I had visited my father on Death Row before, but this trip was different. I was traveling to Union Correctional Institution with two homicide detectives with the intent to record a conversation with my father about two murders he described to me years earlier.
Actually the main purpose of this visit was to get him to tell me about another murder, one that he never confessed to me, but one that I know he committed. It was his first victim, but they still have not found the body. It was an old friend of my fathers that disappeared after meeting with my dad, but this is a story for another day. It is so hard to write about my father’s activities simply because of the number of victims and crimes. I mentioned this because I thought my father might talk about it if I asked him so that is why I went up there, to help solve another crime. The two murders I knew about were secondary.
The drive up to Death Row was a two hour trip, but the detectives were extraordinarily nice. They were compassionate and I felt they understood my situation. We talked a lot about sociopaths and how much damage they do to their families. They mentioned that the families of the sociopath (perpetrator) are often the forgotten ones, so to speak. Most of the attention in our society is about what damage is done to the victim’s family, but there are two sides as many of us know all too well.
On the way up I was very calm. I prayed a great deal about this day and spent some quiet time early in the morning before leaving the house. The thought of facing my father and trying to get him to talk about these murders was frightening and I knew it was something I could not do on my own. It is interesting that I can find the greatest peace when I recognize circumstances are well beyond my control and I am able to surrender the outcome to a higher power. That is what I did before I left the house.
As I have mentioned before I idolized my Dad growing up and still continued to communicate with him and occasionally (every few years) visit him on death row. I would also write him to tell him about my accomplishments looking for his approval, even after all he had done. This is the most baffling part of all. I can’t explain the mixed emotions, just share my experience. It was almost like I completely compartmentalized things. On the one hand he was still my father, but on the other he was a cold blooded killer.
For those of you that have children that are being influenced by another parent that is a sociopath I can tell you that I knew right from wrong and knew something was wrong deep down. I always knew this and the more my father did others wrong the deeper this divide became. I do think it was always there it just took time and I am grateful for those around me as a young adult that simply showed me the right way to live.
Anyway, when we arrived at Death Row they brought us right in and took me to a private room that is used for inmates to meet with their lawyers. They placed a wire on me and a recorder under the chair, and then sent for my father. He did not know I was coming and I wasn’t sure how he would react to me being in this “special” room, but again, I put my Faith in another father that I had come to rely upon and didn’t concern myself with worry or circumstances, I simply stayed focused and calm.
He was shocked to see me, but also excited. It reminded me of how he had conned so many people before going to prison. He would make them feel so excited about a deal that they failed to look at or recognize things that they should have been paying attention to. Meetings like this just didn’t happen unless you were a lawyer, but I told him that I had met a powerful organization that was out to get bad cops regardless of whether they thought the person committed the crime. He had always said that the police in his case fabricated some of the evidence to convict him and I told him this group agreed.
I told him I could help him, something which I had not done in the 15 years he had been on death row, but I needed some security so I could feel safe. I had always told him that I wouldn’t help him because of the publicity that it might bring, but that wasn’t true, I didn’t want him out. Like so many of his cons before I was in this room for the complete opposite reason that he was so excited about. I was here to see that he never had a chance to get out, period. There was little chance of this anyway but he was optimistic about his appeals.
We talked for a while and when I told him that I needed to have information that would make me feel safe if he got out before helping him, his whole demeanor changed. He sat back thought about it and smiled. He looked right at me with his cold eyes and said “I get it, blackmail”. Odd as it sounds he seemed extremely proud of me for doing this; it was like I was now playing his game. He was suddenly very engaged, this was fun for him.
I am not sure how to tell this story without making it too long. We spent about two hours together and he repeated everything I told the homicide detectives, basically word for word. He also talked about the woman he killed that placed him on death row, a conviction he was still denying to others and a case that was under appeal. I think the thing that stood out the most is the excitement in his voice and mannerisms when he talked about the murders. He was proud of it, except for getting caught of course, which he referred to as “stupid mistakes, sloppy”. (He would not confess to the murder that I was hoping to get him to talk about, apparently killing a friend was not something he thought I could handle).
I left Death Row knowing that I had done the right thing. I still had some mixed emotions though. Even after seeing my father excited to talk about murders that he committed I still felt sorry for him and I also knew what was coming his way.
I felt a great deal of pain about how he was going to feel when he found out that I betrayed him. I was his favorite kid and now I was about to become his worst enemy. But, this is what separates me from him. I thank God that I have these emotions and that I can feel compassion for others, even when some people don’t think they deserve it.
They did bring charges and my father sent me some threatening letters. He turned on me as I expected but it was ok. In fact, I think it helped to see him direct his evil behavior at me and my family. This brought some closure and removed all doubt about what he was capable of.
A little over a year ago he plead guilty and was given two more life sentences. There was some TV coverage and a few articles in the newspaper but nothing major.
Now this experience allows me to help others. It is a gift that I am grateful for. I would not change anything in my past. I think everything we experience in life has great value if we are willing to learn from it and use it to help others.
Although I have enjoyed writing these stories I prefer to move on to something that might be more helpful to those of you that might have questions that you think my experience can help you with. If so, please comment and I’ll be more than happy to share my experience in future posts.