By New Times
By Connor Radnovich
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Ray Stern
By Keegan Hamilton
By Matthew Hendley
By Monica Alonzo
By Monica Alonzo
The prisoner's dream starts with such promise. "They're letting me out and I'm going to meet Christopher," Debbie Milke says. "He's alive! I'm free!"
Suddenly, the dream becomes a nightmare. "The only way we'll be together is if we get attached by handcuff. Forever. That's the only way he'll stay with me."
Debbie is on Arizona's death row for having been convicted of murdering the little boy she keeps dreaming about. He was her four-year-old son, Christopher Conan Milke.
She is one of only thirty women on death row in the United States. She's the first woman condemned to die in Arizona since 1932, when trunk murderess Winnie Ruth Judd was sentenced. Almost overnight, Debbie has become infamous. Mention her name and people will use the words "fry," "gas," "torture," "maim." Most can comprehend, if not sympathize with, the inner rage that might lead a deeply troubled mother to hurt her child. But Debbie's case was about something far more terrible than that. She was convicted of having cold-bloodedly sent her little boy to his execution under the pretext of having him visit Santa Claus.
"In each individual," poet Maya Angelou once wrote, "there is a good and a bad, an evil and a good." If Debbie orchestrated the killing of her only child, hers is an evil that surpasses understanding.
The facts of Christopher's murder will be familiar to many: On December 3, 1989, Phoenix detectives found Christopher's body in a far-northwest Phoenix desert wash. The cause of death: three hypervelocity bullets to the back of the boy's head from close range. Christopher's chewing gum was clenched between his teeth. He was curled in the fetal position.
Prosecutor Noel Levy argued at the trial that Debbie had considered motherhood an inconvenience that was interfering with her career and her romantic ambitions. She also wanted Christopher dead because he reminded her, in looks and temperament, of her hated ex-husband, Mark Milke.
Debbie used as instruments of her son's death, Levy argued, James Styers and Roger Scott--unemployed west-side Phoenix pals.
The pair took the boy to a Peter Piper Pizza and wolfed down a pie--medium special, no onions. They let Christopher ride on the restaurant's mechanical horse that cost a quarter. Then the three drove out in Debbie's car to a remote desert wash near 99th Avenue and Happy Valley Road.
Styers and Christopher got out of the car, ostensibly to look for snake holes. The boy bounded down the wash as the 43-year-old Vietnam veteran pulled out a gun. Moments later, Christopher was dead.
The conspiracy cracked thirty hours later when Roger Scott confessed. The 42-year-old implicated Styers and Debbie, and led cops to the little boy's body.
Debbie had promised Styers most of the $5,000 from a life insurance policy on Christopher, Scott confessed. Scott was to be paid $250 for driving the getaway car. The men left Christopher's body where it would eventually be discovered. If the boy had remained "missing," the insurance payoff would have remained on hold.
Debbie confessed a few hours after Scott, police say. But even with that confession, the prosecution's case wasn't ironclad. Phoenix homicide detective Armando Saldate didn't tape his interrogation of Debbie. (See related story.) And Debbie's jury wouldn't get to hear Roger Scott's incriminating statements. Killer Jim Styers still hasn't implicated her.
And then there was Debbie's personality. In numerous jailhouse interviews with New Times, Debbie would look directly at her visitor with hazel eyes big and sad enough to fit into a painting by Ted De Grazia. "I'm not the heinous one, I'm not the depraved one, I'm not the cruel one," she'd say. "Nothing makes sense. I did not deceive my son by telling him he was going to see Santa Claus. I know there are women who kill, but I'm not one of them. I'm not guilty."
Many who spend time with her want to believe in her innocence, especially men who become entranced, if only briefly, by her pretty smile, apparent vulnerability and friendly personality.
Even Noel Levy, an able veteran of the County Attorney's Office, admits he had doubts during the trial about Debbie's guilt. "I was starting to feel sorry for her, the way she would be sitting in the judge's chambers shaking like a cornered rabbit," Levy says.
Soon after Debbie took the witness stand, however, it became apparent to most onlookers that she was sinking herself with her seemingly heartless testimony. She was like steel when Levy handed her the little cowboy boots Christopher was wearing when he died. Her descriptions of unspeakably tragic events bordered on the banal, reminiscent of what she had allegedly said of the murder in 1989 to Detective Saldate: "I just made a bad judgment call. I'm just an emotionally troubled 25-year-old girl who needs help in dealing with her problems."
The longer Debbie was on the stand, the worse things got for her.
