The Boy in the Box – Paul Martin Andrews

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21st December 2020  •  5 min read

Paul Martin Andrews was just 13-years-old when he was abducted by a sexual predator. The man had constructed an underground box in the woodlands where he kept Paul hidden from the rest of the world...

The Boy in the Box - Paul Martin Andrews

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It was a cold winter afternoon on the 11th of January, 1973, in Portsmouth, Virginia, and it was a snow day for local schools. 13-year-old Paul Martin Andrews was walking to a convenience store to pick up some milk. He was around three blocks away from his home when he was approached by a man driving a blue Ford van. He pulled up alongside Paul and offered to give him some cash if he would help him move some furniture at his brother’s home. The man in the van identified himself as PeeWee and Paul agreed and hopped in.1

As they stopped on a dirt road near Dismal Swamp, PeeWee was upset to discover there was a locked chain across the road. He explained to Paul they would have to walk the short distance through the woodland to collect the key in his brother’s deer box to unlock the chain. As they approached the deer box, PeeWee told Paul that it was built underground so that his brother could hide there while hunting deer. The underground box was made of plywood and was about four feet high, four feet wide and eight feet long. PeeWee lowered himself into the box and asked Paul to follow him. He said he needed him to help lift out some supplies.2

“I’ve got bad news for you. You’ve just been kidnapped,” PeeWee exclaimed as he threatened the terrified boy with a 12-inch knife. He told Paul to strip naked and lie on his stomach inside the box before slathering him with Vaseline and sexually assaulting him. This was Paul’s routine for the next eight days. In addition to the sexual assaults, Paul was beaten by PeeWee; his eyes were both blackened and his nose and a tooth were broken. Paul tried to engage in conversation with PeeWee, hoping that this would alleviate the sexual assaults but to no avail.

The box had been constructed by PeeWee, who was a carpenter, and at times, Paul was allowed out of the box so that they could cook some food. He was threatened not to try and run away and at one point, PeeWee even threatened to hang Paul from a tree with a chain and beat him. Paul would later say that there were times when PeeWee treated him decently and said that they had campfires and explored the woods. He also said: “I was afraid he was going to kill me. You just never knew what was going to set him off.”3

On the eighth day, two rabbit hunters stumbled across the box and heard Paul’s screams. At the time, PeeWee was away from the box so Paul took his chance at freedom. “He was screaming and hollering, and we just jumped out of the truck and we run up there,” one of the hunters later recollected. Finally, he was rescued. The two hunters called police and when they arrived, they photographed Paul, still chained in the box. A rescue squad were called in and needed to use bolt cutters to free Paul.

He was taken to Obici Memorial Hospital where his mother, Ann Wetherbee, was working as a nurse. “He looked filthy, exhausted, but he was excited,” she later recollected. Paul couldn’t remember much about his reunion with his siblings back at home but his younger sister, Jennifer Lewis, said: “Eyes blackened; nose black, blue and swollen. The bruises, lots of bruises… But most of all was the look in his eyes. It wasn’t the boy I knew anymore.”

PeeWee was quickly apprehended and picked out a lineup by Paul. His real name was Richard Alvin Ausley and he was a repeat offender. On the day be abducted Paul, Ausley had been scheduled to appear in a Portsmouth courtroom on a sodomy charge which involved a 14-year-old boy. At the time, Ausley had also been on parole for the 1961 abduction of a 10-year-old boy who he had hogtied, sexually assaulted and then left in the woods.

Ausley was found guilty of abduction and sodomy and sentenced to 48 years in prison.

The Boy in the Box - Paul Martin Andrews
Richard Ausley.

In the aftermath of the ordeal, Paul suffered substantially. His parents got him counselling before he was briefly sent to a psychiatrist hospital. Here, he informed a doctor that he was afraid of being left alone with any man, including his father. Paul knew that his fear was irrational but his traumatic experience had left him scarred. Over time, Paul began to heal and slowly began to trust people again. After graduating from high school, he moved to Fort Lauderdale in Florida where friends of his father helped him get settled. He then moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, for several years before returning to the Miami area.

Paul wouldn’t go public with his terrifying story until 2002 when Ausley was up for mandatory parole. At the time, legislature had passed a law which would have kept Ausley locked up for longer. The law allowed for violent, predatory sex offenders who are found to still be a danger to be committed to an institution following their imprisonment. However, these laws were not going to be put into effect until at least 2004.4

Ausley said that he was not a threat to anybody and deserved to be paroled. He stated: “I know I’m in here on some very bad charges, but my past is in the past and that’s where it’s going to stay. I’ve got too much going for me out there, too much to look forward to.” Paul, however, strongly disagreed: “This man is a monster. He preys on children. This is someone who raped and kidnapped and beat a child who’s 13-years-old and buried him in the ground and left him there to die…”

