eyed, Alleen attracted Schmid's attention.

One afternoon, he told Mary French to persuade Alleen to go out with his friend, John Saunders. Alleen turned down the invitation. But Schmid was not to be refused. He called Mary half a dozen times that day to get her to talk Alleen into the date. Each time, Alleen said that she could not go. She had an exam the next morning at school.

Schmid arrived that evening at Mary's house with Saunders at his side. Earlier he'd been talking about "killing someone"—specifically a girl. He just wanted to find out what it would be like to snuff out a life and to see if he could get away with it, as he seemed to do with everything else. He had made up a list of potential candidates and Alleen Rowe was one of them. His plan was to lure her into a desolate place, hit her with a rock, and bury her in the desert. Rather than try to dissuade him, Mary simply complained that she had tried and failed to get Alleen to come. Schmid instructed her to then find someone else. He was restless. He wanted to kill someone, now, that very night. She tried but found no one, so she went to where Alleen was visiting a friend and talked with her once again. Finally Alleen relented, but said she would have to wait until her mother went to work that night.

When Mary reported her success, John and Smitty got a shovel and put it into the trunk of the car. They drove around until they knew that Alleen's mother was gone, and Mary went over to tap on her bedroom window. She came out barefoot, with curlers in her hair, wearing a bathing suit and a yellow-checked shift, and carrying her shoes.

Mary sat with Smitty in front while Alleen climbed in next to John in back. They drove out to the desert, out by Golf Links Road, where Smitty liked to drink and make out. They walked for awhile into the desert and then found a wash where they could sit and talk. At some point, Smitty asked Mary to go back to the car and get a radio.

He went with her and soon they heard Alleen scream. Smitty told Mary to get into the car while he ran back down to the wash. John was struggling there with Alleen and Smitty told him to put his hand over her mouth. Smitty bound her arms behind her back with a guitar cord while Alleen begged to be told why they were doing this to her. "Mary wants us to do," Smitty told her. "She hates you." Alleen continued to resist, so Smitty led her further into the wash.

He instructed John to take her bathing suit off, but John had trouble getting it over her arms, since they were tied. Smitty untied her, put her shift on the ground and told her to lie on it. She obeyed and Smitty then told John to "go ahead," but she was crying so much that he couldn't kiss her. Smitty told John to take a walk. Then Smitty called for him and he returned to find Alleen putting her bathing suit back on. She walked away, further into the wash. The two young men followed her.


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