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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mutilated Torso at Pickle Park

Route 8 is a 67.34-mile state highway running north–south from Bridgeport, through Waterbury, then Torrington, all the way to the Massachusetts border where it continues on as Massachusetts Route 8. Most of the route is a divided highway but the northernmost 8.8 miles is a two-lane surface road. The infamous part of Route 8, where a total of six murdered bodies were dumped between 1986 and 2004, stretches for only about 8 miles, from Harwinton, at the top of the triangle, down through the edge of Litchfield and into Thomaston.

The Pickle Park rest area, now closed. 
Two years before the body of Karen Everett was discovered, the mutilated torso of Jack Franklin Andrews was found at a fenced-in rest area about six miles down the road, known by locals as "Pickle Park." No, the now closed off commuter parking lot did not host a farmer's market selling homemade pickles, organic blueberry jams, and apple jellies for the New York City tourists. Get your mind into the gutter on this one. Pickle Park was known in the 1970s and 80s as a meeting place for homosexuals in search of some quick action in the surrounding woods or in the backseats of their cars. Drug addicts and prostitutes were also known to frequent Pickle Park. Indeed, you might say that there were objects that resembled pickles to be found in this shady locale, and yes, in a way, the pickles were often for sale.

Jack Franklin Andrews
Jack Franklin Andrews was an experienced criminal. He had a long rap sheet of arrests across the country: from California to Oregon to Tennessee and Florida. He had also been charged in other states with an assortment of crimes: burglary, possession of stolen property, assault with a weapon, and providing false information and assignation to commit prostitution. The fact that Jack had no arrest record or charges pending in Connecticut may very well indicate that the transient had not been in the Nutmeg state for very long.

Unlike Karen Everett or future victims found along Route 8, Jack was not killed by strangulation or shooting. Rather, Jack's legs and arms were cut off. According to autopsy results, this may have happened while the victim was still alive. At some point in the grisly process, a major vein was probably sliced and Jack literally bled to death. Let's hope he passed out from the trauma of the ordeal early into the killing. A trucker found Jack's torso located at the rest area along Route 8, at the Litchfield/Thomaston town line between Exits 39 and 40 in November 1986.

Not only were Jack's arms and legs cut off by the killer, he had been castrated as well. Jack's sexual preferences are unknown. That said, it is easy to deduce that he was lured into a sexual act and then violently attacked by someone carrying tremendous rage against gay men. First, there is the medieval horror of removing a man's genitalia; second, there is the unfathomable energy and unconscionable concentration required to saw away the victim's major body limbs, one by one.

For fellow true crime fanatics, I highly recommend the book "Dark Dreams" by FBI profilers Roy Hazelwood and Stephen G. Michaud. It's a kind of serial killer 101 manual which explains the ever-evolving field of investigative profiling with respect to unsolved sexual serial crimes. Profiling is both a science and an art. The profiler looks for patterns and similarities: the positioning of the bodies, the gender, age, and physical appearance of the victims, the means of death, and the emotional and psychological intent that would have contributed to the crime, to name just a few.

On the other hand, there will always be differences between crimes, even if the same person committed them. Inconsistencies result from the unique circumstances at hand: the victim's behavior, the particular mood of the killer that day, and the amount of time that the killer had to commit the act, for example.

Under such analysis, the murder of Jack Franklin Andrews was completely unrelated to the murder of Karen Everett and future female victims along Route 8. There are just too many differences between the crimes, ranging from gender, to manner of death, to speculated intent. For this reason, the mutilated torso at Pickle Park, while being an interestingly macabre footnote in my future true crime novel, remains just that- a footnote.

Pickle Park has since been closed off to the public. Probably just as well.

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