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Vile rapist dubbed ‘mad chopper’ cut off victim’s arm and left her for dead

4 min read

It's a miracle sexual assault survivor Mary Vincent is alive today.

The 58-year-old artist and supporter of abuse victims was brutally attacked when she was hitchhiking in the California desert as a 15-year-old.

And on that fateful day in September 1978, Mary lost both her arms.

Lawrence Singleton was a merchant seaman down on his luck, driving aimlessly around northern California.

The 50-year-old psycho picked up the innocent teen and soon knocked her unconscious with a sledgehammer.

He dragged her to a remote area and used a blunt hatchet to bludgeon off her arms.

Then, he raped her repeatedly.

Sicko Singleton then dumped Mary in a culvert off the edge of a cliff, expecting her to die of her substantial wounds.

And either way, he figured, without fingerprints his crime would never be traced.

Mary made sure it was.

Despite wanting to sleep – during which she would have died – Mary vowed not to give up because she couldn't let Lawrence "do this to someone else".

Using mud to block the bleeding, she climbed her way back up the ravine.

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When she miraculously made it, Mary waved down the first car that came.

Considering what had last happened when she hitched up, this was a big risk.

But the Nevada teenager was no longer able to choose beyond immediate survival, and climbed in a car with two honeymooners in the front seats.

A red convertible with two men inside had already sped past her, clearly not worried she was bleeding from head to toe – and had just crawled 3 miles.

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A rescue helicopter picked up Mary and rushed her to hospital, where she was treated for her immense injuries and fitted with essential prosthetics.

Ten days later Lawrence was arrested based on Mary's detailed description and her fantastic sketch.

She was an artist – and put her skills to use.

The vile attempted murderer who'd left her for dead and fled the scene was charged with rape, kidnapping, attempted murder, sex crimes and theft.

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His other offence was mayhem, an extraordinary and rare charge which involves intentionally chopping off the limbs of a victim.

By the time Lawrence was tried for his buffet of sick crimes, Mary was in the audience – fitted with her prosthetic limbs.

He was sentenced to 14 years in prison, a lucky escape considering the intent behind his disgusting acts.

But that was the maximum sentence allowed in California at the time for attempted murder.

The judge wasn't sympathetic.

He said: "If I had the power, I would have sent him to prison for the rest of his natural life."

If only that had happened.

Lawrence was paroled after just 8 years on good behaviour, living in a trailer on the edge of a prison grounds because no town would accept him.

In fact, the law was changed in response to outrage over Singleton's sick acts.

Now, the state's "Singleton Law" means violent assaults involving torture can now result in a 25-years-to-life sentence.

Not that he had any regrets.

A journalist who spoke to him in the late-90s reported: "What was most surprising to me, however, was not his sentence.

"It was that Larry Singleton had worked his crimes around in his mind so completely that they did not warrant punishment at all."

Singleton was out of prison and back in society by the early-90s.

He served two short prison stints in 1990 for theft.

But his grisliest crime came later.

Singleton killed sex worker Roxanne Hayes at his home in Tampa, Florida after calling for her services.

The mother-of-three was slain by the lucky ex-con via multiple stabbings.

Finally Lawrence got a death sentence for his crimes, ultimately dying of cancer on death row at the age of 74 in 2001.

But he was able to traumatise Mary Vincent once more.

When she appeared at his murder trial – which she'd travelled all the way from California to Florida so she could attend – Mary made the argument he was a uniquely sick and twisted individual.

Yet he was able to whisper to her when she walked past.

He reportedly said: "If it's the last thing I'll do, I'll finish the job."

Mary fled the courtroom crying, all the horrific memories of Lawrence's sick torture flooding back.

But she was the winner in the end.

The Mary Vincent Foundation helps thousands of trauma victims and survivors of violence get through the day.

She now focuses on her art and lives a quiet, private life.

Despite her ailments Mary is able to continue working as an artist and a philanthropist, free of the nightmares of Singleton which once disturbed her.

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