In 1978, 15-year-old Mary Vincent hitchhiked from Las Vegas to California. She got into a van, and 50-year-old Lawrence Singleton attacked, raped, and dismembered the teen before leaving her for dead. Vincent managed to survive the attempted murder and get help from a nearby couple. After she received new prosthetic arms for the appendages Singleton had cut off, Vincent addressed him as her attacker to the courts.
Although convicted, the penal system released Singleton less than a decade later, but not before he tried to sue Vincent for robbery. The courts promptly dismissed his unsubstantiated case. Despite Vincent’s extensive physical and mental trauma, she testified against Singleton a second time years later. After his release from prison, Singleton killed a woman in Florida. In 2001, with the help of Vincent’s testimony, Singleton got the death penalty for the murder. More than a caveat of hitchhiking, Vincent’s story illustrates the resilience of a teen who survived torture and stood up against her attacker.
Her Attacker Cut Off Her Arms
When Vincent regained consciousness, Singleton was still there. He ordered her to lie on the edge of the road and she pleaded with him to set her free. He began saying, "You want to be free? I'll set you free," as he went to the van to find something. He returned with a hatchet. Mary struggled as Singleton held her down and cut off her right arm. She screamed as he moved on to the other arm, severing it right below the elbow.
He then shoved the naked and bleeding girl down an embankment into a culvert. He stuffed her into a concrete pipe and told her: "Okay, now you're free." He left her there, unconscious and near death.
She Walked Out Of A Canyon And Onto A Freeway
When Vincent regained consciousness, she was in a dire state. She was at the bottom of a ravine, bleeding profusely, alone, and naked. She mustered the strength to stand up and walk three miles out of th culvert, which she later found out was the Del Puerto Canyon. She followed the sounds of the nearby freeway and raised her arms to keep the bleeding to a minimum.
Upon reaching the freeway, the first people who spotted her sped away in fear. A second couple, who had been traveling on vacation, stopped to help her. They wrapped her in linens from their car before driving her to a nearby airport. There, they called an ambulance. All she could say was: "He raped me."
Vincent Testified Against Singleton Twice
After the attack, 15-year-old Vincent was resilient and provided law enforcement with such a detailed description of her attacker people immediately recognized the police sketch. During her recovery, specialists fit Vincent with prosthetics, and she returned to school, adapting to her new disability. When authorities apprehended Singleton, Vincent testified against him. Singleton insisted Vincent was a prostitute, claiming he hadn't committed the crime. He also maintained someone else had been in the car and Vincent had threatened him with false accusations. Singleton called her a "$10-a-night whore."
Despite everything Singleton said, Vincent stood up in front of the court and pointed one of her hooked prosthetic arms at him. Vincent only refers to Singleton as “my attacker,” and she declared in a firm voice that he did this to her. Years later, when Florida police arrested Singleton for another crime, Mary unflinchingly testified again.
She Lived In Fear Of Being Attacked Again
Authorities had overwhelming evidence against Singleton and convicted him of multiple charges, including kidnapping, attempted murder, and rape. Vincent quickly left the courtroom after Singleton made a quiet comment to her. He later admitted that he'd told her: "I'll finish this job, if it takes me the rest of my life."
Vincent was terrified. At home, she was having trouble with her family and felt isolated at her specialized school for the handicapped. She moved away as soon as she graduated and became secretive about her life and location. Traumatized and depressed, Vincent became anorexic, had trouble leaving the house, and saw many of her close relationships fall apart. She ended up living in fear for years.