This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Don't you know that people get hurt whenever they refer to me by Junior? (smile) Just joking, Robin.. .although you did surprise me by addressing me that way. I trust this letter will find you feeling well, making progress in your writing and not working too hard? As for myself, life is a real bitch! Hey, you asked for the truth.. .that's exactly what I told you. As I said, there is nothing you could do that would make me put your lights out. Believe it or not, there are a few people in my life of whom I cherish and would do anything to protect. Robin, you have dug deep into ancient archives to come up with such questions and suppositions. God! How on earth can I possibly respond? Tell you what, I'll give it all a lot of thought and will discuss it when you visit, okay? No, I'm not trying to dodge your questions, I'm only gaining myself a little more time to sort through the maze and untangle everything enough to give you some honest answers. Right now I am going to stretch out and get some sleep. .so until next time, please take care and write soon. See you soon, I hope.
After writing the inquisitive letter, it was rather anticlimatic receiving his written reply. When I opened the mailbox and retrieved the thin, light envelope I was dumbfounded. Brief and vague, I wondered if perhaps I had offended him or put a distance between us that would take time to alleviate. In essence, I had been building up to that letter all along. After a lifetime of pondering the issues I'd addressed, and two years of preliminary correspondence with the subject of these issues, I felt it was the proper time to face him with it all. Lay it on the line. I wanted to know. As I've said, I didn't go into the relationship with Carl with any concrete intentions. As it
developed I realized it was going somewhere, but I was not sure where. All I knew for certain was that I wanted to know him and arrive at my own conclusions about what had happened. For two years he and I had exchanged trivial information. We talked about the mundane events of our life; I told him my problems, he told me his. We also came to know one another's personal philosophies on life. I discovered that we had many of the same beliefs about religion, politics, love and hate. We built a friendship which provided a good foundation, a stable starting point, for the time I would jump into the heart and blood of everything his life had become. And mine. Never was it my intention to manipulate him, use him to get a good story. The task was begun solely to make a connection with an individual, read him like a book. Much the same way I would get to know anyone I was interested in. The only difference, of course -- the obvious difference -- was that Carl Junior Isaacs happened to be a mass murderer. The letter I wrote was a culmination of trust that had built up between us and many long conversations with my father and others who warned me that Carl was manipulative and dangerous. If Carl and I could trust one another, then what should I think about what other people had said about him? All my life I had heard that Carl was evil and underhanded, would practically hypnotize you with his own twisted psyche and leave you a huddled mass after he'd gotten what he could from you. But the Carl I had come to know was much different. He was older, yes, and naturally mellowed to some degree. He had built up an odd sort of "seniority' on death row and didn't face constant dangers that other inmates feared. He'd weathered the storm, fighting with every ounce of strength he had to stay alive in such a rancid, limited environment. It would be impossible to rule out the changes which definitely would have occurred after the gang rape episode when he was nineteen and the Alday murders, both in 1973, and the stabbing incident in 1981 following the 1980 escape. He barely survived the rape mentally, and barely survived the stabbing physically. And in between these huge incidents there were undoubtedly countless others that had scarred him permanently. Prison life, on top of a horrendously scarred childhood and practically non-existent family structure, had made Carl into an individual that could not be taken lightly. He was, I was well aware, greatly altered from the rest of us. But I was also convinced that this alteration was from his experiences, not because of a mental, chemical aberration.
With this in mind, I wanted to attempt to break through the surface scars and enter into his purest self. Break away the scabs and find the real Carl Junior Isaacs, absent his recollection of an askew, broken life. Because I was a female, it is true that this attempt has been viewed with an apprehensive sense of doubt. Most people automatically assume that any woman in contact with a prisoner is one of those strange prison groupies with an idea that a questionable man behind bars could be Mr. Right. This was not so, nor was it ever an issue. In fact, I believe I possessed a unique advantage being a female because Carl warmed to me quicker, even after we had made it clear our relationship would be a platonic, unconditional friendship. A feminine personality, perhaps due to the natural nurturing, maternal instinct within it, subdued Carl's innate tendency to boast and tell irreverent tall tales. I could not, however, rule out entirely all the negative stories I'd gathered about Carl. It was common knowledge that shortly after Carl's capture he was running off at the mouth with foul declarations, such as, "The best thing that ever happened to them beef eaters was me coming along and killing them." I certainly couldn't ignore such statements. They colored my judgement, understandably, along with many other similar statements from his past. Still, Carl had proven to be trustworthy and had never asked me for anything. Not money, not gifts, not sexual favors. Not anything but my companionship. A part of me refused to entertain the notion that I could trust Carl. I felt it necessary to believe that he was out to ruin my life if he could, simply to gain something for himself. My father had continued to warn me that Carl was probably trying to figure out a way to use me, to be careful, to watch my back. As with any father, he was expecting the worst and hoping for the best. I felt torn, trying to decipher fact from fiction. The story had become so littered with rumors and embellishments. Frustration abounded. The letter was written as a result of this frustration. Carl and I had reached a point where we communicated on a special level that he and I alone existed. It was our plane, where we were comfortable with one another. The time had come to hear his side of the story. We'd discussed the murders before, but only in an indirect way. We both knew the murders existed, referring to them in nebulous ways.
