Serial Killers: The Boarder (Part 1) by Stephen Bustanoby

  1. Serial Killers: The Boarder (Part 1) by Stephen Bustanoby
  2. Serial Killers: The Boarder (Part 2) by Stephen Bustanoby
  3. Serial Killers: The Boarder (Part 3) by Stephen Bustanoby
  4. Serial Killers: The Boarder (Part 4) by Stephen Bustanoby
  5. Serial Killers: The Boarder (Part 5) by Stephen Bustanoby

Serial Killers are part of our Trembling With Fear line and are serialized stories which we’ll be publishing on an ongoing basis.

Part 1

Robert Washburn had black and disturbing secrets. He camouflaged his evil corruptness dressed in polyester suits (never straying from any shade of brown), sporting a flat-top haircut, and being overweight from eating nothing but fast food and drove an older model Ford Econoline van. His occupation was more cover than livelihood as a thirty-five-year-old, traveling salesman, representing a line of cleaning supplies for a small company located in Tucson, Arizona.  

Robert was such an unassuming man he could be invisible. 

He enjoyed the freedom of the road. He loved the southwest people, the climate, and the many interesting natural sites and beauty. He had no family, so his free time was his.

He also had the freedom to engage in his favorite, black and demented fantasies with a deadly passion.  

Killing and mutilating widowed elderly women.


The press usually hung serial-killers with a nickname that will draw the public’s interest and readership. Robert (AKA Jason Bohn) Washburn curses under his breath as he reads, “Widow Killer Strikes Again” on the front page of his newspaper. What he does to full fill his needs are private and personal. He hates having his intimate theatre splashed across TV and printed media.

‘It’s mine, goddamn it, and no one has the right to know me and what I do!’

He was currently living in a motel in La Mesa, California, in San Diego. He had just moved his operations north from San Ysidro near the Mexican border. 

There were two victims he left behind.

During the day, he would call on the facility managers of condominium and apartment complex’s selling his products and services. 

At night he would hunt. As part of the hunt, he would scour obits online or in the local papers, looking for recently widowed elderly woman. He also attended a lot of funerals, where he could gather useful information about the grieving widow. With enough research, he could get to know the deceased and the survivors fairly well. Almost like he’s part of the family. He enjoyed funerals and doing the research. He felt as though the funeral service was there to satisfy him.  

One particular morning he had several addresses he would soon be visiting. 

His obsession starts as an itch in the back of his brain. It then grows warm, heating the black seed in his forehead. The black seed grows, working its way to the places in his mind that feed the compulsion to mutilate and kill.

Fantasies about past murders dominate his mind: the sounds, the smells, and the tactile sensations of the killings.

He had a secret compartment in the floor in his van with boxes of chemicals hiding its location. In this compartment were his kill kit stocked with various knives, scalpels, duct tape, bottles of ether, rags, and a sewing kit with black thread, needles, and latex gloves.

Police attributed six victims to his current killing binge in early August in the general San Diego area. Six victims of the ‘Widow Killer.’ 

He had good intuition when it was time to move on. Law enforcement was pulling out all stops to end his reign of terror, as the reporters inform in their usual, overly dramatic way. 

“It’s not terror!  It’s salvation!”  Robert yells in the coffee shop where he’s having his breakfast while reading the paper. The outburst was not intentional. His last doctor, unaware his patient was a serial-murderer, said he had impulse control problems. Sometimes he can’t control himself. His condition goes back to his childhood when he would vivisect neighborhood cats. He just couldn’t help it!

He felt like he had one more kill in him before he left for other fertile grounds.


Robert was so nondescript that he blended in. Invisible in a crowd of faces.  So common-looking was he that no one could remember if a stranger was hanging around before a murder. Oh, but he was hanging around, watching the comings and goings of his next victim. 

Not very well kept-up, he would target older buildings. This meant older locks, easy to pick, or breakthrough. He’d often find windows open or unlocked, giving him access to his victim. His blood lust was high; nothing would keep him from satisfying himself and doing his moral duty. 

