Boxed in: A boy's lost week

This week's cover story is an edited first-person account of the kidnapping and sexual abuse Martin Andrews endured in 1973. He wrote it at the request of the Critical Incident Analysis Group. A little-known UVA-based consortium of academics and other professions, the Group studies public responses to terrorism and crime, and is dedicated to improving the public's ability to deal with "critical incidents." The current executive director is Gregory B. Saathoff, M.D., Associate Professor of Research at the UVA School of Medicine.

 January 11, 1973 was a snow day for Portsmouth City, and it was a day that would change the life of 13-year-old Paul Martin Andrews forever. This is his story.


I was born in 1959, the first of three children. With both parents working, we were latchkey kids who pretty much took care of ourselves in the morning and after school. I was 11 when my parents separated, and they divorced when I was 12. The divorce was pretty hard on us all, with bad feelings on both sides, but we got through it.

When I was 13, my mother remarried. My stepfather was a widower with three children, and we moved from rural Isle of Wight County into his home in Portsmouth.

In the city, with movies, arcades, convenience stores, as well as a newly acquired smoking habit, I needed money. To earn more, I took a paper route, which I enjoyed because it gave me a sense of responsibility and accomplishment.

One day in January, about six months after our move to Portsmouth, it turned really cold and snowed. The streets were frozen the next morning, a Thursday, and I had to deliver my papers wearing ice skates and pulling a sled. With school closed that day, I stayed at home with the younger children. Because we were out of milk, I started off to walk the four blocks up the street to a convenience store.

I was about three blocks from home when a blue van pulled up beside me. The driver said he needed help moving some furniture and asked if I wanted to make some money. I was a precocious, verbal child, and my parents didn't raise me to be "seen and not heard." I was very at home around adults. He seemed honest enough. So I got in.

He introduced himself as PeeWee. In a recent interview with a Richmond newspaper, Richard Alvin Ausley introduced himself using the exact same words he said to me that day, "Everybody calls me PeeWee." In retrospect, I believe "PeeWee" is a mechanism he uses to make himself appear weak or harmless.

As we headed for the interstate, I became a bit concerned. At some point I noticed a long wooden handled knife in the molded pocket in the back of the engine compartment cover.

Inside the van, I lit a cigarette, and Ausley said he smoked the same brand. Then he stopped at a store to get a few things for his brother. It was to his brother's house that we were supposedly headed.

He left me alone in the van, and as I sat there, I suddenly had a strong desire to get out and run. But there were a number of reasons why I didn't. Firstly, I had no real idea where we were except that we were somewhere near or around Suffolk. I was also afraid of the trouble I would get into if my parents found out what I had done. And on some level, I was afraid he would think badly of me if I took off when he needed my help.

He came back a few minutes later with several bags of groceries and a carton of Marlboros, my brand.

As he drove, he constantly engaged me in conversation, encouraging me to talk about myself and assuring me we didn't have much farther to go. When we finally got to our destination, he became upset to find a chain across the dirt road he said led to his brother's house. We were going to have to walk to the house and get the key to the lock on the chain. He asked me to come with him and help carry the supplies he'd brought to stock his brother's deer box, which was on the way to the house.

We'd gone only about 10 or 20 yards down the dirt road when he said he'd forgotten something and told me to wait while he went back to the van. The van was still clearly in view, and I was able to see him put something down the front of his pants. I was pretty sure it was the knife. I was getting really nervous, but I was unsure of what to do, and I still had a sense I was just over-reacting. Nobody really expects the worst.

We had walked about a quarter of a mile when he stopped and pointed to a raised area, about 30 yards from the road. He said that was his brother's deer box. All that could be seen from the surface was a small piece of tin shaped like a pan that looked like it been there for a long time. He lifted the front edge to reveal a structure built into the ground.

Ausley said this was where his brother hid while he was hunting. I was relieved that some of what he had told me seemed to be true, and I thought that soon we'd be on our way back to Portsmouth with the load of furniture.

He went down into the box and had me hand him the supplies. Then he asked me to come down into the box to help him straighten it up. That seemed harmless enough, so I lowered myself into the box.

The box was made out of plywood and two-by-fours, about four feet high by four feet wide and eight feet long, with a large shelf at the back with foodstuffs and supplies and sleeping bags on the floor.

When I lowered myself in, I saw the knife that I had previously seen in the truck, stuck into the end of the support that held up the shelf.

