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Abduction the minivan mu.., p.2
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       ABDUCTION: The Minivan Murders: Killer Couple Michelle Michaud and James Daveggio, p.2

           R. J. Parker
 
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  While this account could very well be true, Michaud later contradicted this version and narrated the story of their first meeting herself. According to her, she met Daveggio on Halloween in 1996. They were introduced through mutual friends and met to discuss some problems her daughters were having with some friend of his. Daveggio stepped in and assured Michaud that he would speak to the man involved and ‘take care’ of the problem. It was implied that due to his increasingly aggressive streak, he might have done much more than just talked to the man involved.

  Soon afterwards, Daveggio became interested in the fiery red head, who at first rebuffed his advances. She told him that her work had introduced her to the worst in men and she no longer wanted to be with one. Michaud also spoke openly about staying in her line of work and not wanting to change whatsoever. Despite that, Daveggio pursued her and insisted that they see each other. After a short while, she relented and they began to date.

  Michaud did not expect it to become anything serious; however, against all odds, she found herself falling for him. He treated her like a lady and did not bring her background as a prostitute up again. While most of his teeth had been knocked out, Michaud found him attractive and was drawn to his blue eyes. Daveggio somehow managed to charm her with his mannerism and muscular build which provided Michelle with a sense of security. Despite her aggressive demeanor, Michaud craved protection and security that she lacked since an early age. It was implied that her father could be the reason behind her going into prostitution and she had never had a childhood while growing up.

  Perhaps the couple's tumultuous family background had been a major factor into bringing them together. In the early days of their relationship, Daveggio earned Michaud’s respect and acceptance. He stood on her behalf against family members and friends who constantly shunned her for her lifestyle. At the same time, Daveggio also managed to drive away the people who warned Michaud of his aggressive and violent nature.

  There were a few people in Michelle Michaud’s circle of friends who told her that James Daveggio was not good for her. Just like his third wife, Donetta, she also did not listen to the warnings of her friends and family. She had become so enamored by him that minor indiscretions on his part did not matter to her anymore. According to one of her statements, he was the kind of man who demanded ‘respect from your family for you.’ She also said that Daveggio stood up to her family and did not let anyone chase him out of her life which showed his commitment to her and their life together. Michaud stated that ‘he had been nothing but good to her.’

  At first look, the two could not have been more different in their demeanor. Right from his school days, Daveggio had managed to subdue his true nature by appearing shy and quiet to girls during initial meetings. He had very deep blue eyes that also made him come across as someone who was engaging and slightly attractive. Michaud, on the other hand, was a strong-headed, loud-mouthed and self-confident woman. There was nothing even remotely shy about her, and she could most probably walk into any room with ease.

  The people who initially came across the couple did not think of them as a likely match. Michaud was a well-dressed and well-spoken woman while Daveggio did not pay much attention to his words or attire. He would dress up in worn-out clothes and biker boots as Michaud carried herself in a way that was completely different to her way of life. Her self-confidence was very evident in every interaction, which was a striking contrast to Daveggio’s visible discomfort within a crowd.

  Analysts and psychological experts say that, much like Daveggio, Michaud could also have been suffering from a multiple personality disorder. When amongst people, her ladylike, champagne-loving side would be prominent, but the underlying loud-mouthed and aggressive personality was always there. Later on, a few close friends of Michelle Michaud went on record to say that, despite her conservative dressing and sophisticated manner of speaking, she never shied away from describing her sex life in graphic detail.

  As opposed to her open and outspoken verbal interactions, Daveggio was closed off and never talked about his sexual preferences in front of anyone. Whenever he was approached by a woman, he would quietly move away. It was assumed that his need to be in control was such that a woman making the first move on him turned him off.

  After meeting Michaud, Daveggio could not help his attraction towards her. They may have been different in outward appearances and demeanor, but it can be said that ultimately they were cut from the same cloth. At thirty-seven years of age, Michaud was an attractive woman with an athletic body. Both her mind and appearance attracted Daveggio from the very beginning. She was an intelligent and sharp woman who exuded self-confidence as well as poise. Michaud would talk openly about her sexual desires and fantasies, often speaking about how she would like to interact with her partner. Evidently, Daveggio and Michaud connected over similar sexual preferences.

  It was quite surreal that a well-dressed and well-spoken mother of two could spin such dark carnal fantasies that could leave the listener speechless.

  Appearance-wise, there was no surprise that Michelle Michaud managed to make heads turn. With dark red hair and striking green eyes, she attracted men everywhere she went. Her family moved from one place to another before settling down in South Sacramento. Little is known about her early life, as contradicting accounts surfaced during the trial. According to some versions, her family appeared outwardly middle class and fairly normal, while others hinted towards disturbances and frequent misdemeanors.

  However, all accounts stated that, beginning in her teens, Michaud started to rebel against her family and all figures of authority in her life. She dropped out of school at the age of fifteen and began a relationship with a boy who already was on the run from the law. Michaud soon began to experiment with drugs and forayed into prostitution. She ran away from home and bounced from one location to another before coming across James Daveggio in Bobby Joe’s.

