This is the second of an three-part series from the newly published Predator: The Life and Crimes of Serial Killer Clifford Olson, by award-winning Canadian journalist Peter Worthington. Olson died in prison a year ago, on September 30, 2011.The details of Olson's murders have never made public -- until now. [A percentage of the proceeds from the book will go to Childfind.] Read Part One here. Today, Olson persuades a teen to come along for the ride.
It was already sweltering and the sun was streaming through her window when Terri Lynn Carson awoke. Another day like the previous one and undoubtedly like the next one in this, the hottest summer in recent memory in lower British Columbia.
The slender blonde 15-year-old got up quickly. This was the day she was sure she'd get the job she'd been hoping for. Fin 'n' Feathers pet shop, in nearby Guildford, had advertised for someone to do odd jobs and tend the animals. She felt this was ideal for her. The pay was modest, but she'd be looking after animals, finding them good homes. She loved animals. The interview was this morning.
Terri Lynn wriggled into her Big Blues jeans, her Nikes and a short-sleeved blouse. She combed her long, shiny hair and cleaned her glasses. It was around eight o'clock, and she was ready for the day-- to catch the bus to Guildford and, if she got the job, to start immediately. Or when she was wanted. It never occurred to her that she wouldn't get it. The youngest of four children, Terri Lynn knew her divorced mother was short of cash. Everyone had to contribute something. Welfare checks went only so far. It would be different when she finished high school and became a computer programmer-- then perhaps there wouldn't be so much tension between her and her mother, who was inclined to worry and nag. Like all mothers. They were so nervous.
As she left Mayfair Village apartments in the sprawling dormitory community of Surrey, Terri Lynn felt the humidity and heat hit her like a physical blow. She crossed Grosvenor Road Elementary School's grounds to the bus stop. She was in plenty of time, and could already imagine cuddling rabbits, playing with puppies, and being responsible for the variety of animals at the pet shop. She hoped there was air conditioning.
The lower B.C. mainland, sheltered by the mountains and caressed by the sea, has more than its share of drugs, street people, the lost, the lonely, the obsessed, the driven, the bizarre -- all types who tend to gravitate there. In such an environment, crime tends to be above the national average as far as murder, rape, break and entry, drug and alcohol offenses are concerned.
In this sweltering summer of 1981, all the characteristics of the province were intensified. As if word had spread, youths from the continent drifted West. The number of young people sleeping on beaches and prowling suburban malls rose. Runaways and drifters abounded. Authorities looked forward to the fall and cool weather reducing the numbers of summer nuisances.
None of this consciously registered on Terri, a native of B.C. This was normal, this was home. She didn't even notice the mountains in the distance as she waited for the bus that sunny July 27th morning. She thought of the new clothes she would need when school started, barely five weeks off. If she could earn her own money, she wouldn't have to get it from her hard-pressed mother. In fact, maybe she should drop out of school. It was boring, and if she could get a steady job, she could build up a nest egg, and return to school later. Terri Lynn was ambitious and determined to get ahead. These and other conflicting emotions seethed within her. If only her mother understood her better. Life wasn't easy when you were 15 and beginning to attract attention of males beyond her schoolmates.
Terri knew that she was good-looking and that boys were interested in her -- and she in them. It was another issue that caused tension with her mother. It was so unnecessary, thought Terri, who knew more of the facts of life than her mother realized. Terri Lynn was a modern young woman who felt the equal of anyone and believed she could take care of herself. She was a social creature, liked to party, and yearned for adventure. She wouldn't always live in Surrey, she thought. There was a whole world out there waiting to be experienced. But for the moment, the job at the pet store was her biggest concern.
At first she didn't notice the car that pulled up beside her. The man driving was smiling-- a nice smile. He had dark, wavy hair and eyes that danced. He was wearing neat, sporty clothes and the car was clean.
"Where are you headed?" he asked out the passenger window.
Terri Lynn appraised him. He was older, an adult; not one of the mall creeps, those smart alecky kids who hung around the video center and made suggestive cracks.
"I'm waiting for the bus," she said. "I'm going to Guildford."
