Friday, October 11, 2013

Night of the Lunkheads

       This subject is now well into his 40’s – a chubby, balding pathetic thing who spends most of his days and all of his nights whimpering in the corner of his padded cell about the “Lunkheads” peeking into his barred window.

       Here is a local newspaper article detailing the quite sad and cheerless history of poor little Mr. Billy Robert Tilly. As with our other cases some of the names of victims have been changed or omitted.
Figure 3.1 - Document detailing some of the past experiments involving ____ ______ Mental Hospital and its staff

Night of the Lunkheads

The Weller Register, October 28th, 1991
Babs Saunders, associate reporter

     Let’s be honest folks, summers here have always hot and humid and miserable! Our children have never seemed to mind too much, I remember how the Baker boys, Julie Scott and her sisters and other kids from Central used to raise Cain up and down the black top road stretching from the municipal park to Elsberry Creek. That stretch of Copley Road back then was overgrown and rugged but still dotted by a few gas stations and the high school baseball field (go Tigers!). This was long before the convenience and ease of open-air shopping malls and MONDO-Mart centers – back whenever we were just another little hick town, and not the booming and charming bedroom community of today.

     Back then once you went past Elsberry Creek the road got rougher, the terrain hairier. The trees got taller and more gnarled, the only signs of human life the occasional beaten up farmhouse well off the road. A lonely two lane jaunt of a few miles until you hit the bridge going over the interstate. Back then that part of Copley Road wasn’t shunned, but nobody went out of their way to travel it either (I know I sure didn’t!).

     The kids never did – there was something scary and gloomy about the way the branches of trees knotted over Copley Road. There had always been the rumors – a lot of silliness about “Lunkheads” - shy, ghoulish creatures said to have big black eyes (BOO!).
Figure 3.2 - An example of hydrocephalus, frequently cited as a rational explanation to the "Lunkhead" phenomena

     No, but seriously, after the three children went missing that winter in 1979, their bodies later found not far from the interstate in the woods near Copley and Stratton Road, there were the whispers from the older folks. I have always said there is a time and place for ghost stories, and a time and place for grown-up ghost stories. Unfortunately, one of our wonderful children at the time had trouble differentiating between the two.

     I’m showing my age but I clearly remember that spring we heard about the brand new interstate exit to Weller – and talk of the rising property values, new jobs and businesses that were sure to follow. In fact it only took a few months for the signs of life to start showing down Copley Road – but imagine my horror as a loving mother and parent at the announcement of a new video arcade parlor, Dualtron, to be built at the exit. This is the original text for a Dualtron advertisement which popped up in a March, 1981 edition of the Weller Register:

Figure 3.3 - An artist's interpretation of Polybius, a game allegedly housed at the Dualtron at the time of the infamous "Night of the Lunkheads"

Apocalypse A.D. - Venture back into the long abandoned cities to rescue your family from the humanoid plague. With brand new Periscope Viewfinder!

Lords of Carnage III - The Lords have returned to wreck vengeance on the Nuclear Church! Both one and two player mode!

The Golden Triangle - Can you move the small white circles out of the large yellow triangle?

Soviet Death Force - Escape the Iron Curtain and evade the Soviet Death Force!

Polybius – Can you destroy all the spinning polygons and triangles and find your way out of the maze? 

Giallo Murder Mystery IV - The police and killer are looking for you. Can you solve the Giallo Murder Mystery IV?

Space Violators II - The space violators are returning to Earth, do you have what it takes to defeat them?

Pinball Machines! Hockey Enforcer II, Beach Babe Patrol, Driller Killer, Canadian Mounty, Frankenstein’s Castle

     Violators. Plague. Murder. Death. Carnage. Destroy. And, of course, beach babes and driller killers! These are the sorts of values being instilled in our children?  I do know one thing. Our little ones never travelled past Elsberry Creek until then – I’ll never forget how I felt the first time I saw those tikes riding bicycles up and down that abandoned three mile stretch of Copley Road to reach the interstate and the Dualtron Arcade. 

     And then there was the Night of the Lunkheads, as it came to be known later on during the trial of Billy Tilly in the gruesome murders of four other children that attended Central. For those of you who missed all the news stories following the July murders in 1982 (covered throughout the tri-state area), Carol Petersen, Patrick Brooks, Glenn Newbury and Joyce Harris (all little angels from Central) were found mangled and mutilated in the woods near Copley Road. William Tilly was found nearby covered with blood and muttering about the “Lunkheads”.
Figure 3.4 - An arcade video machine salvaged from the Dualtron arcade. Could this have inspired Billy Tilly to commit mass murder?

