« Sword and Scale

Episode 90

2017-05-21

When Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist Claudia Rowe, author of The Spider and The Fly, decided to write to a serial killer, she wasn't prepared for how it would change her life. In her quest to understand the nature of cruelty, she ended up discovering much more about herself. Kendall Francois murdered at least eight women and hid the rotting corpses in the home that he shared with his mother, father, and younger sister. A large foreboding figure who emanated a pungent odor, he demands that Rowe offers personal details of her life in exchange for the answers she is seeking. She does not comply with his wishes, which leads the reader to wonder "Who really is the spider and who really is the fly?"

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Hey did you know, there's a place ring it. Although it is true krim headlines, five days, weak called sorting scale daily and its hosted by me, Rain Williams, money through Friday, we break down all the crazy case is going on in the country and around the globe. If you What's going on before everyone talking about it, subscriber sort, unskilled daily on Apple podcast, Spotify Stitches tune in or anywhere he was near podcast and stay safe. Jordan. Scale contains adult themes and violence and is not intended for all audiences. Listen discretion is advised
Surely there were officers who spoke to me about the smell in the home that was so bad, that they couldn't get it off. Skin welcome to sword had scale season. Poor episode. Ninety show that reveals that the worst mergers are real.
in this episode working to delve into nineteenth century english poetry hitting not kidding. Actually you see what I mean in just a minute. We are joined by Pulitzer Prize nominated author and journalists, Claudia Roth, to talk about her new book, which reads like poetry, it's called the spider and the fly. It's a story about finding yourself delving into what makes you human and, of course, murder I think you're going to like it, but before we get to that, I want to remind you that our new show sword and scale rewind posted by Stefanie, wilder, Taylor and Lynette Carolla will be launching very soon. We don't have fixed date yet, but it will almost certainly be in early June. If you want the second it's available than join our Facebook, twitter and instead pages just search for certain and scale rewind or SS rewind this is Claudia, I'm a journalist and author of the spider and the fly a reporter, a serial killer and
meaning of murder, and I'm assuming. This is also a reference to the one from the eighteen hundreds yeah, it is and the poem is about flattery. The poem is about the spider, Flattering lit the dead Sea fly and you know that flatteries eventually gonna get you killed, and you know flattered whom, in the in the relationship between candle, Francois myself, there was some. Surely me draw manipulation going on will you walk into my parlor said. Despite her to the fly, Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spot, way into my parlor- is up a winding stare. And I have many pretty things to show you when you were there Oh no said the little fly to ask: in vain, for whom up your whining stare can never come down again
I'm sure you must be weary. Dear with sore up so high, will you asked upon my little bed said the spider to the fly. There are many curtains drawn around the sheets are fine and thin, and if like to rest awhile snugly Fuck you in. Oh no said the little fly or I've often heard. It said they never never wake. Again. We sleep upon your bed, No Francois was a twenty seven year old. Hall, monitor at a middle school. That's what he was doing at the time that he confessed two murdering eight women haste angled them all to death while raping them and storing their bodies in the home where he lived with his mother father and teenage sister in Poughkeepsie New York, which is a town about two hours, north of New York City. This is an unusual case because you don't often hear about a black sea
oh killer. Who only has white victims? That's actually one of the most unusual things about the case, not so much that he was an african american serial killer, because there are plenty of those. But my understanding is that his choice to cross race in when, when choosing victims, does stand out in an interesting manner. He s do you think that Kendall Francois has any concept of right and wrong? Yes, definitely I think he absolute only knew what he was doing was wrong. What is it about? a person like this who seem to lack any kind of empathy towards any other human being so in my car crustaceans with candle which were mainly through letters, but also phone calls and several in person visits. What I came to realize, at least in his case, was that he was able wow understanding that he had done some
thing wrong there. He, he certainly didn't see it in any other way, but he was also able at the same time, to see himself as the aggrieved party, and I think that you'll see this kind of thing, true in in many people who we would consider villains, the bat I never thinks that they are entirely bad or if they do, they think that there is a reason for what they are doing. There is sort of a very pitiable logic at play in our minds. He definitely felt the aggrieved party, not that we should feel sorry for him, but that is how he said. What was playing out if you want to know something about me, I was once said: was darkness so play. I'm not even sure that it was part of me. It didn't feel like it to this day. There are times that I have to remind myself tat. It was the same hands that are now waiting you that ended so many lives. I don't feel
could carry most of the time. This letter was written by Kindle Francois to Poughkeepsie woman, who he met well being held in a duchess county jail. Seventeen old, Christina Sharp, had been held on charges that she had assaulted. Another woman with a knife. According to her candle France Why was placed in an isolated cell directly below hers one day and the to begin? speaking through the jails ventilation system they soon became friends of sorts began, corresponding with each other via prisons, mail system, which took three days. Go from one cell to another, my Christina shot. I met candle fast when I was seventeen and Dutchess County jail? I wanted to write to him because I wanted to know why you did what he did, why Joe We too, I wanted to know everything. I'm just curious person. That's all has nothing more, nothing less, just curious that girls, instead teachers