That would be tonight.


His pick didn’t work on the lock, so he used a small pry bar to pop the door open. 

“Yes?” came a wavering voice, an old person’s voice, from the back bedroom. Lorraine Winscott was sitting up in bed with her covers pulled up under her chin. 

Standing at the foot of her bed, Robert said, “I’m here to help you.” 

He genuinely meant it. He laid the satchel he brought with him on the foot of the bed, unzipped it, and began removing his tools. 

Though he said he would help her, there was a sense of violent intent in his stony, gleaming gray eyes. Death hung over him like a cape. 

“Are… going to hurt me?” 

Robert stopped what he was doing and looked Lorraine in the eyes, “No, sweetheart, I’m here to help you. Remember?  I just told you.”

“Then you’re a doctor,” she stated hopefully. 

Robert smiled as he finished unloading his satchel. 

What Lorraine saw was not a human smile; it didn’t touch Robert’s eyes, which remained steely and unforgiving. His mouth poorly mimicked a smile, showing all teeth and no compassion.

He took a rag and upended a bottle of ether into it. 

He walked to the head of the bed, saying, “Okay, honey, just relax; let’s see what we can do for you.”  He put his free hand behind her neck and then covered her mouth and nose with the ether-soaked rag. The old woman had no strength with which to resist. 

She unwillingly gave herself to unconsciousness as the ether did its part.

Robert yanked the bed covers away and threw them against the wall. He then took the scalpel and cut away Lorraine’s flannel nightgown, flinging it to the floor. He took a length of clothesline and wrapped it several times around her neck, pulling it tight and twisting it into a knot.

She couldn’t struggle or make a sound, as she surrendered her life to a creature posing as a human being.

He used a long, curved surgical knife to remove her breasts. These he placed in a gallon-sized Ziplock bag and then placed it in the satchel.

Next, he put on a headband that held an LED light mounted on the front. He turned it on and looked into the satchel for the black spool of thread and sewing needles. He expertly threaded the needle and then spread the old woman’s legs. 

He used his forehead lamp to exam the woman’s genitals. Once satisfied, he began sewing the labia’s shut. 

Robert doubled stitched. 

He took the scalpel, cut a lock of hair from the woman’s head, and placed it in a small sandwich bag.

Robert wiped blood from his tools and gloved hands on the bedsheets and repacked his satchel. He walked to the head of the bed and spoke down to the figure below him. “Mother, now you know, it’s not right to use your private parts to entice those men. Jesus tells me so. I won’t let it happen anymore.” 

“Now…it can’t happen anymore.”

This he had preached, to a multitude of dead and mutilated women, over the years. The murder, the mutilation, and the closing sermon never varied.


Robert’s father was killed in a bar fight the previous year before his mother abandoned him when he was twelve years old. In that year after his father’s death and before his mother disappeared, he heard his mother bring strange men into the house. 

He remembered peeking through the crack in his bedroom door and watching his mother dance for these men and take off her clothes. The men would wrestle her to the floor and put their dirty parts in her. And she laughed and laughed. 

Once, when he was watching, his mother looked over and saw him. He was too scared to move and close the door. She just smiled and laughed as she stared into his eyes.  


In Flagstaff, Arizona, an older, white, clapboard house was well maintained, with a ‘Room to Let’ sign in a front window. Rose bushes lined each side of the walk that led to the front porch. Azalea bushes bloomed all around the house, wrapping it in a rainbow. The finishing touch was a white picket fence. Robert thought this scene could have come from Norman Rockwell’s portfolio. 

A discrete sign was above the porch that announced, ‘Mrs. Milkies Boarding House.’

Stephen Bustanoby

Stephen is a new writer with several recent short story publications. He grew up with Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, and 

NIghtmare Theater. We can find horror in the most benign, mundane situations, and that’s what I look for. 

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