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Episode 29: Gypsy Willis Testimony, Martin McNeill Trial

From the outside, the MacNeills were the ideal Mormon family. They lived in a gated community in Pleasant Grove, Utah. Martin MacNeill was a doctor, lawyer, and Mormon Bishop; his homemaker wife Michele was a former fashion model and beauty queen. The couple had four natural children: Rachel, Vanessa, Alexis and Damian, and four girls adopted from the Ukraine: Giselle, Elle, Sabrina, and Ada.

But in private, Martin MacNeill was not happy with Michele, talked about wanting a divorce, watched pornography and had extramarital affairs. When, after 30 years of marriage, Michele, 50, died while at home recovering from a facelift, her family was suspicious. Their suspicious increased when MacNeill began openly dating his children’s nanny, Gypsy Willis.

During her testimony at Martin MacNeill’s murder trial in 2013, Gypsy calmly describes meeting the doctor at a dating site in 2005, when she was a nursing student. They went to lunch, and MacNeill seemed reserved. He told her he was married and had a great life, but he was looking for extramarital excitement, she says, “and that is what I was. It was very passionate and very sexual. It was so fun—this beautiful, handsome doctor taking time out of his life for me.”

After the lunch, they stayed in touch; instant messaging progressed to texting, their relationship eventually shifting from lunch dates to lovers around January 2006. She claims to have been genuinely shocked when Michele MacNeill died, but went along with Martin’s plan to move her into his family’s life gradually, as nanny to the younger children. Gypsy says Martin proposed to her just three months after his wife’s death, although they were never married. She also read excerpts from letters she and MacNeill exchanged while both were in prison on identity-theft charges.

These charges were just one of the dark secrets that emerged during the trial. MacNeill had stolen his 16-year-old adopted daughter Giselle’s identity documents and given them to Gypsy. He was also found guilty of sexually molesting Alexis on two occasions. It also turned out that MacNeill had falsified university transcripts to enter medical school, and that the couple’s youngest adopted daughter Ada was, in fact, the child of their daughter Vanessa, who was a heroin addict. In 2010, their 24-year old son Damian committed suicide.

Gypsy Willis was sentenced to three years of probation. Martin MacNeill was sentenced to life without parole, and committed suicide in Utah State Prison in April 2017, at the age of 60.

Listen to Gypsy’s testimony here

Watch on Youtube here

MacNeill Trial Documents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 28: Interview with Jens Soring

This is an interview by Noreen Turyn of WSET-TV in Lynchburg, Virginia with Jens Söring on March 26, 2011. Söring came to the U.S. from Germany as a child. When a student at the University of Virginia, he fell in love with a fellow student, a beautiful but troubled girl named Elizabeth Heysom. On the morning of March 30, 1985, the bodies of Elizabeth’s parents Derek and Nancy Haysom, were found brutally slashed, stabbed, and almost decapitated in their home in Bedford County, Virginia. When police supected Elizabeth and Jens of involvement, they fled the country, spending almost a year traveling around the world until they ran out of money. Eventually, they were arrested in London on charges of check fraud. At first, Söring confessed to committing the murders, but when he learned he would not be extradited to Germany, as he had assumed, but would remain in the U.S., he recanted his story.

According to Söring, Elizabeth admitted to him that she had killed her parents and was terrified of being executed for the crime. Jens says he promised her that, if they were ever arrested, he would take responsibility for the crime, since he believed he would be extradited to Germany, where there is no death penalty. Since his recantation, Söring has insisted on his innocence; he has many supporters, and has written books about his case.

 

This interview took place at  Buckingham Correctional Center, in Virginia. Elizabeth Haysom is currently also serving a 90-year prison sentence for two counts of accessory to murder.

Listen to the interview here.

Watch the interview on Youtube here; check out Jans Söring’s website and a New Yorker article about the case from November 9, 2015 by Nathan Heller.

Episode 27: Squeaky Fromme Competency Hearing

Lynette Alice “Squeaky” Fromme was a member of the Manson family. On the morning of September 5, 1975, Fromme went to Sacramento’s Capitol Park, where President Gerald Ford would be speaking, dressed in a red robe and armed with a semi-automatic pistol that she pointed at the President. The pistol’s magazine was loaded with four rounds, but there was no cartridge in the chamber. She was immediately restrained by a Secret Service agent, and arrested.