to die and he started quoting things from Bible about centres, but he said then didn't deserve to die by his hands in Ireland. In saying that they're all mean everyone's gonna meet their maker and he'll have to pay to, but he said that they then deserve die by him like a little pieces that make you wanna know, and I mean that's all. It is like to make me he writing. If I were to ask you from your stranger, how did you feel about women? I think he loved, but they didn't ass. He loved women, but they didn't love him. They looked at him, ass, bright, ass, the fat, nice tie I mean. Maybe you got tired of being fat, nice guy and then you're probably never works out like now, and now when he sees women Genie thought they were probably higher than men are smarter. He said to so. Maybe that's why
quite a heavy man. Candle Frances yeah. He was an enormous guy about six for well over three dread pounds. So he was a huge guy. He was also just a sort of physically unattractive person and the condition of his home, which I'm sure we'll get back too, is important. Here he stank many people now looking backwards. I he stank of death because he had these Susan in his home- and you know there was not a was not a large home, but the home itself has, Finally, they were hoarders, so the home itself had a tremendous wreak to it of rotten food and feed. Seize and garbage and and all kinds of stuff such that it is possible, may be that the reek of eight corpses, kind of blended in with the general disarray so yeah Kendall Francois was a deeply unattractive person on a number of levels and it seems maybe because of his build or his
personality or the fact that he had a odor associated with them. He somewhat felt isolated. He definitely felt icily. Did and the thing about his personality, which is really sad to me. You know he had this very hard ugly sigh to his personality. Obviously he did have also another Previous earlier side that many people recognised and and talk to me about a lot, he once had been a sort of goofy kid he's he remained as a person with a sort of slapstick sense of humor where he loved, really corn ball humour. He had this other side to him with clearly got warped and and destroyed in some fashion, but there were still little shards of it. That would poke out when we would speak so his personality was one woman had described to me
a jackal and hide, and I can see why, even though that has become a cliche but yeah he's, he had this sort of goofball. All shy kid part, and this very hard remorseless part, and I There are folks who would say the goofball shy. Kid part is just a ruse and were taken in by it, but you know I don't think so, There are numerous people who remembered the child, Kendall, Francois and the teenager Kendall Francois, and there were people who speak in the book who kind of I don't think they realize it at the time, but kind of spoke to that change that seem to happen very distinctly in him during heights. Where he in ninth grade had been this highly engaged student who loved history and was really worked up about american slavery by the way that the american slave period and then by the end of high school, seem to have sort of turned
Oh, what else do we know about him as a child? Did he have a lot of friends he he was now. He was a guy who who people did like but he was also very, very shy. Very quiet, kind of an aloof kid and the Francois family didn't appear as far as I've been able to tell to interact much socially, so the kids were not allowed to bring any one home and of course now we know why, because the house was insane the house, the condition of the home itself, which is which I've later learned. You know it is true from many quarters they will sort of have a fairly rich social life outside of their home, but there's as other secret inner life, and that was certainly true of this family. So, while Kendall, Francois had sort of people who liked him during school, particularly girls, because he had sort of a gentle affect.
He didn't have really close friends and in part of that, surely is because the family sort of isolated itself. However, later years. When Kendall would talk to me, he would constantly speak about this issue of friendship and how he didn't believe that anyone had ever been a true friend to him, and one thing that really struck me about It was the way these sort of emotional triggers for him in a phoney friendship, sir. He talked about all the time a kind of familiar to many of us just in his version writ large. He was an extremely paranoid guy by the time I met him, but many of the things he said kind of recognised, as as areas of hurt in myself and in may us- maybe but surely in myself it just in him everything was magnified. His rage is magnified is paranoia, was magnified. His size was magnified everything
it seems like one of the first things he says to you is that he doesn't need some free, that's gonna betray him, so he is very stand office right off the bat he is and this issue of betrayal. Was again one of these sort of ongoing threads that he clearly looked back. On his earlier life thinking that an seem too Harry that into the way he understood his crimes. He felt these women had betrayed him used him made him. Said the cunning spider to the fly dear friend, what shall I do The warm affection I've always felt for you. I have in my pantry good story. Of all? That's nice. I'm sure you're, very welcome. Will you please to take the slice no no said the little fly kind, sir? it cannot be. I've heard what
In your pantry, and I do not wish to see. Kendall, Francois lived. A wretched life, often hiring prostitutes to satisfy his need for affection. They were mostly prostitutes. All of them had significant drug problem, so these were most had developed drug habits. These are mostly women were addicted to crack some heroin, but mostly crack cocaine and they were walking the Strip walking main street. Were walking the strip walking main street in downtown Poughkeepsie, which was a pretty degraded place at that time, and still they were walking the strip to support their habits, but they also had sort of lives in the community. One woman was expecting a grand child.
