Psy Street Blues: A’’ Sensitive’’ Tries To Help Police

DURING THE SUMMER following the third grade, Karen Huf-stetler awoke one night from a nightmare unlike any she’d ever had before. She had dreamed of a car failing to negotiate a curve in front of her rural Ellis County home. The out-of-control automobile ran through a ditch and into the front yard. The driver, she dreamed, was slightly injured. The small dog that had been traveling with him was frightened.

The following day, as the family ate lunch, a loud noise brought the meal to a halt. Her father jumped to his feet, looked out the front window and saw that a car had crashed into the fence in the front yard. He rushed to help the slightly injured driver from the car while his young daughter followed, frantically insisting that he “get the dog, too.”

Her father saw no dog and ignored his daughter’s pleas. But Karen kept insisting.

Finally, to appease his daughter, he began a thorough search of the interior of the car. Huddled beneath the driver’s seat, whimpering, was a small, frightened poodle.

It was then that Karen Hufstetler, now 35, first knew she was “sensitive.” Even today she does not like the term “psychic,” the tag many of her friends and several law officials have given her.

It was in the summer of 1979 that her “sensitivity” expanded and took her into a world that was both frightening and fascinating. Married and living in the southern Georgia community of Sylvester, she had a vision of a small black child being murdered in Atlanta. She also felt strongly that two more young blacks would die shortly. Later, she called her sister-in-law in Atlanta on several occasions to tell of children who would be killed or who had already died but whose bodies had not yet been found.

In time, the entire nation began to share Hufstetler’s horror at a series of crimes that became known as the Atlanta Child Murders. Hufstetler, at the insistence of her sister-in-law, finally called the Atlanta police, pleading with them to check out information she felt might be important to the investigation.

The murderer, she told them, was a black Vietnam veteran-a former Marine MP- who was an outpatient at the Atlanta Veterans Administration hospital. In Vietnam he had seen several of his friends killed by Vietnamese children. When he had flashbacks to those horrifying times, he would seek out a child to murder.

Hufstetler described in detail the manner in which the killer would abduct the children, dressing in his MP uniform and telling them he was a policeman.

The Atlanta police paid her calls little if any attention. Finally, she wearied of their lack of interest and stopped calling. And while Wayne Williams, a freelance photographer, was eventually tried and convicted of two murders, she remains convinced the real Atlanta child murderer is still free, still an outpatient at the VA hospital. “The only good thing,” she says, “is that he’s stopped killing.”

Since returning to Texas, she has found herself drawn into several investigations. She has never asked for or received compensation for her efforts. And in none of the cases was she personally acquainted with any of those involved.

There was, for instance, the disappearance of a five-year-old Mesquite girl, Christi Lynn Meeks. Hufstetler insisted to the Mesquite police that she knew details of the crime and the area where Christi’s body would be found. They weren’t interested, but famed DeSoto private investigator Bill Dear finally listened. Dear, originally skeptical, suggested that Hufstetler write down everything she thought she knew about the case.

Hufstetler produced a detailed profile of the man she said she had “seen” take Christi away from her apartment complex. “The artist’s sketch of the man [whom other children had seen talking with Christi in the apartment yard] was wrong,” Hufstetler claims. She described him as having a “lazy eye” and a scar on the top right side of his lip. His fingernails, she said, were stained, there was “something strange about his teeth” and he suffered from low blood sugar and headaches. She went on to describe how he was dressed when he abducted the girl, said he drove a Ford badly in need of paint and that he was bisexual and generally a loner.

The child’s body, she said, was placed in a wooded area near a rusty barrel. There was a stream with very little water in it nearby. The killer, she told them, was remorseful over the murder and was spending most of his time in an apartment in the area.

Hufstetler led investigators to the site she felt was the one she’d seen in her vision but no body was ever found. In time, the badly decomposed body of the youngster would be found floating in a lake north of Dallas.

“We didn’t find the body,” says Dear’s assistant, Dick Riddle, “but somehow I think she was right in some way.”

Riddle went so far as to tell Hufstetler that he had a strong suspicion that the little girl’s body had, in fact, at one time been in the area she described, but was later moved by the killer.

Hufstetler was working one afternoon when she began picking up on a young boy who was wandering from home, obviously lost. When she heard news reports of two-year-old Jeffrey McGee missing from his Lewisville home, Hufstetler called friends to tell them of her fears for the youngster’s life. They, in turn, drove to the Lewisville Police Department to tell them of Hufstetler’s vision.

“When they sent the search party out,” Hufstetler says, “I kept sending them to a certain part of a park where there was a creek. I knew by then that Jeffrey was dead, but I wanted him out of that water.”

Despite her repeated insistence that he was where she had directed them, the searchers found no evidence of the youngster. “I kept telling them to look closer,” she says, “and they would see the soles of his tennis shoes.”

A week later, after no word from Lewisville, she called again. “The officer I talked with asked me if I would leave him alone if he sent his people back to the spot one more time. I promised him I would.”

The following day, the body of Jeffrey McGee was found, Hufstetler says, at the spot she had initially directed investigators to. For some reason, she speculates, the body had just not surfaced until a week after the drowning.

Now, she says, she feels she has information that might help the Fort Worth police in their investigation of the series of murders of young women that has spread terror through the city.

“The guy who committed several of the murders,” she says, “is 6-foot-2 or 6- foot-3, weighs 210 or 215, and is very good-looking. He has hazel eyes, high cheekbones and is very likable. He can talk with people on just about any subject, and makes good money working with computers in Fort Worth.”

The man, she says, lives in Arlington in a plush condo, drives a sports car with dark windows and views his series of murders as a game. “He loves the publicity. He wants to see just how many he can kill before they are finally able to catch him.

“And he’s more apt to seek out a victim during the period of a full moon. I haven’t really kept up with the cases, but I think if they go back and check, they’ll find I’m right about that.

“One other thing: His next victim, when you see her on television, will remind you physically of me.”

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