On the afternoon of Sunday, September 21, 1975 Fromme was interviewed on tape at the Sacramento County Jail by Dr. James Richmond to evaluate if she was mentally competent to give up counsel and represent herself at trial.  Dr. Richmond’s determination read:

Miss Fromme acknowledged having experimented with LSD and marijuana in prior years. She said that newspaper accounts of how heavily she had used drugs were patently false. She estimated that she had used LSD approximately 30 or less times, and she stated that she had never experienced any severe psychiatric disturbance from such use. She said that she had used marijuana lightly, perhaps one joint per week, in no steady pattern. She said that the effects from it were even lighter than from the LSD. She denied any residual memory or intellectual deficit from the use of either … 

As the examination continued she loosened up emotionally, showing a range of emotional expression in keeping with the present situation. She smiled appropriately periodically. She displayed no overt anxiety or depression, and there were no signs of a psychotic thought disorder. She was attentive, comprehended my questions without difficulty except for occasional words with which she was not familiar, and her responses were quick, pertinent, and appeared candid. Her statements were consistently rational. She appeared to be a most sensitive and intuitive person, acutely tuned in to social issues …

Fromme was not allowed to represent herself in court, and, as a result, she refused to cooperate with her own defense. After a lengthy trial, she was sentenced to life imprisonment, and released on parole on August 14, 2009, after serving nearly 34 years.

Listen to the psychiatric evaluation here.

 

Episode 26: Dalia Dippolito Police Interview

On July 31 2009,  Mohammed Shihadeh notified police in Boynton Beach, Florida, that we was concerned that his ex-girlfriend, 26-year-old former escort Dalia Dippolito, was plotting to kill her husband of six months, 38-year-old Michael Dippolito. Shihadeh was enlisted by police as a confidential informant, and instructed to put Dalia in touch with a “Mexican hitman” who asked for $5000 to kill Mike Dippolito. The hit went ahead the following day, and Dalia returned home from the gym to find police tape surrounding her house. She was informed that her husband had been shot and killed, and she burst into tears, appearing inconsolable.

Listen to the police interview with Dalia Dippolito about the “murder” of her husband. She’s asked who she believes might be responsible, and comes up with a number of plausible suggestions related to Mike’s criminal conviction for fraud. However, at the end of the interview, the police reveal to Dalia that the “Mexican hitman” was actually an undercover police officer, Widy Jean, and that Dalia’s meetings with him were taped by police. Listen also to the police interview with Michael Dippolito about the bizarre things that he’d experienced since being married to Dalia, such as an attempted poisoning with antifreeze.

Dalia Dippolito, who denied the charges, claiming she thought she was practicing for a reality TV show, had three trials. In her first trial, deliberations lasted for about three hours before a guilty verdict was returned. This verdict was later overturned due to a sleeping juror. In her second trial, a jury of four women and two men deliberated for a total of about nine hours before a mistrial was declared. In her third and final trial, in July 2017, she was found guilty and sentenced to 16 years in prison.

Listen to the interview with Dalia Dippolito here

Listen to the interview with Mike Dippolito here

Watch the interview on Youtube here

Episode 25: Elizabeth Wettlaufer Confession Part 3

In the final hour of her confession, Wettlaufer talks about how she felt after the murders were over. She says she would laugh afterwards, “which was really, it was like a cackling from the pit of hell.”

Wettlaufer tells the detective that she feels both guilt and shame about what she has done, which is why she has been finally driven to confess. When asked by the detective what she might say to her victims’ families, she exhales. “What can you say to them that would matter? ‘I’m sorry’ isn’t enough,” she says. “I should have gotten help sooner. I took something from you that was precious and was taken too soon.”

She makes apologies to the families of specific victims, although not to those of “mean” patients like Maureen Pickering.  Wettlaufer also tells the detective that she had confessed her crimes to others over the years, including a priest, and a close female friend, yet none of them reported her to the police. The detective asks her why she thinks that is.

“Maybe they didn’t believe me,” says Wettlaufer. “I don’t know. Maybe they just thought I was doing something that the patient wanted.” Perhaps this was a case of bystander apathy, or perhaps others felt Elizabeth was simply exaggerating. Perhaps they felt they, too, would get in trouble if they spoke up.

Were it not for her confession, Wettlaufer’s crimes would have gone undiscovered. Eight people in nine years is not a large number in a nursing home for the elderly, where no-one returns home, where patients die all the time, and where sudden deaths are not unusual.

Elizabeth Wettlaufer was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole eligibility for 25 years.

Listen to the final hour of the confession here.

 

 

Episode 24: Elizabeth Wettlaufer Confession Part 2

In the second hour of Wettlaufer’s confession, she goes into more detail about her crimes. Elizabeth, who has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, says she would hear a voice telling her to kill – not in her head, but in her heart. At first she thought it was either God or the Devil. After a while, she realized it was part of her, and this was a just a way to get out her stress and anger with her patients, and with the world.

“It seems so stupid now,” she says.  Every so often, she clambers to her feet and tries to clear her head. Sometimes she slurs a little; she has taken two Vicodin given to her by her doctor, but claims she is clear headed and knows what she is saying and doing. She describes the urge to kill that came on during her nursing shifts like a “red surge” of pressure in her chest, a compulsion that went away only when she’d injected someone with an overdose of insulin. “I thought this was something God, or whoever, wanted me to do,” she tells the detective.

