The Survival Story of Mary Vincent and the Murder of Roxanne Hayes
Mary Vincent defied all odds and survived the attack and rape by Lawrence Singleton. But he would later escalate to murder.
It was the summer of 1978, and Mary Vincent was carrying a sign that read, “Heading South.” She had run away from her home, attempting to walk along the freeway to get a ride to Los Angeles. The young girl hoped that her new life would help start her promising career as a dancer.
So when a man named Lawrence Singleton pulled over and offered Mary a ride, she accepted. She felt comfortable right away, feeling so at ease with the old man that she quickly fell asleep. It wasn’t until she awoke that Mary realized they were driving the wrong way. Singleton assured her that everything was okay, giving her every excuse possible.
The car eventually came to a stop at a rest area as they took a bathroom break. Already uneasy about the situation she was in, Mary noticed that her shoe was untied. She jumped out of the car and tied her sneakers in case she had to make a run for her life.
While she was distracted, Singleton came up from behind and hit her over the head with a sledgehammer. Mary fell to the ground.
When she woke up, Mary was tied up in the back of the van. Each arm was tied to the opposite side of the wall as Singleton repeatedly raped her through the night. It went on for hours as Mary screamed for help.
The next morning, Mary begged Singleton to be released.
Singleton replied, “If you want to be set free, I’ll set you free.”
From there, Singleton hacked off both of Mary’s arms using an ax. As she slipped in and out of consciousness, he threw her naked body over the edge of a thirty-foot cliff into the Del Puerto Canyon.
Still clinging on to life, Vincent survived both her arms behind cut off and the steep fall. For a moment, she was almost tempted to give up and let herself fall unconscious. But as she thought about all the other girls that Singleton might get his hands on, Mary decided to keep pushing forward. She knew she had to survive, so she could get the justice she deserved.
Despite having no hands, Mary managed to climb back up the cliff. She had packed dirt over her elbows, holding her arms above her head to prevent blood and muscles from spilling out. It was dark and painful, but after hours, she made it to the road.
Naked and covered with blood, Mary walked down the road and prayed that a car would pass. A red convertible passed her, but they drove off without stopping. Mary walked another three miles before she saw another car. This time, a couple stopped to help. They wrapped Mary’s arms in towels and took her to the hospital.
As she spent a month in the hospital, Mary was determined to find Singleton. She gave an extremely detailed description, which led to a police sketch that was seen by Singleton’s neighbor. Thankfully, they called the police.
When police searched Singleton’s home, they found cigarettes and pieces of burnt clothing that appeared to belong to Mary. The van provided no evidence, as Singleton and his neighbor had thoroughly cleaned the car before the police could arrive.
When questioned, Singleton admitted to police that he picked up Mary. But in his story, he then picked up two male hitchhikers. He stated that the four of them went to a bar and paid to have sex with Mary. Singleton claimed to have fallen asleep, and when he woke up, one of the hitchhikers and Mary were gone with his van. He denied both the attack and rape.
But at the trial, Mary identified Singleton as her attacker and gave a detailed description of her horrific attack. As she finished her testimony and walked past Singleton, he said to her, “I’ll finish this job, if it takes me the rest of my life.”
The jury quickly found Singleton guilty, convicting him of kidnapping, mayhem, attempted murder, rape, sodomy, and forced oral copulation. He received the maximum sentence, but at the time, the Judge could not impost consecutive sentences for each felony. Because of this, the most time Singleton could receive was fourteen years and four months.
But Singleton would only serve just seven years and nine months before being released on parole for good behavior.
Once he got out of prison, town after town rejected Singleton living in their area. He would eventually move to Orient Park in Florida, where he registered with the state authorities as a convicted felon. He was free to live his life without anyone knowing who he was.
That was until a February day in 1997.
A nearby house painter just so happened to look into Singleton’s window, spotting a horrific scene happening before him. He watched as a naked man covered in blood stabbed an unconscious woman, hearing bones being crushed even from that distance.
The police quickly arrived and identified the man as Lawrence Singleton. The victim was Roxanne Hayes, a sex worker and mother of three. She agreed to meet Singleton in his home for $20 but never expected the worst to happen.
At Singleton’s trial, Mary Vincent once again took the stand. She told her story once again, stating, “I was raped. I had my arms cut off. He used a hatchet. He left me to die.” Although it was difficult for Mary to testify again, she did it for both Roxanne and herself. It was a healing experience, one that finally gave the power back to Mary Vincent.
It only took the jury four hours to reach a guilty verdict.
They gave Singleton the death sentence.
If you liked this post, let me know by giving it some Claps and follow for more!
Resources for this article include filmdaily.co and chillingcrimes.com