He told me to move to the back of the box so I could help him shake out a blue piece of plastic covering the floor. As we were struggling with the sheet in the tight quarters he said, "Hold it. This isn't working." Then he said, "I've got bad news for you. You've just been kidnapped."

My blood ran cold, and I got that scared feeling you get when you've just been caught in a lie.

Then he laughed and said, "Can't you take a joke? I'm just kidding, but you'll have to stay here until this afternoon."

I immediately struck a defensive posture, telling him I knew self-defense and I would hurt him if he came near me. He said I was scaring him, and that made me drop my guard. All at once he grabbed me and pulled me to him. As I was fighting to get free, I reached for the knife, but he had me pretty well restrained. Then he hit me, and I stopped struggling.

Ausley warned me that if I ever tried to touch the knife again he would kill me. That knife has always haunted me over the years. It was a good-sized knife about 12 inches long, with the brand name "Old Hickory" burned into the wooden handle. When I saw a set of knives made by the same company in the grocery store about five years later, I was instantly filled with fear and wanted to run out of the store. I avoided that aisle for a long time after that. To this day, I'm instantly reminded of the incident and the fear whenever I see one of those knives.

In thinking back on that week, I always thought I remembered all the sexual abuse. But I now realize I remember only five incidents, even though Ausley abused me as many as three times a day.

The first happened almost immediately. He began by telling me to remove all of my clothes, and then he did the same. He told me to turn over onto my stomach, and I felt him grease my rectum with Vaseline. He told me what was going to happen next might be uncomfortable but that it was something he had to do, and I should be quiet. He was not gentle as he lay on top of me, raping me. I don't remember him saying anything.

I knew what he was doing, but I had no idea what for. I saw a Nick Nolte movie, The Prince of Tides, a few years ago. He described the time when three escaped convicts broke into his home when he was a boy. One raped his mother, another raped his sister, and the third bent him over a table, pulled his pants down, and raped him. He said he had no idea one man could even do that to another. I thought the same thing while Ausley was sodomizing me. It seemed to last forever, but it was probably only 10 minutes or so. I know that he ejaculated because the semen had acted like an enema, and the next morning I saw that I had soiled my underwear.

When it was over, he rolled off me and told me to get dressed. He gave me all new clothes, including thermal underwear. I didn't know why he gave me different clothes until the day he left and made me change back into my original clothes. Then I realized he hadn't wanted anyone to recognize me by my clothes if they happened to see us outside the box.

The next incident I remember happened that night as we lay in our sleeping bags. He reached over, undid my pants, and masturbated me. Again, I had no idea what was happening, but after it was over, I figured it out pretty quick. He asked me if that was my first time, and because I didn't want him to think I was some rube, I told him that it wasn't, and that my girlfriend had done that to me before. That was a lie, but it was also the last time he did that. He was withdrawn and very quiet. What I said had obviously upset him.

I recognized early that if I could keep him talking, I could put off his attacks, and I tried to continually engage him in conversation and otherwise keep him occupied. At his trial, he remarked that I talked all the time– that he couldn't shut me up.

I really don't remember any specific conversations, but I remember that we talked a good bit about my life and my family life. He was good at conversation or at least at getting young boys to open up to him. He spoke often of two brothers and showed me their pictures and told me their names. Much later, I learned that they had been previous victims.

At no time did he ever show any affection for me, nor did he ever ask me to show any towards him. He never kissed me. He never expressed any regret for anything he did to me. Once, he asked me what I thought about him and his sexual assaults, and I told him I thought he was sick and needed help. While he didn't react overtly to this, he didn't seem to appreciate it.

Ausley had planned all this very well. He had gone to a great deal of trouble to build that box. He had put a lot of thought into his capture story. The details, like stopping to buy my cigarettes, told me that he had planned for this to last a while. I believe he'd spent a lot of time thinking up the abduction and the box, but he had not spent a lot of time thinking out what would happen once all the pieces were in place.

Did he think he could hide out there forever? Did he think that I'd continue to provide him with an ever-diversified supply of sex? Did he think I'd come to enjoy it? His initial thrill seemed to wear off as the week progressed. He also seemed not to have planned an exit strategy. In some ways, I'm glad about that. If he had, he probably would have killed me.

Once, I tried to make a deal with him about the sexual abuse, and he made it clear that he was in control and would do as he pleased. Another time, for no other reason than to terrorize me, he threatened to strip me naked and chain me to a tree, where he said he would whip me until I bled, allowing the cold to freeze my wounds and then he would return to do it again. When I pleaded with him not to do that, he laughed and said, "Can't you take a joke?"

