In this episode of Bloody Angola Podcast, Woody Overton and Jim Chapman tell the story of Robert Lee Willie who was executed at Bloody Angola in 1984 and his story was part of the inspiration for the movie "Dead Man Walking"
Woody and Jim Cover the victims, the crimes and the eventual execution of willie via electric chair.
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THE REAL DEAD MAN WALKING
Jim: Hey, everyone, and welcome to this episode of Bloody-
Jim: A podcast 142 years in the making.
Woody: The Complete Story of America's Bloodiest Prison.
Jim: And I'm Jim Chapman.
Woody: And I'm Woody Overton.
Jim: Y'all, we have got, Woody, I'd say one of the most highly requested stories we've had since we started.
Woody: Right. I agree with you but when people request this, they are thinking about a movie. They don't know the real story.
Jim: They don't. As someone who, in preparation of this episode, actually watched the movie again, I can say it's nothing like it.
Woody: No doubt you did your research and the homework on it. Once again, you found out things that I didn't even know. But I knew the true story, and I knew when I saw the movie, it was two different things put together. But this is-- some of this, y'all, is going to be hard to hear, but we always told you it'd be different on Bloody Angola.
Jim: That's right.
Woody: So, we're going to get to talking today, and we're going to call the name this episode The Real Dead Man Walking. And y'all, we're talking about Robert Willie. Okay, so I'm going to start telling you about Faith Colleen Hathaway. Now, Faith was born in Orlando, y'all, in 1961, but she grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana. Mandeville is about an hour east drive of Baton Ridge and right across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. Faith had been around, her family traveled a lot. Her family had left Louisiana for a few years and then the mid-1970s to travel, and they spent a lot of time in Ecuador and Haiti. I guess maybe they're doing mission work or something.
Jim: Yeah, primarily mission work.
Woody: Well, going to these different countries helped Faith develop a love for learning different languages and sparked her interest in joining the military. She knew that soldiers who were bilingual were desired and sought after by the US Army at the time. By her senior year of high school, she signed her commitment to join army, just like I did. So, immediately following graduation, she was going to get shipped out to basic training.
Jim: That's it. On May 21st, 1980, she did just that, Woody Overton. She graduated from high school, and at 18 years old, she had her sights on reporting to active duty. That was like a week later, on May 28th of 1980, she was to report.
Woody: She's rolling.
Jim: She's rolling just a week after graduation, but sadly, she never made it. On May 27th, 1980, Faith awoke, she had breakfast at McDonald's in Mandeville, which is a smaller town back then. Now, it's-
Woody: Yeah, it's pretty big.
Jim: -pretty big. But back then, it was just a little Podunk town. And she did some shopping. She actually shopped for support bras because her recruiter mentioned she's going to probably need those for basic training and she was running out of time to have to report as basic training, as we told you, was the next day. She returned to the apartment complex her mom managed where her and a friend, they shared a separate unit from her mother and stepfather. She's 18, and it was the 70s all. It was different. Nowadays, you think about that and it's like, "What?"
Woody: Right. "I'm not going to let my daughter do that." But totally different time, totally different world.
Jim: Totally. She decided she wanted to go swimming in the pool. So, she did that. Then, she gets dressed and she had kind of her last day at work before joining basic training and she worked at a local restaurant.
Woody: Yeah. The difference between her and I, when I went eight years later, I wasn't trying to work in the [crosstalk]
Jim: [chuckles] I wouldn’t either.
Woody: That shows her commitment. I was getting drunk to shit for probably a week before.
But she was go-getter.
Jim: Worked all the way to her last day at work. After working her shift, she had some friends who contact her. Well, one friend in particular. She said, "Hey, let's go out for drinks after you get off work. It's your last night in town." And so, that's what they did. They go to a local bar and celebrate her leaving the next day for basic training.
Woody: The next morning comes and that's May the 28th and Faith's mom went to Faith's room or her apartment, whatever you want to call it, to spend some time with her before her army recruiter showed up to pick her up and bring her to the military bus that would take her to basic training. When Faith's mom opened the bedroom door, she was surprised to see that Faith hadn't slept in her bed. She woke up Faith's roommate and asked her to say, "Hey, where's Faith at?" And her roommate said that she had gone to bed early the night before and hadn't seen Faith since she left for work the prior night. Faith's mom then calls-- now y'all, there was no cell phone, Faith's mom then calls the friend that Faith had drinks with the night before and she was hoping that Faith had stayed the night at her house, but she hadn't.
