The Harrowing Survival Story Of Mary Vincent

In 1978, 15-year-old Mary Vincent was hitchhiking from Soquel to Corona, CA. After 50-year-old Lawrence Singleton picked her up, he assaulted and maimed Vincent before leaving her for dead. Despite all odds, Vincent managed to survive Singleton's murder attempt and get help from a couple on Interstate Highway 5. Vincent would go on to testify against Singleton, who served less than a decade for his crimes.

Despite Vincent’s extensive physical and mental trauma, she testified against Singleton a second time years later when he was tried for murder. With the help of Vincent’s testimony, Singleton got the death penalty for his crime.

Today, Mary Vincent is an artist, victims' advocate, and motivational speaker. Below, we'll break down the story of her survival.

  • Vincent Was Just 15 When She Started Hitchhiking Towards Corona, CA

    Mary Vincent grew up in Las Vegas where her parents worked for the casinos. As she entered her teen years, Vincent began defying her strict parents and often skipped school, even leaving town with her boyfriend at one point. The two lived out of her boyfriend's car for a summer in Sausalito, CA, until authorities apprehended him on charges of raping a teenage girl.

    After the arrest, Vincent headed south and briefly lived with an uncle in Soquel, CA. Eventually, she headed towards Corona, CA - a city just outside of Los Angeles - to visit her grandfather.

  • Lawrence Singleton Offered To Give Vincent A Ride

    On September 29, 1978, 50-year-old Lawrence Singleton slowed down his van to pick up Mary Vincent in Berkeley, CA. Singleton was a merchant seaman and claimed he was driving to Reno, NV, but could give Vincent a ride to Los Angeles. Vincent had 400 miles to hitchhike and agreed to enter Singleton's van.

    Despite his seemingly friendly demeanor, Singleton had previously been convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and had a history of alcohol abuse. He was also recently divorced from his second wife and was estranged from his daughter.

  • Vincent Knew Something Was Off, But Singleton Calmed Her Down

    When Vincent lit a cigarette shortly after accepting the ride, she sneezed, and Singleton reached over to feel her neck, asking if she was sick. Vincent didn't like the physical contact and pulled out of his reach, but soon drifted off to sleep when he didn't try anything further. She even offered to help him carry some laundry at a stop along the way before nodding off, not thinking anything was amiss.

    When she woke up, she realized they were off course and driving back towards Nevada. Vincent quickly found a sharp stick in the car and pointed it at Singleton. She demanded he turn the van around and take her to where she was headed. Singleton acquiesced and calmly apologized, reassuring the teen he was “just an honest man who made a mistake.” 

    Vincent believed he was remorseful, and the ride continued.

  • Singleton Drugged And Brutally Attacked Vincent

    At one point, Singleton stopped the van to use the bathroom, and Vincent got out to stretch her legs. As she leaned down to tie her shoe, Singleton struck her and beat her across the back of her head until she fell. Singleton then sexually assaulted and raped Vincent, telling her not to scream or he'd kill her. He insisted she had to obey him if she wanted to live.

    Singleton then bound Vincent's hands behind her and drove for a while. Eventually, he came to a stop, cut her hands free, and ordered her to drink some unknown alcohol from a plastic jug before continuing his assault.

    When Vincent regained consciousness, Singleton 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." Singleton proceeded to sever both of Vincent's arms with a hatchet just below the elbow.

    After shoving Vincent down an embankment, Singleton stuffed her into a concrete pipe and told her, "Okay, now you're free." He then left her there, unconscious and near death.

  • Vincent Walked Out Of The Canyon And Found Help Along The Freeway

    When Vincent regained consciousness, she was in a dire state. She was at the bottom of a ravine, naked, alone, and bleeding profusely. She mustered the strength to stand up and walk three miles out of the 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. 

  • Vincent Testified Against Singleton Twice

    After the attack, 15-year-old Vincent provided law enforcement with such a detailed description of her attacker that people immediately recognized the police sketch. During her recovery, specialists fit Vincent with prosthetics, and she returned to school.

    When authorities apprehended Singleton, Vincent testified against him. Singleton insisted Vincent was a sex worker and denied he had committed any crimes. He also maintained someone else had been in the car and Vincent had threatened him with false accusations. Singleton even called her a "$10-a-night wh*re."

    Despite Singleton's lies, Vincent stood up in front of the court and testified against him. Vincent only referred to Singleton as “my attacker,” and she declared in a firm voice that he “did this” to her, in reference to her prosthetic arms. Years later, when Florida police arrested Singleton for another crime, Vincent testified again.