  The twisted pair soon formed a fairly strong bond that led to Daveggio moving in with Michaud after just a short period of dating. Whilst Daveggio’s interest in his partner began to fade gradually, Michaud did everything she could to keep them together. She even allowed him to fraternize with various other women and suffered physical abuse as well. Their terror spree which went from California to Nevada began soon after he was fired from his job at the bar. Daveggio turned Michaud’s minivan into a torture chamber and raped several victims inside.

  His partner was responsible for luring them in and occasionally participated during the act as well. It boggles the imagination of analysts and psychological experts everywhere as to what prompted Michaud to become a murderer and serial kidnapper. While she may have been booked for run-ins with law as a rebellious youngster, there was little which implied that she would go on to lead a life of full-blown crime. During her spree with Daveggio, she was arrested for the second time in her life for writing bad checks but was let out shortly. Once out of police custody, they started moving again, taking the van around and targeting innocent victims across various cities, even crossing state lines.

  The relationship between the two has been the subject of many studies and books. Authors have tried their best to identify the dynamics that Daveggio and Michaud built upon. While the connection may have been inspired by twisted sexual fantasies, the murder element came in much later. Michaud may have known about her partner’s violent nature and aggressive streak, choosing to adapt to his way of life. Soon enough, her sociopathic tendencies rose above and broke through the seemingly poised demeanor. In her reign of terror, along with Daveggio, she left behind a trail of scarred and traumatized victims.

  During the trial, Michaud was also termed as ‘pure evil’ and many believed that the death penalty was the only appropriate justice. The heinous crimes for which both Daveggio and Michaud were responsible had left the whole country reeling in shock. It was presumed that the perpetrators felt little or no remorse for their crimes, as Michelle Michaud was known for openly boasting about their violent
escapades and was constantly planning on upping the stakes in their criminal offences.

  A witness called to the stand by Michaud’s attorneys implied that her behavior was a reflection of the abuse and violence she might have suffered at the hands of various boyfriends early in her life. It was also claimed that her father may have raped her and thus prompted her decision to become a prostitute. Despite evidence of Michaud’s father’s innocence being presented in court, the defense continued to push for a psychological evaluation. However, at the end, justice prevailed and the federal jury handed out a death sentence to both Daveggio and Michaud.

  Michelle Michaud has been a notorious criminal who will be remembered in the years to come. Many police officers and behavioral experts have conducted numerous studies and research on Michaud’s background and history so as to come up with any explanation behind her erratic decline into the abyss of darkness. Some cite Daveggio’s influence as a defining factor that led to Michaud becoming one-half of America’s most vicious serial killer couple, while others say that the underlying dark side was already present and waiting to surface beyond the calm exterior. Her personality disorder was such that to passersby she seemed like a woman of great taste and striking looks. Michaud was well put together and at first glance was like any other native of California. There are accounts of her being hospitable and helpful on various occasions. According to one narrator, Michaud usually chose to stay away from sanctimonious people and was not a devout believer of any faith or religion; however, she did come to admire Father Kavanagh.

  The priest gave numerous sermons and lessons at the church in Michaud’s locality and somehow managed to make an impression on this rebellious girl. It was alleged that he became a prominent figure in her life and even watched over her on countless occasions. Apparently, her time with Father Kavanagh stayed a memory with her for a long time as she helped missionaries and church delegations that came by her house. It has been related that once a Mormon missionary group stopped at her house and were so impressed by Michaud’s sincere and generous behavior that they offered her free painting services. While they painted her house, she prepared delicious meals as a token of appreciation for their free service.

  The few accounts of Michelle Michaud’s early days are all reminiscent of her rebellious days. She was always a free-spirited girl with little regard for rules and regulations, yet there was nothing so dark that could signify that the girl would go on to become one of the country’s most hunted criminals. She had fairly good relations with a few family members and always had a number of friends despite the chip on her shoulder.

  After dropping out of school, she had gone through a number of bad relationships that perhaps added to her erratic behavior and internal instability. The man she moved in with at the age of sixteen was a drug dealer and had been investigated by the police numerous times. Due to her relationship with him, Michaud began to experiment with hard drugs and ventured into dealing as well. Her first run-ins with the law occurred in 1991 when she was working at a massage parlor in Sacramento. The police raided the establishment that was supposedly a place for ‘relaxation’ but actually was covering a number of illegal activities from drug dealing to solicitation.

  She was arrested along with other workers on the premises and released after serving a short sentence. Soon after her release, she changed locations and moved around constantly until Daveggio came into her life. This was a turning point in both of their lives, and they went on to become a deadly serial kidnapping and murdering duo who claimed the lives of several innocent women.

  Spree of Terror

  Analysts say that Daveggio was already a sociopath and his tendencies were fueled by Michael Ihde’s influence. Michaud could have been propelled into joining the world of crime by her partner who was already bordering on psychopathic aggressiveness. Daveggio appeared like any other man to an onlooker but was masquerading his true nature beneath a slouchy and quiet demeanor. According to researchers and investigators, Daveggio was smiling slyly in his yearbook which could have been an early sign foreshadowing his perverse fantasies.

