Citizens Warned about Vigilante Action on Rapist’s Release
MARTINEZ, Calif. (AP) _ A plan to parole a convict who hacked the arms off a 15-year-old rape victim has caused so much anger in Antioch that state prison officials are considering changing the parole location, a state deputy attorney general said Tuesday.
A judge continued until Friday a hearing held here on a suit to stop the corrections department from sending Lawrence Singleton to Antioch.
Police on Monday had warned angry Antioch residents not to take vigilante action if Singleton was paroled there as planned April 26.
Morris Lenk, a state deputy attorney general, said in court Tuesday that the Department of Corrections is taking residents’ anger into consideration and might change the parole location. Officials have said there is a possibility Singleton could be paroled to a state in the South where he has relatives.
The 59-year-old former merchant seaman picked up Mary Vincent hitchhiking in September 1978 and raped her, cut off both her arms below the elbow with an ax and left her to die on a road near Modesto. He has been in prison since 1979.
Antioch residents complained and started petition drives as soon as the plan was disclosed, and Police Chief Len Herendeen said that some residents have been circulating Singleton’s photograph.
″One thing’s for sure: If he’s not a danger to us, we’re a danger to him,″ said eighth-grader Amy Rickerson, who attended a Monday night meeting of the Antioch Police Commission.
Herendeen cautioned 200 residents at the meeting against resorting to violence. Police will be closely watching Singleton, who will have to stay in his home from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily.
″A lot of threats have been made publicly and I would take them seriously,″ Herendeen said in an interview.″I can just picture some rednecks driving by his house at 2 a.m. and shooting up the windows.″
Parole officials said they usually parole convicts to the county where they last lived. Singleton did not want to return to San Pablo, where he last lived, so another city in Contra Costa County was chosen.
Under restrictions set by state parole officials, Herendeen sai, Singleton would also be required to undergo psychiatric counseling and be forbidden to drink alcohol, leave the county or contact his former wife or daughter.
Singleton was sentenced to serve 14 years and four months and earned an early release for good behavior and involvement in a work program.
On Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Patricia Herron continued a hearing into Antioch’s suit to block the convict’s parole here. State corrections officials asked that the hearing be moved to Sacramento because of heavy local publicity about Singleton.
Vincent, a 15-year-old runaway from Las Vegas, Nev., at the time of the attack, now lives in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. She told the Modesto Bee in an interview earlier this month: ″I’m trying to get back into the shadows again.″
Last October, in an interview with the newspaper granted on condition her new residence not be disclosed, she said the thought of Singleton’s release caused her constant nightmares.
″Every year, when it got to be September, the nightmares came back,″ she said. ″Now they’ve gotten so much worse that sometimes I wake up three times a night.″
Her mother, Lucy Vincent, said this month in an interview from her home in Las Vegas that she was concerned for her daughter’s safety.
″Will he be able to find Mary? I hope not, but there are ways,″ Mrs. Vincent said. ″I’ve been trying to ignore it, but it’s there and you can’t deny it.″
More than 9,500 people opposed to the release signed petitions presented to Antioch officials, according to Karen Del Purgatorio, who is helping to organize the petition campaign.
″There is a great deal of fear and anxiety about Mr. Singleton coming to Antioch,″ Del Purgatorio said Tuesday. She said she didn’t know where Singleton should be released.
″I do know that the answer is not a small town where his face is recognizable. That doesn’t do us any good and it doesn’t do Mr. Singleton any good,″ she said.
Antioch is a city of 51,000 about 50 miles east of San Francisco.
Residents are urging that Singleton be sent to Nevada. Antioch’s state assemblyman, Phil Isenberg, said last week his office turned up information that Singleton lived in Sparks, Nev., between 1976 and 1978. He said Singleton voted, bought a home and got a driver’s license there.