In 1964, residents of Boston were terrified by a serial killer believed
responsible for eleven murders at the time this article was published. Its
author, Erle Gardner, a distinguished criminologist, is best known for creating one of the
most widely read fictional characters in the English language, Perry Mason. The Atlantic
invited him to the
Boston area, then home to the magazine, asking that he shed light on the
murders. One of the most arresting details in the resulting article is the
description of women so fearful that some left the city and others saw their
health suffer from stress.
"What do you do about the door when you enter?" one of the women
said. "You look in the closets, under the bed, and in the bathroom. If a
man is in there you want to be able to run out, screaming for help. Therefore,
you should leave the door open. But if you leave the door open while you are
making a search, what is to prevent the Strangler from following you in and
standing between you and your means of escape when you first see him?"
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