I remember three things about William:
1) He got in hot water in Sophomore English for asking Mrs. Hill whether the verbal paradigm for “to lay” remained the same in certain non-standard usages of the verb.
2) He had terrible skin.
3) When we all went on an orchestra trip to Cincinnati, he told me and my best friend not to wake him because he might, by reflex, kill us with his bare hands.
Item 3 actually went along with a great deal of other stuff I know he told us but can’t remember when or the exact details. The gist of it all was that he had been a CIA assassin. Presumably he was much older than your average 10th grader, though again, it’s so many years ago I don’t remember whether this was stated or just projectively understood. My mental image of him is that of the fellow who gazes into the middle distance and lets you know through various proportionalities of statement and innuendo that he has Seen Things.
The other day, in another corner of the internet, I was reading as someone wrote about a troublesome friend of hers who might or might not be part of an elite cadre of killers. What I ended up posting in response* was something about elite cadres of killers needing a drama club. What I started to post instead** was a pointed little story about William.
Facebook puts us in unremitting, breathing-down-the-neck touch with our pimply past to the point where it can be surprising that there are people you knew who you’ve mostly forgotten. Once I thought of William, I emailed a friend to ask if she knew where he ended up. The last I heard of him was he had started going to the synagogue my folks went to, suddenly Jewish apparently.
Where he ended up is Kentucky’s death row. The rest of the story seems dizzyingly awful and perhaps fascinating and it’s all I can do not to write a book about it. (For better or worse, I don’t know how to write a book, and hardly have the concentration to write a blog entry.)
In briefest summary, he and a woman he knew decided he would kill her parents for her financial gain. It was either an insurance summary or a safe full of money–completely coincidentally I was watching In Cold Blood the same two days I read all this and am sure the two things began to run together. He ended up killing three people. Later, he would ask her for money she had promised and threaten to go to the authorities.
He would be sentenced to life with no possibility of parole until 25 years, would somehow forego this deal in an attempt to get a better one or get off altogether (not sure), and end up getting a death sentence. As far as I can tell, he’s still alive.
Beyond that, I’ll just post a few things from the court decision, which I googled up, and leave it at that.
“Moreover, they were also aware of his propensity to recast himself as a fictional toughguy—i.e., a Navy SEAL and a “black-ops” operative—even as a young man while in high school. These creations of his were surely not credible under the facts adduced.”
“In her statement of December 31, 2004, Wellnitz indicated that they and several of their friends had talked about setting up a commune. According to her, Meece even had a business plan for a commune entitled “Blackwatch Enterprises.” It was to be a “David Koresh” kind of colony. In fact, as part of the inducement for the murders, Meece “was promised to get to have his little dream commune” at the Wellnitz farm.”
“He sent me a letter saying that his life had been ruined and that he had read some book about the witness protection program . . . and that if I didn’t give him enough money to start a lawn care service that he was going to go to the police and confess as a hit man and get put in the witness protection program to Hawaii.”
*to be an asshole, yes.
**to be a bigger asshole