But we had not, during the long correspondence, faced the murders, the victims, together. It was time. He knew it. I knew it. We both knew that eventually it would come to a head and we would both collide. Our minds would meet, enmesh, blend. I would become him. Upon receipt of his letter, however, I was somewhat befuddled. Was he not going to take the next step? Was he not ready? Hadn't he expected this eventually? Did he really just want to keep our relationship one of mundane exchanges, never penetrating the shell of question that certainly existed between us? A pervasive emptiness hollowed me. It occurred to me that he might skirt the issue completely, brush me off with indifference. Perhaps he was bored with the murders and just wanted to get on with the rest of his life as if nothing had happened. Perhaps he'd grown weary of rehashing the events of that day, over and over, to strangers, to curious observers like myself who wanted his life for free. There was nothing I offered Carl. I was basically asking him to turn over his innermost self to me without giving him anything in return. To offer any tangible reward, to exchange anything, would have tainted the primary goal and rendered the quest useless and void. The only way to gain what I set out to gain, for Carl to gain what I hoped he, too, would gain, would be if he consented to surrender his self to me. It was a matter of unspoken trust that we never verbalized - nor were we consciously aware of. The only fee he received was my objective, rational, unbiased friendship. I could only hope that would be enough to satisfy him, and that he would recognize that what we were created together would not be for naught. The quest was unnamed. Its purpose was not articulated. What was taking place was a way to set myself free, to perhaps set Carl free, and to set the ghosts free, but its origin, its source, was not plain. It too was a ghost. After his letter, non-plussed, I began to plan another trip the following Saturday to Jackson Diagnostic Center. Brooding, wondering constantly about whether or not Carl thought about what he had done, scenes unfolded in my mind. Did he care anymore? Why did it matter so much to me whether he did or not? It was as if I had taken on his plight as my own. As if his anger were mine. As if his conscience was mine. As if my finger had pulled the trigger.
The pain, the fear, the hate, the anger, the agony -- I yearned for all of it. To swallow every drop of it would be the elixir that would finally show me what I so desperately sought to understand and see. Most people view criminals like Carl as creatures who have no rights in their society. Beyond understanding. Most people do not have any desire to understand them because they feel untouched and unrelated to what they represent. They have forfieted their right to think, to feel, to act. They become unreal, detached from the rest of the population like a separate species. Another breed of human that cannot function productively in our society. The fact is, however, that these criminals are very much alive, and very much a part of our society -- despite their captivity. The realization that they exist, that they are stored away in prisons like produce in warehouses (produce harvested from the fields of the families, communities and schools of our cumulative society), is a constant factor in our combined consciousness. We know they are there, we try to ignore them, they will not go away. They do, in fact, breed. They multiply with each passing day. New crimes, new infamous careers made by deviants from all walks of life. As soon as they cross that line society wants to instantly categorize them as animals. A lower order. We keep them locked away like a family long ago would have kept a mentally retarded or physically deformed child locked away in the attic out of shame and fear. Men and women in prisons across the country are our deficient children who we are afraid to face, scared of their flaws, of what they represent. They represent our own deficiencies and weaknesses. Like a pregnant mother who drinks and smokes during pregnancy and then shuns her handicapped newborn, we as a people are unable to cope effectively with the corrupt offspring of our society. We instantly believe that we should attach hate to these socially rebellious individuals, simply because that is what we have been told is the correct way to think. Each crime is different. Each criminal is different. Each of us is different. Carl is merely a representative of the mass who has fallen by the wayside. He is a symbol of what we all face within ourselves. He does not necessarily symbolize only the murderers and thieves, but any and all of us who struggle with our everyday lives to overcome obstacles. Although we are not all murderers, we are all guilty of something. Each of us has some
