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Victim of suspected ‘honeybee’ killer tells how she ran for her life

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

Hiding face down in the snow, next to barbed wire behind a trailer in a Southwest Side truck yard, the woman held her breath as the car of the kidnapper she feared would kill her came to a heartstopping halt a few feet away.

Just moments before, in the early hours of Saturday, suspected “honeybee” killer Gary Amaya had fired a shot at her as she fled his light blue Chevrolet pickup in fear of her life, she said.

Now she held still, and prayed. “I thought he was going to get out, but he just looked from inside the truck, then sped off,” the woman said. “I laid there another five minutes before I dared get up.”

The woman — who asked that only her last name, Anderson, be used — recounted her harrowing encounter with Amaya to the Sun-Times on Wednesday.

She reported a limited version of the run-in to police on Saturday morning but had no idea that the man who’d forced her into his truck and stolen her handbag would soon be dead — and implicated in October’s unsolved “honeybee” spree shootings on both sides of the Indiana-Illinois border.

But when Amaya, 48, was fatally shot hours later Saturday evening as he tried to rob an Orland Park tanning salon, police recovered her bag from Amaya’s truck. And they quickly began to unravel clues linking Amaya, an unemployed truck driver, to the bi-state shooting spree.

“I turned on the TV and I saw they were saying this guy may be a serial killer,” Anderson said. “I knew then that if I’d let him handcuff me like he wanted to, I’d be dead.”

Bullets fired from the revolver Amaya used in his attempted robbery of the tanning salon were matched to those used to kill construction worker Rolando Alonso and wound two others in the bi-state shootings, sources said earlier this week.

His truck also matched the description of the honeybee killer’s, who asked one of his victims about honeybees before opening fire Oct. 5. Will County Sheriff’s Police have scheduled a press conference for Thursday.

“He looked like Santa Claus to me and I didn’t take him seriously at first, but he was crazy,” Anderson said of Amaya. “I can’t speculate if he killed other people, but it wouldn’t surprise me.”

Though she has a string of prostitution arrests, Anderson insists she is turning her life around and asked that her first name not be used so that her college classmates don’t learn about her past.

She had just visited a 24-hour Subway shop at Cicero and 47th Street early Saturday and was about to drive to a friend’s house when Amaya “came up to me, stuck a gun in my face and told me to get in the truck,” she said.

As Amaya drove to a truck yard a half mile away, he kept the gun to her head, she said. “I kept talking, trying to figure out what he wanted, but he just kept saying, ‘put your hands behind your back,’ and I didn’t want to ask if he was going to kill me in case it set him off.”

A mother of two, she said her “motherly side” came out as she tried to talk Amaya around, but when he reached for his handcuffs, “I took my chance and ran and he shot at me from his truck.”

In an isolated spot with no one to run to for help, she skipped over a barrier and hid behind the trailer until Amaya left, she said.

She praised Jason McDaniel, the tanning salon customer who shot Amaya during the botched robbery later that day, as “a hero.”

The incident cost Anderson a job as a security guard. Her employers fired her when they learned about her background Tuesday, she said.

“I was the victim and I lost my job,” she said. “But I’m just glad to be alive.”

Contributing: Frank Main and Dan Rozek

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