"She was hard as a rock, cold as a stone up there," Noel Levy says. "She gave me the case. When she was testifying, I couldn't help myself. I walked up real close to her and I looked into her eyes and it hit me. Behind the shield, I was looking at consummate evil. Her eyes were dead."
DEBBIE MILKE WAS BORN in Berlin, West Germany, on March 10, 1964. Her father, Air Force lifer Richard "Sam" Sadeik, was stationed there for a time. Her mother was a German native named Renalda, nicknamed Alex by her American friends. The couple had two daughters, Debra Jean--the oldest by a few years--and Sandra Denise.
The family's nomadic military trail ended at Phoenix's Luke Air Force Base when Sam reached retirement age in the late 1970s. Debbie relates a relatively normal childhood, marred only by a sibling rivalry with Sandy.
"I was always close to my mom," Debbie says. "She really had me up on a pedestal. My sister was always rebellious and my mother always used to hammer her. My room was always clean, I was always home on time, I got good grades, and I never got in trouble. I'm 27 and I can still hear my parents telling Sandy, `Why can't you be just like Debbie?' They drove that into her and she hated it, just hated it."
Sam and Alex Sadeik were divorced when Debbie was fourteen. Sam moved to Florence and took a job as a guard there at the Arizona State Prison, where he still works.
Debbie stayed with her mother in Phoenix and attended Cortez High School. Though she wasn't a member of the National Honor Society as she claimed on later job applications, Debbie by all accounts was an above-average student.
Her classmates remember her as shy with strangers, but a bit of showoff with friends. "Debbie was a cute girl who liked to blab and hang out with the girls," a former friend recalls. "I mean, she wasn't any different than anyone else. If you'd told me that Debbie Sadeik would murder her own kid like this, or have it done, I'd tell you you were nuts."
Although Debbie's ex-husband, Mark, alleges she was sexually experienced before he met her, old friends say she bragged more than anything else. Debbie herself claims that in high school she was prudish to the point of earning the nickname "DD"--short for "Debbie Doesn't." But she does admit to having taken part in some mischievous teenage pranks.
"A bunch of us went out to the lake one time," she says, laughing at the memory, "and we had a few wine coolers. We went into a Circle K and I reached into the hot-dog thing and I took one bite out of each dog. I had a whole mouthful stuffed in and I turned around and there was a cop looking right at me. I about died. I had to pay for them."
Debbie was attending Glendale Community College after graduating from high school when something she describes as "traumatic" occurred.
"I was at a very vulnerable stage in my life," she says, "going to college, working part-time, depending on my mother. My sister was living in Florence with my father and his new wife. Mom came home one day, ~`I'm moving back to Europe. Bye.' It was with this guy she was seeing. She says, `Don't worry, I'll give you money.' How can you tell a nineteen-year-old girl who's never had any responsibilities to budget money? She felt I was mature enough.
"After my mom left, I met Mark."
"IT WAS FRIDAY the thirteenth when I met the bastard," Debbie Milke says of the night in March 1983 she first laid eyes on her future husband. "My roommate called me at work. `Let's go out tonight. There's thirteen-cent beers at this bar and lots of cute guys.' I got introduced to Mark and I thought he was very, very nice looking, and he was very nice to me. We started to go out. We had the same nationality, German, and I got along great with his mom. She reminded me a lot of my grandparents. I was head over heels in love with him."
Mark remembers the meeting like this: "I was shooting pool and she came in. She had just turned nineteen. Debbie didn't actually make the move. She chickened out, and this friend they were with told her that he had my phone number."
Debbie soon called Mark, he says, and the two arranged a meeting at his place. What Mark remembers about one of their first dates is significant in light of future events.
"Her roommate had a small son, about three or four," Mark says, "and Debbie brought him over, saying that he was her son. And she had very good motherly qualities with him. I liked that quality in her."
Mark was a 1979 Thunderbird High School graduate and had been a hellion since early on. Court records list Mark's first brush with the law at the age of twelve. After high school, he laid carpet or worked construction sporadically to raise cash.
Mostly, though, Mark drank himself into oblivion and did drugs. A probation officer once noted of him, "Mark has a rebellious, nonchalant attitude. He is basically immature and is going to do as he pleases."
Nothing dissuaded the infatuated Debbie. She moved in with Mark in the summer of 1983. Mark says Debbie soon got pregnant, but miscarried after her mom flew over from Germany. Debbie vehemently denies this, saying her first pregnancy was with Christopher.
