685 miles from first killing, I-70 serial killer strikes again
WICHITA, Kan. (KMOV) - It was 685 miles from the Payless Shoe store in Indianapolis to La Bride d’Elegance and Sir Knight Tuxedo and Formal Wear in Wichita. Ten hours and 15 minutes of highway travel through four states.
“I don’t see somebody just wandering between here and Indy,” said Wichita detective Tim Relph. “You’ve got to want to get here. There’s plenty of places between here and there. You didn’t have to come this far for this. He traveled with a purpose.”
But after killing Robin Fuldauer three days earlier in Indy, the serial killer walked into a major problem in Wichita. Two of them.
First, instead of one lone victim working in the store, Patricia Magers and Patricia Smith were both there. Magers was the owner, and Smith an employee. The store was due to close at 6 p.m., but a customer called needing a cummerbund for his tuxedo. He was on his way but didn’t know if he could make it there by 6 p.m. Could they please stay open a few extra minutes just in case? Both women agreed, and when there was a knock on the door a few minutes after 6 p.m., Smith went to open it. Instead of the customer, she stared into the eyes of her killer.
“I don’t think he anticipated for there to be a second person there,” said Relph.
The man forced both women to a back room and made them lay face down. He shot Magers twice, Smith once. The store had a panic button, but the women never had a chance to get to it.
Then came the killer’s nightmare. As he prepared to walk out, the cummerbund customer walked through the front door. The customer saw the suspect, wielding a gun covered by a wedding veil. The pair exchanged words. The killer told him to go to the back room where he had the women tied up. The customer balked and began backing away. The killer then told him to get, and not say a word. The customer then began backing away slowly out the front door. He never turned his back to the killer.
Relph is surprised there weren’t three victims at the scene. “If that witness would have cooperated, he would have killed him.”
The witness, scared, waited about an hour, then called police, who arrived around 7:30 p.m. where they found the bodies of Magers and Smith in a pool of blood. Like Indianapolis, only a small amount of money was taken. The witness provided a sketch: a slightly built red haired man, wearing a brown jacket with an “uzi” style gun. He did not see an escape vehicle. The phantom killer again disappeared from sight, this time into the early night.
Patricia Magers was 32. She had just purchased the La Bride d’Elegance store, sitting in a strip mall on East Kellogg street, the year before.
“You have this sense that this will never happen to me,” her husband, Mark Magers said. “And it did happen. It’s just shock and awe. There is so many stores in Wichita along the major arteries. How he picked this one is anybody’s guess.””
The pathologist who worked the crime scene said it was the toughest autopsy of his life. He not only knew Magers, he served as the surrogate father at her wedding. Now, nearly 30 years after the crime, Mark Magers states the obvious: not a day goes by that he doesn’t think about what happened.
“We were just two peas in a pod. We never did anything that we weren’t together. I was blessed to have met her in the first place. This heinous crime happened to the person I love most on the face of the earth.”
Patricia Smith was 23. She was a nursing student, studying pediatrics. She too was married, having walked down the aisle with Norman just nine months earlier.
“How can someone just walk in and shoot two women for no reason?” asked her friend Ruth Feather. “What are you so bitter about in life that you have to take your frustrations out on two innocent people? When you say horrible, that is an understatement. It was the most devastating, tragic, senseless thing I have ever gone through.”
Mark Magers reopened the bridal shop shortly after the murders but sold it a few months later. Today, Ascent ComputerTechnology sits on the site.
For Tim Relph, the hunt for the I-70 serial killer will never end. He is both hopeful and confident of a solution, and he would know. Relph spent years tracking down another serial killer, Dennis Rader, of BTK fame.
“I think it’s going to be events in his life that drove him. That’s a lot of anger in 29 days to kill six people.”
Some people feel the I-70 killer is already dead, or perhaps behind bars. Ruth Feather hopes not.
“To be very honest, I hope he is still alive because I want to see him punished severly. I want to live long enough to see that happen.”
For Mark Magers, don’t use the word closure. That will never happen.
“There is never going to be any closure for me. Not a day of my life that this hasn’t haunted me and will until the day I die. I want her back. And I know that will never happen.”
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