Friday, December 30, 2005

Ring out the old...and the soused

London says good-bye to another eccentric:

Sandy Fawkes, who died on December 26 aged 75....

For her last 30 years...was a familiar sight in the Coach and Horses and in the French pub in Soho, consuming simply astonishing amounts of whisky. ....

The force of character that had once brought her success in journalism she now used in getting a stool at the bar, no mean feat in Soho pubs in the 1980s....

In the United States in November 1974, after an unsuccessful trial period with the National Enquirer, she met a man in his late twenties in a bar in Atlanta, Georgia. He looked like "a cross between Robert Redford and Ryan O'Neal", she thought. They began an affair, and she joined him on a leisurely drive down the coast to Florida. She knew him as Daryl Golden. In reality he was Paul Knowles, who killed at least 18 people. The day before Sandy Fawkes met him, Knowles had killed two people, one of them a 15-year-old girl he had raped.

The car they drove in had been stolen from a man missing for four months. Even the smart clothes Knowles wore were those of a murdered man. "He told me he was going to be killed soon, but had made some tapes which would make a world news story," she recalled. "After a week, I just had a feeling I wanted to get away from him."

Knowles had set off on his trail of killings only that May. It ended with his arrest within days of their parting. A month later he was shot dead by police.

She wondered ever after what it was that had prevented Knowles from murdering her too. Her escape from his company did not end her troubles, for the police took a dim view of her sexual liaison with a murderer. Could it be that she was guilty of some of the murders too, they asked? "Police in Macon, Georgia, make Rod Steiger look like a fairy," she said.


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