Matthew Perkins TN PTSD Soldier

I visit Matthew Perkins often and he is another inmate that is particularly close to my heart. He is the soldier with PTSD who stabbed to death his girlfriend and her 2 small boys. While this is terrible, it isn’t the worst we've heard and it wasn’t the crimes that drew me to him.

He was part of the recruiting team that recruited my son, now an Army Infantryman, into the Army. It was only 7 miles from our home that Matthew committed his crimes.

His case is one that leaves people shaking their heads and searching for explanations in their own minds. Matthew was a decorated soldier, called "hero" by the same detectives that investigated his case. He saved lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many a soldier can thank him for their safe return to their own families.

One too many bombs, one too many deaths, one too many shots fired between the enemies eyes and something went sour in this soldier’s brain. The years of combat training and the hands-on warfare crept into his mind and devoured it like a cancer.

He had hallucinations, fought invisible Taliban in his backyard, and heard demons whispering to him. He told his doctors. What happened was a perfect example of too little too late.

Matthew received three life sentences. He took a plea bargain because he had no faith that a jury of his peers would give a shit about him. He knew they would not care how big a hero he was or how many times he asked for help.

No one helped Matthew. He slowly realized what he had done and now he lives with that day after day. How is this fair? What have we done to Matthew and other soldiers like him?

His last letter was hopeful. At least for me. Where others have been rambling, incoherent nightmare scenes, this one was readable. He talked about his family problems. He said hed been on lock down due to gang fights in other pods and that hed recently received an honor pod. Thats a pretty big deal. It means privacy and clealiness and a few tiny extras.

He mentioned that the biological father of the boys he killed ha contacted him. He wants closure, to understand. Matthew said he told him what he could as best he understood it.

We can all just hope for the best at this point.


Weekend Writing

This is a writing weekend for me. I recently returned from a business trip to Las Vegas that left me drained and unmotivated. This isnt the first time we have been and maybe that is partially why it didnt seem quite so glittery to me this time.

We saw the mob museum and the story of Virgina Hill transfixed me all over again. She made her living simply being fabulous. She was a courier for the mob and Bugsy Seigal's girlfriend. She had dated mafia kingpin Joe Adonis before Bugsy. The gangster world was not new to her.

Contemporaries described her as having an uncanny ability to meld into the criminal element. Where most people would wait months and even years to be trusted and ingratied into the culture, Virgina seemed to instantly fit in.

She knew how to keep her mouth shut and be inconspicuous.

From Wiki:
In 1951, Hill was subpoenaed to testify before the Kefauver hearings, where she denied having any knowledge of organized crime despite being described by Time magazine in March of that year as the "queen of the gangsters' molls."

At the Vegas Mobster Museum, there is an exhibit where you sit in the actual courtroom of those days and watch holographic figures portray the Kefauver hearings in front of your very eyes. Virginia is strong, fearless even and funny in the face of devastation.

She sat in the courtroom covered in furs with her legs crossed and a jaunty smile. When the Attorney General asked how she made a living she batted her eyelashes and said "People give me things."  Time magazine reported in its obituary of Hill on April 1, 1966, that she spent her time on the witness stand "boggling Senators with her full-grown curves and succinct explanation of just why men would lavish money on a hospitable girl from Bessemer, Ala."
Ahhhhh, the life.

While Virginia was abroad, her beloved Bugsy was shot in her home.

After Hill was indicted for income tax evasion in 1954, she moved to Europe, where she lived for the rest of her life, supported in her later years by her only child, Peter Hauser. She died of an overdose of sleeping pills in Koppl, near Salzburg, Austria on March 24, 1966 at the age of 49.

Bugsy's Baby: The Secret Life of Mob Queen Virginia Hill, is a book by Andy Edmonds that "reveals the real Virginia Hill, mob mistress and crafty gangster, examining the extent of her mob connections, her role in "Bugsy" Siegel's murder, her part in the Mob's expansion westward, and the mystery surrounding her death."

Me and Bugsy Siegal at the wax museum in Las Vegas


Drew Peterson - Wife Killer

New letter from Drew Peterson today.

He talked some about his life. He spoke of how worried his mother was when he joined the force and told me not to worry so much about my Army Infantryman son.

He gave me a list of inmates and asked that I find penpals for them and asked for a list of correspondance courses for inmates.

I had complained about feeling old and not having enough hours in a day and his reply was that I am still a kid and he started driving the year I was born.

All in all, from this writers point of view, I can see how he has been called charming. His letters are short and to the point but engaging and comical.

If, in fact, he is guilty of the murders hes accused of, I hope that his efforts behind bars prove fruitful for many, many lives. He has the ability to change scores of lives right now. Let him use his experience to help the world.


Barbara Starr Smith - Mississippi

Barbara Starr Smith is the Mississippi woman that went bat-shit and killed her ex-husband, his new baby daughter and shot at his new wife. We discussed her here. She was not given the death penalty. In my opinion it was because she had never been in trouble a day in her life and also because of the reason she went bat shit.

Reports state that her husband, Romeo, (you can’t make this shit up), only married her to get a green card. Oh, and the new wife? He brought her over from Jamaica with him, calling her his sister. They lived together with Ms. Starr until said green card was obtained at which point they made a quick exit stage left.

Barbara was convicted on capital murder and given 3 life sentences.
She is inmate number 167155 at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility.


Suzanne Margaret Basso - Texas

Suzanne Margaret Basso is scheduled for execution on February 5, 2014 in Texas. On August 26, 1998, Basso and codefendants kidnapped Louis "Buddy" Musso, a 59-year old retarded man, and intentionally caused his death by beating him with belts, baseball bats, steel-toed boots and hands and feet. Basso was the leader of the group and encouraged all the codefendants to abuse the victim.

The murder was committed for proceeds from an insurance policy on the victim (in which Basso was named the beneficiary) as well as other assets in which Basso was named heir. Basso had wooed the victim into leaving his family and friends in New Jersey and moving to Texas, under the guise that she would marry him. The victim was found in a ditch with injuries so horrendous that the body was unrecognizable.

Basso was sentenced to death in October 1999.She lost her last federal appeal in 2010. 


Fallon Tallent - Tennessee

I was pregnant with my last child in the summer of 03 when I heard about Fallon Tallent. I was working online for a records retrieval company when I heard the live news report of the police chasing her at high speeds down I-40. I stopped working and stared at the screen with interest. It seemed it was a young girl, barely a woman, racing down the Interstate not 60 miles from my house.

Reports say Fallon Tallent was on the tail end of a seven day crack binge that day. She was racing through Mt. Juliet and caught the attention of the police. Her speeds reached over 100 mph and they attempted to stop her using sting strips – the spiked strips police unroll across the road to puncture tires of absconding cars.

Fallon had been caught in this manner before and when she saw the strips go down she swerved, killing two policemen that day, Sergeant Jerry Mundy and Deputy John Musice.

Fallon is big news in the convict writing world. Her romantic entanglements with Tennessee death row diva, Christa Pike, often make headlines and her artwork and poetry turn up for sale online occasionally.

I have thought many times about Fallon. How could a girl so young end up careening down the interstate at top speed? Where did she come from? Where was she going?

She will have to serve 102 years before being eligible for parole. 

Alyssa Bustamante Update