Friday 9 December 2011

Serial killers should never ever be released from prison

I don’t know just how long serial killers have been with us but I’m sure that they have been around for a very long time. Many who were caught were executed so that they would never kill again. But in countries like Canada and in some of the states in the US who have also abolished the death penalty, these murderers are as a rule, imprisoned for life.

Dubbed ‘The Wicklow Mountains Sex Beast’, Larry Murphy, suspected of killing, New Yorker, Annie McCarrick among other missing women in Ireland, walked free from Arbour Hill prison, Ireland, at the beginning of August 2010.

The suspected dangerous sexual predator and murderer was shockingly allowed to refuse any treatment while in prison. When he was released, the Irish public were not told where he would be living in Ireland.

Murphy was jailed in 2001 for the kidnapping and repeated rape of a woman from County Carlow. He was also the suspect in several missing person’s cases in Ireland including that of New Yorker, Annie McCarrick.

McCarrick, from Long Island, New York disappeared in 1993 in Wicklow. Her body was never found. Her family spent a great deal of time in Ireland trying to piece together what happened to her but no information could be found. She was last seen leaving a bar alone.

Murphy is still a prime suspect in the disappearance of McCarrick. He has been questioned on various cases to do with missing women in Ireland but refuses to cooperate with the police.

When Murphy was released he was placed on the sex offenders’ register in Ireland.
"Murphy had been in custody for 10 years but had not been subject to any rehabilitation programme. There's hardly a more dangerous prisoner in the system,” a court officer told the Evening Herald. "We are now looking at a situation where one of the most dangerous men in the country will be back on the streets in weeks, with no treatment. It's deeply worrying.”

Murphy was to serve a 15-year sentence having been found guilty of the kidnapping and rape of the woman from Carlow. However, having been a model prisoner his sentence had been reduced.

While in prision, Murphy had been questioned over the disappearances of Annie McCarrick and two Irish women who are also missing Jo Jo Dullard and Deirdre Jacob. He was also a suspect in a total of six missing person’s cases in Leinster from the 1990s.

Earlier this year police found a plot, which seemed to be a gravesite at Humewood Castle in County Wicklow – just two miles away from Murphy’s final residence in Boley. One of the locals who happened upon the grave said “"It was dug out like a grave. It was six feet long, two and a half feet wide and three feet deep."It looked like it was dug a number of years ago, there was moss growing in it. It is in a pretty open area and can be seen from the road.”

The question that has to be answered is; should he have been released from the prison. Unfortunately the answer is yes. Since he had not been convicted of any of the murders he was suspected of having committed, the prison authorities had no other choice but to release him.

Coral Eugene Watts may be the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history. He's already admitted to killing more than a dozen women, but authorities believe the actual number may be closer to 100.

Watts was scheduled to be released from prison by 2011, after serving just 24 years of a 60-year sentence. How can that be?

It turns out Texas authorities made a deal with the devil back in 1982. They agreed to a plea bargain they thought would keep Watts behind bars for the rest of his life. But, as correspondent Steve Kroft (60 minutes) reports, the deal has come back to haunt them and Watts may become the first serial killer ever to be set free.

For the past 22 years, Watts had been locked up in the Texas prison system---all but forgotten. "What's amazing to me is everybody in America has heard of Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and Jeffrey Dahmer. But when you mention the name of Coral Eugene Watts, 99.99 percent of the public have no clue who you're talking about.

As director of the Crime Victims Office for the Mayor of Houston, he tried to find some way to keep Watts from being released. "I guarantee you, if he is released, women are gonna turn up murdered," says Kahan. "There's no ifs, ands, or buts. This was a man that by his own admission stated that 'I'm gonna kill again if they ever release me.' You do not rehabilitate a serial killer."

Watts has been in trouble since he was 15, when he attacked a woman on his paper route. He's been in and out of psychiatric hospitals, and in college, he was the number 1 suspect after a young woman was stabbed 33 times. Police, however, had no evidence linking Watts to the murder. He was also a suspect in a series of slayings in the Detroit area, but once again there was not enough evidence to arrest him.

Watts' ability to elude authorities followed him to Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was in 1980, when three young women were brutally murdered by someone the police and newspapers dubbed the ‘Sunday Morning Slasher.’

Paul Bunten, now the police chief in Saline, Michigan was the lead investigator in the case and says Watts quickly became the prime suspect. "He knew that I suspected him of three homicides, even to the point where I demonstrated," says Bunten. "I said, 'Coral, I know exactly how you did it. And I stood up and I put my arm around his neck. And I said, 'You did it just like this.'"

By then, Bunten had put Watts under 24-hour police surveillance. When Watts decided to skip town, Bunten tracked him to Houston and sent police there an urgent warning.