I often pretended to be asleep when we were in the box so he would leave me alone. But one time he woke me and told me to move to the back of the box. He got on his knees, opened his pants and pulled out his penis. He told me to put my mouth on it. When I hesitated, he assured me it was clean. I remember thinking that whether it was clean was not what was on my mind.

He picked up the knife and, holding it to my throat, told me he would kill me if he felt my teeth. I didn't know why he said that. The thought of biting had never occurred to me. He tried to finish, but I was gagging and throwing up, and he couldn't. In fact, he never finished a single act of oral sex, which seemed to depress him, and his frustration seemed to grow with each incident.

Outside, we cooked by campfire and explored the woods. I remember remarking that outside of the box it was very much like a regular camping trip.

There was only one incident of sexual abuse I can remember occurring outside of the box, and it happened only after I had commented about all of the sex occurring inside the box.

Ausley didn't like to be analyzed. If I made any observations about his behavior, he got upset and would change, as if to prove me wrong. He refused to introduce any psychological evidence at his trial. He always seemed to be thinking and brooding. Also, he was very strong.

On Sunday, three days into the kidnapping, he began to talk about getting me home. He gave me two choices. The first was he would take me back, and I would tell my parents I had run away. If I agreed to do that and went through with it, he would send me a money order for $50. He also said someone would be watching me to see if I called the police, and I would need a bodyguard if I took his money and went back on my word.

My second choice was for him to leave me in the box and contact my mother to let her know where I was so she could come pick me up. He told me not to expect her until the next day, so he'd have time to get away.

He gave me four hours to decide. I chose the second option.

He bound my hands and feet with wire. (I remember thinking it was the same kind of wire they used to bind my newspapers into bundles.) He moved me to the center of the box and then straddled me. Without any warning, he then began to beat me in the face. He was very upset that I had not taken the first option.

I chose the second option partly because I didn't want the cloud of someone watching my every move when I was back home, but mostly I didn't want to have to explain to my parents how or why I had run away. I know it's not real common these days for kids to be concerned what people think of them and to want not to disappoint their parents, but it was very common in my day, and it certainly was in my case.

As he beat me, he kept asking why I hadn't chosen the first option. He accused me of being a goody-goody. All I can remember saying was I was sorry. I testified at trial that he began crying so hard that he had trouble untying my hands. I tried to convince him I was willing to go through with his first option, but he didn't believe me.

Finally, on Thursday, one week after my ordeal began, he announced he was leaving. He told me that if he stayed with me any longer, he would kill me. When night fell, he began to get his things together and had me change back into my original clothes. He wrapped the chain around my ankle and secured it with the lock. This time he left my hands untied. He asked for my mother's phone number so he could call her, and he said he'd tell her to bring a pair of bolt cutters when she came to get me.

Just as he was getting ready to leave, he turned to me and said, "I've got to have that one more time," and he raped me again.

The next morning, I awoke early in anticipation of my mother's arrival. I tried to pull the chain from the wall, but it was fastened securely. Then I found a pair of fingernail clippers he'd left, and I started trying to cut through the chain. It was slow work, but I was making some progress. It was these marks in the chain that I used to identify it at the trial.

I never really thought about the possibility of dying in the box. In my mind, I was on the way to freeing myself. Also, for some reason, I never imagined the possibility of him just outright killing me.

Pretty soon I heard the sound of a vehicle coming. I was certain it was my mother because I could hear the shifting of gears, and my mother owned a Plymouth Duster with a three-speed manual transmission.

But he had never called her.

When I saw it wasn't my mother but some sort of truck, I began to yell and scream, mostly profanities. I'm always reminded of this when I watch the Silence of the Lambs and the girl in the pit screams profanities at Jodie Foster as she's being rescued.

One of the passengers pointed a rifle at me and ordered me to come up out of the box. I told him I couldn't, that I'd been kidnapped and was chained. I was very afraid he was going to shoot me.

Eventually, the four rabbit hunters got out of their truck and sent someone to get the police. I wanted to continue to cut through the chain to free myself, but they told me I should wait until the police came so they could see me as I'd been left.

When the police came, they took pictures, cut the chain, and put me in a police car and took me to a hospital. But it was not the hospital where my mother worked, and I insisted they take me to that one.

My first memory of being at the hospital was sitting in a large examination room. I heard footsteps coming quickly down the hall and my mother's voice saying, "Where is he? Where is he?"

