On June 17th 2017, 60 year old Susan Mayo went missing from Wilmer, Alabama. However, the Mobile County Sheriff’s office was not informed of her disappearance until a week later.
During the investigation, Mayo’s son was evasive and unhelpful, leading the local authorities to believe that 32 year-old Nathaniel Sebastian had a role in her disappearance, making him the prime suspect in the case. They searched their property.
The body of Susan Mayo was found on the 6th of September, 2017, buried three foot down under the porch in a metal drum. The cause of death was determined as gunshot to the head.
Hours after her body was found buried in the 55 gallon drum, Nathaniel Sebastian was arrested for murder, abuse of a corpse, felony probation violation and first-degree promoting prison contraband.
Investigators believe that Sebastian may have got the idea to bury the body under the house from one of the 20th century’s most notorious serial killers.
Burch, a detective on the case is reported saying:
“One thing is that he claims to be a big fan of John Gacy, who was a serial killer and he in fact kept bodies of his victims underneath his house.”
Upon their search for the missing woman, once Nathaniel Sebastian realised the officers were about to look under the front porch he made a spontaneous statement of, “OK my mama’s under the front porch. Y’all got me.”
Sebastian’s 81 year-old grandmother, Doris Clark, was also arrested in relation to the murder of her daughter and charged with obstruction of justice. As she was questioned while being led to a police vehicle she looked distressed and responded to reporters’ questions saying that she knew nothing of her daughter’s murder.
Since Sebastian was charged with killing his mother and burying her under a porch, the possibility has been raised that he might have other victims in his past. But both a researcher specialising in serial killers and a local investigator say such speculation is very premature.
The case got some major attention on a US TV show hosted by Ashley Banfield. Banfield played up the more lurid aspects of the case, including the possibility that a younger sibling of Sebastian had died while in his care years ago. Burch told Banfield that investigators were trying to get information on that scenario. As for whether evidence in the case might lead to other homicide victims, he said, “We are looking into that possibility.”
That was enough to pique the interest of Enzo Yaksic, head of the Atypical Homicide Research Group (AHRG) at Northeastern University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Yaksic said his research leads him to think that the serial-killer phenomenon is over-hyped in popular culture and that so far this case looks more like a wannabe than a second coming of Gacy.
“I would say that given the victimology, there’s no direct threat to the community,” he said.
Although a source interviewed in the case told investigators that Sebastian had a younger sibling who died under suspicious circumstances, investigators haven’t yet found any record that such a child ever existed, let alone died mysteriously. And the possibility of other victims remains just that, he said – a possibility that investigators have to consider.
In this Serial Murder Handbook, published by the FBI, it states that serial murders are estimated to comprise less than one percent of all murders committed in any given year.
But, there is a macabre interest in the topic that far exceeds its scope and has generated countless articles, books, and movies. After referencing Jack the Ripper, The Green River Killer, Ted Bundy and ‘Silence of the Lambs,’ it says that “much of the general public’s knowledge concerning serial murder is a product of Hollywood productions.”
Much remains unknown, both in the Sebastian case and in the larger matter of serial killings; Sebastian could turn out to have a darker past than anyone has yet realised, though Yaksic said he finds it unlikely.
Nathaniel Sebastian, 32 and his Mother, Susan Mayo.