You know, another woman was attending the same community college. That Kendall himself was attending, that same time, the EU they were part of the community, even if it was sort of on the margins of the community. What did Fred swore murder some women and let others go my belief from reading the huge stack of police report, that I saw there were many women who who, as you say, we're with Francois and did survive many of them, spoke to police and said this is your guy. This is your guy, because these were had been caught. Him quote disappearing from main street. For a period of two years this this went on and on and with a very little attention to it or coverage until the end until suitable. The last, the sixth, seventh and eighth women were missing but Kendall Francois clearly had some sort of sexual dysfunction and he could not complete
act in any kind of reasonable timeframe. So he would hire these women off the street and they would go with him, but he was taking very very long time so in some case, is when a woman would say look, Can you move it along here? I've I've gotta be going. That was to him humiliating If a woman at some point said you know, I have an appointment Gotta go that to him was rejection and these sorts of humiliation sort of demeaning his manhood or to him. You know rejecting him in some way that was a trigger am, I saw a version of the even myself when I would visit him in prison and after three hours of talking, I would say I really have to get on the road now it's time for me to go. It's a long, long drive back and he changed immediately almost without a conscious decision
On his part, it seemed his aspect immediately shifted into this hard cold, but he was a different guise as soon as I said, I had to go and I will end we adjust spoken for three hours, so that seemed very consistent with what the whim and described, who had survived interactions with him and these women that did survive. A lot of them say that he was extremely rough. He was always extreme and extremely rough He certainly seem to derive some kind of measure or release from violent sex there. There there was a police detective who suggested to me that he did derive some kind of horrible ix. Meant from seeing women in their death throes. You know when, when he would strangle them, I will say in the book. As you know, I dont get into that too much. It is most
Lee about me and him, and not terribly much on the deep, deep details of his crimes. How did he get caught? Well, that's a really interesting thing: Ino Kendall Francois was a suspect fairly early and the police did bring him in for questioning and they polygraph him and he passed the polygraph which you know since should be a reason for all of us to understand why polygraph typically not admissible in court. So so we been assessed back after a pot pass the polygraph? It kind of drop down on the list and they looked to other places in subsequent years. Many people have, you know, have said that the police bungled whole thing or they didn't care- and you know it's not my place to say that I will say it did go on and on and on and so on September. First to ninety ninety eight. He he had picked up this young woman. And he knew from the strap. He had no
all summer and they had sort of had an interact. But apparently not any sex sheet. She was a gigantic than she was wanted on, or a on outstanding warrant. He picked her up He had decided that this was this was said he was going to He had given her money. He sat all summer for food and different things, drugs. He was gonna. Now get he was owed. This was a constant thing. He felt like he had put out, give women money and now they owed him something so he was going. Get what he was owed and he was gonna meal. They wouldn't have sex and she said no, that's that's not. I don't do that with You were you know, that's not our thing and said, it is. It is our thing and that's what we're gonna do, so he was in the process of raping her and strangling her. This was in his car in his in the in the driveway of his home, his parents home, and he
suddenly stopped in the book. I go into this in some detail. He suddenly stopped and she Minos she's, choking and gasping and she's in the car and he shut the our pulls out of the driveway any tears around out of out back on two main street, and there are all these people, Their because finally, the investigation is RAM up in a more public way there. All these police handing out flyers and this young woman she's nineteen years old, stumbles out of the car into a gas station in, and he like by call me later. You complete completely separated from what just happened. He just raped and strangled this woman shoes almost dead. She staggers into gas asian and they say, oh, my god, you you need the police The police are right outside, because our handing out flyers to all these people, who you know, do you know anything about these missing women and there is candle driving by waving at the cops in Vienna.