"We put this very large packet of information including fingerprints, photographs, photographs of his car, highlights of our reports," says Bunten. "And I called Houston homicide and talked with the detective down there, and told him, 'I'm mailing this down. This is guy is a predator. You need to watch him.'"

When Watts showed up in Houston in 1981, it was the perfect hunting ground for a serial killer. Houston was the murder capital of the United States that year, with more than 700 homicides. Police were underpaid, understaffed and overwhelmed. So when Watts began killing young women in Texas, no one suspected that it might be the work of one man.

Watts would later confess to stalking and killing 12 Texas women. The first victim, Linda Tilley, was drowned. Elizabeth Montgomery was stabbed, and two hours later, so was Susan Wolf. Ellen Tamm was hanged, Margaret Fossi was asphyxiated, Elena Semander was strangled and left in a trash dumpster. Emily LaQua was just 14. Anna Ledet was a medical student. And Yolanda Gracia, Carrie Jefferson and Suzanne Searles were all killed as they returned home.

Watts killed at random. There were no patterns, no motives, no eyewitnesses, and no evidence. "If we had the goods on Coral Eugene Watts, we wouldn't be talking today. That's how good this guy was," says Kahan.

But Watts' luck ran out on May 23, 1982. He spotted a woman leaving a Houston nightclub and followed her home. Michelle Maday was killed on her 20th birthday, and her body was dumped into a bathtub. Then, Watts moved on to another apartment complex, where he would confront his last two victims.

"He came in and grabbed me and started choking me. And he told me if I screamed, he would kill me," says Melinda Aguilar, who had just turned 19. Watts tied up Aguilar, and her roommate, and began filling the bathtub with water. "He was excited and hyper and clappin' and just making noises like he was excited, that this was gonna be fun," recalls Aguilar, who had no doubt that Watts was going to kill her. "He clapped and jumped at one time, and that's when I knew that I had to do something."

As Watts tried to drown her roommate in the bathtub, Aguilar managed to escape, throwing herself off the second floor balcony. Neighbors called police, the roommate was saved, and Watts, then a 28-year-old bus mechanic, was arrested as he tried to flee.

But on the day Watts was set to go to trial, a deal was struck with the Houston district attorney. In exchange for a guilty plea to "burglary with the intent to commit murder" and a 60-year prison sentence, Watts offered to confess to 12 unsolved homicides if he was given immunity for them. In the eyes of the district attorney, it was a good deal. It got a mass murderer off the streets for a long time and resolved a dozen open cases.

Det. Tom Ladd, who was brought in to take Watts' confession, says there is no evidence linking him to the crimes he confessed to. Despite that, it took Watts more than a week to describe how he had stalked and killed each of his victims and he led investigators to three shallow graves.

What was he like? "He was very congenial. He didn't act like a killer until you started listening to what he's telling you or following his directions to his crime scenes," says Ladd. "He had an excellent memory. He was very, very intelligent. He never got the facts of one murder mixed up with the facts of another murder. He never missed."

So why did he do it? "We'd ask him. We said, 'Well, why'd you kill this girl or that girl?' And he goes, 'They have evil in their eyes,'" says Ladd, even though almost all of his victims were picked out at night. "We said 'Coral, you couldn't see her eyes.' And he said 'Yeah. She's got evil in her eyes.'"

How did he operate? "He'd get in that car of his, and he'd drive around," says Ladd. "Sometimes, he'd drive all night long. And then he'd see a female, and whatever it was about that female, which we still to this day don't know, why he picked one girl, and passed up 20 others."

Once he picked his victim, Watts killed quickly. None of the victims were sexually assaulted. Most were killed just steps from their front doors. "One girl, he just walked up and she turned and he stabbed her one time in the heart and turned around and ran away," says Ladd. "Probably didn't spend 15 seconds there even at the scene, and then an hour and a half later, he killed another one."

At one point, Watts said he was willing to confess to 22 murders in Michigan, and a call went out to detectives like Bunten in Ann Arbor. "The next day, we sat down with our prosecuting attorney and we all agreed that you don't give immunity to somebody who's committed murder. There's just no way you can do that," says Bunten.

Even to clear up cases? "Just because we couldn't prove it doesn't mean we don't know who did it," says Bunten.

Did he ever give any indication as to why he had committed these murders? "He says, 'I'll take that to my grave with me,'" says Bunten. "He's driven to do this. What drives him, I have no idea." But Bunten said he did manage to have one last conversation with Watts in a Texas penitentiary: "I said, 'Coral, I haven't got enough fingers and toes to count the number of people you've killed, have I? And he looked around the room and said, 'There's not enough fingers and toes in this room.'"