As a nurse, Wettlaufer must have know that an insulin overdose is a grueling, painful way to die. She admits she knew what she was doing. She also admits that she picked some of her victims because they were “mean” and difficult to look after, and she did not like them.

She notes which patients seemed peaceful and who fought the injection. And she speaks for longer whenever the victim is one she found frustrating to care for. She complains, of the male patients she killed, that they were “grabby,” reaching for her breasts and butt. And of Maureen Pickering, a 79-year-old woman with dementia, Wettlaufer says, “She was a handful. She just got harder and harder to look after and, one night, when I had to look after her … I was starting to get the feeling, that surge again. I thought, I don’t want her to die, but if I could somehow give her enough … to give her a coma or change her brainwaves, maybe make her less mobile, less hard to handle.”

Listen to the second hour of the confession here.

Watch the confession video on Youtube

Episode 23: Elizabeth Wettlaufer Confession Part I

Elizabeth Wettlaufer has been brought for an interview with a police detective after she revealed incriminating information while under the care of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. Wettlaufer had been a registered nurse until September, 2016, and was in rehab, as she tells the detective in this interview, for an addiction to Dilaudid (a concentrated opiate-based pain medication). She eventually confesses to killing eight patients over a period of nine years.

Wettlaufer, 49, is an ordinary-looking woman, significantly overweight, in a red T-shirt and comfortable slacks. At the beginning of the interview, she sits quietly with her hands on her thighs and a pink purse on the table beside her as she waits to make her confession. “Sorry about that,” says the detective, when he finally joins her. “Too many people moving and shaking around here, and you can’t really keep track of who’s doing what … ”.

In this first hour of the interview, the detective is friendly and encouraging, and Elizabeth responds openly, appearing grateful to finally get the chance to tell her story. She first trained as a religious counselor, she explains, but went into nursing when she found it difficult to get work in the field. She was married for a while with no children. After her marriage failed, she met a woman online who moved to Ontario to be with her, and they moved in together. Eventually, this relationship also failed, leaving Wettlaufer alone with her cats.

Wettlaufer tells the detective that when she began working as a night nurse, she would steal doses of the Dilaudid from her patients. “I was always putting this pressure on myself to be a really good nurse and do everything perfectly,” she says. After taking half a pill, “that pressure was gone.” She began killing patients in 2007 and stopped in the fall of 2015; she killed three men and five women, ranging in age from 75 to 96. She returned to rehab in 2016 after having been assigned to work with diabetic children. “I was afraid that I might get that feeling of wanting to give them insulin overdoses,” she tells the detective. Faced with her breaking point—“I panicked; those were just kids”—she quit her nursing job and checked into Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, which is where she finally made the statements that led to her eventual discovery by the police. “I needed help with whatever this was,” she says. “I didn’t want this to keep going on.”

Listen to the part one of the confession here.

Watch the interrogation video on Youtube

Daniel Engberger, The Killer Nurse, Slate, July 24 2017.

Episode 22: Joshua Komisarjevsky confession

On Sunday, July 22, 2007, 48-year-old Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her 11-year-old daughter Michaela went to a local grocery store near their home in Cheshire, Connecticut, to pick up food for a pre-birthday that Michaela planned to prepare for her mother. During their trip to the grocery store, the two women attracted the attention of 27-year-old Joshua Komisarjevsky, who, along with 44-year-old Stephen Hayes, was looking for someone to rob. Komisarjevky followed the women home, then gave their address to Hayes, who joined him in robbing the house. As Komisarjevky states in his confession, they originally planned to tie up the inhabitants and take their money.

Things went wrong, as Komisarjevky explains, when Hayes unexpectedly encountered Dr. William Petit asleep on the front porch, at which point Komisarjevky hit him on the head with a baseball bat and tied him up at gunpoint in the basement. They then tied up Jennifer, Michaela, and 18-year-old Hayley. When they could only find $10 in the house, they waited until the bank was open, then made Jennifer go and get more money. She asked the bank teller for help, and the teller called 911, but police were unsure of the nature of the crime taking place, and lamentably slow in surrounding the house. They gave Hayes time to go and fill up cans with gasoline, and both men to escalated the nature of their crimes.

As Komisarjevsky admits in his confession, he raped the 11-year-old Michaela (whom her refers to here, the the discomfort of the intervieer, as “Kay Kay”, after hearing her mother refer to her this way; he also calls Jennifer and William Petit “mom” and “dad”). He also photographs the assault on his phone. This provokes Hayes into raping Jennifer. When the men realize William Petit has escaped from the basement, they tie Jennifer up and douse the house with gasoline. The two daughters were tied to their beds and Jennifer tied up downstairs as the house burned down.