Standard sort of cat and mouse fashion that you hear about all the time with guys like this, so the police are summoned to the gas station, take this young woman statement and they you are talking to her about rape and she says who it is and, and they know can or from other times where he's been booked for assaulting power. The two to mean? He was well known to police as a guy who frequently raped and assaulted prostitutes, they kind of thought he was that's it that he was the slump b. Who fee guy who may be some fell. Maybe and smart enough to do anything more vigour. This house to say: can we can we talk to you about these allegations of rape and he says sure any comes down to the station with them and they're gonna fuck him for rape and assault of this young woman and they leave the interview room after he says. Yes, he he did this to her. He knows her. He he knows what he did was wrong
He knows he has a problem with his anger. All of this is is recounted in some detail in the book, They leave him in the room and after a few minutes he now some door and asks could speak to a prosecutor. The person- who's handling the missing women case. So he asks. Now. There are a lot of versions of what triggered him to ask and you have to read it in the book, but he asked to speak with a our security, which is a very interesting choice, he didn't ask to speak with a police detective. He asked to speak with a prosecutor making that prosecutor, then a witness. You know she took his confession and then you know there it was, or was like an eight or nine. Our confession: when the prosecutor comes to the police station and you know what that point. There really was no prosecution, they didn't even have any body at that point, but the woman who handled sex crimes for the county prosecutor's office, came to the police station
and sat there with him for eight or nine hours going over every single woman. So he confessed it is he can as you pointed out, every single woman that that he had killed well. Equal it out a you know. There was a missing women list of eight. Now the ate molest were not exactly the eight in his home. There was one woman on the list of the missing who never showed up. And there was- and he never confessed to and she is only black woman and there was a woman's body in his home. We'd never been on any persons list of the missing, so he confessed to eight and there were eight bodies in his home, but he may have killed at least this one. Other woman, this black woman, Michel EAST,
who's, never been found any adequate means of five women various days of decomposition and I was Grizzy site free of those bodies are together. Wrapped in plastic, looks like easel restarting dismembered. These one of them was bodies down, and Charles waiting for decomposing by and body had so decomposed like us, where it was so discussing. One of the police officers processing seem couldn't take. It needs to refresh bodies in those countries are found in the cross days underneath the house, how does a family living a house? for two years with eight rotting corpses right
that is one of the most troubling and confusing questions of the whole case, and there are many. The prosecutor's office interviewed the family and determined that they did not know, and so not culpable and were not charged. Now there are a lot of people who have asked me, of course, will vast everybody this question: how is it possible? They were whore, there's hoarding has been in the last five or six years, determined a mental illness and I says: I'm not at a psychologist, her psychiatrist. There is a a proof. The goal denial that one can live with, and that is what I believe was happening in this That is what I believe was happening in this case now there's knowing in theirs knowing right. You might know that, there's something odd about. Your oldest son, you ma
I that there are things in your home that you don't want people coming in and having dinner parties at your house. You know, you know something is wrong: but you don't wanna, go the next step and ask about what you because maybe you don't want to hear the answer so Their surely was an awareness of something Kendall's mother. He he told police had commented to him about the smell coming from the attic and he told her. Well, it was it's a nest of dead raccoons. Now, a family, I'm sorry a nest of dead, raccoons, a family of dead raccoons, and I thought the use of family was very interesting on his part, a family kind of curled. Together in the attic dead, it seemed an interesting parallel to the life he was living Eight rotting corpses is a lot more her thief as a fan,
we have dead raccoons I mean it's, oh yeah, saying right: it's insane, you know to us, I'm not in I have to be mindful here. Us only outside. It surely appears insane and there were certainly police detectives. Who said to me: that's impossible. Are you kidding you have a dead mouse in your house. You want to move, you know he is so bad, so right this is a level of at the very least. This is a pathological, level of denial, and all I can say is the prosecutor's office did interview these people and determined for whatever their reason that they were not going to be charged they weren't. The scene was so bad that at least one police officer got sick to stomach and had to be excused from the scene. You know they were People who told me about
