Email rumor claims a man posing as a good samaritan attempted to gain entry to a woman's vehicle by 'returning' a $5 bill she supposedly dropped. Was he the Baton Rouge serial killer?
Description: Email rumor
Circulating since: Feb 2003
Status: False / Outdated
Email text contributed by Gail, Feb. 26, 2003:
Subject: Women Be Alert!
Hi friends and family. I know that with all the psychos out there, we still think that something couldn't really happen to us, right? Wrong! As most of you know, I live in Alexandria, but I work in Lafayette where I stay with friends when I'm there.
As you know from America's Most Wanted TV program as well as the news media, there is a serial killer in the Lafayette area. I just want to let you know about an "incident" that happened to me a few weeks ago that could have been deadly.
At first I didn't go to the police or anyone with it because I didn't realize how serious this encounter was. But since I work in a jail and I told a few people about it, it wasn't long before I was paraded into Internal Affairs to tell them my story.
It was approximately 5:15 am in Opelousas, La. I had stayed with a friend there and I was on my way to work. I stopped at the Exxon/Blimpie station to get gas. I got $10 gas and a Diet Coke... I took into the store two $5 bills and one $1 bill. (just enough to get my stuff)
As I pulled away from the store, a man approached my truck from the back side of the store (an unlit area). He was an "approachable-looking" man (clean cut, clean shaven, dressed well, etc.) He walked up to my window and knocked. Since I'm very paranoid and "always looking for the rapist or killer", I didn't open the window.... I just asked what he wanted. He raised a $5 bill to my window and said "You dropped this."
Since I knew I had gone into the store with a certain amount of money.... I knew I didn't drop it. When I told him it wasn't mine...... he began hitting the window and door and screaming at me to open my door and that I had dropped the money! At that point, I drove away as fast as I could.
After talking to the Internal Affairs department and describing the man I saw and the way he escalated from calm and polite to angry and volitale.... it was determined that I could have possibly encountered the serial killer myself. At this point, it is unclear as to how he gains access to his victims since there has been no evidence of forced entry into homes, etc. And the fact that he has been attacking in the daytime when women are less likely to have their guard up...and what guesture is nicer than returning money to someone that dropped it????? How many times would you have opened your window (or door) to get your money and say thank you.... because if the person is kind enough to return something to you... then he can't really be a threat.... can he????
Please be cautious! This might not have been the serial killer... it probably wasn't... but anyone that gets that angry over someone not accepting money from them, can't have honorable intentions.
Forward this to everyone you know.... maybe they can be as fortunate as I was! Pass this on to friends and family members!
Analysis: Even though police arrested a suspect in the Baton Rouge serial killings on May 28, 2003, effectively ending the murderer's two-year reign of terror, email tales like the one above continue to spread, keeping the fear alive. The text was false even when the serial killer was still on the loose, according to a March 20 report in the Louisiana State University Reveille. Now it's outdated, as well.
I don't mean suggest that such an incident couldn't possibly occur — it could, and that's one reason this legend-in-the-making touches a nerve despite its untruth. Like "The Knife in the Briefcase," an urban legend recounting a female shopper's close call with a killer posing as a good samaritan in a mall parking lot, for women this is a cautionary tale that strikes very close to home.
Viewed as such, one might argue that stories of this type, even when false, have some redeeming value — at least to the extent that they encourage potential victims to be generally cautious. By the same token, however, to the extent that they confuse and misdirect by focusing people's fears on fictitious scenarios instead of real ones, arguably they cause more harm than good — a point to consider next time you're tempted to forward the latest scaremail.
Update: A new version of this email circulating since 2006 claims the $5 bill trick is now being used by rapists to dupe unsuspecting female victims.
Email: Serial Killer Uses Recording of Crying Baby to Dupe Female Victims
Another rumor about the Louisiana serial killer, also false and outdated
The Knife in the Briefcase
Well known urban legend about a murdering madman posing as a good samaritan
Another Close Call at the Mall
Email version of "The Knife in the Briefcase"
Sources and further reading:
Serial Killer Emails Prove False
LSU Reveille, 20 March 2003
Suspect Arrested in Baton Rouge Serial Killings
The Advocate, Baton Rouge, May 28, 2003.
Special Report - Serial Killings
Ongoing coverage by The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Baton Rouge Serial Killer - Rumor Control
Rumors debunked by Multi-Agency Task Force
Last updated: 03/26/09