  Michaud, on the other hand, was only involved in minor offences and prostitution before she met Daveggio at Bobby Joe’s. Their relationship was twisted from the initial stage. While Daveggio managed the bar, Michaud was frequently heard relaying her dark and violent sexual fantasies to anyone who would listen. She would talk about her previous sexual encounters as well as anything she would like to do with her partner in the future. While outwardly, Michaud and Daveggio seemed polarities apart, they did have similar interests as far as sexual fantasies were concerned.

  As their relationship progressed, things took a turn for the worse. Daveggio began to drift away and started taking multiple partners while Michaud held onto him, believing that if she let him live his way, he was going to come back to her. Soon enough, he was fired from the bar for his erratic behavior and constant fights with the customers. The couple’s financial situation began to deteriorate, which was why they invited Daveggio’s friend to sell drugs from their house. This was one occasion where luck did not side with the two; a police bust was carried out and all operations were halted.

  Due to Daveggio’s sex offender status, he was ordered to move away from the residence as there were children in the house. This was the time when his killer instincts began to completely take over his thought process. He began to take a keen interest in serial killers, especially Gerald Gallego. As the information came to light during the trial, Daveggio had already been charged with the rape of three women before the actual partnership was struck. He had been fined and arrested for soliciting a prostitute and offering alcohol to a minor girl. Prior to meeting Michaud, Daveggio had quite a rap sheet that included assault and various cases of abuse.

  He was also using methamphetamines heavily and had a string of bad relationships. Michaud on the other hand was only arrested on accounts of prostitution before she met Daveggio, with her next conviction being for fraud after their relationship had begun.

  After her partner was fired from his job, Michaud became the sole breadwinner in the household. However, her business also took a severe hit when the drug abuse became a huge problem that prevented her from procuring clients. With so much less income to go on, the deadly team decided to explore possibilities. Daveggio, being greatly inspired by Gerald Gallego, tried to convince Michaud to join him in his evil plans just as Gerald did with his partner, Charlene. Analysts have stated that this was perhaps the point when something snapped inside Michelle Michaud.

  Her brain was so addled by the drug abuse that rational thought no longer prevailed. Daveggio soon managed to convince her to lure over their first victim, her daughter’s thirteen-year-old friend. The girl became the couple’s first victim of rape but somehow escaped with her life. This was just the beginning of the pure terror that was going to be unleashed upon unsuspecting victims.

  Community college student Alicia Paredes was walking home from a night class one evening when a green minivan stopped near her. She was abducted by the serial killing twosome and raped. Michaud and Daveggio let her go and did not kill her. Paredes reported the incident and worked with a sketch artist to get their sketched likenesses developed. However, luck was on the criminals’ side, and they evaded any persecution or arrest for the time being. Paredes only caught the name ‘Mickie’ as she had heard the man calling out to the driver. Despite that detail, the police did not come up with any conclusive evidence of the crime or the perpetrators.

  They went from one location to another, targeting victims and raping them. Somehow, the two managed to evade the police despite Michaud being arrested for a short period of time on account of bad checks due to her rising debt. Once she was out, the crime streak continued with Daveggio making several modifications inside the van, installing various tools that could be used to subdue the victims. The pair drove around Reno, Nevada, and took Juanita Rodriguez as their next victim. She was the one who put them on the map for in
vestigating authorities in Reno.

  While the couple released her after sexually assaulting her, they threatened her life if she ever told anyone about the incident. Terrified, Rodriguez went to the authorities and narrated her ordeal. During the incident, she had somehow managed to catch the mention of the name ‘Mickie’ vaguely. She passed on the information to the authorities who began to work on the case co-coordinating with the police in California where similar incidents had occurred. The name ‘Mickie’ had surfaced twice thus far, but there was no evidence of the perpetrator to whom it belonged. Both Daveggio and Michaud managed to evade any persecution or arrest and continued their crime spree without interruption.

  They struck again soon after Rodriguez, this time in Sacramento. Seventeen-year-old Patty Wilson was the next victim who was tortured and raped. She was picked up by Michaud and lured into the minivan under the impression that they were going to experiment with some drugs together. After assaulting her, both Daveggio and Michaud contemplated killing her; however, she begged for her life and vowed to lie to the police about the incident. After driving around for a few hours, Wilson was let off with a threat that if she told the truth to anyone, she would be dead. The terrified girl knew that the couple was armed and very dangerous; they even knew where she lived.

  When the authorities questioned her, Wilson made up a fake story and stuck to it despite the police suspecting fallacy. However, by this time, the authorities across Reno and California had enough to put together a case. Rodriguez had given a description of her male assailant, and the police had managed to come up with a sketch of the man. The woman driver could not be identified as the victim was unable to get a closer look at her. In a surprising twist of fate, it was Juanita Rodriguez who helped spur the chase of the serial raping and killing for the authorities. Michaud had not even imagined that Rodriguez would remember the details of her perpetrators. Although deeply traumatized, she relayed as much information as she could to the FBI investigators.

 
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