guilt that dwells within us. Some of us get caught, some of us do not. It seems that we have reached a point that the only thing that separates the good from the bad is whether a person is caught or not. People should give this idea thought. Are we putting too much credence on our society and not enough on our own individual ability to reason? Are we denying our inherent right to draw our own conclusions, make rational, sturdy judgements? Are we merely mimicking the acts of others? Are we memorizing what we read and giving up our right to think on our own? Are our thoughts our own or only the echoes of our neighbors? Do we rely fully on the past knowledge from our history rather than creating a new history? Does this stagnation impair our ability to evolve? Unless we pursue our inner truths we cannot expect to go forward in any serious, progressive fashion. We must wake ourselves up. I wanted to wake Carl up, if in fact he was asleep. I would have to wait until Saturday to find out. It seemed weeks away. Sauntering around, thinking and waiting, playing the murders out in my mind as I had believed they had occurred, I could not shake the feeling that I was hungry for sight. The blindness was maddening, like being able to see something out of the corner of your eye but losing sight of it as soon as you looked straight at it. How had Carl treated those people? What was said? What was the weather like? The feel of the day? What did the inside of the trailer look like? What kind of f6od was in the Alday refrigerator? What channel ~he television *as turned? What kind of music did they listened to? I wanted to be inside the trailer. I wanted to plunder through the drawers of the dressers, go through the kitchen cabinets, look at the pictures hanging on the walls, browse through the closets, touch the clothing. I wanted to sit on the steps and look out across the corn field, inhale the humid air. I wanted go into the bathroom and look in their medicine cabinet, in their shower. What kind of soap did they use? Shampoo? What kind of makeup did Mary Alday wear? How clean did she keep her home? I wanted to make the Aldays real, not just characters in a fable that had been repeated over and over again almost as long as my memory stretched back. Who were they? Did they
curse? Did they drink Coca Cola? Did they go to bed early? Did they think about the meaning of life? What did they care about? Did they do anything bad? Anything? Because in my lifetime I had never once heard one negative word uttered about the Alday clan. They had become icons of perfect faith and piety. They had become innocent martyrs who never drank beer, or said "fuck", or watched rated "R" movies. They went to church every time the doors opened and they had kind words to say about everyone. If Carl, Billy, Wayne and George had come to the door of their trailer asking for help, the Aldays would have gladly offered whatever assistance they could. Is anyone so perfect? So untainted? Is anyone so utterly without sin? I also wanted to know about Carl. About Wayne, George, and Billy. What did they talk about while they drove around, thieving, killing, and carousing? I wanted to make them real. Could anyone be so bad? Were they truly as bad as they seemed? Was there anything redeeming about them? Was there any amount of child left in them? Was there any innocence, hope? Did they still dream about someday having a good life? Just how miserable were they? What elements were present that could cause them to commit such deeds? And finally I was faced with the perplexing possibility that these two groups of people were brought together through some form of cause and effect -- they had collided in the paths of their separate lives in such a way that made it inevitable for them to come to any other end. It was meant to be. Or because it had happened, it became a demonstration of all that is good and all that is bad in our society, in mankind. Why else would two groups of people, who were polar opposites in every way, be brought together in such unusual, unpredictable circumstances? It was a freak incident. A fluke of nature. An act of God. Everything that the Aldays represented (family, love, support, faith, loyalty, safe routine), the Isaacs gang was devoid of. Carl, Wayne, Billy and George had no stability or family, no love or faith, no real freedom, goals or productive motivations. There was something higher involved in this tragedy, something working in the universe that crashed these two very different groups of people together. A higher meaning than just murder and mayhem.
My next visit I discovered that Carl, who I had suspected was "asleep", was wide awake. In addition, I found that it was he who would wake me up, not the other way around. Or perhaps we woke up together.
