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American Annals of the Deaf

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Deadly Charm: The Story of a Deaf Serial Killer

Vernon McCay and
Marie Vernon

Chapter 3
July 1979 to February 1980: Man About Town

“Get Familiar with the Thrill”
                                                        Slogan for Harley-Davidson motorcycles

The same day Clint Riley hired Patrick McCullough as his assistant, the young man retrieved his meager belongings from his girlfriend’s apartment, parked his motorcycle outside the Yankee Yacht Carpentry Shop, and moved in with his boss. At first things seemed to go well, although the living arrangements proved less than ideal. The quarters were cramped, and both men were careless housekeepers. Meals were haphazard, often eaten out or ordered in, as evidenced by the empty pizza boxes and Styrofoam containers left on the counters. Articles of clothing were strewn about, frequently unwashed, and the beds, separated from the living area only by a sheet strung on a line, were often unmade.

In spite of that, Patrick was pleased to have a place to stay. He and Lancer soon became fast friends. Sometimes Clint sent Patrick in the van to pick up supplies, and Lancer would ride along in the passenger seat. As time went on, Clint began to resent that the dog seemed to prefer Patrick’s company to his own.

In the shop, Patrick demonstrated that he was fairly adept with tools, but slow to understand exactly what was expected of him. Clint became increasingly frustrated with having to stop work frequently in order to explain to Patrick how the work should be done. Clint’s wife, Marilyn, was more patient with Patrick and frequently served as a buffer between her estranged husband and his assistant. She found it hard to resist Patrick’s ready grin, his Teddy Bear appeal, and his undeniable sexuality. But when Marilyn was not on hand or when Clint had been drinking or was suffering from a hangover, Patrick bore the brunt of his boss’s irascible temper. Worse, he was forced to endure Clint’s practical jokes and his making fun of Patrick’s deafness in front of the shop’s customers. Hurt and humiliated by Clint’s teasing, Patrick would retaliate with vulgar gestures or by slamming tools around, then stalking out of the shop.

As winter approached, the situation between Clint Riley and his young helper grew ever more tense. Clint was always slow about paying Patrick, and Patrick became increasingly frustrated with having to repeatedly ask for his wages. The Social Security disability check he received monthly was usually gone by the time he had gone barhopping, bought gas for his Harley, and paid for his meals. Often weeks passed before Clint doled out a few dollars. By the time the New Year rolled around, Patrick’s resentment was intense, and several times he and Clint would have come to blows had not Marilyn interceded. After such blowups, Patrick would leave the shop to go tearing off on his motorcycle, often not returning until late a night.

In the meantime, Patrick had become a familiar figure around Annapolis. Speeding along the historic town’s streets on his noisy motorcycle and wearing his cowboy hat, he drew lots of attention, especially from young women. He was rather vain about his appearance and was not unaware of the impression he made, giving off a certain James Dean quality. Men were impressed, too, by his extraordinary strength—when Patrick had been living with his girlfriend, Cindy, several people had seen him regularly carry his heavy motorcycle up all three flights of stairs to her apartment.

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