Reason First: The Bike Path Killer- Altemio Sanchez
How did a gentleman become a savage?
For the murders of Linda Yalem (22), Majane Mazur (32), and Joan Diver (45), Altemio Sanchez received a 75 year prison sentence. Also known as the “Bike Path Rapist,” Sanchez left a dozen or more girls and women in his horrific trail of blood and fright.
His tale is fraught with incongruity, like most rapists and murderers. A neighbor, Jerry Donahue, described Sanchez as “the nicest person you’d ever want to meet.” Maybe this is why Hollywood sometimes gets it all wrong. The fine, upstanding citizen with a gleaming smile is actually hiding a vicious and terrible secret. Instead of chainsaws, long kitchen knives, and fantastic visions of people with clawed hands that meet you and kill you in your sleep or pins coming out their heads, might the book and movie industries showcase more realistic monsters? Why can’t they depict murderers who wear khakis and cardigans and glasses and wave to little kids in the neighborhood?
John Wayne Gacy notwithstanding, they’re rarely bulbous headed clowns who prey on small children.
In Sanchez’s case, he was the lovable guy you could enjoy a beer and crack a few light-hearted jokes with. His persona gave no indication of the brute who could commit vicious crimes over a span of nearly three decades. They say,“it’s always the quiet ones,” and that’s appropriate here. Sanchez led a life that would allow anyone to believe he had a halo and wings on earth. His demeanor was that of a man of coolness and thoughtfulness. No one ever suspected him of anything. In fact, he even ran in the race held in the memory of his first victim, Miss Yalem. As astounding as that sounds, it just shows how brazen this ogre in dress clothes actually was.
Sanchez represents the male who could never be a man. To rape and kill women who showed less strength than he demonstrated how weak, insecure, and ugly Sanchez’s actions were.
The Buffalo, New York setting provided Sanchez with students, nurses, and joggers to rape and/or kill. He fit the profile of someone who lived a double life. At this point, (as of this writing), Sanchez is serving out his years. His duality in being a brute and a terror masked by his well-mannered and neighborly manner should give anyone pause about everyone. The contradiction between his manner and his character is enough to give anyone pause about every new person they meet, but we all can’t be private eyes. No. What should happen in cases like Sanchez’s is to go about your own business until something doesn’t pass the smell test.
The criteria for interacting with the Sanchez types of the world is to just be on the defensive with everyone you meet. Make sure you don’t go around suspecting them of heinous crimes, just be aware of them. Free individuals have rights that should never be violated, even if you feel like someone might be a monster.
In a world where it is virtually impossible to detect who is the real culprits in a murder or rape, it is up to law enforcement to do whatever they can without crossing the line themselves. Once it becomes a game of discovering who the actual killer is without due process, that’s when the system breaks down to the ground. For Sanchez, if he had only led a righteous life, he would have fared better. Instead of sitting behind bars in his old age, he could have been a model individual playing with his grandkids. This could have been his reality rather than wasting away inside a prison cell for the rest of his natural life.