Carl's head is freshly shaved. The crown of his skull is white and shiny. His small ears stick out slightly from his head and his eyes are wide and bright, alert beyond belief. "Did you get a haircut?" I smile, entering the death row visiting cubicle early on January 25, 1992, a crisp cool Saturday. "I did it. Yesterday," he smiles back, allowing me to walk ahead of him. The black guard shuffles good-naturedly. He likes Carl and flutters in his presence, eager to be his friend rather than his enemy. "Why?" I ask. "I got tired of them telling me to get a haircut," he explains, leading me to the plastic chairs pushed against the cement block wall. We sit down, face each other. Much has transpired since our last visit, for both of us. He seems relaxed, as if he has come to terms with something recently. He touches me, like family, like a friend. He squeezes my hand occasionally, or touches my knee to emphasize his words at times. "So, Junior, what's been going on?" I ask, chucking him on the upper arm playfully. "I can't believe you call me that," he laughs, shaking his head. "Why? What's the matter, boy? You don't like being called Junior?" I continue to prod him, crossing my arms and grinning. "You're the only person who can get away with calling me that. 'Boy' and 'Junior', my God. People have been killed for less than that," he scolds with a glassy-eyed laugh. "Ah hell, boy, you're out of shape. I'll kick your ass," I add. "Uh huh," he nods. I nod.
"Did you get my letter?" I ask. "Did I get your letter?" he repeats, rhetorically, rolling his eyes and shaking his head. "What's gotten into you?" "I know. I was really on a roll, I know. I just want to see it, Carl. You've got to help me see it. Was I close? At all?" He screws up his face and puckers his lips in thought, eyes squinted and looking off to the side. "Well, you were right about some things, but...." "Were you drinking? Doing drugs?" "Okay, listen. yeh, we were all drinking, but I drank every day, all day. I was always high. We did whatever drugs we could get, anything we could get. Back then I was a speed freak and I stayed on it if I could get any. But I don't blame anything that happened on drugs or alcohol. I think the same thing would have happened, even if I'd been sober. The drugs might have enhanced everything, but it didn't cause it. "Let me try and set the scene for you.. .Okay, you've got to realize that I was with people I didn't know. I had never worked with them before. Growing up in my neighborhood in Maryland I had done some crimes with this black guy named Mel Banks. He and I knew each other like the back of our hands. There was nothing that I could do that would surprise him and nothing he could do that would surprise me. I never had to worry about how he would react to something I had done. But with Billy, Wayne and George, it was different. I didn't know for sure how they would react to certain things and that's not a good condition to have to work under. Before we ever left Maryland, we met in an alleyway and decided, then and there, that one of us would have to be the 'ringleader', and I was chosen. I took charge of everything. Wayne, he didn't care. Even though he was older than me, he wasn't real bright and was prone to violence. He had a long history of violence, and I never forgot that. He made me nervous because I never knew how he would react. He could turn at any moment and I knew it. Everybody's always talking about how I don't have a conscience but that's just a bunch of bullshit. Wayne, though, I know he didn't have a conscience. He could do things and not think anything at all about them. He was
dangerous that way, and as a result, I was really paranoid around him, always having to watch my back. "Billy was the only one of them that had any potential. He was smart and could have been good but he never realized his potential and kept riding off mine and Wayne's reputation. He thought he could get by in life just by saying he was out brother, because we had pretty bad reputations around our neighorhood. George was just stupid, didn't know what the fuck was going on half the time. "I didn't want Billy to go and kept saying so, but Wayne and he had the last say. I wanted to leave him from the beginning, didn't think he had any business going with us. But he went. "I know now that if hadn't been for them, I wouldn't be in Georgia now. I wouldn't be on Georgia's Death Row. I might be dead, or in another state on another death row, but I wouldn't be in Georgia. Things wouldn't have turned out the way they did if I had been alone. And the only thing different I'd do if I had it all to do over again would be to leave three more bodies in that trailer --Billy, Wayne and George." Carl has an acute antipathy for Georgia and its inhabitants. Having been incarcerated in this southern state since he was nineteen years old, he has developed a rather low opinion of the collective intellect of the authoritative reigning class, as well as those who share space with him in Jackson Diagnostic Center. He says that they are the dumbest individuals he has ever encountered anywhere. He pauses, his mind drifting back. He is prepared to tell his tale, has the settling look about him that suggests he has given it much thought and is willing to allow me the luxury of sight through his eyes. "It was a stupid place to be. You just don't rob housetrailers in the country because there's no money in it. It was ridiculous to even be there in the first place. I remember exactly what time it was, because I had on Mr. Miller's (Richard Miller was the seventeen year old they murdered in Pennsylvania shortly after they escaped from prison and banded together in Maryland) watch, which kept good time. I looked down at it when we went into the trailer. We didn't find anything worth a shit. About $75. I looked down at my watch again when we were leaving and it was 4:28 p.m. That's when the Jeep pulled up in the driveway and we went back into the trailer real quick