Debbie and Mark started an unsettling pattern of separation and reconciliation. During one kiss-and-make-up sequence in December 1984, they got married. Debbie was pregnant with Christopher within a few weeks, but Mark's pending responsibilities did nothing to curb his wild ways.
Mark continued to get arrested on felony DUI and related charges. He was ordered to prison soon after Christopher was born by Caesarean section on October 2, 1985.
With Mark behind bars, it was Debbie's job to provide for herself and her baby. She did this by working and with financial help from family members, especially Mark's father, who expressed guilt over his son's criminal misadventures. "Debbie never had any of her parents," Henry Milke says. "The mother left her, the father didn't want her. So she turned to me."
Debbie and Mark got back together after he completed his six-month prison sentence in 1986. "I thought everything would be fine," she says, "but it wasn't. He got into trouble again."
The trouble Debbie is speaking of tells much about what kind of household Christopher was being raised in. It was November 30, 1986, and Christopher had recently celebrated his first birthday. The terms of Mark's parole said he wasn't supposed to be drinking, but he fell off the wagon that night at a Phoenix bar.
Mark's version of what ensued: "Debbie rode home with friends. I had to catch a cab home, cost me $25. I just had a few beers, and I went and woke her up . . . Debbie was crying and started calling the police. I took the phone out of her hand and I slammed it on the floor. And she went and called the cops, said I smacked her in the face with the phone, and there was never physical abuse at all. And I got the domestic violence."
Debbie's version: "Mark brought home this other drunk from the bar and tried to get me to go to bed with the two of them. I threw a fit and kicked the guy out. Then I went to call 911. Mark came up to me and I smacked him on the side of his face with the phone. He went out cold. I kicked him as hard as I could right in the groin. The cops came and arrested him on the domestic violence. It cost him a few months of work furlough in jail, but he deserved it."
PERSONAL TURMOIL continued to plague Debbie in the three years before Christopher was murdered. She and Mark separated again after their violent clash in November 1986.
Then she met a man who would figure prominently in the unthinkable events of December 1989. "I was living with my sister Sandy," Debbie says, "and she'd watch Chris while I worked. I'd watch her son at night. She'd always be on the front steps when I came home, talking with some guy. They were very good friends. I got to know him, too."
Debbie's new friend was Jim Styers, now on death row for murdering Christopher. Susan Stinson, a Phoenix woman Debbie and Sandy lived with for a while, says the sisters used Styers for baby-sitting, extra cash and "for anything else they could get out of him. Jim would do whatever it took to keep Debra and Sandy happy."
She also remembers what Debbie was like as a mother. She told detectives that Debbie had been a mixed-up, impatient mom who yelled constantly at Christopher. She said it seemed as if Christopher were a burden to her.
Debbie and Christopher moved to Colorado in the summer of 1988. They stayed with an old friend, Dorothy Markwell, and Debbie found work through a temporary employment agency. But her attempt at a fresh start failed.
Markwell saw the same kinds of problems with Debbie's mothering skills that Susie Stinson had seen in Phoenix. She called Christopher a "very confused, mixed-up" child who had been hungry for affection. Debbie once hurled Christopher against a wall, Markwell testified, and she had told her several times that she hated her son and wanted him dead.
Debbie's problems as a mother are documented in a Loveland, Colorado, police report dated October 19, 1988. The report indicates that Christopher had wandered into a neighbor's home unattended. The boy had just turned three. The neighbor's place was several houses down from Debbie's. The investigating cop didn't charge Debbie with child neglect, but forwarded his report to state authorities.
Two weeks later, Debbie and Christopher were back in Phoenix. Even though Debbie's divorce from Mark was official, she moved in with her ex-mother-in-law, Ilse Milke. Debbie was broke as usual, but she soon worked out a nice arrangement.
"I didn't charge her rent," Ilse Milke says. "She didn't pay utilities or telephone. I wanted her to save money, even though she was my ex-daughter-in-law."
Ilse Milke also bought Debbie a used car, on which Debbie promised to make the $253 monthly payments. The failure of this arrangement would figure in the circumstances that led up to Christopher's murder a year later.
Debbie soon got a job as a secretary for Lincoln National, an insurance company. She started to correspond with Mark, who was completing his latest stint in prison. The letters are a window into Debbie's psyche and her deep-rooted troubles with her family, with Mark, with Christopher, with almost everybody. They show her giving lip-service to the idea of turning her life around, while blaming Mark for most of her woes.
