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If only. But that’ll never be.
Brandi Hicks, 17, and her high school friend, Liz Reiser, exited a video store at 9:30 pm, where they were approached by Matthew Vaca, a creepy acting stranger.
He asked them for a ride to his house. At first they refused, but then he offered $20 for gas. The ID Channel re-enactment portrayed Vaca as stating that his home was “just down the road,” that he had been “walking all day,” and that he wanted to get home before his kids went to bed.
The girls were sold and told him to get into the backseat.
What Brandi, the driver, should have done: Refused, possibly gone back into the store (with Liz) until Matthew left, or possibly asking the store manager to call the police.
The “down the road” seemed nowhere in sight as Matthew told Brandi to keep driving. Then he told her to pull over. He got out, during which the girls really began feeling fearful, discussing whether or not they should just leave him.
What Brandi should have done: Left him.
But Matthew got back into the car, and shortly after, threatened her with a gun, directing her to take the car into a wooded area.
He ordered both out, took Brandi’s shoelaces and bound her to the steering wheel, then ordered Liz to go off with him, eventually stabbing her to death.
He returned for Brandi, untied her and led her away, beating her, then using a shoelace to strangle her (it’s not known why he didn’t have the knife).
What Brandi should have done during the strangulation: Play dead.
What Brandi did: Play dead!
Faking death, she was pushed into a nearby river, and somehow while Matthew loitered nearby for an hour, pretended to be dead while floating in the water.
Once he was gone, she climbed to land and flagged down the first car she saw, which was a police officer’s.
We need to track back to the beginning, because once in the woods, victims don’t have too many options unless they are trained in self-defense tactics.
If you’re ever tempted to give a stranger a ride because he’s giving a story (“I’ve been on my feet all day”), remind yourself of some facts:
- If he’s able-bodied and lives “down the road,” he doesn’t need ANY ride.
- If he appears injured or sick, call him a cab, especially if he has $20.
- If you refuse him a ride, what’s the worst that could happen to him if he’s truly harmless? Aching feet.
Bottom line: Under NO circumstances give a stranger, including a female, a ride. If she looks pregnant, she could be using pillows. Women, too, can be vicious.
Matthew Vaca will die in prison.
Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.