seeing officers retching behind the home officers said no. They they. You know, officers have said bet that Reno were tough and that didn't happen. So now in the home that was so bad that they couldn't get it off their skin when when they went home to their own lives? And you know it was like all over them, so They went home to their own lives, and you know it was like all over them, so it was surely pervasive heavy as a cloud it. It was thick was bad, and this is a pretty. Standard middle class neighbourhood This is a very nice middle class neighbourhood. The Francois home was the most ramshackle on the block, but the block is a is really, lovely block about of use just down the street from Vassar College. These sort of colonial homes with porches? This is you know, lovely street,
with front lawns and back yards, and it's very nice middle class street doctors, offices, gynecologist, nl for its. Why? Why why this man? What was it about the story than intrigue you write? A lot of people have asked me that and of course I've thought about it and that's the point of the book. I dont think that necessarily any serial killer would have kept interested this long. Nor do I think, coming from him that any would be report or correspondent, would have kept him engaged for this long. I think it had to do with the triggers that we tripped in each other so one thing about candle France. Why was he want to be a writer, he fancied himself a rider. He wrote, stories and poems constantly and his letters more
A large part of the reason that I stayed involved with this. I had my own personal reasons for wanting to understand cruelty. That was my initial motivation in reaching out to him my own life and people who had hurt me and of lifelong obsession with understanding what is that impulse to hurt another person, and that was the originating motivation. When I first wrote to Kendall, that's what I thought I was searching for to understand: cruel It became a lot more complicated than that and his letters were part of it. There was a certain kind of poignancy. You know a lot of people talk about serial killers as having these very charismatic or magnetic personalities, and I would say that candles personality was not terribly magnetic. He was alternately, boast fallen shy. He was sort of adieu fists,
he's not a guy high would have been friends with in regular life, but the letters had a sort of poignant quality that really ripped at me, so maybe Maybe that was manipulation, or maybe that was a thread in him that was not apparent face to face, but came out through these letters. Surely the lead? kept me involved and then my standing of kind of the complexity in cruelty or in his cruelty at least And this is very different than what you would consider a traditional true crime type book this. This is not just a book about a serial killer, but it's also very much about you. What why did you choose to explore that sort of store line right. I really wrestled with it. I surely did not set out thinking. I was gonna write about me, but the longer I followed this through
of trying to understand him. The more I saw the sort of troubling echoes in myself, and I started to think that it was less than honest in telling the story to to do it in the traditional method. You know I had my reasons for being obsessed with the story and I felt that it was dishonest to not share those with a reader, and I do think that certain kind of totems of true crimes, certain sort of books that we hold up as as the greatest examples of true crime, are not always honest about the right and the role of the writer in the interaction with the subjects so The role of the writer and the way that that kind of color where's. The interaction was really important to me, because I was a rapporteur at the time and I'm still a reporter and the interaction between the subject and the journalist effects.
What you see on the page. It affects the conversation, of course, between the subject and the journalists and the juror stone history, their own back story informs now only the way they speak with a source or subject, but the way they put it down on the page, and I know that journalism pretends to be objective, so called object, of all the time. I don't really think that it's, I don't really think that's possible. I think all and Elizabeth is about choices, choices you make about what stories to cover and how to do it and what note to leave as the final image in or in a readers mind and those choices are choices. That means inherently subjective. So I felt that it, important to be real with readers about my subjectivity. In this case, you talk about you're exploration of finding an answer to the motivations of cruelty
but a lot of people seem to be fascinated by these types of stories, especially stories about serial killers. What do you think it is about serial killers that sort of fascinates the public and and keeps us interested well serial killers. I think Liam the obsessive nature the rip, additive nature. It's one thing to commit: a crime of passion, not could be little that in any way, is equally awful for the victim and the victim's family shortly and possibly the perpetrators family by I'd, that obsessive, repetitive nature, I think, is very intriguing to people, and I think the reason for that is it echoes things in ourselves. We all have our obsessions a whole. We can't Phil bank is very intriguing to people and I think the reason for that is it echoes things in ourselves. We all have our obsessions a whole we can fill in each week.