"Over all the years, I have hurt people and used people to get my way," Debbie wrote to her ex in October 1988. "I sometimes wonder if there's anything left for us. Could we ever become a real family? Granted, I haven't been the best mother, but at least I don't get into trouble, Mark."
She continued, "I messed around a lot and partied and didn't stop to think about Chris. I started to see how he was reacting. I decided that I don't want to share Chris with anybody. . . . I'm ashamed at myself for all I've done, but I finally came to the realization of how important my son is to me."
However, she noted in another letter, "Chris is very stubborn and we have had our rounds together. He likes to have things his way and that's it. He doesn't listen either. You'll see. Stability is the most important thing Chris needs and we both are to blame for his actions today. . . . He looks just like you. Sometimes I find myself calling him `Mark' and he'll say, `I'm Chris, my daddy is Mark.'"
Mark got out of prison in early 1989. After a short, fruitless reconciliation, the long-estranged couple broke up for good. One of Debbie's final letters to Mark foreshadows events that would land her in prison.
"I am growing up and starting all over," she wrote. "I either sink or swim this time."
THE LAST YEAR of Christopher Milke's life started with what looked like a ray of hope for his troubled mother. Debbie still had to contend with the strain of her diseased relationship with Mark, and her sister and others say she continued to show little tolerance for Christopher.
But Debbie had found a beau who must have seemed a saint compared with the man she had married and divorced. She met Ernie Sweat at Lincoln National, where he was an up-and-coming manager.
"All the girls drooled over him, but I wasn't like that," Debbie says. "He'd come around my desk and we'd go to lunch. I thought he was a really decent guy, he wasn't a jerk. One thing led to another."
Debbie and Ernie started seeing a lot of each other after hours, and she says she would spend "one night every other weekend" at Ernie's home in Tempe. Debbie didn't introduce Ernie to Christopher for months, which she explains by saying she had her child's interest at heart.
"It was, `What if Christopher gets attached to Ernie and it doesn't work out?'" Debbie says. "Finally, we did a few things together, the three of us. We took Chris to the circus and another time we went to Encanto Park to throw a Frisbee."
Her sister puts a different spin on it. Sandy says Debbie complained to her that Christopher was getting in the way of the budding romance with Ernie.
"What I was being told was that Ernie did not want Christopher in their lives, and so that posed a problem for her," Sandy says. "She told me that Ernie was in love with her, Ernie wanted to marry her, but Christopher was a burr in his side. She just wanted the time to convince Ernie to accept Christopher. She needed some time to do that, with Christopher not around."
At this time, Debbie started talking about giving Christopher away to her family or even to her former husband, Mark.
In May 1989, Ernie Sweat recalls, "Debbie had discussed allowing her husband to take Chris into custody for a while, and also mentioned her sister. She was wanting to further her education and, due to the fact that she was saddled with a child, she was considering giving Chris up for a short period of time, for a few years."
Debbie admits she brought up the touchy subject with her father and stepmother, and that they had bristled at the idea.
"We couldn't understand how she could just give her child up," Maureen Sadeik testified at Debbie's trial. "Her relationship with Ernie, to our knowledge, was more than intensifying at that point, and I guess we believed that that was the reason behind giving Christopher to Mark, so that she would have more time." She added, "We did mention the fact that Mark's track record wasn't too terrific and did she really want to give her child to somebody like that to raise."
Mark seemed eager to take Christopher. Through frequent telephone calls and unannounced visits, he was demanding more time with his son. The pressure, her sister says, increased on Debbie as the summer of '89 wore on.
When it came down to it, however, she wouldn't give Christopher to Mark. So she turned to Sandy Pickenpaugh.
"It was a very stressful situation," her sister recalls. She says she and Debbie had a heart-to-heart talk in late July, shortly before Sandy moved to Wyoming with her new husband. "She said she couldn't handle it anymore and she needed to get her life together. She needed to find a solution with Mark, needed to find a solution with Ernie, and could I take Christopher. And I laughed. I thought it was absurd."
Soon after Sandy left town, things fell apart for Debbie. Ilse Milke learned that Debbie had underpaid her monthly car bill by $100. Ilse confronted her and covered the rest of the payment, but that wasn't the end of it.
A few days later, Ilse says, "Mark repossessed the car."
Debbie describes how this happened. "Mark took my car and he wouldn't take me home," she says. "I was with Chris and Mark ordered him back into the house, Mark's house. Christopher was crying, and finally he kicked Mark and Mark pushed him at me and said, `Take your fucking brat and get out of my life.' I didn't know what to do, so I called Jim Styers. `I'm at 19th Avenue and Bethany Home.' He was there in five minutes."
