Southern Nightmare: RVA’s hometown murder

Have you heard of the South Side Strangler?

I’ve lived in Richmond for almost five years, and I’d never heard the name until I first saw teasers for Southern Nightmare, a 10-part podcast series by Richmond reporter Richard Foster, with Style Weekly and WRIR. Foster once worked at Style Weekly, and it’s a characteristic he shared with the Strangler’s first victim, Debbie Davis, who we meet in the first episode that premiered yesterday. You can read Style Weekly’s feature here.

Like my fellow RVA Murderinos, I’ve been eager for our city to share a hometown murder on the national scene. That’s why I’m honestly shocked that I didn’t learn about this case sooner, especially because the name “Southside Strangler” sounds, quite honestly, cool as hell. And since I can’t resist a spoiler, I had to read the Wikipedia overview about the killer, Timothy Wilson Spencer.

Already I sense lots of similarities between Spencer and the Golden State Killer: Breaking into victims’ homes, torture and sadism, very little physical evidence, and the killer ultimately continuing his rampage in another city more than a hundred miles away.

And this little gem is why I’m kicking myself for not knowing the case, because it’s historic AF:

Spencer was the first serial killer in the U.S. to be convicted because of DNA evidence!

What’s more, a man named David Vasquez had been wrongly convicted of one of Wilson’s crimes, and he was the first person to be exonerated because DNA evidence resulted in Wilson’s conviction for the same crime. This is the kind of history I would like to have learned in high school.

I’m really curious to hear how Southern Nightmare tells the story of this case and the victims, but I’m too impatient to wait to learn more. Thanks to RVA Hub for sharing this documentary to help me catch up (I really wish I’d gone to the event, it sounded super cool!)

Have you listened yet? What do you think so far??

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