The Pied Piper of Tucson by Don Moser

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Don Moser's text The Pied Piper of Tucson tells the story of Charles Schmid, a young Arizona man who earned curious fame as "The Pied Piper of Tucson." Moser explains Schmid, his parents, and his strange criminal conduct. The aim of this essay is to examine the text and determine how good it is at presenting valuable information to the viewer.

The Pied Piper of Tucson is an interesting essay that takes readers to the making of a serial killer and his crimes. The type of audience the author was trying to reach are readers looking for information on a topic similar to this one or other serial killer articles and most likely teens; this is depicted by the tone and word choice he used in narrating Charles Schmid’s story. As Moser retells the story, he sets up a scene of how it was like in the 1960s and Schmid’s teenage life during that era. His imagery alone persuades the reader in believing his story, describing Schmid as a short man with an eccentric appearance. "The face is his own creation; the hair dyed raven black, the skin darkened to a deep tan with pancake makeup, the lips whitened, the whole effect heightened by a mole he has painted on one cheek. But the deep-set blue eyes are all his own. Beautiful eyes, the girls say". The trial of Charles Schmid made the people view their city in a new light that they were not prepared to see; they have had to view their city in a new and unpleasant light. “The fact is that Charles Schmid—who cannot be dismissed as a freak, an aberrant of no consequence—had for years functioned successfully as a member, even a leader, of the yeastiest stratum of Tucson’s.” After Moser labels Tucson as the American Dream and where the teenagers were clean cut and well-mannered youth, "One envisions teenagers who drink milk, wear crew-cuts, go to bed at half past 9, say “Sir” and “Ma’am,” and like to go fishing with Dad." This illustration was just one half of the description. He confuses the audience when he tries to explain what the American dream for teenagers entails, though he starts to list all the characteristics but then turns around and list their flaws (Moser and Cohen).

Don Moser use of imagery makes the article an adventure for the reader, his use of vocabulary helps to create a visual appearance of the time these crimes took place. His second half of the description of Tucson shows that the city was a beautiful place to live, but it also had its shortcomings. Not only did he set up the scene of Tucson but he also used his imagery to help the readers get a better understanding of what kind of person Charles Schmid was. This snippet Moser paints the face of Schmid, his original choice of style, his behavior and characteristics, his wit and the façade he put on to trick others (Moser and Cohen).

How he set up the flow of the article made it easier for the reader to follow the story and understand what was going on in Charles Schmid life. From painting a visual picture, he goes on to show us the growth of the serial killer. "He occasionally shocked even those who thought they knew him well. A friend says that he once saw Smitty tie a string to the tail of his pet cat, swing it around his head and beat it bloody against a wall. Then he turned calmly and asked, “You feel compassion—why?"

Showing his reasons to write this article, he wanted to inform his audience of the events that were happening during that time. Moser took the readers back into Charles Schmid early life and portrayed how a serial killer develops over time. The audience starts to see Schmid transform into this demented and demonic being. By describing Charles Schmid personality traits and abnormal behaviors, and the events that led up to him committing these crimes, he successfully explains his reasoning for writing this piece.

Here the audience sees the strange activities Schmid used to do before he became a full-on killer. Asking his friends why should they feel compassion for a pet, as if the animal's life had no worth at all. Moser begins to open the gates to Schmid's inherent shortcomings. Schmid created a heroic image of himself but he would often make others feel sorry for him, he would write himself off as the victim. "“He thrived on feeling sorry for himself,” recalls a friend, “and making others feel sorry for him.” In many instances, Smitty told inmates that he had leukemia and didn’t have a long time to live. In such a dull town Schmid’s personality made him stand out amongst others.

Don Moser chronologically set the article up neat and detailed. He started with a small introduction of Tucson, Arizona. Then he went into his high school with his appearance "the hair dyed raven black, the skin darkened to a deep tan with pancake makeup, the lips whitened, the whole effect heightened by a mole he has painted on one cheek. This description points out to the audience how much Schmid changed his appearance as his mind went ill. After his suspension Schmid started to try harder to impress girls, going further down the hill, he got arrested at the young age of 23 and started to change his appearance even more. Then he transitions into Schmid's adult life where he started to commit the murders, and his friends started to fear him and turn against him. Towards the end Ritchie Bruns and Charles Schmid friendship start to crumble because of everything they've endured. "Smitty seemed to Bruns to be losing his grip, Ritchie Bruns himself was not in much better shape" (Bovsun)

Don Moser ends the article with a saddened tone, finishing with a snippet from The Bo Diddley Rock. Trying to evoke a sense of closing to a bedtime story using sentences like "dissonance like some macabre reminder of their fallen hero:" we're seeing how Tucson lost a hero but not forgetting that Charles Schmid had a demented mind. Moser did a great job informing the readers because his message is directed towards teens and to tell readers of the dangers in the world. The organization of the article makes it easy to connect the events with a true story.

Works Cited

Bovsun, Mara. “Justice Story: Pied Piper of Tucson.” NY Daily News, 20 Dec. 2009,

Moser, Don, and Jerry Cohen. The Pied Piper of Tucson. Vol. 3486. Dutton Adult, 1967.

October 19, 2022

Crime Life Sociology


Lifestyle Communication

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