The Criminal Mind: A Case of Family Murder

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Alan’s murder of a prostitute was just business. He didn’t know her name, though she died in his bed.  He’d picked her up on his last bash before he signed himself into drug rehab. Her name was Portia. “I went out to have a hell of a time,” he said.

 “I had a hell of a time, all right.  I came home and killed my family.”  He murdered his fiancée and his two toddler children.  He kept forgetting that he had killed Portia that same night, though he seemed to admire her. “She fought like a demon,” he said. “That woman didn’t want to go.

He killed Portia because he didn’t want to pay her and didn’t want her pimp banging on his door later, looking for money.  He couldn’t figure out what to do with Portia’s body, so he stowed it under his bed. 

Later that day, he killed Emily, his fiancée.  Alan described the murder as if it were a scene from an opera, and he was the lead tenor.  As he strangled her, she mouthed, “I love you” and died.  Later, he murdered his son and daughter because he didn’t want them to be orphans.  He figured he’d go to prison for life. He was right.

 Alan is serving four life sentences without parole.  The judge rejected his plea for leniency.  His grounds were diminished capacity because of drug-induced psychosis.  He listed the drugs he took that night.

 “I got like forty pink crosses.  I got a dime of dust, or maybe a dime and a nickel.  I got two or three, four hits of acid, that green pyramid acid.”  He also went from bar to bar, drinking all the way. 

            Alan enjoys talking about himself, but it can be hard to tell when he’s running a con.  At times he appears amused.  He chuckled when he described the death of Portia and grinned when he said he had a hell of a time that last night out. 

I interviewed Alan in prison. A widower, Alan may have murdered his wife, the mother of his children, but the police were never able to prove it. 

In a mordant, humorous tone, explained why his kids would have been orphans.  His wife had died a year earlier.  He described the discovery of her skeleton in a lime pit.  A hunter at first thought they were deer bones until he saw the fingernails painted red.  No one was ever charged in that murder. 

Alan put an ironic twist to his rationale for killing his toddler children Libby and Danny, who were taking an afternoon nap while he was in his bedroom with Emily. With Emily dead on his bed and Portia dead under it, he looked in on his children. They were still sleeping. “That was a signal from God to kill the kids because the kids would never take a nap until five o’clock,” he said.

“God must have kept them asleep. They don’t sleep until five o’clock.  This was a clear sign to me from God to go ahead and kill the kids. I mean I had the okay from God to do it.  I had the okay from God to do it.”

            Alan detached from what he was doing.  “I went in and, ah, God, the kids were sleeping,” he said.  “I’m kind of keeping myself detached from this because if I don’t I can’t [He didn’t finish his sentence.].  I strangled Libby.  She struggled a little bit in the bed.  I didn’t really look at her.  She was sleeping. 

“I don’t think I could’ve killed the kids if they hadn’t been asleep.  I moved over, and I strangled Danny.  Then I was, I was, man, I was gone.”

To Alan, the murder of his children was for their own good.  “With all my delusion and drugged up thinking I thought they’d be better off dead,” he said.  He didn’t want the kids to be adrift in the child care system.  “Their dad is a murderer. What’s going to happen to the kids?  They’re going to end up in a juvenile home. There was no turning back.  How will they live and who will take care of them? 

“I can’t provide for their future.  I don’t want them to be miserable. I don’t want them to be bopped around from foster homes or the county this or that or be abused and separated.  What will the outcome of the kids be?”

            Alan showed remorse.  He cried, choked, and sighed when he described his murders of the children and of his fiancée Emily.  Of Emily, he said “Here’s a twenty-one year-old girl who was very bright and would’ve made something out of her life. She ended up with a psycho and ended up dead.” 

            Emily had moved out a few weeks before and had visited that afternoon.  After they made love, Emily wanted to leave to go to work. 

            Alan was sure she was leaving for good. “At that moment I could not be alone,” he said.  “I thought I was losing her. It’s the end of the world. If she’s not going to be with me, if I’m going to lose Emily, and if the kids are going to go through this again, then we’re all going to die because I can’t handle it.” [He said he didn’t want his kids to lose another mother figure.

            “It was hard enough for them to lose their mother.]  Alan thought he cried while he killed Emily.  “She was still the most beautiful woman in the world.  I just love her more than anything, and I’m killing her on the bedroom floor.” 

            As he thought about this scene he said, “That’s some really twisted stuff, but I can get pretty twisted.”   He didn’t think he could ever make up for what he did.  “I can’t attempt to pay that back.  I owe for taking four lives.  I can’t make that up.  I can’t even attempt to try to make that up.  It’s beyond making up.”  Alan believes, “There’s nothing they can do to punish me.”

            He thought of how to get some meaning and self-respect into his life.  He sometimes threatened to kill a man, any man, to show that he is not a punk who only kills women and children.  Other times, he was more mellow and yearned for a purpose.

             “Somehow I want to help people.  Right now it’s kind of a goal that I want to help some younger people.  Do something positive.  Maybe I have grandiose ideas or something.  If I could get some education and get myself together I’d be okay with making some tapes or something [He paused for a few seconds.] just to help some people out, help some younger guys out and shit.”

             He worries about what people on the outside think of him. “Society doesn’t see a whole human.  They see an animal,” he said.  “Actually, I’m just a part-time animal.”

            Alan has had time to reflect on the murders and the consequences.  He realized that he could’ve taken a 12-year prison term for the killing of Portia on what he thought would have been a manslaughter charge.  If he had stopped there, the children and Emily would have had a life.  Emily might even have raised them.

             “I’d rather have the kids alive and Emily alive even if they were disconnected from my life,” he said.

           Alan thought he was an intelligent person and not a moron.  “I see more morons doing time than intelligent people.  Of course most intelligent people don’t put themselves in prison.” 

            Alan summed up his life.  “I just have to step back with a pompous amount of pride and say, God, with all things considered. I turned out pretty well, other than that bad weekend. I mean that was really f***ked up, killing your family, but other than that one incident [He thought for a few seconds.] I don’t know, I seem to be not too bad off.”

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