So, naturally what do moms do? Because this wasn't like Faith. Her mom panicked. And she got in contact with Faith's biological father who lived in New Orleans. And Faith was really tight with him, and she told him, said, "Hey, I can't find Faith. And she never came home evidently." He jumps into action and went straight to the police and reported her missing, both to the Mandeville Police Department and the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office.
Jim: Yeah, this guy just kind of got into action. Went dad mode, and mom was in a panic, understandably. Thank God, one of them could keep a level head long enough to think about what to do. On the following day, which was Thursday, May 29th, 1980, a multi-state alert was basically put out on her disappearance. By Sunday, personal articles of clothing were
discovered in a remote 47-acre tract of land in Franklinton, Louisiana, which is about an hour's drive north, y'all, of Mandeville, where she was last seen.
Woody: In Washington Parish. Really, really rural. Jim: Yeah. Very rural.
Woody: [crosstalk] -over there is papermill.
Jim: That's it. And you can smell it when you're passing through. The belongings were discovered really by mere chance. There was a family. They were picnicking in the area, and their seven-year-old daughter walked up to them, and the daughter had a tube of lipstick. The mother asked her, she said, "Where did you get that?" And the child said behind a tree. There's a lot of stuff back there. So, the family kind of goes back there and looks, and they discover a full case of makeup, a bunch of clothing that turned out to be Faith's. How they kind of knew it was her was they found a billfold with her driver's license in it, and it had some other belongings. They go straight to Covington, Louisiana, and return those to the sheriff's office, not realizing at the time that this person was missing. They were just being good citizens.
Woody: They know Faith's missing, and now they know basically you don't get a female doesn't go anywhere without her purse or makeup and ID and all that, but her clothes were there. So, they jump into action, and a search party was formed. On Wednesday, June of 4th, 1980, Faith's body was found in some thick underbrush just 200 yards from where her belongings were found five days earlier. Faith had been brutally raped, and her throat had been slashed. Her body was locked up in rigor mortis in a spread-eagle position, legs forced open, arms above her head, several severed fingers. This is a sign, y'all, naturally. The severed fingers is a sign that Faith tried to defend herself, but ultimately it was futile. She had been stabbed repeatedly in the neck with a large knife and had a total of 17 stab wounds [unintelligible [00:10:40]. The cut across her throat was so deep that her necklace was embedded into her flesh. The pathologist who performed the autopsy said that her death was not immediate and had to be excruciating. Basically, it took long enough for her to bleed to death. It's a horrible, horrible death.
Woody: This isn't like in the woods, y'all. You can imagine being out there fighting for your life, and somebody just slicing you. 17 stab wounds is a lot. But then, you slice the neck so hard that you embed the necklace deep into your neck. It's crazy.
Jim: It really is. Woody: 18 years old.
Jim: 18 years old, and just about to leave for basic training the morning all this went down really.
Woody: Whole life ahead of you.
Jim: Whole life ahead of you. Now what no one suspected at the time outside of the police was, well, when Faith's body was found was that a connection was being made. On May 31st, 1980, just three days before the disappearance of Faith Hathaway, another abduction had taken place in the same area. Mark Brewster, who was 20, parked his car near the Tchefuncte River, and that was a lover's lane, and he had a 16-year-old girlfriend. Different time, y'all. I'm not saying I agree with that but it's a different time. It was more common then
than now. Two men approached the vehicle. They were armed with guns, and they forced Mark into the trunk of the vehicle while driving to Alabama and repeatedly raping his young girlfriend.
Now near Wilcox, Alabama, the two men stopped the vehicle in a wooded area. They pull Brewster out of the trunk. They tie him to a tree and they shoot him twice in the head with a .22 revolver before slashing his throat and leaving him for dead.
Woody: That's crazy.
Jim: Wilcox, Alabama is not a stone's throw from here. Woody: That’s away.
Jim: It's away. The two men then drive back to Louisiana, repeatedly raping the young girl again the entire way back. Originally, these two assholes brought the girl back to a third man's trailer in Folsom, which is basically halfway between Franklinton and Mandeville in Louisiana. They were using this trailer as a hideout. The man, the third guy, starts making kind of sexual advances towards her. Obviously, these are some real winners, right?
Woody: Yeah, right.
Jim: However, the girl mentioned at some point that she was raped by the other two guys. And the man starts to panic. So, he goes to the two guys that have really kicked off this whole thing and he says, "Look, you got to let this girl go. We're going to be in a shit pile of trouble." So, that's what they do. They kind of drove her out to the middle of nowhere and dropped her off. She walks to a nearby home and knocks on the door, beats on the door. The occupants, thank God, grab her and bring her to the police station.
