Lineberry, a drifter, had been living in a metal shed on Loudermilk's property in the town of Okeechobee. Loudermilk, his wife, and three children lived in a doublewide trailer on the north side of town, and as Vestal and Lineberry drove by on a Monday afternoon in June at about 4 o'clock, they saw that someone's feet were protruding from underneath an idling red 1994 Honda Passport.
It was Loudermilk, lying on the ground with his own car's left rear tire parked on his stomach.
They pulled up and asked Loudermilk what he was doing, and Loudermilk told them he couldn't feel his legs. Vestal asked if he wanted the car moved. "Yes," Loudermilk said.
Vestal climbed into the Passport and slowly backed up, easing the SUV's weight off Loudermilk's body. It became apparent that Loudermilk had been lying in a shallow ditch that must have been dug before the car was parked on him. Also, the car's tire had been sitting on a board and pillow, sandwiched between the tire and Loudermilk's skin.
Loudermilk appeared to have been a willing partner, at least initially, in being crushed by the car.
It's not certain how long Loudermilk had been pinned under the Passport, but as soon as the weight lifted, lactic acid and other toxins flooded from his bloodless legs through the rest of his circulatory system, poisoning his body and initiating shock. Loudermilk blanched, and frothy spit appeared on his lips.
"I hurt all over," he said.
Vestal went to the trailer, looking for Loudermilk's wife, Stephanie. After searching the house and banging on the bedroom door, he returned to find Lineberry holding Loudermilk's hand. "Nobody would answer," Vestal told them. "What's up? Do you want me to call an ambulance?"
"What the hell is going on?" Lineberry said to Loudermilk. "Where is your wife and your kids?"
"They don't care," Lineberry remembers Loudermilk telling him.
The two men left Loudermilk lying near the Passport, went into the house, and found Stephanie and her 2-year-old son, Spawn, inside. At their urging, Stephanie, a tall, 29-year-old Seminole woman with a wide face and long black hair, calmly called 911, bending down to refill Spawn's bottle as she did so.
Loudermilk was still alive when rescue workers arrived, and he repeated that he couldn't feel his legs. By the time he reached the hospital, however, he was incoherent and died within hours.
In the ensuing days, police pieced together a startling story that briefly became national news. Loudermilk was a foot fetishist in the extreme like other "trample" fans, he was aroused by being stepped on by women, particularly his 200-pound wife. But he was also into "crush," which made him a member of a fringe sexual group that finds erotic the sight of women's feet smashing small creatures like insects, fish, and mice. When Loudermilk lay down under his SUV that June afternoon, police believe, he was trying to find the ultimate fusion of his two desires.
The summer Loudermilk died, crush videos of women stomping on animals were gaining notoriety and had sparked a nationwide law enforcement crackdown. Between 1998 and 2000, statutes were enacted to target the practice, Internet purveyors of videos depicting cruelty to animals were hunted down, and the online crush scene went underground.
Seven years later, a look at the impulses that led Bryan Loudermilk to his death reveals the strange logic of crush and trample fetishes and their ties to South Florida. Interviews with the people who knew Loudermilk including his mother, who hasn't spoken of the incident to the media before paint a detailed portrait of his complex desires, elements of which are shared by a surprisingly large number of ordinary people. But one question remains unanswered: Police still have no idea who helped Loudermilk with his obsession by parking his Honda Passport on his belly and then leaving him to die.
Bryan Loudermilk was a short, stocky man with dirty-blond hair who spoke in a Southern drawl and played the guitar. Growing up an only child in Okeechobee, he was shy. "Kind of bashful," his mother, Sandra Bailey, remembers. When Loudermilk met Stephanie Tongkeamha in high school, he quickly fell for the tall, quiet Seminole girl from the Brighton reservation. The two dropped out of school, Stephanie finishing ninth grade, Loudermilk the tenth, when Stephanie, who often went by Mamie, her middle name, got pregnant with the first of their three children. Eventually, the family settled in the Okeechobee trailer in 1998, near Loudermilk's family.