Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee. And I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. But most of all because I offend thee my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life, amen.
To confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life, amen.
I was 7 or 8 years old at the time, and I had no idea what I was saying or doing. But I do now.
I made the decision to publish this book, and to sit face to face with the killer, because I wanted him, and the men who broke my heart and your hearts, to tell the truth, to confess their sins, to do penance and to amend their lives.
I have not spent a lifetime in the study of deception detection, but ex-CIA specialist Phil Houston has. "When killers confess," he told me, "the way they often do it is by creating a hypothetical" -- and then they spill their guts.
For many of them, it is the only way to tell the truth.
I thought of this and the many books I've published over the years on the subject of sociopaths and their lack of empathy ("Without Conscience" and "Snakes in Suits"). And I thought about "The Mind & The Brain," a book about the power of the human will. Is such behavior the result of a genetic flaw? Could it be caused by a head injury? Is it the result of a weak and damaged human will? Was this man suffering from a sort of emotional autism?
How did it happen? How could a man with so much have so little? And how could we, as a society, continue to protect him and others from the consequences of his wrong-doing?
I don't know why he did it -- why he did the book, and sat for the interview. Was it his own disturbed need for attention? Did he have remorse? Was he ready to come clean and make amends and do his penance? I wouldn't know until I sat down in a chair across from him.
What I do know is I didn't pay him. I contracted through a third party who owns the rights, and I was told the money would go to his children. That much I could live with.
What I wanted was closure, not money.
I had never met him and never spoken with him until the day I interviewed him. And I was ready.
Fifty-three years prepared me for this conversation.
The men who lied and cheated and beat me — they were all there in the room. And the people who denied it, they were there too. And though it might sound a little strange, Nicole and Ron were in my heart. And for them I wanted him to confess his sins, to do penance and to amend his life. Amen.
We live in a world right now where hatred and vengeance is a way of life.
And as the killer sat before me I was not filled with vengeance or hatred. I thought of the man who had beaten me so many years ago, who left me in a hospital, the man who broke my child's heart. And I listened carefully.
And what went through my mind surprised me. Mental illness. Thought process disorder. No empathy. Malignant narcissism.
In the years to come, I hope we will have a better understanding of this type of disordered personality. Are certain people simply born that way? If not, what goes wrong that changes them? How does this happen? And why?
I took on this project with the belief that his life must be a constant torture, a kind of hell. And I wondered: In his confession, however he chose to state it, would he do his penance, could he amend his life? Could he say he was sorry?