Both men blamed on another for the murders. In 2010, Hayes was convicted of the murders and sentenced to death. Komisarjevsky, was found guilty on October 13, 2011, and sentenced to death on January 27, 2012. However, in August 2015, Connecticut abolished the death penalty, and all death sentences were commuted. Hayes and Komisarjevky are both serving life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Listen to the confession here.

Episode 21: Hemy Neuman Trial

In November 2009, 49-year-old business executive Hemy Neuman shot and killed father-of-two Rusty Sneiderman outside a Dunwoody day care facility where he had just dropped off his young son. Neuman pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. He had been obsessed with Rusty’s 34-year-old wife Andrea, his colleague at General Electric, whom he had hired in May.

Andrea testified that she had “no choice” but to put up with the unwanted advances from Neuman, for the sake of her career. She said she had shied away from her boss, who had asked her to marry him twice. However, police believed the two were having an affair, and initially charged Andrea with involvement in her husband’s murder.

In this episode, the witness is a friend of Hemy Neuman’s, a realtor named Melanie White, who sold Neuman his home in 2006. She testifies about  meeting with Hemy in the summer of 2010 to discuss possibly short-selling his home due to his financial and marital troubles. Hemy told Melanie that he had left his wife for a younger woman who had two young children, but that she was reluctant to leave her husband because she was worried about losing her family.

Melanie explains how she advised Hemy to go back to his wife and forget about the other woman, who, she thought, seemed to be stringing him along, but in a later meeting in October 2010,  he said he was now even closer to the new woman, Andrea. He discussed their upcoming work trip to London.

“That he and Andrea go closer. I believe that is when, I believe that was the time that he said that he and Andrea had decided that they were soul mates. He also told me that Andrea was adamant that she would not leave her husband and her two kids. And he continually asked me what I thought he should do,” White said.

She also testifies that Hemy confided that he and Andrea shared a bed in London. Melanie said she told Hemy that “Andrea has you on a yo-yo emotionally. She keeps lifting you up, then knocking you down.” We are left with two questions: (1) Was Hemy telling Melanie the truth about his relationship with Andrea, or was he fantasizing (or boasting, or delusional)? (2) If he was telling the truth, was Andrea’s frustrating behavior responsible for Hemy’s emotional breakdown?

Listen to the trial testimony here.

 

Episode 20: Heaven’s Gate Exit Statements

“The media will tell all kinds of lies about us, describe us as a crazy UFO cult. We know that. We know the kind of things they’ll say about us. That we’re all brainwashed by some kind of guru,” says one of the members of Heaven’s Gate in his exit statement. He knew what we were going to say, and he didn’t care. He knew he was going to the evolutionary level beyond human – and why should we disbelieve him?

    These happy and heartfelt exit statements explain the class members’ beliefs and reasons for going to the next level with their beloved leader, Do. Many have been in the class (and yes, they refer to Heaven’s Gate as a “class,” not a religion, or a church, or a even a belief system) for over thirty years; most have belonged for ten years or more. Surprisingly, many state that they left the class at some point, then, disillusioned with the world, returned to the class, professing regret for their defection and nothing but deep love, respect, and admiration for their leaders from the evolutionary level beyond human, Do and Ti.

 Interesting details are revealed, including the fact that some of the male members of the class, including Do, had elected to have their “vehicles neutered” (and felt so much the better for it). The class left behind a document called “The Routine,” outlining the process by which their exit would occur. It took place over the course of three days.

A group of 15 exited on Sunday March 23rd 1997, assisted by eight others. A second group of 15 exited the following day, also assisted by eight people. 39 bodies were found on Wednesday March 26th 1997, so that would have left a final group of nine to exit the previous day. Do’s was a late death, but he was not the last to die.

The means of death was a combination of phenobarbital and hydrocodone, probably consumed with apple sauce or pudding, chased down with vodka. The members, who were dressed in new white Nikes, dark, collarless shirts with closely cropped hair, then put plastic bags over their heads and suffocated, after which they were covered in purple shrouds. Each member had a roll of quarters and a five dollar bill in their pocket, and a duffle bag beside them.

At least one cult member had blood flowing from their nose or mouth, in reaction to the suicide drugs. Do lay on a large bed; his followers lay on bunks. An illustration of an extraterrestrial stood nearby. The bodies were clad in all-black outfits bearing a  triangular patch specially made for the group. It read: “Heaven’s Gate Away Team.” 

(audio edited and compressed)

Listen to the exit statements here

Heaven’s Gate website
Transcripts of Exit Statements
Watch Exit Statements on Youtube
Watch Do’s Exit Statement on Youtube