By Chris Bunton
I traveled to Nashville, Tennessee recently to have a Valentines Day get away with my wife. We checked out the Frist Art Museum, where they had a Picasso exhibit, and we went to Andrew Jackson’s home, “The Hermitage“. While there I did some research on the serial killer, Paul Dennis Reid. Also known as “The Fast Food Killer.”
Reid was born in Richland Hills, Texas. He began his criminal career at a very early age, having numerous run-ins with family and police. In 1983 he robbed a steakhouse in Houston, Texas and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He was paroled after serving only 7 years.
He got a job driving a truck, but had a wreck. This gave him workman’s comp, and a settlement, which he spent on plastic surgery to make himself look more photogenic. He had decided he was going to be a country music star, and started getting photographs made so he could sell himself.
He moved to Nashville, Tennessee and started working to be the star he felt he was born to be. But, as time went on he saw that his dream was slipping away. He got a job at a Shoney’s as a dishwasher, but lost the job when he got mad and threw a plate at a co-worker.
It is theorized that his failing music career, and his job loss, led him to resort to his old criminal ways, and to become the killer he was. Although, there are several unsolved murders that has been thought to have possibly been committed by him in other places.
It’s odd for me, because when I traveled to Nashville it was for Valentines Day, which was around the time that Reid started his killings in Nashville on Feb, 16, 1997. That timing was not planned by me.
These sorts of odd coincidences have occurred many times while researching serial killers or crimes.
I was headed to the Hermitage, which is the home of Andrew Jackson, and was going to see if I could find something on Reid after I finished touring the mansion. But, I soon realized that the road my GPS was taking me down was Lebanon Pike. This was the road that held the locations where Reid had killed some of his victims.
On February 16th, 1997 Reid walked into a Captain D’s in Donelson, Tennessee, a day after losing his job at Shoney’s. He claimed he was wanting to get hired. Then, he took Sarah Jackson, and Steve Hampton into the cooler and killed them.
A month later he entered a Mcdonald’s, down the road from Captain D’s, and killed employees Andrea Brown, Ronald Santiago, and Robert Sewell. He stabbed another employee 17 times with a knife and left him for dead. But, Jose Antonio Ramirez Gonzalez was not dead. He crawled to a phone and called 911. Gonzalez would live to testify against Reid.
As I drove down Lebanon Pike I started looking to see if anything jumped out at me. The crimes occurred in 1997 so it was possible the buildings where the crimes had occurred were still standing and maybe even still in operation.
Then, as if by magic, the Captain D’s sign jumped out at me. I stopped and took some pictures of the building. Then, I left and continued on to Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage. But, after driving about a mile I came across another Captain D’s sign near the Hermitage Bakery. This building had been torn down.
Now, I was confused as to which restaurant was the actual one. After some research and looking at maps, I figured out that the Captain D’s that is still standing is the actual location of the killings.
Reid killed again a month later in April at a Baskin-Robbins in Clarksville, Tennessee. He kidnapped 2 employees and took them to a nearby state park and killed them. Angela Holmes and Michelle Mace were slain with a knife.
Reid was captured around 3 months later, when he went to the home of Mitch Roberts, the manager of the Shoney’s that fired him, and came after him with a gun and a knife.
Reid was sentenced to death. He at first tried to stop his execution but eventually gave up trying. His lawyers ignored his wishes, claiming he was mentally unfit, and kept fighting until they just could not continue going against Reid’s desire.
Reid died of natural causes on November 1, 2013. He was not put to death by the state.
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Bio: Chris Bunton is a Writer, Poet, and Blogger from Southern Illinois.