A serial killer lives in my hometown and I’m not afraid.
For the first time in years, folks across the country know how to pronounce my hometown. (It’s “Chill-eh-caw-thee” for those of you who aren’t news or gossip junkies.) Don’t know what I’m talking about? Well, little old Chillicothe has been making headlines as of late. It’s not because of the revamped downtown area which is bursting at the seams with local business and talent. It’s not because of the sprawling Appalachian foothills with an infinite supply of outdoors activities. It’s not because of the numerous archeological sites that have garnered new interest. Nor is it because of the historical buildings and attractions lining our streets.
Nope. Chillicothe is making headlines because of death, of the darkest variety: murder.
Somewhere amid the small hometown feel hidden amongst the smiling and nodding neighbors, there lurks a killer. Possibly a serial killer. Somehow he/she sprouted up right under our noses, blended in and stole several lives. Women have disappeared leaving families and friends wondering and empty.
The popular television channel Investigation Discovery has even taken notice and created a series documenting the events. I’ve gathered with my own family around the tv watching my hometown portrayed and my neighbors lives re-enacted. It’s brought tears to my eyes watching these people talk about their loved ones and the events that unfolded. It’s reminded me to watch for shady people hanging out where they shouldn’t be and also to be more aware of my surroundings.
But here’s the thing, I’ve always done that.
My dad taught me how to hold my car keys if ever confronted by an assailant (here’s how if you don’t already know). He taught me that long before there was the notion of becoming a #VanishingWoman. It was just part of his parenting.
We moved back to town not too long ago from Pittsburgh. I knew full well there had been murders and missing women. Some of my friends did too, cautioning me to “be careful” back in my hometown. Don’t go out alone. Avoid dark alleys. Stay away from “bad” people.
I just kind of laughed it off in my mind. I’ll be honest and say I’d even forgotten (yes FORGOTTEN) about what happened. That is until the internet started buzzing again with the tv series coming out.
Call it complacency or ignorance or whatever you want, but I’ve never felt unsafe in Chillicothe.
I don’t struggle with addiction, so I have no reason to be lingering in hotel rooms or dark alleys late at night. I drag my husband everywhere with me, so I’m never alone. And if my husband won’t go along, I take the mouthy pup. I don’t hide away at home fearing for my safety. No, I go on doing the things I’ve always done and will continue to do. I go on living and living the best way I can. That’s all that you can do, really. There’s danger lurking around every turn. I mean, have you seen the Final Destination movies??? I refuse to be a hermit!
I will continue to smile and nod at the neighbor running down the sidewalk with a fishing pole in hand. I will continue to take my dog for a walk around my neighborhood. I will continue to go out and enjoy what my little town has to offer. Because it has so much more than just this dark and tragic story. It’s a part of it, yes, but just one facet of this beautiful Scioto Valley.
There are wonderful people here, with the most beautiful spirit. My husband is a Pennsylvania boy through and through and you would not believe the joy on his face seeing people nod and wave on our Sunday drives. “They’re so nice and they don’t even know me!”
We’ve had the pleasure of experiencing a few local festivals and restaurants already. There’s just something bright and glimmering here that you won’t find elsewhere. And it’s something good. Something worth sharing. So if you’ve already got an opinion of Chillicothe in your head thanks to the vanishing women story, hit the delete key on that and let me give you a fresh introduction. Over the next few weeks, hopefully longer, I’ll be sharing more about my hometown. Trust me, you will fall in love just as much as we have!