Getting a roommate is a great idea for those who want to save a little bit of money on rent. It’s also nice to have somebody to share the responsibilities around the house. Unfortunately, finding the right match can sometimes be a complete nightmare.
Rarely has that been more true than with Beverly McGowan. After thinking that she’d finally found the perfect roommate in a woman named Alice, Beverly realized how wrong she was in the most horrifying way possible…
In 1990, Florida bank clerk Beverly McGowan decided to search for a roommate by placing an ad in the newspaper. Almost right away, she began hearing from people interested in the available room in her house.
One response came from a woman named Alice, who identified herself as an IBM employee from England. Alice also said she was an expert in numerology, the study of the supposed mystical relationship between numbers and life events. Beverly was excited to have found such an interesting roommate!
Shortly after moving in, however, things didn’t go so well. Alice generously offered to predict Beverly’s future, but Beverly found it strange that she needed her driver’s license, passport, and even social security card to do so.
Of course, this kind of request would raise a red flag for nearly anyone. Alice was insistent, though, and Beverly—perhaps wanting to establish trust between her and her new roommate—decided to provide her with the information. This would prove to be a fatal mistake…
Three days later, horrifyingly mutilated remains were found along the St. Lucie County, Florida, riverside—and they were Beverly’s. Her head, hands, and feet had been removed. This was clearly the work of a murderer, and they were trying to cover their tracks.
Almost all of Beverly’s tattoos, including those on her stomach, hands, and head, had been forcibly sliced off with a knife. Her murderer had neglected to remove the one on her leg, however, which allowed the police to identify Beverly’s body.
Alice, meanwhile, was nowhere to be found. Her absence was obviously incredibly suspicious, but there was no definitive proof that she had anything to do with her roommate’s tragic murder… or was there?
Mere hours after the incident, it was discovered that Alice had used Beverly’s credit cards to spend hundreds of dollars before boarding a plane to London. By the time she landed, the police had enough evidence to believe she was the lead suspect in Beverly’s case.
The police at Scotland Yard were actually able to link Alice to a mysterious and elusive criminal who had been dubbed the “Chameleon Killer.” Despite this connection, there still were many questions that needed answering…
Police worked day and night to track down the woman—but to no avail. Then one day, they received a mysterious package in the mail: it was an oil painting of Alice herself, accompanied by the signature “Best Wishes, Your Chameleon.” Was she taunting them?
A big break finally came when the police received a tip regarding somebody named Elaine. She matched Alice’s description and she’d been spotted in New Mexico while working as a restaurant manager.
Shortly after, the police had reason to believe that their suspect—this mysterious “Elaine”—had moved back to Florida. Even with this evidence, they still couldn’t manage to locate and capture her.
Then, in April 2006, an episode of America’s Most Wanted aired about the Chameleon Killer. Tips flooded in from viewers, but only one caught the eye of the producers. It seemed realistic enough to investigate…
This tip claimed that the mysterious woman had been spotted in an apartment complex in Panama City, Florida. When police arrived, they found the woman in question—except she didn’t resemble Alice at all!
WillMcC / Wikimedia Commons
Even so, the police decided to bring her in for questioning. Before they could bring her to the station, she asked them if she could change her clothes. They obliged, but as they were waiting, a gunshot rang out…
The police quickly found the woman’s dead body on the ground. Evidently, she had shot herself through the heart. As if that wasn’t incriminating enough, they found much more than they bargained for when they investigated the scene…
The apartment was filled with evidence, including a French dictionary, a list of credit card numbers written by hand, and even an entire notebook filled with social security numbers. The woman also kept various disguises in her possession, including some that would allow her to look like a man.
Alexandre Dulaunoy / Flickr
As it turned out, the woman had been going by the name Elaine Parent. But who was she really? Nobody could be sure, even to this day. A number of people described her as likable, smart, and beautiful—but did they know she was capable of murder?
Perhaps it wasn’t difficult to piece together after all. Apparently, Elaine had been known to have erratic and even violent mood swings, going so far as to threaten people.
In a video about the incident, criminal psychologist Dr. Barbara Kirwin likened Elaine’s behavior to that of an actor. She may not have appeared on stage or screen, but she certainly knew how to play a convincing role!
Elaine lived a strange, frightening life, and it ended about as horrifically as it could. Still, perhaps her story could give us an insight into the inner workings of the criminal mind. For now, this murder remains somewhat unsolved…
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