         I knew William Tilly as an adorable little cherub with rosy cheeks and a heart of gold. He played fourth grade baseball and basketball for Central, and regularly attended my church with his family. What could have gone so wrong? Due to the grisly and horrific nature of the crimes, Tilly was prosecuted as an adult. A transcript of his testimony, as recorded by the court stenographer on January 26th, 1983: 

         Cross Examination of William R. Tilly

Let the record reflect the presence of the jury at 1:03 p.m.

THE CLERK:        Please Mr. Tilly state your name for the record.

MR. TILLY:           William Robert Tilly

THE CLERK:        Thank you Mr. Tilly.


MR. HEWITT:   On the night in question, July 22, 1981, you indicated that you left the Dualtron Arcade with Misses Petersen and Harris and Misters Brooks and Newbury?

A                            I did.

Q                           Yes or no will do, son.

A                            Yes.

Q                           And you claimed that this was approximately ten o’clock at night, and you had stayed out past curfew?

A                           Yes.

Q                          You claim that near the intersection of Oldfield Road and Copley Road, you and the victims left your bicycles and went into the woods?

A                           Yes.

Q                          You claimed that this was the “Night of the Lunkheads” (some laughter in courtroom). Mr. Tilly, what do you purport a “Lunkhead” to be?

A                          We just saw eyes, I mean, there were dark eyes staring at us from the woods. I never believed the stories either, they were, there were about seven or eight of them.

Q                          The Lunkheads? Mr. Tilly, you are not answering my question.

A                           The Lunkheads, are, or well, were short, with pale skin and big black eyes and big heads. They were, they appeared to be not human.

Q                           Mr. Tilly, what happened to your friends that night?

A                            They were attacked, well, killed by the Lunkheads. As soon as we stopped our bikes more came from behind us, we tried, well, we did run into the woods but there were more of them. They’re still, I mean, they’re still in those woods.

Q                           Who are still in those woods, Mr. Tilly?

A                            The Lunkheads.

Q                            I am finished with my cross examination.

     I’ve always been a big fan of the latest high profile trials (mostly murders but I’ll settle for a good robbery or rape if need be) and I followed the Billy Tilly trial like a hawk. I really thought at first an outsider (of Weller, certainly not an outsider of this dimension or planet!) had attacked and killed those poor children. As the trial went on for a couple months I had to admit to myself the God honest truth - poor little Billy Tilly was a murderer.

     The court ultimately decided that Tilly was not guilty by reason of insanity, and that at the time of the murders, Mr. Tilly “did not possess a state of mind conducive to understanding the nature and impact of his actions due to repeated exposure to video arcade machines”.
Figure 3.5 - An amusing recent puzzle take-off on the "Lunkheads" phenomena. Can you find the six "Lunkheads" hiding in this picture? Bonus: Can you find the "S" graffiti on the tree?

     And oh boy, were we Wellerites not happy about that! The decision was so controversial that Tilly was committed to an undisclosed mental asylum, the name of which has still not been released to area newspapers. William Tilly (now in his early 20’s) will be released whenever mental health experts deem him to no longer be a threat to society.

     It’s been nearly a decade now – the Dualtron has long since closed, Tilly is still committed, and the children still ride their bicycles up and down Copley Road - but not past Elsberry Creek. That’s all changing soon – the woods up and down Copley Road are being bulldozed for the Pine Springs Shopping Plaza, Twin Oaks Minimall, a MONDO-Mart Center, a Giuseppe’s Pizza Pie franchise location and several housing subdivisions.
Figure 3.6 - Several of the video arcade machines from Dualtron said to have inspired the Billy Tilly murders have become popular and highly sought-after pieces of "murderabilia"

     The husband and yours truly are enjoying our new home on that once spooky, scary section of Copley Road (BOO!). It’s nice to see the folks of Weller put the past behind us, even as my youngest darling, precocious child complains that the Lunkheads are looking into her window every night!


     A rather tragic ending for poor little Mr. Billy Robert Tilly. He remains in our care, and he always will. As for the notorious Weller child murders? Several “copycats” of Mr. Tilly have murdered nine more children in a similar fashion since this article by Mrs. Saunders was published as a local piece for Halloween in 1991.

As for the Lunkheads just remember to check outside your house tonight before you go to sleep for any short, pale creatures with huge heads and big, black eyes (BOO!).
Figure 3.7 - Up the stairs and to the right for the ____ ______ Mental Hospital game and rec room. And no, poor little Billy Tilly has never been given access to our video arcade machines...

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