Another part of our new life in the US of A was getting connected to the internet. It was all very fascinating. I immediately found a forum which advertised penpals. Being an avid letter writer, I decided I wanted to add some more penpals to my already existing ones. There was an advert for anyone who would be interested in writing to a prisoner. I responded to the young man who posted the advert and he said the prisoner would be very happy if I could start writing him...."Give me his address!"
I never asked, "what did he do?" ...."why is he in prison?"...."How long is he there for?"....I just started writing San Quentin. The first few letters were filled with pleasantries. I wrote things I thought someone in prison would want to know about: simple facts about life outside those four walls. I can't remember exactly when in the correspondence I started wondering, "why exactly is he in prison?"...but the question peaked and I asked it...he responded with a huge packet of magazine articles and papers explaining his plight.
He was a convicted serial killer, but he was innocent. He sent me tapes, court documents, and police interviews showing me facts about the case. He was guilty of other crimes, he said, but not of the serial killings. It was proven he had alibis for a couple of the women killed. He pointed out it was a female friend who had done the crimes with a man who she later murdered- stabbed to death and cut off his head. She tried to pin that murder on him, but he had an airtight alibi. He admitted he was not pure and innocent, but he maintained he had not done the murders and was framed by this female.
I continued writing him and even started a website not saying he was innocent but just showing the factual evidence he had sent me. It was quickly shut down by the authorities. He appeared to have some valid claims and although, as he himself admitted, he had done some horrible things- murder was not one of them. I was amazed by his continued determination to prove his innocence. His upbeat attitude always shone through in the letters and that intrigued me. How does one stay so positive when locked away for years.
I will not divulge his name here. It doesn't seem appropriate. I do still write to him now 12 years later. He has seen my family through years in Africa, he has congratulated each of the children on their respective high school graduations. He continues to believe he will be one day vindicated of the crimes he was accused of. The woman who is said to have framed him, is now dead. She died in prison. Maybe now with her death, he will be able to use some of the testimonies which had been closed before to reopen his case. His appeals are keeping him alive: he is actually on death row and has been there for about 28 years. He remains optimistic.