Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Handcuffman

Handcuffed and Helpless

For two decades, a man operating variously in Atlanta, Georgia and Tampa, Florida, preyed upon gay male prostitutes and men he apparently thought were prostitutes. The attacks are believed to have started in 1968. A hustler would meet a dark-haired, thin, bespectacled John with bushy eyebrows. Sometimes he would be in an expensive suit; other times he would be casually attired in jeans and T-shirt. Sometimes he wore a mustache or beard. If he was shaven, he always seemed to have a heavy five oclock shadow.

The John paid the prostitute merely to take a drink of vodka, which must have seemed like an unusually easy way to earn a few dollars. Sometimes the well-spoken man told the prostitute that a study was being conducted on the effects of drinking a certain amount of alcohol and asked him to take part in this research for $50 or $100. Whatever the ruse, the drink was spiked and the prostitute quickly lost consciousness.

He awoke to a horror. Often he found himself handcuffed and burned on his genitals or legs. Sometimes the attacker put cigarettes out on the victim, other times flammable liquids.

Victims were reluctant to press charges. After all, they were prostitutes and didnt want to draw attention to their profession or homosexuality. Often troubled men on the margins to begin with, they were left to cope with the psychological and physical devastation of these horrendous attacks without even the small compensation of justice being done.

The Handcuffs (AP)
The Handcuffs (AP)

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