true crime

Remembering the case of Marc Evonitz…

The featured photo is a screenshot of Richard Marc Edward Evonitz, a rapist, murderer, and coward who is no longer around to hurt people.

In early summer 2002, I was newly graduated from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. Bill and I were engaged to be married. He was working at the Pentagon. I was looking for a job.

We had just moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia. Why Fredericksburg? Because it’s a cute town, and because it reasonably offered me the chance to access work in Richmond, Northern Virginia, or Fredericksburg, itself. Also, Bill found a two bedroom apartment owned by the same (slumlord) apartment company that owned the building where he had been living in a studio apartment in Alexandria, Virginia. I think the rent in Fredericksburg was only marginally higher, and the complex offered more amenities.

So there we were in the summer of 2002. We were broke, but excited about our upcoming wedding. We had a new dog, a blue-eyed beagle/husky mix named CuCullain (C.C.). I was hopeful about the future, even if living in that apartment made me miserable. I’m definitely not cut out for communal living.

As I wrote cover letters and printed resumes, which I would then circulate, I watched a lot of TV– especially the news. During that summer, there was a true crime case that really intrigued me. It involved a man named Richard Marc Edward Evonitz.

Richard Marc Edward Evonitz is now long dead. He died by his own hand on June 27, 2002, at 38 years old. Looking back on it, Evonitz was probably smart to kill himself. He was not destined to enjoy the rest of his life. He had finally been caught, and if he hadn’t committed suicide surrounded by cops, he might have wound up on death row.

I remember hearing about this case when it happened, thinking it was so surreal that Evonitz and I had basically been in the same places within weeks of each other. I don’t think I would have been the type of victim he was hunting for, since all of his victims were teenaged girls. Still, I remember being really freaked out by this story. I’ve never forgotten this case after all of these years, mainly because I lived in the same places Evonitz did within weeks of his final criminal act.

Richard Marc Edward Evonitz was born and raised near Columbia, South Carolina, which was where I had lived from August 1999 until May 2002. He was born at Providence Hospital, a Catholic owned hospital in a part of Columbia near where I had done an internship. I used to drive past that hospital when I went to my social work field placement during my last semester at the university.

Known as Marc to avoid confusion with an uncle named Richard, Evonitz grew up as the oldest sibling in his family. He had two younger sisters, Kristen and Jennifer. He graduated from Irmo High School in 1980. I know where Irmo High School is. It’s not far from the university, either.

After he finished high school, Evonitz worked for Jiffy Lube for a time, then went on to join the United States Navy. He spent eight honorable years serving in the Navy, then left military service. He married twice, first to a woman named Bonnie Lou Gower, from whom he was divorced in 1996. Then in 1999, he married Hope Marie Crowley, and they were still wed at the time of his death in 2002.

There I was, back in the summer of 2002, living in Fredericksburg, Virginia, having just moved from Columbia, South Carolina, hearing about Marc Evonitz’s last crime on the news. Evonitz was of special interest in the Fredericksburg area. It turned out that he had kidnapped and murdered at least three teenaged girls who lived in Spotsylvania County, very close to the Fredericksburg area, during the 1990s. He is also suspected of a 1994 rape and abduction and a 1995 rape in Massaponax, Virginia, which is also very close to Fredericksburg.

But as of June 2002, when Evonitz died by suicide, no one knew that he was guilty of those crimes that had taken place in Virginia. At that point in time, it wasn’t known who had abducted, raped, and murdered 16 year old Sofia Silva on September 9, 1996. The May 1, 1997 rapes, abductions, and murders of 15 year old Kristin and 12 year old Kati Lisk were also unsolved. Authorities had been searching for clues for years, but they kept coming up empty handed. It took the actions of a brave and clever 15 year old girl– Evonitz’s last victim– to finally solve those crimes.

On June 24, 2002, Evonitz abducted 15 year old Kara Robinson. She had been in her friend’s front yard, minding her own business, just as the girls Evonitz abducted and murdered in Virginia had been. Evonitz approached Kara, friendly at first, offering her magazines. Then he brandished a handgun and forced her into a Rubbermaid container in the trunk of his car. He bound her hands and feet and gagged her, warning her not to scream. The whole time, Kara was paying close attention to everything. She was hyperaware of everything she was seeing, hearing, and feeling as they traveled to the apartment where Evonitz lived.

Evonitz took Kara inside his apartment, raped her, and tied her to his bed. She noticed the names on his mail, the red hair in his wife’s hairbrush, and the magnets on the refrigerator. She even thought to talk to Evonitz, and later described him as “cordial”. Prior to going to bed, Evonitz made Kara smoke marijuana with him, and gave her a Valium. While Evonitz slept, Kara managed to free herself, using her teeth. She fled the apartment in bare feet, still wearing fuzzy blue handcuffs, and went to the police, where she was able to identify Evonitz. Kara says that the police were initially kind of skeptical, but they finally called her mother. The deputies took Kara back to the scene of the crime before they took her to the hospital.