so they wouldn't see us. We decided to go around the trailer and get them out of the Jeep, bring them inside." It was Ned and Jerry Alday. Ned was sixty-five, the patriarch of the Alday family, and Jerry was his quiet, next-to-the-youngest son, who owned the trailer and lived there with his twenty-six year old wife, Mary. "I went around on the driver's side and Wayne went around to the passenger's side. We threw down on them quick, told them to get out of the Jeep, then we took them inside, patted them down. We got a watch, a ring, some money, nothing much. We took them inside and sat them down on the kitchen floor." "Did they say anything? How did they act?" I asked. "They didn't say anything. They looked at each other, but they never said anything. They were real calm, like they didn't give a fuck." "They didn't act like they were afraid? Do you think they just didn't realize what was happening?" "Yeh, maybe so. I don't know. They were just country, you know. They didn't react much at all. Didn't say a word. While they were sitting there, Wayne and I whispered to one another, trying to figure out what to do with them. There wasn't much we could do. We could either tie them up or kill them, and we discussed this. We weighed out the pros and cons. If we tied them up, they could identify us, and we'd probably get caught. But if we killed them, then nobody would be able to point us out. Still, though, we thought about what the consequences would be if we got caught. I asked Wayne what he thought we should do, and he said, 'Shit, I don't care, man.' I told him that was bullshit, that he had just as much stake in it and as much to lose as I did, that he should make the decision along with me. He said, 'Well, let's kill 'em. Which one do you want?' Wayne took the old one to the north bedroom and I took the younger one to the south bedroom." "Did they hear you talking? Did they know what was going on?" I asked. "No, they couldn't have heard us. We were standing right there by them, but there's no way they could have heard what we were saying. At the time, I just didn't give a fuck. You've got to understand, two weeks before I had just experienced the most humiliating, painful experience
of my life, I was on the run, I was with people I didn't fully trust, everything was tense. I just didn't give a fuck about anything, that's how I felt," he explained, putting forth genuine effort to be just as honest as he possibly could. There was no cockiness in his demeanor, no boastful mannerisms were displayed during his recollection. The "humiliating, painful experience" had, indeed, made quite an understandable impression on Carl. While jailed in Maryland shortly before he escaped, some black inmates rioted, took over the jail, and in the course of this hostage-like atmosphere, took Carl captive in one of the dank cells. The black men, about eight of them, held him down for hours and raped him repeatedly. He has never forgotten that incident and holds an intense hatred for blacks because of it. "I told Billy and George to watch out the window and make sure no one came up, to warn me, and I took the younger one into the south bedroom. I told him to lay down on the bed, on his stomach, and I killed him. I did it quick so he wouldn't have time to think about what was happening to him. Just as I was coming out of the bedroom I hear Wayne say, 'Hey, man, you better come here.' And about the same time he said that, Billy is saying that a truck is pulling up. So, you know, I'm getting nervous. I go into the north bedroom where Wayne is and the old man is trying to get up off the bed. Now, he's been shot three times with Wayne's .380. His head is gone, completely gone from just below his bottom lip up. There's nothing above that. His brain is lying on the bed. There's nothing in his head, and he's trying to get up off the bed. Wayne is white as a goddam sheet, trying to reload his gun, struggling with the clip. He can't get it in the gun, he's shaking so bad. George is holding a shotgun, mouth hanging open, scared to death. And Billy is still saying there's a truck in the yard. Two men are out in the truck, sitting there, and this old guy is standing up. He gets up on his feet and I'm trying to grab a gun, because Wayne can't get the clip in. I shoot him three more times, in the head. And he doesn't fall, Robin, like 'plop', like he should have. It was in slow motion. He just kind of stood there and then it was like he was sitting down, real slow. It was like he was lying down for a nap," Carl describes, his facial muscles tense and his jaw set. The scene energizes him, the fear still fresh in his memory. "That was when I said, 'Is this motherfucker from Mars or what?' About that time Billy, who was behind me in the living room looking out the window at the two men in the Jeep, came up and brushed against me. I was already so tense, it was like. ..I don't know. I wouldn't even say
