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?
I thought back to Christmas Eve, a few years ago. The man who broke my heart was now standing on my doorstep, shaking. He talked about my son, now in his twenties, and told me I'd done a great job raising him alone.
During the years that I was running from work to homework, from my office to every school play, assembly, swim meet or parent conference, he never showed up for a single thing. While I was raising my son, he had lived a high life and then lost everything. He ended up in prison, lost his medical license, lost many of his worldly possessions, lost his looks and now, most of the women who once cared had gone, too.
And he was losing his mind. His hand was shaking violently. He had Parkinson's disease, and was a broken man.
He looked at me. The girl he'd left in the gutter had raised two children alone, had built a successful company, and was now a happy woman.
"I guess you think I'm getting my comeuppance," he said.
And strangely I didn't. That a man who had so much could throw it all away and fall so low -- it gave me no pleasure.
I was sad for my son, sad for the women he'd left behind, sad for the mother and siblings he'd disappointed and I was sad for him that he'd missed the opportunity to live a beautiful life.
When I sat face to face with the killer, I wanted him to confess, to release us all from the wound of the conviction that was lost on that fall day in October of 1995.
For the girl who was left in the gutter, I wanted to make it right.