Upon discovering that his captive had escaped, Evonitz took off, eventually ending up in Sarasota, Florida, where his dash for freedom was ended by the police. As the cops surrounded him, demanding that he surrender, Evonitz cowardly opted to end his life. He put his handgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

Police searched Evonitz’s apartment, and soon found “trophies” that Evonitz had collected– evidence that Kara had not been his first and only victim. Richland County police officers discovered clues that would finally shed light on crimes Evonitz had perpetrated in Spotsylvania, Virginia in the 1990s… crimes that, in June 2002, had not been solved.

After Evonitz died, the police analyzed what was left of his life. In the course of their investigation, police found that Richard Marc Edward Evonitz’s hair matched hair that was found on the bodies of Sofia Silva and Kristin and Kati Lisk. They also found blue acrylic fibers from the “fuzzy handcuffs” that Evonitz owned, that matched fibers found on the three victims from Virginia. And then, five years after Kristin Lisk’s death, investigators found her fingerprints and a palm print in the trunk of Evonitz’s car. Finally, the families of those young victims could rest assured that the man who killed their daughters would never have the chance to hurt anyone else.

I remember seeing a news report about this case soon after Evonitz killed himself. Kara Robinson was interviewed at the time, and I remember hearing her say something along the lines of “Picking me was the dumbest thing Marc Evonitz ever did.” She sounded so tough and defiant. I was astonished by her bravery and ability to keep her wits about her. She was just fifteen years old at the time. I remember what I was like at that age… and I am just flabbergasted by how amazingly brave and strong she was… and apparently still is. YouTube tells me that Kara now thrives in a law enforcement career.

Here’s a somewhat recent interview of Kara Robinson Chamberlain. She is interviewed by Elizabeth Smart, who was also famously kidnapped in June of 2002, and also managed to survive her ordeal.

Actually now that I think about it, 2002 was a terrible year for abductions. I remember there was a lot of news about girls being abducted and murdered all across the country. Elizabeth Smart probably had the highest profile case, as she was abducted in June 2002, at just 14 years old. That summer, there were so many tragic and horrifying cases of girls being victimized.

That was also around the time of the Beltway Sniper case, which also had strong ties to Fredericksburg, as a couple of people were murdered there. I remember how Bill would never let me walk behind him during that scary time in October 2002, as the snipers had been randomly shooting people at gas stations up and down the I-95 corridor, seemingly without any rhyme or reason. We actually lived a couple of miles from a mall and a gas station where people were shot on different occasions. It was terrifying, and went on for a couple of weeks before the killers were finally captured.

Looking back on our brief time in Fredericksburg– a town that is about 90 miles from where I had grown up, and had always regarded as a really cute place– now makes me think of criminal behavior. That area is also near where Erin McCay George committed murder when she shot her husband for insurance money in 2001. I went to college with Erin, and was there when she embezzled money from our alma mater.

We also lived in Fredericksburg at around the time Erika and Benjamin Sifrit committed their crimes in Ocean City, Maryland. The Sifrits had ties to Fredericksburg, because Erika had gone to college at Mary Washington College (now known as the University of Mary Washington). They committed two very bloody murders just fifteen days after Bill and I moved to Fredericksburg, and their story was all over the news in Fredericksburg at that time.

Kara Robinson Chamberlain went on to become a police officer in Columbia, South Carolina. Below is a video of Kara speaking in Fredericksburg, Virginia, a community that is no doubt so grateful to her for helping to solve the cases of Sofia Silvia and Kristin and Kati Lisk. She truly is a heroine in every sense of the word.

What an amazing, brave, young lady she was, and still is.

I still think it’s so weird, how close I’ve been to some pretty horrifying true crime cases. After my car was broken into at our crappy apartment complex in Fredericksburg, and we had a brush with a creepy guy who was going door to door, casing the area, I started paying a lot more attention to the crime statistics in Fredericksburg. I discovered that the apartment complex where we lived was a hotbed of criminal activity ranging from drug busts to rapes.

I feel pretty fortunate that I managed to escape living there having only had my window busted in my car, as some lowlife thieves tried and failed to steal my aftermarket CD player. We moved not long after that happened. I see that now, the Fredericksburg Police Department has an office next to the complex where we used to live. It’s probably a good place for them to be, given the historically high crime rate in that neighborhood. Looking on Google Maps, I can see that where there used to be a big field where I walked C.C., there’s now a landscaped road leading to the police station. The boulevard running past the complex is now a four lane highway. It had been a two lane road when we were there.