I have the clearest memory of my mother running up to the police officer standing outside the door. Her knees were bent as she ran up to him, and I believe she was about to collapse. I jumped off the exam table and ran to her. She hugged me very hard.

Later, some police detectives brought a photo album, and I identified a picture of Richard Alvin Ausley. At the time I was still calling him PeeWee. The detective told my mom they already knew who they were after; they just wanted me to confirm it.

Something that later bothered me about that statement was if they knew who they were looking for, why had they so adamantly told my parents and family that I had run away?

Here was a repeat offender, living in my neighborhood, missing on the very day he was supposed to go back to court for abusing a child. Another child comes up missing from the same area that very day. And nobody put it together? If they did, they did not tell my parents.

Afterwards, a doctor came in and examined my rectum. They took an x-ray of my nose, which showed a hairline fracture. My eyes were black, and one of my teeth was cracked, but otherwise I was in good condition.

We made one stop on the way home– at the grocery store– and my stepfather went in to get me whatever I wanted: it was mostly junk food, chips, and candy. Then I went right upstairs to shower. I remember looking down at the water at my feet and seeing it was black. I was really dirty. That shower felt especially good; I felt as if I were washing off the entire week.

 Later that night, the police came to my house. They asked very explicit questions about the sexual abuse and wanted me to recount each incident. It was then I discovered I had lost a day. I had been trying to keep track of the days in my mind over the course of the week, but somehow I had lost one.

I have no real recollection of my reunion with my siblings. I believe now that's because my parents kept them from making too big a deal of it, probably to try and make my homecoming less traumatic. I do remember my stepsister, who was about six, telling me she knew I was coming home that day. On her way to school, she had seen a rainbow, and she knew it was a sign from God that this would be the day.

On Sunday we went to church, and I remember it being a very joyous day. People came up afterwards to tell me about the service they'd had on the Sunday I was gone– it revolved a lot around my being missing. The youth choir had sung the Sunday after I was taken, and several members cried when they sang their song.

Until recently, I have never really talked about what happened to me during that week. Very close friends have been surprised to find out something so extraordinary has never been brought up or shared or even hinted at. My partner of 22 years had only a vague understanding of what I endured.

One person, however, a fireman and a member of my church, Troy Tippin, told me he had spent the week riding in a helicopter searching for me. He is the only person who has, over the years, occasionally brought up that week, and I've always appreciated it. Most people have acted like the incident never happened.

My parents felt I was broken, and they needed to fix me. Unfortunately for me, that was also the prevailing opinion of the police and members of the medical community. I had done nothing to precipitate their opinion, but the police convinced my parents I might become a threat to other children and act out on them sexually. Everyone recommended they at least put me into psychotherapy, and many recommended that I be placed in an institution. What had I done? Why was I being punished?

I was sent to a locked psychiatric ward with drug addicts, runaways, and suicidals. Over the next few days, I went with the other kids to group therapy and occupational therapy where I learned to make a belt. I went for one test where the tester showed me a series of pictures, and I was to make up a story about what I thought was happening in them. The test bothered me a lot because all the pictures seemed to have some bearing on my ordeal. The tester assured me they were random pictures, and even though I believe that now, I had a hard time believing it then.

When I was with Ausley, he told me if it hadn't been me, it would have been someone else.

I said then, as I say today, I thank God I was the one this happened to. It upset my parents to hear me say that, and people today don't often understand it. I say it mostly because it was an experience I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, but also because I knew, inside, I was strong enough to get through it, and a lot of kids wouldn't have been.

I still believe that today, but I have expanded on my reasons a bit. Today, I am also grateful to have seen the hand of God at work in my life. Whenever I have had a crisis of faith, I have always been able to look back on that week and know with certainty there is a God, that God answers prayer, and that there are such things as miracles.

The entire time I was with Ausley, I prayed for deliverance and protection. I crossed myself after my prayers, as Catholics do, even though I'm not Catholic. Today, when I hear or read the words of the Apostle Paul, "pray without ceasing," I am reminded of my prayers in the box.

As you can imagine, I am grateful God answered those prayers and the prayers of so many others. The circumstances of my survival and rescue are proof enough to me of His existence and love for me. Over the years, as I have tried to make sense of that week, I have often questioned why God would have reached out His hand to save me, and I have come to believe God saved me because he had a purpose for my life that did not include dying in that box or at the hand of Richard Ausley.