In a Room with a Serial Killer

Considering most people have never met, much less talked with a serial killer, I thought you might be interested…

I’ve worked as a criminal defense lawyer for years, representing just about everyone you can imagine. One particular serial killer stands out.

I actually represented him on a series of criminal sexual assaults, the modern way of saying “rape.” His usual pattern was to pick up bar women or young vulnerable girls who felt sorry for him. Why would they feel sorry for a serial killer?

He had all the Hollywood attributes: kind of dumpy, white, prematurely balding, little education, horrible childhood, violent home life…you know the story. He had a soft face and soft voice that lulled women into thinking he was more of a schmuck than anything else, so they trusted him. Unfortunately, they agreed to go with him.

By the time I met this Casanova, he had been charged with several rapes and was the prime suspect in three grizzly murders. One was a young waitress he lured into his car and drove into the countryside to share a campfire. There was evidence he raped her–after stabbing her to death…

Appointed to defend him, we first met in a small interview room in the county jail. He seemed to shrink into the corner of the room like a blob of pliant putty. He usually looked down when talking to me except at times when I questioned his story, he’d glare at me in silence for a moment. Occasionally, he’d burst into loud tirades about how unfair everything was toward him.

From the outside he looked like a classic loser. But as I worked with him other deeper, sinister attributes appeared.

Nothing was ever his fault which freed him from any responsibility for his criminal spree. He seemed like a blob–methodical, plodding, but I saw a sharp steel will underneath the surface fueled by hate and self-pity. Most shrinks say sexual perps are not interested in sex but rather, in power and control. This guy was interested in both. Since he couldn’t get either power or sex through the normal paths, he took it as he wanted in a perverted manner.

The scariest part for me actually occured after I left him in the interview room.

During the interview I felt like I was suffocating. This hadn’t happened with dozens of other defendants I’d talked with in the same room. I’d defended equally horrific criminals before. Why did I feel so upset with this guy?

After the meeting, I realized what scared me so much. The suffocating feeling came from a vacum in the room. I had talked with someone who looked like a human being but had absolutely no consciousness inside. I’ve rarely met anyone without a soul–except for this guy. When I looked into his dead eyes I didn’t find anything except a hollow yet violent shell.

After his convictions when asked if he wanted to say anything to the judge before sentencing, his only plea for mercy went like this: “Judge, the probation officer who done my report said I had sex with 20 women. He lied. I f…ked 2000 women.”

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About Colin Nelson

Colin T. Nelson worked for 40 years as a prosecutor and criminal defense lawyer in Minneapolis. He tried everything from speeding tickets to first degree murder. His writing about the courtroom and the legal system give the reader a "back door" view of what goes on, what's funny, and what's a good story. He has also traveled extensively and includes those locations in his mysteries. Some are set in Southeast Asia, Ecuador,Peru, and South Africa. Readers get a suspenseful tale while learning about new places on the planet. Colin is married, has two adult children, and plays the saxophone in various bands.

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