By Thomas R. Horn
December 13, 2014
When America's Most Notorious Criminals Came Face to Face with God
NWV EXCLUSIVE NEW INVESTIGATIVE SERIES
(Based on research during the writing of Redeemed Unredeemable)
In February 2014, a ten-year-old girl from Springfield, Missouri (within an hour’s drive from Defender Publishing), was kidnapped, raped, and murdered, allegedly by her school sports coach. In spite of several eyewitnesses at the site of the abduction and a long list of mounting evidence (including the body) found at this man’s home only hours after the child was publicly taken from the street, this man is currently awaiting trial with a not-guilty plea. Immediately following the announcement of the girl’s death, a candlelight vigil was held in her memory. Several staff members of Defender Publishing attended this vigil.
The new investigative book Redeemed Unredeemable was being written at that time.
The Candlelight Vigil
Approximately ten thousand people marched at eight o’clock that night. The city of Springfield closed a number of high-traffic roads and coned off many popular alleyways as the crowds pushed in closer around the family in support of this young girl. Scores of those attending were wearing shirts that said, “[Victim’s name] has left her footprint for the world to see.” Every kind of personality, ethnicity, and community group was present and unified under one common moral law; the crowd included conservative and religious families with kids, homosexual couples, the elderly, men, women, children, gothic teens, rough and muscular motorcyclists, city officials, court officials, members of law enforcement, close family members, and friends of the victim, as well as those who had never heard of the girl prior to her murder.
As the march began, everyone lined up along the sides of the street held their candles high, respectfully allowing the victim’s family to pass to the front, some straining to catch a glimpse of the young girl’s mother, who led the march, others standing still with heads bowed in prayer. The victim’s mother did not cry, nor did she make eye contact with anyone. In a sort of mechanical or survival mode, she simply kept her legs moving, an odd expression on her face revealing devastation edged with a contrasting refusal of defeat. The sniffles of thousands echoed off the quiet buildings along the usually bustling streets. Then, from somewhere in the back of the group, a single, brave voice rose in the silence: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine…” The air was emotionally charged as an unspoken determination to remember the girl the way she was in her innocence swept over everyone present. Voices joined in the singing. Candles flickered. Grown men cried.
Slowly, the people made their way down the street. Apartments, homes, and places of business were filled with onlookers sitting or leaning out of their windows, the lights from the rooms behind them extinguished reverently, their handheld candles swaying with the song. Suddenly, bursts of wild cheering that can only be described as an uplifting excitement dominated the march from one side. As heads turned to find the source of the curious enthusiasm, handmade cardboard signs were hoisted high: “Let him hang!” “We need harsher punishments for crimes against women and children!” Amidst this group was one man who was quickly identified in the waves of whispers preceding his position in the march. It was the prosecuting attorney, a man who had been on the news earlier that day stating that the victim’s legal team planned to seek the death penalty. Although the multitudes continued to sing “Let It Shine” until they reached the end of the road, spontaneous chanting of the victim’s name rose and quieted in response to signs, shouted statements, or relatives of the victim who inspired a more passionate, eager, and fervent reaction from those who came in support.
Our staff, who have since agreed that one sound from our throats would have uncorked a cascade of choking sobs, marched in silence, unable to sing or chant or cheer while our tears remained concealed only by the sheer force of our will. When the crowds reached the final cross street of the march, everyone grew quiet as one girl stood and sang “Amazing Grace.” The candles were raised again until the hymn was completed. Then, everyone was asked to take a moment of silence. The silence increased into around a full minute as many bowed their heads, lifting up unspoken prayers to whatever higher power they believed in.
Immediately afterward, members of the local motorcycle community offered to give rides for a small fee to raise money for the victim’s family. Attention turned to the tattooed and bandana-adorned men and women, as they regarded those around them softly and soberly, revving their engines. Candles from almost ten thousand hands were then blown out, the waxy smell permeating our senses, and the smoky haze lifting into the light of the streetlamps, wordlessly announcing the end of the march.
