Chapter 1 -Excerpt
That Tuesday evening in November 1987 found Tawana walking home
from a bus stop near Paino’s Mobile Gas Station on Route 9 at Myers
Corners Road in Wappingers Falls. She had skipped school that day and
was returning from a day visiting a friend, Todd Buxton, who like many
other Black male teenagers in many parts of New York, found himself
incarcerated in the Orange County jail in the town of Goshen. Tawana
wanted to see him before she left town on a planned family trip to
Washington DC for the Thanksgiving holiday.
She didn’t go to the jail alone. She was escorted by the mother and
sister of Todd Buxton. When she left home that morning, she did not tell
Glenda or Ralph of her plan. She knew they would not approve. Instead
of going to school, she had a friend drive her to the nearby town of
Newburgh to the Buxton family home. She traveled from Newburgh to
Goshen by bus with Sandra and Geneva Buxton. After the visit, the three
returned to Newburgh. Tawana visited for a while at Geneva Buxton’s
apartment, and then Tawana proceeded to take a taxi to the terminal
where she boarded a Short Line bus to Wappingers Falls. By then it was
As she boarded the bus to Wappingers Falls, the bus driver recognized
and greeted her. He was a friend and coworker of Ralph King, Tawana’s
stepfather, who was also employed as a driver for the Short Line Bus
Company. They chatted a bit, and bus driver Todd McGue asked her
why she was coming home so late as this was not her habit and her
family would certainly not be pleased. Despite reports that implied that
Tawana did not want to go home that evening, McGue reports that she
asked him to go off route to take her closer to her family’s new apartment
on Carmine Drive. Unfortunately and fatefully, Todd McGue could not
divert from his route as she had asked. Because another passenger was on
the bus going to the town of Fishkill, he was obligated to stay on route.
The closest he could get was the Paino Gas Station located on Route 9 at
Meyers Corner Road. He watched her get off the bus, cross the road, and
head toward home. The Paino Gas Station, at that time, was a well-known
location in the town of Wappingers Falls as a hangout for police wannabes
and other macho racist and sexist types.
After eight o’clock on that Tuesday evening, Tawana began the
approximately one mile walk home. She said that as she walked along
Middlebush Road, a car pulled up next to her. The door was thrown open.
A badge was flashed, and a voice commanded her, “Get in.” When she
resisted, she was struck on the back of the head and pulled into the car.
When she screamed for the police, the abductor said, “I am the police.”