Woody: Right. On Monday, June the 2nd, miraculously, she was able to lead the cops back to the location of Brewster despite having been locked in the trunk when Brewster was tied to a tree, shot twice, and had his throat slash. When police and the girlfriend arrived on the scene on Tuesday, June the 3rd, Brewster was still alive.
Jim: Can you believe that?
Woody: The other thing about that I want to say real quick, not only those injuries that he
had, but you're out there in Alabama and- Jim: Tied to a tree.
Woody: -in the middle of the summer, can you imagine mosquito bites? I had a case like this. A husband and wife went into the woods around the same time of year when it was hot like that, and they even brought the cat. He shot the cat, he shot her, and shot himself, and she lived. But when I found her, she didn't look like a human being because she had millions of mosquito bites on her. Because her heart was still pumping, the mosquitoes were on it. So, this guy on top of being shot, everything else had to be just absolutely, almost unrecognizable as a human being. Brewster was immediately brought to the South Alabama University Hospital. About the time he underwent surgery, three suspects were arrested in Texarkana after they were recognized by the composite drawings from descriptions made by Brewster's girlfriend. The suspects were Robert Willie, 21, of Covington, Louisiana, Joseph Vaccaro, 28, of Pearl River, Louisiana, and Thomas Holden, 26, of Folsom, Louisiana, y'all. Now, upon suspecting that the crimes were related and one of the crimes taking place across Louisiana state lines, the FBI was brought in to lead the interrogation.
The FBI wasn't having any luck at interrogating Willie, and he was saying nothing, but St. Tammany Parish sheriff's deputy named Donald Duck Sharp had known Willie since childhood and was flown up to Texarkana to assist in an interrogation. Within 30 minutes of starting to talk to him, y'all, Lieutenant Sharp produced a picture of Faith Hathaway, to which Robert Willie responded, "I killed her." When pressed further, Willie said that he didn't actually kill her, that Vaccaro slashed her throat. Lieutenant Sharp then went into the interrogation room with Vaccaro and played the tape of Willie stating that Vaccaro slashed Hathaway's throat, to which Vaccaro denied and said that Willie was lying and that he is the one who killed Hathaway. And that's typical interrogation techniques, y'all.
Jim: Yeah, that's what I was going to ask you. As an interrogator, is it critical to play one against the other--? [crosstalk]
Woody: Absolutely. Look, you think your homie is you ride or die until, "I killed her, but no, actually, I didn't kill her. He killed her." You go play it for him and then it's "he said, he said" and you're both getting hooked.
Jim: Yeah. I found it interesting that the FBI had the wherewithal to actually admit, "We're not going to get anything out of this guy." That's got to be hard. I mean, as an interrogator, you think you can get everybody to talk.
Woody: The thing about the FBI, and I'm not throwing shade on them, and I've worked with them on task force and everything else, they're experts at federal crimes. Okay, they're not expert interrogators, but they were smart enough to know that they needed to bring somebody in to make that personal connection and to give them a start to at least to try to roll. Now, look, I've done it. I've brought in everybody from wives to preachers to high school teachers, whatever the fuck you got to do to get the juice.
Jim: Absolutely. This guy having a long history with Willie being that they had known each other since childhood, he was, I guess, someone that Willie would have trusted, and they felt like he would open up to a little more. And how about the name Donald Duck Sharp. Love it. I wonder if he's still around St. Tammany. If you are, we'd love to have you on Bloody Angola.
Woody: Let's see, in the 80s, that's what, another 40 something? Yeah, we'd love to have you.
Jim: Absolutely. If any of you are listening to this and actually know him or you're listening on Facebook and you can find him, shoot him a message to him, we want him on Bloody Angola. We love to talk to him about his experience with all this.
Woody: Props up to him for what he does in this case.
Jim: 100%. Now, Lieutenant Sharp goes back in the room with Willie after he talked to Vaccaro and played the tape for him. He says, "Man, y'all are having conflicting stories here." He starts pulling out photos, just tons of photos of the murder scene.
Woody: Another absolutely classic interrogation technique. Jim: Really?
Woody: Oh, yeah, absolutely.
Jim: So, what is he aiming for?
