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.

Item 1
“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.”

Item 2
“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.”

Item 3:
“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

10 responses to “Murder”

  1. Thorn says:

    Wow. Some of my classmates are preparing for our high school reunion and I can’t help thinking about the classmate whose brother killed both her parents and whether she’ll show, what she would say about what she’s been up to for the last few years.

  2. Dave says:

    This is an amazing story and should totally be a book. Makes me want to search Westlaw’s New Mexico Criminal Justice Cases database against my HS yearbook.

    There was a guy I was kinda friends with in high school who talked a lot about getting laid, which we assumed was mostly made up, and about how he was going to join the Navy Seals. He did end up joining the Navy but didn’t become a Seal (I could have told him that). Then found Jesus and now homeschools his kids and posts “have a blessed ______” stuff on Facebook. But he’s not in jail! I’m sure other classmates are.

  3. Tim says:

    Silly me. I put together the first and last names, and googled this fellow. The booking photo is really disturbing: such a happy-go-lucky look on his face, as if he’s posing for a school yearbook. One detail you didn’t mention that I found: he was being held for accepting $2000 to kill someone else when he was arrested for these murders, over ten years after the fact. I wonder if he killed anyone else in the intervening years.

  4. F. P. Smearcase says:

    Yeah, the booking photo is what my friend sent back when I asked what had happened to him.

  5. Thorn says:

    Reading the state supreme court response has me worrying again about what I would do if ever asked to serve on a death penalty jury. This is obviously a good use of my time.

  6. LP says:

    Yeesh. Reading this now reminds me that a guy I went to HS with – the guy who was voted Most Likely To Succeed, but then flunked senior English and didn’t graduate – later told me that he had been a CIA plant in our school. Said he got paid a monthly stipend to tell them who was doing / selling drugs. It almost sounded plausible, but I couldn’t get past the notion that the CIA would hire a 17-year old for such work. He said he carried a CIA-issued gun, just in case. Mm-hm.

    I only went to one of my HS reunions – the 10-year. He was there, and the two things I remember were that he sold Amway for a living and smoked cigars. So weird. He was actually pretty smart and fun when we were teenagers, and I had a crush on him for a long time in HS. Now I wonder if he’s nuts.

  7. Trixie says:

    So interesting!!
    I had an inordinate number of classmates who ended up very successful/semi-famous (most recently in the limelight is Justin Thereaux, who is now dating Jennifer Aniston. I know.)
    This is much more interesting though! I’m gonna start googling that dude right now.

  8. lane says:

    our biggest HS hood was a real estate scamer. lots and lots of money, more than one scam, but just in one state, so it’s not federal, but he’s in jail for a long time.

    amazing story. thnks.

  9. Mister Smearcase says:

    Glad y’uns found it interesting. I really want to write a book about it but this is not a very realistic goal.

  10. Mister Smearcase says:

    Oh hm. I have no idea how the word “summary” got edited in after the word “insurance” by the way or exactly what I intended to say. Once I figure it out, I will change it.