A hitchhiker comes face to face with a serial killer. After 50 years, he reveals why the killer left him alive

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Although Robert Frederick Carr III chose his victims from among the young hitchhikers he picked up, he did not attack the 19-year-old reporter Steve Fishman, who interviewed the serial killer after he went to prison. Photo credit: X / Bettmann Archive

Steve Fishman was 19 the day he came face to face with a serial killer. Six months later, he saw his picture on TV and was shocked to learn that the friendly man who took him to work was actually a criminal who preyed on young hitchhikers and killed his last victim shortly after meeting him. Fishman visits him in prison: the question that has plagued him ever since he discovered who he really is: why let him live?

Fishman tried to move from Boston to Norwich, Connecticut, where he worked as a newspaper intern.

Fishman said he wasn’t far from his destination when he was picked up by a driver in a green Buick – who told him his name was “Red” and asked him to get into the car. The man looked friendly and had red hair, hence his nickname.

But as Fishman would later learn, the man who gave him a ride that day was hiding a sinister secret: His real name was Robert Frederick Carr III, and he was a serial killer who preyed on young hitchhikers. CNN.

Three years later, two 11-year-old boys and a 16-year-old girl were car-raped and strangled in the killer’s car in the Miami area. When Fishman got into his car, the car was on parole after serving years behind bars for rape in Connecticut.

Fishman’s trip lasted only 15 minutes — the car dropped him off unharmed — but memories of that strange encounter in the fall of 1975 haunted him for decades.


Six months after Fishman was allowed to go to work, Carr was arrested for attempted rape of another hitchhiker. He then confessed to raping and killing several youths. Photo credit: X / Bettmann Archive


Six months later, Carr was arrested in Miami for attempted rape of a hitchhiker. He stunned detectives when he confessed to abducting and raping more than 10 victims, four of whom were killed.

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“He was about the worst person I ever met,” wrote Edna Buchanan, the famous journalist and author of detective novels.

Fishman was shocked when he saw a picture of the car on the news. He recognized him immediately: the man who could talk drove him.

Fishman realized that something must have been wrong sooner: First, the car’s right-hand passenger door was locked, and to get out of the car Fishman had to roll down the window and use the outside handle to open the door.

Carr nonchalantly tells him that he just got out of jail.

“I was an intern at the local newspaper. I thought, ‘Wow, this would be a good story about a guy who gets out of prison and tries to reintegrate into society,'” Fishman told CNN. “I didn’t stop to think or ask what crime he had committed. I had no idea.”

Nearly five decades later, Fishman and Carr’s daughter, Donna, meet to discuss the gruesome murders and the killer’s life. Even though her father died in prison in 2007, Donna is still haunted by her family’s dark past, and Fishman still wonders why she let Carr live the day he drove her away.


Carr killed his victims in the 1970s. Photo credit: CNN / Steve Fishman


Carr was a television repairman and car salesman from Norwich who lived with his wife and two children: Donna and her younger brother. But he traveled across the country with work and used this opportunity to abuse minors.

In all of his crimes and abuses in the 1970s, the victims were teenagers under the age of 18.

In 1972, Carr took two 11-year-old hitchhiking friends in his car, raped and strangled them — then buried them in Louisiana and Mississippi. He took the 16-year-old girl from Miami to Mississippi, where he raped and killed her over 10 days.

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In the girl’s case, Carr told detectives he killed his victim 10 days later because she was “starting to look down a little,” newspaper reports at the time said.

Shortly after meeting Fishman, he killed his fourth victim, Rhonda Holloway, 21, and buried her in Connecticut.

“What he did to those kids was truly unspeakable,” David Simmons, one of the detectives involved in Carr’s arrest, said in a 2007 interview. “In my 33 years in law enforcement, Carr ranks as one of the most dangerous child sexual predators we’ve ever investigated.”

“Why not me?” – A question that haunts a survivor of an encounter with a serial killer

Donna says she was always teased as a child because her father was known to be a serial killer. He first learned of his father’s murders when he was 12, but didn’t believe he was the monster people were talking about until Carr showed the police where he hid his victims.

“When she agreed to lead the detectives in the search for the bodies, there was no way to forget. I went through every emotion you can think of for a 12-year-old girl,” says Donna, 60, who lives in West Virginia. “That’s when I started to withdraw.”

Donna hopes people will show more compassion to relatives of convicted murderers. “They’re victims too, but in a different sense,” Donna said.

One day, when Fishman was working as an intern at the newspaper, Donna’s father knocked on Gars’ door after he was arrested. He asks Donna’s mother to tell her husband that the boy she left alive a few months ago wants to interview him.

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After several failed attempts, Fishman was able to speak with Carr in prison in the mid-1970s.


Steve Fishman (pictured) even discussed Robert Frederick Carr III and his murders with the killer’s daughter, Donna. Photo credit: CNN / Steve Fishman


In the taped jailhouse interview, Carr never called himself a saint, Fishman said. She told how she stole cars and was forced into prostitution at the age of 11. He admitted to killing his victims but did not feel remorse for his actions.

“One of the questions I asked him was, ‘Why me?’ And it sounds like a weird question, but I asked him and he basically shrugged and said, ‘I thought you were great,'” Fishman revealed.

Donna has spent a good part of her life trying to better understand her father. She wanted to know if her father was a serial killer because he was mentally ill and had no access to psychiatric treatment – as Fishman wrote about him at the time – or was he just a bad person?

Donna now believes her father manipulated Fishman the same way he did in her life. She knew her father was a monster, but she kept in touch with him until he started sending her sexually suggestive letters.

“Despite all the diagnoses my father received about his mental condition — and there were many — I think he was born bad,” Donna said.

Author: Raul Nesoyu

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