Following the announcement regarding Ausley’s parole, Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore urged that state funds be found to try and keep violent sexual predators behind bars. The reason the new law was not coming into effect until 2004 was because of lack of funds.5 His office pushed hard for funding and in December, it was announced that Gov. Mark R. Warner’s budget proposal included money for the new law. “I’m ecstatic about it. IT’s been a long road to get to this point,” said Paul.6

Just several months later, Ausley wrote a letter from behind bars to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, apologising for what he had done to Paul. He wrote: “There are not the words to express the remorse I feel for the disregard towards another human being that I have shown Mr. Andrews. I take full responsibility for my actions surrounding the abuse of Mr. Andrews. I also acknowledge that Mr. Andrews was a victim of a man who desperately needed treatment. I sincerely apologize to Mr. Andrews and his family for the pain and suffering I have put them through because of my inappropriate behavior and poor judgement.”7

In May, Ausley appeared in court again where he was to face charges of forcible sodomy of Gary Founds. Gary was just 14-years-old in 1972 when he was sexually assaulted by Ausley. He hadn’t come forward until he saw Paul on the news supporting the new law to keep sexual predators behind bars. He said that he thought that it was too late to come forward. However, there is no statute of limitations on such crimes in Virginia.8 Ausley pleaded no contest and was sentenced to an additional five years in prison.

Then in January of the following year, Ausley was found dead in his prison cell. He had been strangled to death by his cell mate. “I’m shocked. That’s not what I wanted for him. I don’t hate Richard Ausley,” said Paul when he learnt of his murder.9 Ausley’s cell mate, Dewey Keith Venable, had been molested as a child and he had warned prison officials not to place him in the same cell as a child molester.10

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  1. Richmond Times-Dispatch, 3 July, 2002 – “This Man is a Monster”
  2. The Miami Herald, 4 March, 2003 – “A Victim No More, Man Lobbies for Law”
  3. Richmond Times-Dispatch, 23 August, 2002 – “Bruised, Not Broken”
  4. Richmond Times-Dispatch, 23 August, 2002 – “Molester Awaits Release”
  5. Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4 September, 2002 – “Find Funds to Hold Predators”
  6. Richmond Times-Dispatch, 21 December, 2002 – “Governor Includes Funding to Confine Violent Offenders”
  7. Richmond Times-Dispatch, 7 February, 2003 – “Ausley Offers Apology”
  8. Richmond Times-Dispatch, 7 May, 2003 – “Ausley in Court in ’72 Incident”
  9. Associated Press, 14 January, 2004 – “Convicted Child Molester Found Dead in Prison”
  10. Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4 July, 2004 – “Cellmate is Charged in Ausley’s Death”


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9 months ago

The Venable dude should have tortured this guy before straggling him. Lol, the first sentence should be a life sentence already. Can’t believe they’re even considering giving parole to this type of people .

8 months ago

“Not enough state funding to keep pedophiles behind bars”! May be cut your military budget by half, stop spending money on invading other countries, and you should have pleeeeenty of cash to keep monsters behind bars!

8 months ago
Reply to  SusannaVesna

Or they could stop locking people up for stupid offenses and keep the real monsters in prison , permanently. The system is so screwed up !

7 months ago

On ml

7 months ago

Poor little guy.. That pig that disgusting, selfish piece of shit.. I’m so glad he got whacked the way he did.. Manual strangulation is so many times had he shoved his scrawny face and putred breath into some dear little boys face..only this time HE WAS THE VICTIM..they say the fellow convict warned authorities not to bunk him with a child molester… I think it was NO MISTAKE on the part of prison officials that he ended up there..nope he got what he deserved.. And instead of feeding and housing the creep for the next 40years our tax dollars… Read more »

5 months ago

Even if this happened forever ago this is why I’ve lost hope in humans. People can be such monsters but he really should have been brutally punished before getting strangled. If he was sorry saying that persons in the past he’s different it wouldn’t have happened to more then one kid. I believe in more then one chance and he got one and decided to do what he had done before

Ashley Barnes
Ashley Barnes
4 months ago

I came to this page because I saw a mention of this crime on Facebook but I don’t care for the link provided because it is full of spam and doesn’t even tell the story outside of what it did say in the post it was mentioned in. All I can say is, wow! I can’t feel too bad that the convicted was murdered. I hear that people who mistreat children are treated unkindly in jail. It makes me feel horrible for the victims. I have a son and it would year me up if anything like that happened to… Read more »

Shirley Mills
Shirley Mills
4 months ago

I just watched Paul on the series, “I Survived” where he recounted his story. Of all the true accounts from people’s horrifying near death experiences on that series, Paul’s trauma struck me profoundly to the point of sobbing. I couldn’t believe the amount of emotional, physical, and environmental pain this poor child endured. Can you imagine at 13 enduring this?! I’m so proud of Paul for standing up and changing that law, saving other victims. I’m so deeply sorry for what happened to you. But, You are a true inspiration to other victims! God Bless You!

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