I’ve often thought that in another life, I might have been a true crime writer… and now I’m so grateful to live in Germany, which has its crime issues, but none as dramatic as those in Fredericksburg. I’ll never again think of it as a quaint, picturesque town.

true crime

True crime in my world…

Some of you who are still reading this blog after this year’s upheaval may remember that I sometimes like to write about true crime. Every once in awhile, I write about something that hits close to home for me, or for other people. I’ve gotten comments from people who are actually involved in some of the situations I’ve written about or true crime books I’ve reviewed.

True crime has struck eerily close to home for me this week. This isn’t to mean it’s touched me personally, only that a crime occurred in Germany and it caused a blip in our routine. Of course, for the people involved, it definitely wasn’t just a “blip”.

My dog, Zane, has been kind of off his food this week. He has a slightly swollen lymph node under his jaw. At first, I was worried about cancer, because I ALWAYS worry about cancer when it comes to my dogs. But then I noticed that he otherwise looks bright and perky, and he does want to eat. In fact, last night, we were eating duck and he was loudly demanding that we share it with him. But he doesn’t want to finish his own food, especially the dry pellets he gets. He will eventually eat it, but he doesn’t seem to enjoy it. Edited to add: Looks like my initial hunch was right and Zane probably does have cancer. 🙁

I took a look in his mouth and he is definitely due for a dental cleaning. He’s got lots of tartar build up and his gum line is red. Last year, our vet near Stuttgart removed a small tumor from his mouth. It’s possible he has a new one. So I asked Bill to stop by our vet to make an appointment for Zane to be seen. If the vet agrees with me that it’s time for a dental, we’ll try to get both dogs done, but after the first, because August has been a very expensive month! I’m sure the vet will agree, because Zane obviously could use a cleaning. Hopefully, that’s the only thing troubling him.

Anyway, on Wednesday, Bill stopped by our vet’s office and found a long note posted on the door. Naturally, it was in German. Bill does speak some basic German, but he’s nowhere near fluent. He took a photo of the note on the door, getting the gist that they were making some policy changes, mainly due to the huge number of clients they have. He says they will offer Sunday hours and won’t take on any new clients. He also got the gist that there had been a death at the practice, so that was why they were closed Wednesday night.

My German friend, Susanne, then shared with me a news story about a 22 year old woman who was found lying in a pool of blood near a horse paddock. The woman, who wasn’t named in the original post, had been riding her horse and had only just moved to Hofheim within the past few weeks.

The next day, Susanne shared another article. In that article, the woman was identified as Lea S., and she worked at our vet’s office. Her murder was the reason the practice was closed on Wednesday, as she was killed on Tuesday night. It says on the vet’s page that she had been working there since 2017, but I guess she only just moved to Wiesbaden… or, more specifically, the area where we live, which is on the outskirts of Wiesbaden proper. Lea loved horses and spent her free time with them. I grew up with horses myself, so I understand the love very well.

On a different note, I think it’s interesting that the German press doesn’t identify people like the American press does. Even people who are accused of crimes don’t get identified by their full names. They are usually photographed holding up a folder over their faces and their last names are usually not revealed.

In the next article about the murder, we learned that the perpetrator is a 55 year old man. He has already lawyered up and turned himself in to the police. Supposedly, he and Lea were romantically involved, and perhaps she tried to break up with him. He responded by shooting her.

Violent crime is not that common in Germany. It does happen here, but not like it does in the United States. It’s much more difficult for private citizens to have access to weapons here than it is in the United States. Frankly, I like that about Germany. I think it’s sensible. But just because there aren’t as many guns here, that doesn’t mean violent crime doesn’t happen. And even without weapons, people do get murdered here… but by less violent methods. For example, a few months ago, I wrote about a man who had killed people by poisoning their food, and another man who had passively aggressively booby trapped the homes of people he didn’t like.

I am not that familiar with our new vets because I haven’t been the one taking the dogs to them. When we lived near Stuttgart, I got to know our old vets very well, because I took Zane in monthly for allergy shots. Our new vets have a much bigger and busier practice, and we have only visited them a few times. Most of the time, Bill has gone alone. I can’t even imagine how our old vets would have reacted if one of their staff members had been murdered. They’d probably shut down for a week.

I think Lea’s story is very sad. She was a beautiful young woman with her whole life ahead of her. She obviously had passions in life, and so many more things to do before she made her untimely exit. My heart goes out to her family, friends, and co-workers who had experienced such a tremendous loss. I’m sure we would have gotten to know and like her, if we’d had the opportunity.

Hopefully, we’ll get to the bottom of Zane’s issues soon. He just begged me for his morning treat, but still doesn’t want to finish his breakfast.

Edited to add: Since I wrote this post, more information has come out. The ex lover who turned himself in is claiming innocence and says he only turned himself in because he knew the police would confront him. Also, witnesses have said they saw a young man, and the ex lover is 55 years old. However, the prosecutor doesn’t believe that the ex lover had nothing to do with the crime. Perhaps it was murder for hire?