Satisfy. I did surely seeking out the story behind these crimes. In the end, this person, we all have of them, and I think that their that that that's one reason. I also think that true crime more broadly reading about real crimes and and real criminals. Many many people are obviously consumed with Lee with an interest in understanding. What, in a what makes you cross the line? Why does one person cross the line and another dozen, and I had those questions for many many many years long before I ever met candle Francois. I was really quite consumed with those questions and when I became, I think, that's. Why became a reporter to understand those questions and again stemmed from my own life and my own past. So that's it the reason for that for an interest in true crime. I also think that for me and perhaps others reading about crime. For many years it helped me process. Can
we should, in my own life and and things that had happened to me in my past. In my childhood, particularly and teenage years, it was a way to try to reach trace it and understand and understand it differently and understand the impulse toward cruelty differently. It also was about me trying to understand those who had hurt me. I think it also is a way of numbing. To be honest, I think that reading about crime from me became away to kind of separate myself from pain. Somehow and when you talk about some of the parallels there between these and these women that made stakes in their life how your life could have gone differently. Had you made this choice instead of a choice and how you engaged in a lot of risk taking behaviour when you re I did engage,
I did and gauge some very high risk behaviour in my teens and college years. I think there are few things I I surely think socio economic class and education played an enormous part? I think of certain things had been different in my own background, if I hadn't gone to schools, I think school saved me and in many ways, and if I hadn't gone too as good schools or didn't have teachers who recognised something in me, that they would zero in on. You know there were little threads of something I could hang on to that. Eventually eventually sort of pulled me too place where I was started, making better choices for myself, but those things not happened. I think it's entirely possible. I could have ended up in a very different place
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so you opened up a p o box yeah. Looking back at yourself, then do you think you being somewhat naive as to how this relationship with a serial killer would affect you naive about how it would affect me as in did I not expect it would utterly up and destroy my life yeah, but I didn't, I was not prepared for the intense toll it would take an even more than that I was not prepared for for my own compulsion to continue you know it's not so much that Kendall Francois was doing any thing to make me stay connected to it. In fact, numerous times he said, we should probably end this correspondence. It was, me. It was me, and I was not prepared for the intensity,
of my obsession and my impulse to keep it going. I did not, but it was me I can't really blame it on him, though he was surely ability of and had all of his games and tricks you the only force at play here formula, but about your life at that time. You were there with someone living with someone who didn't really we approve of this path. You are not at all. I was with the person who was also a reporter, and he was a local guy- I was not from town, but he was, and he was a very smart, sensitive person really, and so his utter just asked him disapproval and and please bewilderment toward me for what I was doing and what I was trying to find out did surprise and hurt me, but he was utterly disgusted, as probably many people would be
anyway. He he he was not interested in trying to help me or support me or understand the reasons why I was doing this or anything like that, and I did have really the valid reasons I wanted to understand what had happened to me and I thought candle Francois could provide a clue, a map to cruelty that was it so much at that time I was a freelance reporter. I was mostly, bring her for the New York Times, though I worked for some other magazines as well, but mostly stringing the New York Times living. This little shack off. I have a wooded road which turned out to be in fact down the street from cannot Francoise Uncle, but I didn't are not till later and I believe that his aunt was my mail carrier. I didn't learn that later either yeah so well? I was living in this little shack in the woods with this boyfriend who was a reporter and had a fairly isolated life myself in
looking back. I would call that of the deeply abusive relationship, though not physically abusive. But deeply undermining in in the ways that we ve come to learn. You know this is the nineteen nineties that that's all was going on and obviously we ve all become much more attuned to the kind of abusive relationships that can occur that need and only involve physical violence. So I do think that this one came to be an abusive relationship very undermining, very demeaning, so that I was sort of isolated increased the isolated from my family or any friends from before I was living there. You talk about your boyfriend, the time, not understanding and disapproving of your interest in this story. I suspect that a lot of our sordid scale fans, their boyfriends and Venza, don't understand the three obsession either and wives surely arrives exactly.
Wow. So let's, let's talk how you see, did this correspondence with Kennel Francois you, you sent him a letter and you waited and waited, and finally, you gotta response back what did he in return when, finally responded. I sent him a letter and waited and sent him another one and waited you know I was really the instigator here and when he responded. He demanded to know these my new details of my life and Looking back, I think he was doing to me what he thought reporters did to their sources. Tell me everything every little bit of of who you are every detail which is true. That is what we reporters like That is what I wanted from him. I want to know all these details of his past That's what he demanded of me in the first letter. You know what