Though there were thousands of footsteps on the ground—and shortly thereafter, the thousands of vehicles were starting all at once across the city—few voices could be heard as the masses headed to leave. It was only after our staff was a mile or so away from the event that we could take a deep breath and gather ourselves. We will never forget that night.
One of many aerial shots taken by the present news crews the night of the candlelight vigil
The issue with criminals giving their hearts to the Lord post-crime and post-incarceration, at least in the minds of most, is the underlying question of whether their conversion can possibly be sincere. Ultimately, of course, that question canonly be answered by God. Despite this, many on the outside do hear the stories of these transformations and cast their opinions immediately—without knowing, or even wanting to know, all the details.
The crowds at that candlelight vigil were angry, and to say that they had every right to be angry is the understatement of the century. Anger is a powerful force of human nature, and though it is often destructive, there are times, such as when someone is murdered, when the emotion can inspire change or action toward good. In these cases, anger is even encouraged by many. One might say that we shouldall be angry when the life of an innocent person is taken for such detestable and selfish gains. (Based on our conversations on the ride home, we at Defender Publishing are also incredibly angry at the person who did this to that little girl.) Without passionate, righteous anger against violent crime, we would have no justice system, for the very meaning of justice is rendered void by the absence of the passion that drives it.
However, God in His seat on high doesn’t follow the same justice system or emotional patterns as we do. The Bible is clear that He does feel emotion, including anger, and when He walked the earth as a Man, He certainly felt human emotions. According to Scripture, He feels compassion (Psalms 135:14; Judges 2:18; Deuteronomy 32:36), grief (Genesis 6:6; Psalms 78:40; Isaiah 66:10), love (1 John 4:8; John 3:16; Jeremiah 31:3), hate (Proverbs 6:16), jealousy (Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:14; Joshua 24:19), joy (Zephaniah 3:17; Isaiah 62:5; Jeremiah 32:41), and yes, anger (Psalms 7:11; Deuteronomy 9:22; Romans 1:18). But where God trumps our finiteness is when the balance of anger versus forgiveness comes into the equation; He has the ability to feel several emotions for every person at once as it is deemed divinely appropriate to Him. His emotions are never limited to our predetermined, fragmented, human expectations. He does not experience “mood swings on high.” He is emotion, and it is only by our humanness corrupting His ultimate design that we move so quickly from one emotion to another or stay longer than we should on a single emotion, never fully understanding His perfect balance of emotions (anger and love) with their corresponding or opposing actions (wrath or forgiveness).
We, as people and as victims of others’ selfishness, may never find the strength to forgive some acts against humanity.
The same cannot be said of God.
Can God forgive even the sins of one as terrible as the man who murdered that little girl? What about others like Ted Bundy or David Berkowitz?
This brings us to an issue that will be addressed once, early on: It is NOT necessarily the opinion of this author that all of the criminals whose stories are included in Redeemed Unredeemable are completely sincere and will therefore spend eternity with God; it is NOT necessarily the opinion of this author that these criminals are insincere and will therefore spend eternity in hell. It is only the opinion of this author that the Bible clearly says that all sins are forgivable (except for two: blasphemy of the Spirit [Matthew 12:31; Mark 3:29] and those who take the mark of the beast [Revelation 14:9]).
Survey Says? Sincere Seeking CAN Bring Forgiveness
Besides the quest to confirm, uncover and report previously unknown facts, one of the driving purposes of this unprecedented work (Redeemed Unredeemable) is to encourage readers to understand that forgiveness can and will be given to those who are truly repentant and sincere in their asking. To our human, finite minds, it’s easy to hold to the flavor of, “Well, all sins are forgivable except thatone…” Or, more popularly, some twist Scripture to reflect and line up with their own convictions. For example, they might state that murder is a blasphemy against God, and the Bible specifically addresses blasphemy and murder as separate sins. (It also goes without saying that, just because sin is forgivable, it isn’t forgiven automatically; a sinner must honestly repent and confess his or her sins with full accountability to the Lord and earnestly seek forgiveness through our Savior, which according to the New Testament is then followed by good works.)
Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. (Matthew 12:31–32)
Notice that this verse does not say, “All manner of sin except heinous murder shall be forgiven…”
Flip the Switch: Conversion for the Wrong Reasons?
During the research of this book, uncountable feedback (blogs, articles, books, etc.) from people all over the globe concerning the general public’s acceptance of a prisoner’s conversion was read and studied. Although some people actually support the idea that a sinner who has committed the most atrocious sins (such as those outlined in this book) can be sincere in his or her conversion to Christ, hordes of others address the subject with a hardened skepticism—and, in many cases, hardened cynicism. This is completely understandable and absolutely expected. Questions that regularly pop up flow to the rhythm of: “How can someone who is mentally capable of ending another person’s life in the most unspeakable, horrific, and disturbing ways ever be mentally capable of true sincerity to God?” Or, “If they were twisted enough to commit these crimes against God and humanity in the first place, how can they possibly untwist themselves to become a peaceful, God-fearing follower of Jesus Christ?”
As stated above, these questions can only be resolved between God and the individual. However, one popular theme in the debate is that these sinners convert: a) at the flip of a switch, and b) for the wrong reasons (boredom, fear, sociopathic attention, etc.). (Moreover, many express that the sinner, by revealing his or her “sudden” interest in religion, is accomplishing too little, too late, and unfortunately, to the victims’ families, this statement seems all too true—but that logic does not apply biblically.) We will approach this more in depth throughout the book on a personal basis in each case study, but as you read and try to reach your own conclusions, it’s important to keep in mind the circumstances that the sinner is living in at the time of the conversion.
The average reader of Redeemed Unredeemable is going to be busy in life. This is generally a universal statement anymore. We rush here, run there, call this guy over here, email that one lady, work forty-plus hours a week, take care of kids, cook dinner, and at the end of the day, if we’re lucky, we have time to chill out and read a book before doing it all again the next day. Many Christians even struggle to find time to dive into the Word or pray. When we are not in the midst of the busier seasons of life, merely because we have the freedom to do so, we fill our time with recreational activities. Prison life simply cannot be compared to our lifestyles—and this is especially true for the American prisons’ higher-security divisions such as solitary confinement, death row, and special security units where the high-profile murderers such as this book is profiling are required to stay.
These people have extremely limited contact with anything outside of their cells. They are told when and what to eat, when and how to conduct personal hygiene, and when and how they can go outside their cells to stand in the sunshine…and the list goes on. The higher the level of security, the less access these inmates have to even the mundane items listed here. We, the free, cannot even contemplate the huge quantities of time these people have in which to reflect on their own lives, their own pasts, their own beliefs, their own convictions and guilt, and their own impending future. In addition to time comes atmosphere. The walls of the cells are daily reminders of what they’ve done.
In the words of David Berkowitz: “A guilty conscience hurts. There is an inner pain that is so intense, so suffocating, that all the macho role-playing, living in denial, or trying to stay busy cannot silence. Finally, a prisoner must sit in a prison cell…with his conscience whispering to him every day, ‘Failure! Failure! Failure!’”[i]
“The reality is that I was, at the time, making actual contact with demonic entities.… I know from experience that there exists evil spirits, and they do seek to gain control of people” (excerpted from one of the personal letters from David Berkowitz to Thomas Horn as part of new confessions published for the first time in Redeemed Unredeemable).
So, it’s easy for “the free” to look at these people who, while in their freedom, spent years and years in disobedience to God in the most horrible ways, and think that they nonchalantly flipped a switch to the ultimate universal start-over button. But when the details of their coming to Christ are studied and researched to the degree that this book required, one can see that the situation is much more complicated. Whereas a certain personality type may necessitate years of active intervention in his or her life to turn over a new leaf while free, that same personality may come to those crossroads much earlier while cut off from the distractions of everyday life. A serial killer will fill his time with distractions and recreational activities (good or bad) the same as anyone, and stay in the situation that perpetuates the sin. Those who have been cut off from the distractions of everyday life have alsobeen cut off from the temptations they were weak to in the days when they carried out their evil deeds, which places them in the position to stop committing the crimes and actually deal with the sickness that led them to it in the first place. Lastly, the Bible does not stipulate a specific length of time one has to spend in self-reflection before he or she is eligible for redemption. The thief on the cross next to Jesus is one popular example of the truth that people can place their trust in Jesus and count on seeing Him in eternityeven if the moment of their death is just a breath away.