it was reflexes. It just put me on guard and I jerked, not realizing it was Billy. Hell, I didn't know who it was. I knew those two guys were outside and I thought for a minute it was one of them trying to grab me. Then that old guy with all the bullets in his head --- it was crazy. I jerked my elbow out and hit George by accident. He fell down and laid there on the floor cradling that shotgun, white as a flicking ghost, staring at the old guy. He couldn't move, and I fell down on the floor beside him, rolling over on my right shoulder. The old guy was beginning to roll over onto his side, from his back, and I stood up real quick and tried to get the shotgun away from George. He wouldn't let go of it. I don't know what he thought. I guess he thought I was thinking of using it on him or something, I don't know. He just couldn't move. Wayne finally got the clip into the .380 and shot the old guy three more times. He was shot a total of ten times, although the police only accounted for seven of them. Two were found later, but they never brought it up because the police didn't want to seem incompetent." "How did that happen? How did he keep getting up like that?" I asked with wide-eyed wonder. "I don't know. I don't understand why he hadn't put up a fight, he laid down and let me put a bullet in him, never struggling once, and then suddenly got this strong will to live." Carl is quiet for a moment, thinking. "I don't know. I think that he must have heard me shoot Jerry and something clicked in him. I think hearing that shot must have given him a will to live." "You mean, like the paternal instinct was stimulated when he heard that shot, knowing that Jerry had been shot?" I suggest. He nods. "He wouldn't die. I've never seen anything like that before. Now, all this time, those two guys are sitting out in the truck and we're wondering what they hell we're going to do. So, I tell Billy to come with me and we go out the front door, circle around the trailer. I tell him to go to the passenger side and not say a word, just stand there and let me do the talking. I go around to the driver's side and we both stood there for a couple of seconds and they didn't even realize we were there. I finally tapped on the window with my pistol and the guy looked over at me like I'd scared him. I pushed the pistol in his face and told him to get out. "We took them inside the trailer, into the kitchen. They both had on coveralls and we told them to take them off, then patted them down. Didn't find much of anything on them. One of them asked me who I was, but no one answered. That was all that was said. They didn't say
anything or put up a fight, just sat there. I asked Billy what he was gonna do, whether he wanted to do it or not, he said 'I'll do it.' I took one, he took the other. I took mine to the south bedroom, where I'd taken the other one, and Billy took his to the north bedroom, where the old guy was." "How did they act? When they walked into those bedrooms and saw Jerry and Ned, didn't they freak out? What did they do?" I ask, flabbergasted, imagining how horrifying it must have been, especially the north bedroom where Ned had been repeatedly shot. "They didn't act like anything. They both laid down like they were told, didn't put up a fight, nothing. Never said a word. I shot mine and then I heard three clicks in the other bedroom. Billy's gun was empty. I hurried in there and shot the guy. Billy was standing behind me, walking backwards as I was walking out, and he said, 'Watch you back, man.' I look at him like he's crazy, you know, because I'd just shot the guy, and after the experience we'd just had with the old guy, I just looked at him funny. Then he said it again, 'Watch your back, man, I'm telling you.' So I turn around and look at the guy, and I notice that there's a 12 gauge shotgun resting up against the wall by the bed. I hadn't even seen in before, and that guy's hand was resting right on it. I don't know how he was still alive and I've wondered if it was just some sort of reflex or something. It was just too flicking crazy. I shot him again and got the gun. Just as we're coming out of the bedroom George starts yelling that a tractor is coming up. I'm thinking, 'Is this EVER gonna end?' because it's too goddam weird. I kept thinking that none of it could possibly be happening. Nothing could go this wrong, you know, nothing. All of this is taking place in less than half an hour, keep in mind. They just keep coming in and I thought for a brief insane moment that it would never end. That people would just keep coming and keep coming and there'd be dead bodies piled up all over the place. "When I looked out the window and saw the tractor coming, my first thought was that he knew we were in there, knew what was happening and was coming to try and do something about it. I knew he knew, because he was barreling up in the yard with that big tractor, fast. He got off the tractor and walked up to the door. He knocked on it and I opened it with the gun in his face. Told him to come on in. He acted surprised, asked what was going on. I asked him who he was and he said 'Jimmy Alday'. I asked him if he knew the people who lived in the trailer and he said yes, they were his family, his brother and his wife, Mary. I asked him what he wanted, why he had come by, and he said something about wanting to find out why they hadn't met him, out in