There were four people in the room, which would mean 80 victims. Does Bunten believe he is capable of killing that many people? "Don't know. I asked him if he confessed to everything down in Texas, and he said, 'No,'" says Bunten. "I said, 'Why didn't you?' He made the statement to me that he doesn't want to go down in history as a mass murderer. And I said, 'You know what? That ship sailed.'"

At the time, it seemed a moot point, because everyone assumed Watts would die in prison an old man. But a series of court rulings changed that. As a first-time offender, Watts was granted time off for good behavior – three days off his sentence for every day served. So instead of serving a 60-year sentence, under Texas law, Watts would automatically be released after just 24 years.

"He'll have served less than two years for every Houston homicide victim that he murdered. That's incredible. It's never happened before in this country's history," says Kahan. Because Watts had been given immunity back in 1982, there was nothing Texas could do to keep Watts in prison. But Michigan was another story.

As soon as authorities in Michigan found out that Watts might be released, they created a special task force, headed by Lt. Bill Hanger, to begin digging through every unsolved homicide that Watts might possibly be linked to. Hanger says there are "roughly 90 cases we still consider him a suspect on."

They've got a suspect, but now they're trying to find the crime. Usually it works the other way around. "He said that he would confess to 22 or so Michigan cases if he was granted immunity," says Hanger. "So I know there's at least 22 out there."

Assistant Attorney General Donna Pendergast says appeals were made to the public for information – and it took less than 24 hours to get the first lead.

"It's really miraculous, but out of all the hundreds of cases that the task force was looking at, a witness from one of them said 'Hey I know something' and he came forward," says Pendergast. "I got a note on my desk, 'Saw one of Coral Watts' murders.' And my first reaction, of course, was 'Sure, you did.'"

The eyewitness, Joseph Foy, was the same person who called police in 1979 to report the stabbing death of 35-year-old Helen Dutcher in an alley of a Detroit suburb. According to the police reports, it was dark. Foy didn't describe seeing the actual murder, and only saw the killers' face for a brief moment.

"They're looking for anything, any murder, any witness, any anything that they can pin on him," says Ron Kaplovitz, the court-appointed attorney for Watts.

He says his client may be a confessed serial killer, but he says there is not much physical evidence that he killed Dutcher: "It's hard to believe that a person who could see a person in an alley for a few minutes, a dark alley, 25 years ago, could come into a courtroom, point to that person and say 'That's the guy I saw in the alley 25 years ago.'"

But after two years of investigating, this is the best case the State of Michigan has been able to come up with. Prosecutors may be counting on Watts to convict himself with his own words.

The judge in the case has just ruled that the jury can be told about the murders Watts confessed to in Texas, and the jury will also be allowed to hear from his last victim, Melinda Aguilar.

Is she worried about him getting out? "Absolutely. He has admitted to killing again if he was to get out. And I believe he will," says Aguilar. "I can still remember when I had to identify him just the way he looked at me was one of those looks like 'You just wait when I get out.' All I remember is his evil eyes."

Coral Watts was scheduled to go to trial for the murder in Michigan the first week in November, but the special task force was still looking for other homicides to charge him with, in the event that Watts was acquitted in this case.

Watts' trial for the Steele murder began in Kalamazoo, Michigan on July 25, 2007; closing arguments concluded July 26. The following day the jury returned a guilty verdict. Watts was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole on September 13th. He was incarcerated at a maximum security prison in Ionia, Michigan. He died of prostate cancer on September 21st in a Jackson, Michigan hospital.

Watts had claimed that he had killed 40 women, and has also implied that there were more than 80 victims in total. He would not confess outright to having committed these murders, however, because he did not want to be seen as a "mass murderer". Police still consider Watts a suspect in 90 unsolved murders.

Imagine if you will what he would have done had he not been sent to Michigan for trial. Texas blundered terribly by making a deal with his serial killer that made it possible for him to be released after serving only 24 years in prison.

Usually when serial killers are caught, they are locked up for good and the public can take comfort they will never kill again. However, this didn’t apply to \ Michael Wayne McGray.

In November 2011, he was sentenced to his seventh life term for first-degree murder, a strangulation as coldblooded as the previous six killings with one difference: This time he committed a murder while imprisoned in his cell for his other crimes.

Appearing by video from the prison in Quebec where he is now being held, McGray refused legal representation and told the British Columbia Supreme Court he wanted to plead guilty to the November 21, 2010, killing of Jeremy Phillips who was a fellow prisoner.

Phillips, 33, was nearing the end of a six-year, nine-month sentence for aggravated assault when he was found lifeless in the cell he shared with McGray at the medium-security Mountain Institution in Agassiz, B.C. He had been strangled with a ligature made from a cut bed sheet and beaten in the nose and cheek. Immediately after the body was discovered, McGray, 46, admitted to the killing, and he has said from the beginning he intended to plead guilty.

