We corresponded with child killer Donald Beaty for awhile back in the late 1980s, for a story on Arizona's death row. In fact, we met him briefly during a surreal tour of Cellblock 6, where the condemned used to be "housed" for decades.
Beaty was the Valley's most reviled person for a time after police arrested him in May 1984 for the murder and rape of Phoenix Gazette paper carrier Christy Fornoff.
He was a monster in our midst, a predator who struck an innocent little girl as she collected money at a Tempe apartment complex.
Beaty's middle name of Wayne was one strike against him in our book -- think Robert Wayne Vickers, John Wayne Gacy, Sirhan Wayne Sirhan (scratch the last one).
But we corresponded in the interests of journalism, reading every word of his chicken-scratched, single-spaced scrawl. Here is a short example of Beaty's "prose."
"I am not the guy who would do this, and they never proved it. They needed a bad guy and I happened to be the one they picked. If you really want to look at the police work you will know that this is a frame job."
A few years after our exchanges ended, we did a story on the then-burgeoning victim-rights movement, of which Christy Fornoff's mother was front and center. (Alas, neither of the pieces mentioned in this blog post are available on the Net--too old)
The cover of New Times that week showed Christy's parents holding a large photograph of their late daughter--heart-wrenching stuff.
Not sure if the Fornoffs will be in attendance in Florence at the scheduled May 25 execution of Mr. Beaty.
In our experience, many family members opt not to watch the government finally kill the person who took the life of a loved one. Others do.
(Aside: We have been invited to attend executions over the years by two inmates and by the families of two victims, but declined. The most recent turndown was Robert Comer, whose grisly tale is well worth a link here and here.)
Inevitably, someone will invoke the dreaded word "closure" as the execution approaches.
But there will be no such thing for anyone involved, except for Beaty himself.