From those who would seek redemption or forgiveness merely out of fear of the eternal hand-slapping they’ve earned, to those who seek constant attention and a Christian conversion is simply the next façade, to those who convert because they are literally psychopathic or insane and can’t make or understand functional decisions the same as the rest of us, certainly these are all possible scenarios. This book will state the facts on a case-by-case basis. You can be the judge. (Or, perhaps, we should leave that to God.)
New information on the Manson Family murders in letters between Thomas Horn and Charles "Tex" Watson in the book Redeemed Unredeemable.
At the onset of the documentary The Six Degrees of Helter Skelter, a disclaimer is given:
There are countless story variations and theories regarding the events surrounding the Tate/LaBianca murders, from hundreds of sources, with varying degrees of reliability.
Some theories go as far as to claim that Charles Manson had nothing to do with the murders at all, and that the whole thing was a massive conspiracy and a setup job.
We have tried to retell the story as accurately and as factually as possible, to the best of our knowledge, based on years of research.
Undoubtedly, some people will still find something they are unhappy with.
They always do.
This disclaimer reflects much truth regarding the responses of the masses who hear the reports of serious criminals. One can’t possibly know all that transpired at the scene of a crime merely by reading a few articles in a shady checkout examiner or by watching a short documentary. Yet, many will do just that, wondering how some other report got it all wrong, when the article they read was clearly the more reliable source… But we must be realistic. There are certain details in each crime story that the general population will never know with indisputable and undeniable certainty: details that only God and the criminal witnessed. Like the statement above from a documentary about the Tate/LaBianca murders involving Charles Manson and the Manson Family, no matter how much research goes into maintaining a nonbiased and factual report, there will still be other versions of the story floating around, as well as other individuals claiming to have the real truth. All one who intends to give the accounts straight can do is convey the details that the most reputable sources provide and let the evidence speak for itself. That is what the personalities behind this book have aspired to do in each of these case studies, and our extensive citations at the end of the book reflect exactly where and from whom we compiled our information on the crimes as well as on the lives of the criminals from childhood and forward.
We went directly to some of America’s most notorious criminals who are still living and interviewed them for ourselves. When they heard the mission behind this book, they agreed without hesitation to work with us. In cases in which the perpetrator was already deceased, we went to the psychiatrists, prison ministers, family members of victims, family members of the criminals, and even prison guards for testimony.
Having said this, please note that Redeemed Unredeemable is different than any true crime studies on the market. Whereas the offenses of the individuals must be addressed when necessary for the reader to fully comprehend what has transpired, the central focus of this book is upon God’s grace and forgiveness, and His calling to every man—even those who have sinned in ways the average believer cannot fathom.
Our hope is that people both inside and outside prison walls will find grace for forgiveness through the lens of this difficult investigation.
TO BE CONTINUED...
© 2014 Thomas Horn - All Rights Reserve
Thomas Horn is the CEO of RaidersNewsUpdate.com and SurvivorMall.com.
Over the last decade, he has authored three books, wrote dozens of published editorials, and had several feature magazine articles. In addition to past articles at NewsWithViews.com , his works have been referred to by writers of the LA Times Syndicate, MSNBC, Christianity Today, Coast to Coast, World Net Daily, White House Correspondents and dozens of newsmagazines and press agencies around the globe. Tom's latest book is "The Ahriman Gate," which fictionalizes the use of biotechnology to resurrect Biblical Nephilim.
Thomas is also a well known radio personality who has guest-hosted and appeared on dozens of radio and television shows over the last 30 years, including "The 700 Club" and "Coast to Coast AM." When looking for a spokesperson to promote their film "Deceived" staring Louis Gossett Jr. and Judd Nelson, "Cloud 10 Pictures" selected Thomas as their spokesperson to explain the Christian viewpoint on UFO-related demonology.