The interviewer is Simon Macready of the Arizona Republic morning newspaper.
The serial killer is Michael Rooney from Flagstaff, Arizona, convicted and sentenced to death by lethal injection for the brutal rape and murder of teenager Patricia Watts whose body was found wedged between two large boulders near the Red Rock area of Sedona, AZ.
Michael Rooney has confessed to at least twelve more homicides involving young girls in Arizona and other states, some of whom have been missing for many years. Authorities are convinced that Michael Rooney could be responsible for many more unsolved crimes that were similar in their execution.
Rooney has agreed to the interview as he claims a religious awakening on death row compels him to share the history of his life, in the hopes the sharing might aid social scientists and society to better detect the signs that lead to such evil.
The two men sit in a drab, depressing institutional room just off the death row area. The odor in the room is near stifling and suffocative. Perhaps, Macready thinks, it is the mind stirring up all the elements that have brought him to this place. Rooney is manacled securely to the small gray table. A sullen guard stands in the corner near the door.
(Macready): ”For the record, you are Michael Rooney, age fifty-one, incarcerated and on death row here at the Arizona State Prison in Florence, Arizona?”
(Rooney): “Yeah, that’s right.”
(M): “Tell me about your childhood…there seems to be a commonality for most serial killers when they talk about their youth.”
(R): “Well, I don’t know anything about the commonality stuff, but my childhood was like being in the oven of hell, just slowly being baked in fear and desperation. Guess you could say my mom tried but she was always getting beat up by the men in her life…and me, I got those beatings, too! I remember being scared by the sex sounds coming through the walls where I slept. I’d cover my ears with my hands but I couldn’t stop the sounds. The funny thing, as I got older, I would masturbate during those sounds. They scared me but they also aroused me. Anyway, we were never in one place very long, dodging creditors and the filthy men in mom’s life.”
(M): “Where was your father all this time?”
(R): “He only came around to grab what little money we had and to beat up on my mom and me…”
(M): “Did you love your dad?”
(R): “Love him? I hated the low-life…I wanted to be big enough to kill him. Hey, I was on the ‘beat up’ list.”
(M): “How did you live? What did your mom do for money, for food, for clothing?”
(R): “She cleaned other people’s houses, and we lived near railroads and industrial businesses…and, she stole things, took money from the places she cleaned. When the heat got too bad, we were off and running to some other nothing town.”
(M): “How did you travel? Did your mom have a car?
(R): “We hitched rides, and, on good occasions, rode the bus…we only had ragged grips to carry our meager belongings.”
(M): “Did you love your mom?”
(R): “You know, my mind was confused and crowded with the fear and frustration that made up much of our lives…but, I believe I did. There were a few special times when we did fun things, and I remember feeling close to her. It never lasted long because the men would show up for their ugly business.”
(M): “Where is your mom today?”
(R): “Couldn’t tell you… I finally ran away and became a kid of the streets – I believe that’s what you people call them, street kids. I started smoking grass and sniffing coke when I could steal it or somebody offered it.”
(M): “When did you start killing teenage girls?”
(R): “I was seventeen when I killed the first one.”
(M): “My God! You’re fifty-one now. How many have you killed? You claim twelve.”
(R): “Look, my memory’s not so good, but there are likely many more.”!!
(M): “Do you think the drugs you were using had any causal effect on your killing of these young girls?”
(R): “Who knows? I’m thinking maybe they did. Drugs, grass and powder, heightened my moods, gave me a feeling of invincibility. So, yeah, I guess they did add coal to the fire.”
(M): “Can you describe your feelings before committing these crimes?”
(R): “It’s something that’s hard to describe…I remember thinking about why I was doing what I was doing. I’d see a pretty girl walking down the street and I’d get aroused sexually. The arousal became a consuming thing inside me as I thought about the acts I would perform on the girl I was watching. Finally, the arousal would bring me to the obsessive point… I would follow her, and when the right spot came up I’d grab her and take her to an isolated spot…and, then, the mind just sort of went numb, like I was just an animal taking what was mine… After the craving was satisfied, my mind would reawake, so to speak, and I would clean up my mess…”
(M): “Was there ever any remorse after you cleaned up your ‘messes’?”
(R): “Look, I want this to be an honest interview, and, to be truthful, there might have been some remorse after the first and second, but from then on it was simply an itch that had to be scratched, an urge that needed satisfaction…and, I know that makes me an animal, a beast, a piece of filth unworthy of any salvation.”
(M): “You mention ‘salvation’. I’m told that you’ve had a religious conversion. Is that true?”
(R): “I’ve accepted Jesus as my personal savior, and I’ve prayed for salvation. I will continue to pray and hope my prayers are answered. I’ve taken many young lives and caused much grief for families…many may even forgive me, but I cannot forgive myself. I do know that, until that lethal injection, I will talk and walk with Jesus. His judgement is all that now matters for me.”
(M): “Is that not a convenient out for you, Rooney, after the hideous butchering of your young victims? Is this not simply words of a sociopath and/or a psychopath?”
(R): “Yes, I can see that being the thinking of all the people who know of my crimes. Yet, I face death for the lives I have taken, and the ‘words’ you hear from me are all I have to give… I do want people to know that my childhood, its environment, and its claim on my early life are no excuses for my deeds. Other people have had disadvantaged lives more severe than my own and didn’t resort to killing… In fact, I long for death as it longs for me. Perhaps, in another life I can make compensation for the ills of this life.”
A bell went off nearby, and the guard in the corner came and took Michael Rooney back to his death row cell.
As Simon Macready drove away from the Arizona State Prison he breathed deeply of the clean September air and thought about the interview. There was perhaps not so much new in the interview that would give clues to society and preclude other such tragedies. For Macready, the mind and its wiring held many secrets, many of which our greatest minds might never discern. He thought of his own teenage daughters, knew that parental governance was of the utmost importance in raising them – discipline, diligence, faith, and a lot of love… He wished there was a magic knob he could turn to make the world a safer place.
He turned his car radio to a classical music station…he had his notes and he had to get away from the interview for a while. He wanted to get home to his wife and children.
[NOTE: the names used in this ‘flash fiction’ are fictitious and not to be associated with anyone having the same names.]
©Billy Ray Chitwood – August 7, 2015
Time to promote one of my books. Because the blog has been about evil-doing, I introduce you to Mama’s Madness… It has plenty of evil, and, it is inspired by a true story – about a mother who tortured her kids, murdered two of her daughters and one ex-husband. It all happened in Northern California many years ago. So, meet the mother from hell. Emotionally, it was a tough book to write and I’m sure the reading will be the same… There are forty-five reviews of the book on Amazon, most of which are 5-Stars and 4-Stars. Did I mention? Mama’s Madness has been optioned for a screenplay. I’m keeping my fingers crossed – maybe we will see it on the big screen one day… Please read and leave an Amazon Review, an author’s life-blood. (My twelve books can be found on http://billyraychitwood.weebly.com.)
Amazon US: http://www.goo.gl/z0vJCN
Amazon UK: http://www.goo.gl/R6gkiw
Amazon Worldwide: http://authl.it/1SQ
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