"Hey, that's where I'm going! Hop in, I'll give you a lift."
Terri hesitated. How often had her mother warned her about hitchhiking? And every kid knew of the dangers of talking to strangers. Terri Lynn wasn't exactly naive. But this person seemed so easygoing and friendly. A nice man. He looked like someone's father, or even older brother.
"I'm not sure," she said.
"Look, you're smart to be careful-- can't be too careful these days. But it's hot out and if you want a ride to the Guildford mall, I'll drop you off. Why you going there anyway? Shopping?"
"No, I've got a job interview."
"What kind of job?"
"In a pet store."
"Hey, that's neat. Hop in and I'll drive you over."
"Well . . ."
"Look, it's up to you-- you decide. It's on my way."
"Okay. Thanks a lot."
She got in and noticed that there was a brochure on the seat warning kids about being picked up by strange men. She felt better.
"So," he said, "what's this job?"
"There was this ad at the unemployment office for the pet shop-- I've got an appointment for 11 o'clock."
"Great, what's it pay?"
"It starts at the minimum wage and I get more as I learn what to do."
"Minimum wage isn't much-- $3.50 an hour."
"Yes, but it's a start."
"I never knew there was a pet store in the mall. I built six of the stores there."
"You did? It just opened recently. Are you going shopping?"
"No. I'm off to the unemployment office to see if I can get a couple of girls for work."
"What kind of work?"
"I own two construction companies. I need girls to wash windows and shampoo rugs before people move in."
"Where's the work?"
"I just finished Surrey village."
"I know them-- just across from the Surrey Inn. You built them?"
"Sure did. What's your name anyway?."
"Terri. Terri Lynn Carson."
"That's a nice name. Glad to meet you, Terri."
"How many people do you have working for you?"
"I've got 135 men and 17 women."
"That's a lot of people."
"Yes, it's a pretty big outfit. You want a cold beer, Terri?"
Terri paused. Should she or shouldn't she? Heck, why not. It was really hot out, and this man didn't make you feel like a dumb teenager.
"Don't mind if I do," she said.
He gestured to the back seat. Terri reached back for a couple of bottles. They drove along in silence for a few moments. The highway was clear of cars. Both were quiet, both deep in thought.
"What do you pay the girls?" Terri asked suddenly.
"They get $10 an hour."
"How come so much?"
"Because it's a union job."
"I wish I could get $10 an hour."
"Maybe you can. How old are you?"
"I'll be 16 in October."
"So you're 15 now. Hmmm. Look, if you want I'll give you a job at $10 an hour."
"Yes, and what's more you'll go on the payroll as of now."
"What would I have to do?"
"Well, to start, I'll put you to work at the Surrey Village, cleaning and shampooing rugs."
"And I'd get $10 an hour for this?"
"Yes, and you can start today."
"You really mean this? What about my interview at Guildford?"
"Forget it. Do you want to make $10 an hour or a minimum wage of $3.50?"
"Is it steady work? All year 'round."
"I have a girlfriend that's looking for work."
"How old is she?"
"Same as me."
"Bring her along. Reach in the back and open the briefcase. There are some business cards. Take a couple."
He studied the girl as she leaned back to open the briefcase. He couldn't recall seeing a tighter pair of jeans.
"They're sure flashy," she said, studying the cards in assorted colors -- green, red, white, in 3D fluorescent. "When could my girlfriend start?"
"I'll phone her tonight."
"Can you type, Terri?"
"A little bit."
"That's great. Maybe you can work in the office later."
"Where are you going now?"
"To Hope. The bank there. I've got to pick up some legal documents. You can come. You've already made $30."
"When will we be back?"
"I should phone and tell them at the pet shop."
"Forget them. You're on my payroll now. Reach back and get us a couple more beers. Tonight we'll go out to dinner and celebrate your new job. I'll meet your mom and dad so they'll know who you're working for."
"That sounds great, but my dad doesn't live with us."
"Your mother then."
