Virginia’s oldest unsolved string of serial killings will be discussed at Culpeper County Library Saturday.
Authors Blaine Pardoe and his daughter Victoria Hester will host a lecture about their latest true crime novel “A Special Kind of Evil: The Colonial Parkway Serial Killings,” Nov. 4 at 3 p.m.
In the top 15 on Amazon for serial killers and in the top four for the Mid Atlantic region, the novel dives into a string of four separate killings in the Tidewater region from 1986-89.
Pardoe, an Amissville author and Hester, registered nurse by night, are the only father-daughter duo in true crime.
Eight victims, each killed in pairs and then staged so it looked like a car theft, the killings chilled the region in the late 80s and then suddenly stopped.
Pardoe and Hester investigated the crimes, interviewing victim’s families, former investigators and researching court documents. Their findings included material investigators were already aware of, and new information that they passed on for the ongoing case.
There was certainly a type to the victims, with all of them being white and in the 14-27 age range.
“Whoever this was, he was very careful about who he chose,” Pardoe said. “I think a lot of people may have had interactions with him and not realized it.”
Pardoe was first approached about doing an article on the killings for Real Crime magazine, but quickly became hooked. He had done three other real crime novels with his daughter, but they had never tackled a serial killer before.
The research took about two and a half years from when they first started to when the book was published in July.
“We usually file FOIAs,” Hester said. “But because it’s an open case, we got shot down a lot. It was a lot of interviewing. We got a lot of information by interviewing older investigators who were retired. Some people wouldn’t talk.”
The case involved the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Virginia State Police and multiple jurisdictions.
“What we wanted to do was tell the victim’s story in all of this,” Pardoe said. “We wanted readers to identify with them.”
They also wanted to profile the killer, digging deeper into a mindset that very few understand.
“He was a hunter, he separated the victims and they were killed away from the vehicles,” Pardoe said.
“He staged the vehicle, moved the bodies, it’s a very long drawn out thing, versus someone who just likes to thrill kill,” Hester added.
Pardoe said the FBI categorized the suspect as an “organized killer,” someone who wouldn’t necessarily have a mental illness and someone that no one would expect to be a killer.
“They are very smart people,” Hester added.
The emotional investment of working on a story such as “A Special Kind of Evil,” can be taxing, Pardoe said.
“It’s hard not to, especially when you have to deal with the victim’s families,” Hester said.
The reward is possibly helping solve the crime, and several new tips have come in that the pair is passing along to family members and the authorities.
“We had one that came into my blog, of someone who had attended our session in Yorktown,” Pardoe said. “She said ‘oh yeah, my mother and father saw the vehicle the night of it, saw the two girls tied up. Saw a blue truck there.’ I was like I had never heard this from anybody.”
The book has garnered friendly arguments between father and daughter, as Pardoe believes a single killer was involved while Hester is of the mindset that at least two people were the killers.
Larry McCann, who founded Virginia’s Behavioral Crimes Unit and helped with research on the book, supports the two killer philosophy.
“In all the instances there are two people being killed, that’s a lot for one person, they are running the risk of one of them running away,” Hester said. “I feel like it would be a lot easier with two people.”
Pardoe says that the person who committed the crimes is a control freak, and in each case control was lost (the third killing may not have as the bodies have not been recovered).
The theory behind a couple being involved in the killings is that there was one dominant and one submissive individual. That would also explain why the killings suddenly stopped, as a killer wouldn’t continue on if their partner was no longer involved.
“The old thinking is that you’re in jail, dead or not in the country,” Hester said. “The new thinking is that there may have been a life change. The Green River Killer got married. It sounds dumb, but a life change to a serial killer could be like ‘I can’t do this anymore.’”
Pardoe and Hester have been promoting the book on TV, radio and podcasts and recently started their book tour through libraries where they researched.
“It is a marathon not a sprint,” Pardoe said.
In addition to the Culpeper lecture, they have ones scheduled in Newport News at the end of November and in January in Williamsburg.
That area is keenly interested in the case still.
“The people that live down there, it’s a creepy thought,” Pardoe said. “Pretend this isn’t a serial killing, there’s potentially eight or more murderers just running around.”
Another chilling thought, especially for the authors, is that the killer may be in the audience at their lectures.
“You never know who might be in the audience at these types of things,” Pardoe said. “It’s part of the thrill, I guess.”
“A Special Kind of Evil,” is available on Amazon. It will not be for sale at the Culpeper Library, but the authors will sign copies of the novel if visitors bring them. The event is free to the public.