the dress he wore under your high school graduation robe, and did you ever die your hair and what kind of computer to use stupid meaningless stuff they could? That could not be interesting to him as I later learned, because, though I never actually gave him what he wanted. None of that stuff when I die sort of gave him a few details from my personal life and my past things that I felt ok about sharing in care at all, meaning care at all about the material of what I was sharing. We were not going to connect on some sort of let's talk about racism, work or anything it not at all. That was purely some kind of demonstration of power there he wanted to see what kind of power he had. I mean it was absolutely that, but he didn't get that price I never gave it to him, and yet he stayed locked into this correspondence. This relationship to are we both area was about both wanted something in each of us wanted something from the other
that either of us exactly got what we wanted like for him. It was about control. I think it was largely about control, I ask I think that Eu Kendall prince, why had some issues with women? Some profound issues with women, obviously don't we to make light of that in any way he had really terrible hatred for what and also fascination with women obsession with women. So while he shut, really was motivated by an urge toward control. I think he also he constantly talked about. Are you my friend? Are you my friend, I think in some sad under developed part of him. He did imagine that he wanted a so called friend, though was no kind of relationship he knew how to and all or sustain in any way- and I was never going to be his friend because a reporter
never the friend of the source, even though the relationship as a sort of intimacy that echoes friendship and that becomes very, very confusing to people was scary. In my mind he was absolutely terrifying. I was terrified all the time, but actually in person he asked surely wasn't scary in person when you sat there with him when I would visit him at Attica, we were a face to face no divide or he wasn't cuffed? We were sitting at this tiny little card table, so you know he was inches from me in and just right there and his physical press, despite his size and despite what he had done, he actually didn't act scary. I was Tara I'd, but it was all this stuff in my head spinning my mom
memory of what he had done. My confusion of how could this guy sitting next to me? Do these things you know the skulls in his attic, like all these things were in my head. While I was talking to him, but he didn't in fact act in a frightening way. Only at those tiny moments where I would say, I've gotta go now or if I would display frustration with him displeasure in any way, exasperation with his answers. If I displayed any kind of negative response. There was this other person this hard edged hold side of him that would come out, and that was somewhat more frightening what would he say when you would ask him the reason he committed these tribes? Ah, he just We even dodge and answer flutter his eyes and act all bashful, and this was in a somewhat did
rev. I of true tons of true crime, an FBI profile or staff, were the release killers kind of trotted out. All their reasons on in this buffy table all tied up in a boat for you like it's. The easiest thing in the world cannot Francois was or all over the map, so he would act kind of bashful and shy or as if he was embarrassed by these kinds of questions other times he is bombastic when he felt like you know I to me he would he would turn of toss off utterly awful comment about what he had done, but it was kind of in this like raggedy she o sort of thing like you would hear from like a high school jock or something you know about about some ill football play and then at other times he was trying to not rationalize, but explain to me that, as he said over over. He said
These women weren't saints as if that could in any way equal what he had done and he knew it didn't. He said I know they didn't deserve to be murdered, but x Y and say acts. They did this so, he was sort of trying to navigate or negotiate himself what he had done and at the very end. Finally, he said, To me? You know, maybe I really want to look, maybe I'm afraid of what I'll see and I think that's what the book is bout. How willing are we to look at ourselves and to look at those who really frighten us in the did you find the answers that you were looking for. I found answers that satisfied something in me, though, not what I thought I was looking for at the beginning. I found answers that help me understand or of my own family and my own background and really the complexity in cruelty and that
this thing that we call evil is not some sort of monolithic black magic, Pino, its complex. We call it evil and I find the word so frustrating because to me it it doesn't tell me anything: it's it's like a curtain draw. On a cross understanding as if evil ok. That's all we need to know, and that to me sounds like we're sorry or something That is not what Kendall Francois was what he was was a deeply stop understand that to we ill. Wheatley miserable person and have to understand that to then interpret his actions which were utterly evil. They come from something So it did help me understand a complexity behind cruelty
three creature said the spider. Your way and your wise how handsome or your gauzy wings a brilliant by your eyes I have a little looking glass upon my parlor shelf. If you, step in one moment, dear. You shall behold yourself. I thank you general sir. She said for what you're please do so and bidding you good morning now a call another day, the spider turn him round into his is dead. Her well, he knew the silly fly would soon be back again. He was a subtle web in a little corner, sly and set his table ready to dine upon a fly and he came out
to his door again and merrily did sing hither pretty fly with the pearl and silver wing The robes are green and purple. There's a crust upon your head, your eyes or like the diamond bright. Minor dull as let alone, alas, How very soon this silly little flying, hearing his wily flattering words slowly living by with buzzing wings. She hung aloft lot then and nearer drew, in only ever brilliant eyes and green and purple here thinking only of her crusted head. Poor foolish thing at last up the cunning, spider and fiercely held her fast. She dragged her up. Winding stare and to his dismal den in his little parlor, she never came out again dear little children may