They drove towards Hope, a couple of hours away. Terri figured she'd be earning $80 a day, $400 a week, $1,600 month. Her mother would be knocked out. She couldn't imagine earning so much money. She opened a couple more beers, drinking as they drove.
Terri kept stealing glances at the man. Not only generous, he was kind of cute. She'd never met anyone quite like him. Not condescending or bossy, and he didn't come on strong at her. He even boasted about his wife and small son.
"My mom won't believe I'm making this sort of money."
"She will when she sees it. What about your boyfriend?"
"I'm not with anybody right now."
"You're not? A pretty girl like you, with a great body and no boyfriend? I can't believe that!"
"Well, I have a boyfriend but we aren't together right now."
"It's a good thing I'm not your boyfriend, or I'd not let you out of my sight."
"How old are you anyway?"
"I'd say about 30."
"No, I'm 41."
"You don't look it."
"I don't feel it either."
"At the job -- how do I get paid?"
"By check, every couple of weeks. If you need cash, I'll advance you a couple of hundred dollars."
"You'd loan me money?"
"Sure, why not?"
"Gee. You sure are a great guy. I like you."
"Thanks. How's the beer holding up? What do you like in the hard stuff?"
"Yeah, Smirnoff's best. We'll get some."
The traffic on the highway was light, the sun was bright, both of them were feeling mellow and comfortable. Terri couldn't stop talking about her new job. Maybe she could soon afford a car. And she might move into her own apartment, away from her mother. Independence and freedom beckoned.
"I'll be able to get you an apartment in one of my buildings, if you like," the man said, encouraging and enjoying her modest dreams.
"What do they rent for?"
"Between $400 and $500 for a one-bedroom."
"That's kind of a lot."
"Yes, but you let me know and I can get it for you for $100."
"Do you mean that?"
"Sure. Don't forget, you're working for a guy who builds these places."
"You really are one pretty nice guy!"
"I should say so. Look what you've already got -- a job, you're being taken to supper, you're going to make $80 cash today, and you're drinking my beer. And what have I got in return?"
"You got me to work for you."
Both laughed. He asked her about her glasses, which were quite thick. He asked why she didn't wear contacts. She said they were too expensive. He said he knew an optometrist, and that he'd advance her the money to get some.
"Anyway," he added. "Glasses really suit you. You look good in them."
"Yes, well I'm blind without them. Can't see a thing."
They pulled up for gas. The man asked where the nearest liquor store was. He was told the shopping mall at Mission. He drove there, and while he went in to buy vodka, Terri went into a variety store for orange juice and chips and a carton of cigarettes that she wanted. They continued driving towards Hope, with Terri mixing vodka and orange juice.
"I'd better not have any more. I'm getting drunk," she said.
"Look in the glove compartment. I've got some wake-up pills. They'll counter the alcohol, so you'll be sober for supper tonight."
"We'll, if you say so . . ."
"I say so, and I'm the boss."
"Okay...boss." They both laughed.
"What will your wife say, you taking me to dinner?"
"Nothing, Terri. I forgot to tell you -- she's coming too."
"I'll have to change and clean up first."
"No, what you're wearing is fine. You can have a bath at our place."
"Well, if you're sure it's okay . . ."
As they approached Hope, Terri was still feeling drunk. She said she didn't think the anti-drunk pills were working.
"Take three more," the man said. "And while you're at it, give me three too. I've got to stay sober."
"What do they do again?"
"They counteract the alcohol. Here, give me three." He put the three in his mouth.
"Well, so long as you're sure." Terri washed down three pills with a gulp of vodka and orange juice.
When she wasn't looking the man spat the three pills into his hand and put them in his pocket.
"How long do they take to work?" she asked.
"About 30 minutes."
"I'm really drunk. Can we stop a minute? I've got to go to the bathroom."
They pulled down a side road. Terri stumbled out, unzipped her jeans and urinated. She had difficulty getting her pants up again.The man helped her do up the zipper. She crawled into the back seat to sleep. "Wake me up when we get to Hope," she said.
"Yeah, you have a little rest."
Terri didn't answer. She had passed out.
Tomorrow: The Kill.