Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Welcome to my Nightmare"

"Welcome to my Nightmare"
by Robert A. Waters

When Todd Mendyk died of cancer in February, 2002, he cheated the executioner. That’s a shame. If anyone ever deserved to die the ignominious death of a condemned man, it was Mendyk. Let me warn you – the details of his victim’s last hours are gruesome and graphic. I’ll place them in italics in case the reader wishes to skim past them.

They were losers of the worst sort who spent their days sleeping and nights smoking weed, drinking beer, and chain-smoking cigarettes.

Phillip Frantz, 20, was a follower. He lived with his parents in Spring Hill, Florida, occasionally fiddled with his bass guitar, and dreamed of making it in a rock band. He rarely worked, was easily led, and tended to hang with the wrong crowd.

Todd Mendyk, also 20, was high on Satan. He craved pornography, especially bondage flicks. His dream, which he shared with the few friends he had, was to build an underground bunker in which to keep sex slaves. He read the Satanic Bible like a Christian reads the Gospel. He’d once been arrested for a murder in South Carolina, but had been released because of a lack of evidence.

On the other hand, Lee Ann Larmon, 23, had positive dreams. Unlike Frantz and Mendyk, the attractive brunette was willing to work toward achieving those dreams. She was a night-clerk at the Presto convenience store on U. S. 19 in Brooksville and attended Pasco-Hernando Community College during the day. Her dream was to get her bachelor’s degree in business.

On the morning of April 8, 1987, Larmon worked the graveyard shift alone. A heavy fog smothered the street outside and, except for an occasional straggler, the night was dead. Shortly after 2:00 a.m., Larmon relaxed on a stool behind the counter. Her last pleasant moments were spent browsing an Avon catalog.

For Mendyk and Frantz, the night was business as usual: smoking pot, drinking beer, and fruitlessly searching for women. Driving into the Presto store parking lot, they spied Larmon. “Let’s grab this bitch,” Mendyk said. Frantz later claimed he thought his friend was joking.

Inside, Mendyk walked to the cooler and pulled out a hamburger. Unpeeling the wrapper, he placed the burger in the microwave and asked Larmon for some relish. When she walked over to get it for him, he grabbed her from behind. Mendyk forced the frightened clerk out of the store and into his truck.

While Frantz drove, Mendyk repeatedly molested Larmon. “Please let me go,” she sobbed. They drove into a swamp a few miles from the store.

Jan Glidewell of the St. Petersburg Times described what happened next: “They stripped her, bound her to a sawhorse – with wire – and bound her hands behind her. Mendyk spent more than an hour sexually assaulting her, with his body and with a [broom handle. He] took a cigarette break and then went back at it apparently for about another hour.

“He and Frantz then left her hanging by her wired wrists from a scrub oak tree and began to drive away when Mendyk’s truck got stuck. The two men decided to go back and after hearing Larmon beg tearfully for her life, strangled her with a garrote made with a bandana and a knife. Then, seeing her quiver, they wrapped a piece of heavy coaxial cable around her neck and twisted it to be sure. Then, still unsure, they cut her down from the tree, dragged her body 97 feet to a concealing stand of palmettos, and stabbed her in the throat.”

After getting stuck, the killers walked several miles to a pay phone and called Frantz’s mother.

By now it was closing in on ten o’clock and the fog was beginning to lift. Mendyk, Frantz, and his mother (who was told they’d gotten stuck while mud-bogging) were trying to pull the truck from the mud when a police helicopter suddenly swooped down above them. Even these two dope-heads could guess that a search was underway for the missing clerk. They knew the game was up when officers converged on the scene.

Searchers quickly discovered the corpse of Lee Ann Larmon. Cops arrested Mendyk and Frantz and the killers were soon confessing their roles in the crime.

Frantz agreed to testify against his friend and was given a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 25 years. After Mendyk’s trial, a jury took the unprecedented step of convening for only twenty-three minutes before returning a verdict of guilty. The judge sentenced the murderer to death.

Mendyk’s notoriety should have ended there. However, the Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty set up a website for the killer. Page after page of his writings, artwork, and photos now became available to anyone who wished to view it. Amid all his whining about death row and his pseudo-intellectual posturing, Lee Ann Larmon’s name was never mentioned. Online, Mendyk attempted to transform himself from pervert and rapist and torturer and murderer into “The Artist on Death Row.” He even married.