story. Red idle. Silly flattering words: I pray you never give heed. Onto an evil, counselor, close heart and and I take a lesson from this tale of the spider in the and you said earlier partially unjust that pursuing this story brooded your entire life at the end, was it worth it? Oh yeah, I think so. I should say that the boyfriend, and I that was never gonna, last ino. So if if this hastened to the end of it or just underscored our deep differences in. Oh so be it ain't. No one thing that that comes
of this Kendall Francois constantly criticised. My writing, which is kind of funny in it, dark way. You know he would constantly say you're. Writing is so reporter. Fish and superficial and you're not getting deep and obviously that was pure manipulation However, he wasn't wrong and He was trying to face a male. In his own writing and I also trying to move to? a kind of writing beyond just being a nuisance The rapporteur. I wanted to write something longer deeper, something was more nuanced and more textured, and I do think that the interaction with Kendall Francois is what eventually propelled me that way, not that his comments on my writing or what did it but in right, about him. I was forced to confront myself and to do different kind of writing and
Do the very thing I said I always had wanted to do, which was moved beyond being all a newspaper reporter, and so that's what this book is it's. What came out of that really tortuous, protracted exercise to become a writer willing to look at some really hard stuff can offer and swore died in prison. Yes, picture serial killer, Kendall, French. Why has died in prison? France, while killed eight women over a two year period between ninety ninety, six and ninety eight after soliciting than for Sacrament House. Did you pick up see after killing the women he kept? There remained in this town of the kids, you home four click journal. Dotcom, I'm John Bury have a great night, cannot Francois had HIV, he never appeared sick mean it never appeared to develop into aids in the times I saw him he did not appear sick and he he said he never got sick the act,
we'll determination of of what he died of in prison was never made public for hippo rules, scissor federal health law, privacy rules. However, I did see a report that can out shortly afterward saying that had been a tumor. In his growing area, which I find pretty strange and fascinating, considering his sexual problems. So Maybe it was cancer, as, as that suggests, maybe is HIV finally developed into AIDS, the only official report was that he died of natural causes in prison. Well, Claudia, thank you so much. I love you I really want you coming on. Is there anything else you want add before we close out one just just to under score that I think the book as, as you ve said, isn't traditional true crime, It is really trying to look at the subject, writer relationship and why I spoke,
that in this interview and I in its in the book to some degree, the subject writer relationship is as men appeal at IV and confusing, as as the relationship between candle, Francois and myself, and any kind serial killer and their mark and their prey. So I'm surely not saying a writer is like a serial killer, but I am saying that there were some parallel manipulations going on and that's really what the book is about. Who is that the porter. What is their role and how does that color? What we see, because this is a book but It's true in your daily newspaper to you brought that up, because I did have one final question which I had forgotten about: the spider in the fly who's the spider and who is the fly right Well exactly so, I leave that to every reader to determine for themselves. I will say I think most people would assume that it that candle,
is the spider and that I'm the flies sort of attracted into his web, but I think that that's open to debate I'll leave it ere. You know who survived, got away and who didn't once again. Thank you so much for joining us very much appreciate it and I love the book. Thank you so much Having me on, I really enjoyed the conversation. Remember that Claudia arose book the spider and the fly. A writer, a murderer and a story of obsession is available on audible and listeners can get her audio book for free with a thirty day, trial membership by going to audible, dot, com, slash monsters again, that's all dot com, slash monsters, go get this audio. Which I highly recommend today. But when you can also find the original poem by Mary, how it there to be sure to check out my guest appearance on the atom Corolla Show and
crying out loud, both of which should be out by the time. This episode is released to the public feed. Once again, thank you your support. Thank you for listening. Next time, stay safe to my above all alibi the quantum let you now, if you are really doing nervous to people who are in relationship with people like you describe and companies part cap, where are you now I myself was able to take. I find it a little personality, a trade that were set match and my partner like a really scared. And you don't want to believe that our here that adverse within yourself, but the truth is tat. Cats really
helped paved the way for me to leave my graphic, violent situation, and so I want you to know that and keep up the good work, and I will support this report, and I know what a financially do that, so we can cooperate few needs of the illicit you next check out this other ship from cast media?
I am Jacob Tula, I'm Jamie be, and we are your house of certainly sucking reach up a showed we're bring you a new starting point: covering the ins and outs of each stalker, their victim in their there. What does she hated me? So? Might she found my stepmother blinded and then was caught, making a plan to attack me with my stepmother? he shows up to my gallery and he's wearing a space suit. He looks at me and he goes you look like Jessica, rabbit and lily from the fifth element hasn't. He looks at me very intense, leading US stock. You will hear what the commissioner would you anything or not. We carry about the crime strong, laudably, predator
The stock in me for forty four years was starting to really interfere with my life and my freedom, a lot more than he had been one of those random messages. On my dear it was like I'm coming and I'll see you on this day. I was responding to them and then it was like a verification of a like. I said, all of a sudden, I hear a knock at the door. I opened the door a narrow, they think point something element standing in front of me with a backpack and he looked at me and he said a new era in kind of panic because it isn't Larry. He followed me my workplace and he grabbed me for men
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Transcript generated on 2020-03-24.