VOICES OF THE LAMBS
Jane Chapman's life was wonderful.
After college, there was Stanford Medical School, then she and her husband David migrated to Hawaii and it was there, in paradise, that they raised an infant daughter, Lana.
One day a doctor told Jane's husband that he had prostate cancer. David was 35.
The couple packed their belongings, boarded an airplane with their six-month-old child and returned to the mainland. They settled in Prescott, Arizona.
As Jane raised her daughter, she also nursed her husband. While Lana grew day by day, step by step, David withered away. People go crazy when their life is split in half like that, perched on a precipice between horror and redemption.
But Jane Chapman did not crack; instead she helped David fight.
He had radiation treatments and still the cancer spread to his bones. Radical chemotherapy followed. Eventually David went into the hospital for an orchiectomy, a procedure in which the doctor removed his testicles. As the cancer ate away at his bones, David's own body weight collapsed against his skeleton with excruciating pain. Through it all, the person who took care of him was not some stranger in a white uniform, but his wife.
"He was very, very ill," is how Jane recalled that period during a conversation over lunch at Murphy's restaurant in Prescott last week.
Peace finally came with David nestled in Jane's arms. The struggle had lasted an incredible two and a half years.
David was 38 when he was lowered into the earth. Lana, at three, was barely old enough to understand the significance of her goodbye.
Two years later, in 1988, FBI Agent Michael Fain entered Jane Chapman's life. Perhaps 24 months seems like a long time to you, and certainly to Lana--who asked if Fain was going to be her new daddy--the period since the burial seemed an eternity; but in truth you cannot travel the path that Jane Chapman took and then, a couple of years later, wake up feeling the optimism of the shopping-mall poster that instructs teenagers and alcoholics, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life."
When Jane Chapman met Michael Fain, she was as vulnerable as a human being can be. The special agent from the FBI became the first significant man in her life since she'd buried David.
Of course, Michael Fain did not come to her displaying his law enforcement credentials. Margaret "Peg" Millett, Jane's friend and co-worker, introduced him as Michael Tait.
Unbeknownst to either woman, he was sent to Prescott as an undercover agent assigned to infiltrate and bust Earth First!. Using Ron Frazier as a passport, Fain concocted a story about the two having worked together in the oil fields of Louisiana.
But the FBI's stories in Prescott were a long way from its images in mass culture. In his enormously popular trash thriller--"The number one New York Times best seller and now the movie event of the year"--author Thomas Harris persuaded America that the FBI has solved the nation's most heinous crimes through the use of psychiatry.
Harris' The Silence of the Lambs introduced us to Special-Agent-in-training Clarice Starling. Under the tutelage of Section Chief Jack Crawford, who ran the Bureau's Behavioral Science Division, Starling climbed inside the mind of the human flesh-eating genius Hannibal Lecter so she could capture a serial killer whose peculiar trademark was the flaying of victims.
In the novel, we are led to believe that the FBI of today is not the training academy of Joseph Wambaugh-style cops, out to bust ordinary criminals before a few six-packs of choir practice.
Reportedly based upon Harris' familiarity with the Bureau's actual counterpart to the book's Behavioral Science Division, the novel suggests that today's agent is more familiar with Carl Jung than Carlo Gambino. Take, for example, the following dialogue between Chief Crawford and trainee Starling:
"Crawford smiled a little. `What you do have is a double major in psychology and criminology, and how many summers working at a mental center--two?'"
"`Your counselor's license, is it current?'"
"`It's good for two more years.'"
"`What tests have you given? Minnesota Multiphasic, ever? Rorschach?'"
"`Yes, MMPI, never Rorschach,' she said. `I've done Thematic Apperseption and I've given children Bender-Gestalt.'"
"`Do you spook easily?'"
The reality of the psychology employed by Special Agent Michael Fain in Prescott was quite different from the expertise of agent-in-training Starling. Special Agent Fain crippled Jane Chapman's mental health, catapulted her into therapy and left her wondering, to this day, what the hell hit her.
"It's just so hard for me to trust anybody now," said Chapman. "I'd just as soon be alone."
"He was kind of after Peg," recalled Chapman, "and she was very attracted to him. They would go dancing together. They were great dancers and her husband Doug didn't dance. You could see the sexual, man-woman vibes he gave her but Peg fought it because she was married and wanted to remain faithful. Peg ended up in counseling as a result of her feelings about Fain. It was one of the things that came into the marriage."
Finally, Peg decided she had to put some distance between herself and this big, silent cowboy who was coming on to her.
She introduced Chapman to Fain and in October of 1988 a group of their friends went dancing with them.