JIM STYERS PROVED to be a real coup for Debbie. She had a new place to stay, a built-in baby sitter, a cook and a chauffeur, after her new roommate agreed to drive her to and from work at her new secretarial job with the Tempe-based John Alden Life Insurance Company.
Styers was a Marine Corps veteran who had lived off disability payments since suffering head injuries in a 1971 fall from a truck in Yuma. Debbie says she got it straight with him from the start that they were going to remain platonic. But that didn't stop Styers from catering to her whims.
"I remember a couple of times when we were living together," she says. "I said, `Sometimes, Jim, you're a great friend, but sometimes you really remind me of a puppy dog. You follow me all over the place.' He said, `It's so much fun. It reminds me of being married.' And I said, `Oh God.' We used to go shopping together and he always would have dinner ready."
Debbie adds, laughing, "He tried to do my laundry, but he screwed it up and I had a fit. I thought he was good for Chris. He took him to church and they did lots of things together."
Debbie performed well at work despite the stresses of her personal life. She had taken tests at her new job with John Alden in August 1989 to determine what her bosses should expect from her.
"Once she makes a decision, she can be very organized in carrying it out," Debbie's prophetic evaluation concluded. "She likes to gather the information, but to leave the final decision to others." Her testers also noticed something about her personality that her jury would see at her murder trial a year later. "Rarely does she display her emotions. That is, she displays a good poker face."
Debbie's mom flew in from Europe that fall and bought Debbie a 1986 Toyota--the car in which Styers and Scott would drive Christopher to his death a few months later. But her new car and job couldn't keep Debbie's sagging spirits up after Ernie Sweat started fading out of her life.
Ernie liked Debbie, but her relationship with her young son troubled him, he says. Ernie recalls telling Debbie that October that she was neglecting Christopher. It bothered him the way the boy cried when he would come by her apartment to get her.
"We were friends and had been friends from the beginning," Ernie recalls, "but in some ways I felt that Debra was taking our relationship a little too seriously." In the weeks that followed, Ernie says, he instructed his roommates to tell Debbie he wasn't home, even if he was.
Debbie tries to downplay the demise of her romance with Ernie. She claims she cooled the relationship.
"We weren't in love, but Ernie and I had had a good time together," she says. "I realized I still had issues with my ex-husband and I felt really weird pulling Ernie into it. It was no big deal."
But Roger Scott later confessed to police that Debbie broached the subject of killing Christopher around the time Ernie was slipping away. Scott told police that shortly before the murder, Debbie told him "she just had to get away from [Chris] and she just wasn't cut out to be a mother, and that she wanted us to take care of it."
Scott said Debbie and Styers promised him $250 to take part in the plot. That was enough to hook this long-unemployed Phoenix native, who lived with his aged mother. (Scott was convicted of first-degree murder. He is awaiting sentencing.)
Scott told police that after a few false starts--including one time when Debbie and Styers took Christopher to a would-be murder site--he and triggerman Styers finally did Debbie's bidding in the early afternoon of December 2, 1989.
Debbie continues to proclaim her innocence. She says she had no clue what was to transpire after she last saw Christopher late that morning. "I promised him we would go pick a tree together at Metrocenter the next day," she says. "Jim and Christopher got ready to leave to go see Santa. I went outside to say goodbye to Chris. He'd always say, `See you later, alligator,' and I'd say, `After a while, crocodile.' And he'd always have to get in the last word. `See you soon, baboon.' As they were driving off, he screamed out, `I wuv you.' That's the last I saw of him."
THE DAY AFTER Christopher's disappearance, Debbie Milke traveled from Phoenix to her father's home in Florence with her stepmother and stepsister. "I was going crazy at my apartment," Debbie says. "The police had the phone tapped in case Christopher or someone called. I just thought I'd go down there for a while."
Debbie ate a sandwich and drank part of a beer. She then went to a bedroom to take a nap. "I put her in bed, took her shoes off, pulled the blanket over her," recalls her father. "That's what fathers are for."
It was Sam Sadeik's last paternal act toward his oldest daughter. While Debbie was sleeping, Roger Scott was singing. He confessed to Phoenix Detective Armando Saldate in the late afternoon and led him to Christopher's body.
