Hello Midnight Fears.
First, I’d like to say I LOVE your narrations. This is the first time I am submitting a story online to anyone and it is okay if you don’t end up reading it in a video. Just writing it out is somewhat therapeutic for me.
When I was about 19 years old, I lived and worked in a town north of Chicago called Vernon Hills. This was over 25 years ago now but I still remember it like it was yesterday, especially the feeling I got when I finally realized how close I came to being involved in something I most certainly didn’t want to be. Let me explain what happened.
I worked in a local chain restaurant as I went to college. It wasn’t uncommon for me to be going home late at night, especially if I closed. One late night I was driving home (I lived in an apartment behind a large mall located there), I decided to stop for gas and cigarettes at a corner gas station located by the mall less than five minutes from where I lived. I have since quit smoking because it is so unhealthy and overall a disgusting habit.
Anyway, this gas station just had a small cubicle like area for the cashier, not a big store or anything. I pulled into the gas station and got out of my car to pump the gas. Nothing happened and the pump didn’t turn on. I walked about halfway to the attendant and noticed no one was there. “That’s strange, it should be open,” I thought to myself and for some reason I just stopped walking and went back to my car since no attendant could be seen. I went to a different gas station to fill up.
It wasn’t for some time later that I found out why there appeared to be no attendant on duty. I say, “appeared” because in fact, the attendant was there but he wasn’t visible. He was just murdered by a man in a robbery only minutes before I got there and his body was laying on the ground of his cubicle.
The man was struck 20 times in the head with a claw hammer for a few hundred dollars. Here is the link to the actual story from the Chicago Tribune.
This happened back in 1989. The murderer had an accomplice but he admitted to tying up and gagging the attendant on duty then killing him, a man in his mid-forties named George Wilson. The murderer’s name is Don Bartels. It was reported that after he tied his victim up, he stopped for a five minute smoke break before beating the man’s head in with the hammer. The judge in the case was quoted saying, “that must have been the longest five minutes of Wilson’s life.” That statement always haunted me.
It was the weekend after Thanksgiving and the pair thought they would get upwards of $20,000 but only ended up stealing about $350. They were caught and sentenced almost a year later. The killer got 90 years and his accomplice received a 50-year sentence.
This has greatly bothered me over the years and I still think about it occasionally. I have mixed feelings from this episode in my life. I was absolutely shocked when I first heard the details realizing I had just missed this horrendous murder. It was almost surreal for me. I often thought to myself, “what if I had arrived just a few minutes earlier as it was happening? Could I have prevented that man losing his life or would there have been another body lying dead on the ground? Mine.” Also, why didn’t I walk all the way up to the cubicle? I am glad that I did not witness the gruesome sight of the poor man’s head bashed in with a claw-hammer but then I could have at least notified the police. I sometimes feel ashamed for being relieved that I didn’t get there earlier and missed the ordeal entirely. I am also happy I didn’t see the gore for myself. Just thinking about it turns my stomach even today. I feel sad for the attendant and can’t help vividly imagining his dead body lying unrecognizable and bleeding only feet away from me when I decided to turn around and just go to another gas station.
Now as I look at my wife and kids, I do thank God that it worked the way it did for me, but I still can’t help but to feel ashamed for some reason.
Thank you Midnight and if you do use this story, please just refer to me as,” a loyal fan.”
Submitted by: A Loyal Fan