the field, like they said they would. He was coming by to check up on them, see what was going on. "Billy starts yelling that another car is pulling up, a Chevrolet. The young guy says 'That must be Mary,' I tell him to lay down on the couch with his face towards the back, and I shot him. I knew that Mary wouldn't be able to pull up all the way into the driveway because the tractor was blocking it, so I went out to move it up. While I was moving it, Mary pulled up behind me and honked the horn. I raised my hand and waved, because, you know, all she could see was my back. She thought it was whoever it was supposed to be on the tractor, you know. She pulled up and parked, got out with a bag of groceries, walks over to our car, and looks in to see if the keys are in it. I park the tractor, turn it off, jump down and run up behind her. I grabbed her by the back of the neck and told her to stay calm and not cause a fuss, and everything would be okay. She acted surprised but stayed pretty calm. She carried the groceries into the trailer and I told her to put them down on the kitchen table. I told Wayne and Billy to transfer the contents of our car over into her car and they said sure, leaving me alone with Mary. George was in the living room, alone. I started unbuttoning Mary's blouse. It was white, like a man's shirt, kind of, with little stripes in it." "What did she look like?" I ask. "About 5'2", 115-120 pounds. Brown hair, down to about here," he says, holding his fingers to the bottom of his neck, demonstrating the length of her hair. "When I started unbuttoning her blouse she said, 'No', and I stopped and looked at her, then started again. She kept saying 'no', over and over, like she was crying, pleading, sort of. I happened to look up and George was watching her, and I don't know, something about catching him watching us made me mad and I took it out on her. I slapped her. She quieted down then and I undressed her. Are you sure you want to hear this?" he asked. "Yes. Go on." "Well, I'll skip the unnecessary parts. I raped her, then Wayne came in and I asked if he wanted any. He said yeh, and when he raped her he didn't drop his pants. You've got to drop your pants when you're doing that because for one, you can get stains on your pants and they can use that against you in court. Secondly, you can get twisted up. And he lost his wallet. It fell out of his pocket because he had been so sincere, even in the most gruesome reconstructions, that I was not upset. If anything, I was grateful. I had seen it through his eyes, finally. In a cathartic
moment for both of us, we studied one another with a curious fixation. We had reached a second stage. During the scene about Mary's rape and murder I had shaken my head and given him a reprimanding look. He had grabbed my nose in between his thumb and index finger and squeezed it like I was a toddler, "No! Now, don't you judge!" "God, Carl," was all I could say. "How was that? Can you see it now?" he asked, as if waiting on a grade from his teacher. "Yeh. I saw it." "You know I've thought about it time and time again..." "I was going to ask you, do you ever, have you ever, thought about it?" Part of me felt like he had never really pondered the enormity of his actions. It had always been a curiosity -did he consider what he'd done and the feelings of the victims? He nods furiously, with passion. "Yes. All the time. Over and over again. I kept trying to put my finger on it, on why they didn't fight. Not one of them. I kept trying to figure out why they could go to their deaths so easily, even though they knew what was about to happen. There's no way they couldn't have known." Carl is pensive, staring into thin air. He seems to be pondering a question which has haunted him vigilantly. "All I can figure is that they were so devoted to their religious convictions and believed so much that there was nothing they could do to change the will of god, that they accepted what was happening to them. From a theologists' point of view, I think they had reached that point of inner-peace that comes from belief in their religion." Carl has, during his long stay behind bars and with the help of outside influences and support, completed not only his high school equivalency, but his BA and MA in Theology through a Florida school's correspondence program. "So they were true Christians?" "If you had it to do all over again, would you have killed them all?" I inject curiously. He hesitates, giving it careful thought before he replies, "I think it was meant to happen. I think those people were meant to die. It was their time. I think that if it hadn't 5 been me, it would have been something else. I'm sorry that it happened, but it did. There's nothing I can do
about it now. I'm sorry that it happened, but it did." One question loomed large. The smell in the trailer must have been unimaginably thick. Each person that entered the trailer must have immediately been struck with it and known its origin. "The smell was awful. There was gun powder, yeah, but it was the blood. Death. Death has a smell, and once you've smelled it, you never forget it. It's bullshit that a body doesn't smell until rigor mortis has set it. When you're dead, your body puts off a smell. It's the smell of death." The recall of May 14, 1973 has taken over an hour and Carl seems drained from the effort, but at the same time seems released.