A few hours later, a Pinal County sheriff's deputy knocked on the Sadeiks' door. A cop from Phoenix wanted to talk to Debbie, the deputy said. That cop was Saldate. By 8 p.m., Saldate says, Debbie Milke had confessed to him.
The next time she saw the detective was at her murder trial, where, Debbie grudgingly agrees, she didn't make a good impression on the jury.
"Maybe I should have put a show on," she says of her four days on the stand. "I have a hard time crying in front of people, especially in a courtroom setting where everybody is looking at you. I was concentrating so hard on the legalities, I didn't want to get emotional. This stuff is personal. Then there's my family. They killed me . . . "
She's referring to the fact that her father, sister, stepsister and stepmother all testified against her at trial. "She knew she could not handle Christopher," Sandy told the jury. "From the day she had Christopher, she knew she was not cut out to be a mother. She felt sorry from the time she had Christopher that she had him. She knew she wasn't mother material."
Debbie spews as much venom in her sister's direction as she does against Armando Saldate--"the liar"--and prosecutor Noel Levy--"He made me feel like a black widow."
"My trial was Sandy's perfect chance to stab me in the back after all these years," she says. "She says that when Christopher was born, she took care of him. Sandy made it seem at my trial like I'd work, then party all night while she watched Chris. Our sons were born a month apart. Sandy was a single mother and she had nowhere else to go. I sat there thinking, `You bitch, how could you do this to me?'"
Debbie's ill feelings toward her sister and other family members had been festering long before Christopher's murder. "Sandy is a devious little bitch," she wrote to Mark Milke in 1988. "I have no use for her. My father is a damn hypocrite. They can all kiss my ass. I'm tired of living up to their expectations. My whole family makes me sick. I can see clearly now what they're all like."
DEBBIE MILKE HAS settled into a routine in her one-woman death row at the state's Perryville prison, about fifteen miles west of downtown Phoenix.
Like Arizona's 95 condemned men, she's almost always locked up, but claims not to mind it. As always, she has a lot on her mind, and the solitude, she says, has been good for her mental health.
Debbie's appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court won't be heard for months, or years. No one knows if the state's highest court will order a retrial or move Debbie a step closer to the gas chamber.
She tries to imagine eating buffalo wings at a Dirty Drummer or going to an AC/DC concert at Veterans' Memorial Coliseum, even of driving on the Squaw Peak Parkway at rush hour. She speaks dreamily of "having a normal relationship with a guy, just a regular guy."
But Debbie continues to have those horrific nightmares: In one, she says, a frightened Christopher clings to her neck and won't let go. In another, all of Christopher's toys are boxed up and the only things left in his room are "his empty shoes."
"It's gotten to a point where it hurts so much that I've thrown up," she says. "Sometimes it feels good to imagine going to sleep and not waking up. I'm this body that just exists, but no soul, no person, because of the way I've been publicized. I cry a lot."
Debbie is asked for whom she weeps, her murdered four-year-old son or herself. "For both of us," she responds. "It's one thing that he was killed, but to be arrested and accused of participating in it is another. That's just as tragic as the first. Especially with me being the mother. I can't think of anything worse."
Debbie says that for the first time since her son's death, she can look at his photographs in private without breaking down in tears.
"I enjoy looking at them," she wrote to New Times in a letter dated March 22. "I have a huge bulletin board in my room, so I hung them up. The doctor here told me that's a good sign."
She gets lots of mail. Jim Styers writes her love letters from death row and Mark Milke, of all people, has dropped her a line or two. But her most ardent male admirer these days is a Phoenix man who recently bought her a small television set and other gifts.
"I fell in love with her when I saw her in court," the admirer says. "I'm looking forward to a future with her. She's real deep. No one really understands her."
Now and then, Debbie Milke says she fantasizes about having another child.
"There are days when I'd say no way," she says. "But there are times when I think if I was guaranteed to have a girl, I'd do it. I don't know what it's like to raise a girl. With a son, it's different."
"As they were driving off, he screamed out, `I wuv you.' That's the last I saw of him."
"I walked up real close to her and I looked into her eyes and it hit me. I was looking at consummate evil. Her eyes were dead."
"If you'd told me that Debbie would murder her own kid like this, I'd tell you you were nuts."
"She had very good motherly qualities with him. I liked that quality in her."
"She said she needed to get her life together, and could I take Christopher. And I laughed. I thought it was absurd."
"I said, `Jim, you're a great friend, but sometimes you really remind me of a puppy dog. You follow me all over the place.'"
"I fell in love with her when I saw her in court," an admirer says. "I'm looking forward to a future with her.