His pen pal request began: “‘Welcome to my Nightmare’ is Alice’s line so I bid you Enter my mind’s shadowy Dreamscape...” He stated that he was looking for “hedonistic” and “pagan” correspondents. Here’s a small sample of the killer’s writings: “Walk on the wild side with an American death row prisoner, confined to a 6x9 cage like an animal. Since they treat me as such I’ll be one – an unabashed, horny aries ram with fiery, dominant personality...Let your passionate, primal urges join with me for some hedonistic, erotic fun – all feisty ladies welcome and the kinkier, the better!”

In his confession to cops, at his trial, and on his website, Mendyk never showed even a shred of remorse for the murder of Lee Ann Larmon. But, according to the CCADP, the unrepentant Mendyk became “a friend” to the organization.

While Mendyk was playing the role of the horny “artiste”, Lee Ann Larmon was largely forgotten, except by family and friends. True, a small scholarship fund had been established at Pasco-Hernando Community College, and the Brooksville City Council passed an ordinance calling for at least two employees to work at convenience stores during night-time hours.

But while her killer enjoyed scamming the suckers, the innocent hard-working student faded from public view like the fog that hid her last torturous hours from the cops who were searching for her.

Sometime around Christmas, 2001, Mendyk began complaining of headaches. Doctors found that he had developed a malignant brain tumor. A few months later, on February 10, 2002, the murderer died. His wife and “friends” mourned his passing.

Lee Ann Larmon deserved better.

Todd Mendyk deserved worse. Much worse.


Anonymous said...

I remember this like it was yesterday. I didnt know Lee Ann personal, but it was so heavy in my heart, that they did that too her. Its like a BAD movie, that you wish you could wake up from. I grew up in Spring Hill Florida, and was not working far from that store. Its still as sad to me today as it was in 1987. Such a horrible loss to a beautiful young women, and my heart goes out to the family who has to live with this loss.

Unknown said...

I knew Lee Ann, she lived in Geneva Florida before moving to Brooksville. She graduated from Oviedo HS and she loved going to the Eddie Graham sports stadium every Sunday to watch wrestling. She was and is a beautiful quiet soul who deserved a beautiful life. I think of her often and it breaks my heart that she was taken this way. You're right, she deserved better.

Marjo said...

I was a trial clerk in Hernando County and handled the evidence from the trial. People too often forget the victim and give the killer(s) too much attention. In evidence was Lee Ann’s handbag, beige plastic, was overflowing with the things a young girl finds necessary. On the top was her wallet, DL, and a small piece of paper with a cookie recipe. Hanging from the strap was a Conway Twitter key chain, she apparently liked Conway Twitty. She was a young, innocent, happy, normal young woman with hopes and dreams, who, sadly was targeted by those two fiends. RIP dear child.

Still sad said...

I lived with Frantz at the time they searched for a few other girls that night including my sister the fbi found evidence in my house so people thought I was involved or at least knew but I didn't about a week before the murder phil came home very upset claiming he did something so bad god will never forgive him but would not explain any further so i went to todd aka hemo ready to fight him for info when phil tried to stop me saying hemo had magic powers and he was worried what would happen to me I put hemo against the wall by his neck and told phil see no magic then ruffled him up a little and said see phill still no magic but I just couldn't convince phill that hemo was just a pathetic piece of shot one week later the worst happened in highnsight I feel like I should have figured out what was going on but I was 19 and stupid I will always feel some guilt for this

Still sad said...

To the author .. phil was kicked out by his moms about a month before that night..that's why he was living with me..also they walked to my house that night after they got they're truck stuck and woke everyone up trying to get help and we all told them no ..then they went to Phil's house and got his mom to help them and she got arrested with them the fib found a bag of woman's panties hidden by hemo in my garage obviously he had done this before I still feel immense sorrow for her and her family

Brother of anonymous said...

Not your fault my don't know what you don't know .. none of us saw that coming how could we .. at least you tried .. you did however save our sister's life that night by refusing to let her go with them ..God bless you for that