The real question surrounding the death is how a man who has said his need to kill is like a hunger ended up with a cellmate in a medium-security prison. First of all, he should never have been placed in a medium security prison in the first place.
Inmates have told the National Post that McGray's arrival at the Mountain Institution a year ago was met with dread. His reputation as a killer was legendary.

After being arrested for the 1998 Moncton, N.B., murders of Joan Hicks and her 11-year-old daughter Nina, McGray gradually confessed to other murders. He had stabbed Robert Assaly and Gaetan Ethier in Montreal in 1991 while on a threeday pass from prison. In 1987, he had killed Mark Gibbons, his accomplice in a Saint John, N.B., robbery. In 1985, he had murdered Elizabeth Gale Tucker, a 17-year-old hitchhiker, in southwestern Nova Scotia, near his hometown of Argyle.

Speaking to reporters while awaiting trial, he eventually pleaded guilty to all six murders. He actually bragged that those were only a fraction of his crimes. He claimed his killings totaled 16, stretching from Seattle to the Maritimes as he drifted across the continent in the 1980s and '90s.

He told the National Post in 2000 serial killers had fascinated him since he was young and attributed his urge to kill to beatings he suffered as a child. I find that hardly a sufficient reason to kill people. Many youngsters were beaten as children and they didn’t become killers when they were adults.

This particular killer said, "It's something that builds up, and gets stronger and stronger and stronger over the months. It starts out like an urge, but then it's so strong in the end that it's almost like a hunger. It's something I need. When I kill it's a big high for me." unquote

McGray warned he would kill again if he did not receive proper treatment. He said, "Just because I'm locked up in segregation doesn't mean I can't kill somebody. I have a chance every day." This raises an interesting question, “Why should he be in a position to be able to murder someone while he is in his cell? I will get to that shortly.

His words did not prevent his transfer from the maximum-security Kent Institution to the neighbouring medium security Mountain Institution last November. That decision to make that transfer was unquestionably one of the stupidest decisions made by prison officials.

An inmate at Kent told the National Post even the most hardened criminals were wary of McGray. "Everyone walked on eggshells around him," he said.

At Mountain, inmates said, McGray was angry over having to share a cell and Phillips wanted nothing to do with his new cellmate. He said, “I have to move. I have to move now.” The stupid prison officials turned him down

Another inmate, Jean-Paul Aubee, noted in his diary when Phillips asked to switch cells, a prison officer told him to “suck it up.” Why is that prison officer still employed with the Penitentiary Service? Prisoners have a right to be protected from stupid prison officers.

Phillips' parents are suing the Correctional Service of Canada, alleging its staff showed ‘reckless indifference’ and negligence in allowing McGray to share a cell with their son. The Federal Court lawsuit is seeking $11-million in damages. The family's lawyer took exception to the account of the killing provided to the court Monday.

Crown counsel Grant Lindsey said McGray told police the two cellmates had plotted to stage a hostage-taking that would lead to Phillips being taken to the infirmary and McGray being returned to Kent, where he would not have to share a cell. Then McGray decided to end Phillips' "bullshit," according to the account provided to the court. "For whatever reasons, that inspired McGray to kill him," Mr. Lindsey said in an interview.

He said, according to McGray, "Phillips knew who he was and didn't seem to have a problem with him. But this is all McGray's account. I've got no reason to disbelieve him, but I've got no reason necessarily to trust what McGray is saying either."

Myer Rabin, the lawyer for the Phillips family, said there is no substance to the theory of a mock hos-tage-taking. Phillips "was eligible for parole in six weeks, he was planning on coming home, so it made absolutely no sense that he would get involved in this type of activity," Mr. Rabin said. "I find it bizarre that they would raise this scenario." I agree with Rabin. The prison officials are trying to put the death of the inmate entirely on his own shoulders.

McGray's seventh life sentence will be served concurrently with the others, with no eligibility for parole for 25 years.

Corrections officials appear now to have a full appreciation of the danger he represents. His transfer in November was to the special handling unit of the SteAnne-des-Plaines Institution, the highest-security prison in Canada. Other inmates include biker boss Maurice Boucher, New Brunswick killer Allan Legere and, until his death this year, serial murderer Clifford Olson.

McGray should never be released from prison, he should never be transferred to a prison where the security is not maximum security and he should always be kept in his cell 23 hours a day and alone when he is released for one hour a day to exercise or to be taken to another part of the prison, at least three guards (big guards) should accompany him and he should be leg ironed and manacled when out of his cell.

I blame the deaths of some of the victims of serial killers on prison authorities and prosecutors who obviously did not have the best interests of society at heart. As far I am concerned, these bums should be fired.

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