“Hey, come on, babe, follow me
I’m the Pied Piper, follow me
I’m the Pied Piper
And I’ll show you where it’s at” (Moser, 1966, p. 19)
That is how Don Moser, the writer for the Life Magazine, makes a vivid, pervasive, and descriptive connection between Charles Howard Schmid Jr., generally called Smitty, and a song that was really famous and popular in the winter of 1965 when reveals the fact of Smitty seducing three teenage girls and killing them in the desert.
In order to understand the motives that led this man to such terrible crimes, it is necessary to make a deep and descriptive analysis of Charles Howard Schmid’s character that is introduced in “The Pied Piper of Tucson” written by Don Moser. The story called “The Pied Piper of Tucson: He Cruised in a Golden Car, Looking for the Action” may be considered as Don Moser’s analysis of Smitty’s personality; the story was published in Life Magazine on 4 March 1966.
Regarding and analyzing his character it is necessary to refer to his childhood. From his teenage years, he already has the advance of the future criminal. Adopted by rich people – Charles and Katharine Schmid, Charles Schmid is treated by a new family quite well, but still, Smitty often gets into huge arguments and fights with his foster father. “He did poorly in school despite being described by many as intelligent and courteous.
An accomplished athlete, he excelled at gymnastics and even led his high school to a State Championship, but quit the team his senior year” (Moser, 1966, p. 82). With the help of the above-mentioned information, it is possible to state that the character of Smitty might be regarded as unstable, inconsistent, and moody. He is not able to focus on something in order to achieve a certain aim; everything in his life depends on his current mood and circumstances.
Following his life pace, it is easy to notice that his inconsistency and spoilt (as he is never in need of money, gets anything he desires, and has never been punished for his faults and misconducts) leads him to the first criminal experience. Just a few days before his graduation, Schmid steels some tools from the machine shop. Subsequently, he is suspended, but he never returns to the high school. Here we can observe a situation when a character does not care about circumstances for his actions. Smitty is constantly touched and proud of his imaginary “superiority” over others and of his devised “intrepidity”.
The new page of Schmid’s carefree, dissipated, and feckless life begins with him leaving on his own since sixteen years old at parents’ property, getting $300 a month allowance, and having a new car and a motorcycle to pick up girls on Speedway drink with buddies, among whom is Richie Bruns that would reveal the truth to the police about Smitty’s hobby to kill girls in the desert.
Indeed, the influences those surrounding him greatly. The following statement may prove the above said: “To the bored, vacant-eyed teenagers who hang out at the drive-ins and juke joints along Tucson’s East Speedway Boulevard, Charles Howard Schmid Jr., 23, was known as a swinger. A well-muscled onetime state high-school gymnastics champion, Smitty always had wheels, money, tall tales and an inexhaustible supply of available girls’ phone numbers” (Time Magazine, Nov. 26, 1965).
Following this, it is possible to say that Schmid appears as a self–centered, the egoistic person who is really concerned about his style and appearance. But because of his sophisticated and perverted nature, he chooses similar to it style and appearance: “Schmid went to bizarre lengths to build his image. He added 3 in. to his meager (5 ft. 3 in.) frame by stuffing rags and folded tin cans into his black leather boots.
He dyed his hair raven black, wore pancake makeup, pale cream lipstick, and mascara. As for the cash, which he got in a generous weekly dole from his mother, Schmid bragged to the boys that it came from smuggling cars into Mexico, to the girls that it came from women whom he had taught “100 ways to make love.” (Time Magazine, Nov. 26, 1965).
But the appetites of Smitty are rising and the above-mentioned things do not satisfy him anymore, the admiration of his friends and high school kids towards him does not satisfy him either and he gets bored. Schmid decides to check on his nerves, “catch’ the adrenalin, and “cheer up” in a new way. Smitty kills girls and confirms his power and authority over his friends (like in the case when he idly wonders if his friend Saunders and girlfriend Mary French are able to kill someone, for example, Saunders’ former girlfriend – Alleen Rowe, and just “get away with it” (Moser, 1966, p.84). The alike situation happens with two sisters – Gretchen and Wendy Fritz, who have once unpleased him). Finally, the entire truth is revealed by Richie Bruns – one of Smitty’s closest friends.
In the conclusion, it is necessary to point out the fact that Smitty brags about his murders and threatens those people he is going to kill. His buddies from the high school guessed that Schmid is the killer, but even “knowing that his own girlfriend was next in line for liquidation, one of Smitty’s pals had not finally told the police all about his homicidal hero” (Moser, 1966, p. 23). Here it might be observed that Smitty actually subdues his friend’s will because of his vivid character and because he is “different”, as they are saying. The place where Smitty lives also enables him to be what he is: “.
In Tucson, a boomtown with an unusually high proportion of transient residents, more than 50 runaway minors are reported each month. Propelled by the same aimless itch, unrestrained by permissive parents, hundreds of teenagers haunt the Speedway.
They were easy bait for Smitty, who was older, more sophisticated…” (Time Magazine, Mar.11, 1966). Another problem under consideration here that is touched and regarded by Don Moser, is the issue of parent’s indifference towards their children: they “either do not care what their children were up to or else hesitate to check on their activities for fear of inhibiting them” (Time Magazine, Mar. 11, 1966).
Moser, D. (1996). The Pied Piper of Tucson: He Cruised in a Golden Car, Looking for the Action. Life Magazine. pp. 19-24, 80-90.
Growing Up in Tucson (1966). Time Magazine.
Secrets in the Sand (1965). Time Magazine.