"Peg's idea was, `If I can't have him, at least one of my friends should,'" said Chapman.
Unable to penetrate Millett's emotions on a male-female level, Fain used one of her best friends to maintain close contact, as well as to provide protective coloration.
Although Millett was an ardent supporter of Earth First!, Jane Chapman was not. She had no association with any radical environmental activities; she was simply Peg's friend.
"We began going to the free country-western dance lessons at Matt's on Whiskey Row. We met there on Thursday nights. He was quiet and shy and trying to fit in. He always asked me about myself," said Chapman.
"He would talk to Ilse [defendant Asplund] about asking me out and spending time with Lana. I was lonely. Didn't know any men. He was the only man I knew. When I came to Prescott, David was already sick. I was very isolated taking care of David."
Fain preyed upon the hearts of both women by portraying himself as a sort of victim whose daily existence required an act of courage. He said he was a recovering alcoholic who could barely read or write because of severe dyslexia. An abused child, he'd fled a terrible home life and ended up in the jungles of Vietnam, where he'd seen his buddies killed and retaliated by committing atrocities that he could no longer bring himself to discuss.
"I used to be like Peg, always rescuing wounded animals," said Chapman. "I felt terribly sorry for the guy. I sensed that he was lonely and that I was in the same boat."
As a way of maintaining easy access to Peg, Fain sunk his meat hooks deeper into Jane.
"We went and looked at houses together. Once, he told me that he'd driven all the way in from Pinetop [a six-hour trip] so that we could go dancing. I thought, `Gee, he really does care.' At the time I guess I was pretty easy to manipulate.
"In January we started talking about being intimate."
Because Chapman is the director as well as the physician's assistant at Planned Parenthood, she is well-acquainted with the risks of present-day relationships. She wondered if Fain would take an AIDS test to ease her mind.
"He got tested for AIDS and syphilis," said Chapman. "He showed up at the clinic one day and announced, `I'm here for the entrance exam.'
"After the results were back, he never followed up. I really felt foolish. What was wrong with me? Why was I so attracted to him when he wasn't giving me anything back? I assumed it was my fault, like women who are raped think it's their fault. Lana was attached to him, too; there had been so much hugging. And I was thinking, `Maybe if he was a good daddy, it wouldn't matter if he was a good husband.'" In March, two months before the FBI made its arrests at the CAP power lines, Chapman went into therapy without telling Fain.
"I was so confused. He seemed to be always focused on Peg, yet it was me that he took out every week. That upset me. Peg was married and I was hurt by that. I wanted to learn how to communicate with him so that I could find out what was wrong . . . . When he didn't follow up after the AIDS test, that's when I went over the edge."
Two months after going to therapy, Chapman's friends in Earth First! were arrested and Jane's world collapsed once again, around her feet.
She was annihilated. Her friends were in jail cells and the man she loved was responsible.
At two in the morning, she called FBI headquarters in Phoenix hoping to reach Michael Fain. Even today, she isn't entirely clear what she wanted to hear over the telephone. In any case, he never answered her call, sent her a note or talked to her again.
"What would it have hurt him to say, `I'm sorry you had to be hurt; sometimes investigations involve innocent people'?"
In The Silence of the Lambs, the homicidal Hannibal Lecter talks to FBI agent Clarice Starling.
"`Look at me, Officer Starling. Can you stand to say I'm evil? Am I evil, Officer Starling?'"
"`I think you've been destructive. For me it's the same thing,' responded the FBI agent."
In Prescott, Arizona, the FBI arrested what it identified as evil people; in other words, people who were destructive, even if the guilty were something less than serial killers. The Bureau and Fain never acknowledged the collateral damage. When Jane Chapman called the FBI in those early morning hours following the arrests, Special Agent Lori Bailey answered the call.
"She said, `Michael is a very caring person and really has the highest regard for law-abiding citizens like you.'"
Chapman said that she intends to go to court to watch Fain testify.
"Yes, I'll wave. I would like to confront him, but I will probably only say, `Hello. How are you doing? Why did you do what you did?'"
Although she will never understand why it was necessary for Fain to crush her soul in order to maintain his cover, Jane Chapman is recovering from the mortification. She can even joke about it a little.
As we left the restaurant following the interview, Chapman remarked, "All that time I thought he was glad to see me and it was only a microphone in his pocket . . . "Someone told me they'd seen Fain wearing a wedding band recently."
To be continued
When Jane Chapman met Michael Fain, she was as vulnerable as a human being can be.
"It's just so hard for me to trust anybody now," said Chapman. "I'd just as soon be alone.
The Bureau and Fain never acknowledged the collateral damage.
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