Woody: He's aiming for shock value. If you were truly wrong-- somebody's a vicious fucking killer, but someone's a leader, someone's a follower. If you reach a certain point, you got both of them saying this and saying that, you throw it down in front of them and you try to strike a human emotion, being like, "Oh, shit." Because a lot of times in our brain, they may have been drunk or whatever, but they don't remember the real damage. And you see it there-- I would assume, being in color photographs by this time, you see that-- And I've used this in so many cases, you see that, then that'll break most people down.
Jim: And you're watching for body language, and how they react, all of those sorts of things. Interesting. He does, he pulls out tons of photos of the murder scene, the body of Faith Hathaway. He kind of goes through them with Willie. Willie is looking at these pictures, and he sees the one with the severed fingers of Hathaway, and he says, "You see her fingers? She tried to grab the knife when Joe was trying to cut her. I reached up and grabbed her hands and I told her to behave."
Woody: Oh, my God.
Jim: That's horrible. Lieutenant Sharp pressed Willie even harder because now he's starting to kind of talk a little bit more, and he takes that advantage and he says, "You mean you told her to behave while you were cutting her?" And Willie responds, "Yeah." Willie and Vaccaro both told Lieutenant Sharp that Faith told them to let her die in peace, with Willie stating he did not rape Faith, that she wanted to have sex with him.
Woody: Oh, yeah, that’s why they had to cut her fingers off.
Jim: Yeah, and Vaccaro raped her after. However, when Lieutenant Sharp goes to Vaccaro and questions him, he states he couldn't get hard, and although he tried to rape her, he could not get an erection, and that Willie did the raping. Before we go any further on, that just this quick thought. That's okay with them. "I tried to rape her, but I couldn't get hard, so I'm not guilty." You got the other one saying, "Oh, she wanted me to screw her." Freaking crazy. And they think they're going to get out of this? During Lieutenant Sharp's questioning of Willie, Willie told about a third victim that police were unaware of in the same short period as the other two crimes, where Willie and Vaccaro on the same night as the Brewster abduction, attempted to abduct another woman. She screamed, she hollered, she went nuts, and they kind of drove away. That's probably what you should do. If somebody's trying to abduct you, no matter how old you are, flip out.
Woody: Fight all you can. It shows their progression that they were progressing in the nature of the crimes, and as seen in this case, they grew to the point where they completed it. But y'all, Willie wasn't any stranger to the cops, and he had a long and distinguished arrest record, including auto theft, trespassing, disturbing the peace, criminal damage property, ag assault, several counts of burglary, all before he was even an adult, before he even turned 18.
Jim: And that's a big deal. This guy, before he turned 18, he had a rap sheet.
Woody: That's the ones he got arrested for. I tell you that for everyone he got arrested for, there's probably 20 that he was never tied to. Hey, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. John Willie, who's Willie's dad, was serving 27 years in Angola for a bunch of crimes. And in 1954, he went back to Angola for theft of cattle. He was released--
Jim: In Angola. [chuckles]
Woody: Right. I'll tell you what, there's still a lot in the books in East Louisiana Parish, if you steal cattle, you can be hung. It's not enforceable but--
Jim: Look, I'm watching 1923, that's a big deal back then too.
Woody: You're taking everything from them. John Willie was released, and guess what? 1964, he was sent back to Angola again, this time for second-degree murder and received a life sentence. But that sentence got commuted to 10 years, and he was released in 1972. But he then went back to Angola for aggravated battery and was released for the last time in 1983. But not all of Willie's bloodline contained convicts. His great grandfather, John Avery Willie, was a deputy for 35 years for the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office and his grandfather for two decades.
Jim: Yeah. That's crazy.
Woody: That's probably how he knew Donald Duck.
Jim: Somewhere along that line, that bloodline changed from heroes to convicts.
Woody: I think actually think there's a very fine line. I think the best cops were probably OG convicts-- [crosstalk]
Jim: [laughs] They were walking that line.
Jim: [laughs] I hear you. Just a little history on that, people, a lot of times want to know what the family history was like. Now, the trial for the rape and murder of Faith Hathaway starts. In court, Willie made easy work on the jurors who were looking to send it to him to death. He was a total asshole. He even stated at one point that Cuevas enjoyed being raped. Cuevas was the young lady who was now identified as she was an adult, that was the one who was raped-
Woody: [crosstalk] -all the way to Alabama.
Jim: -all the way to Alabama and all the way back. He actually had the balls to say she enjoyed that. Vaccaro was found guilty. Although the death penalty for Vaccaro was assault, the jury was not unanimous in the death penalty and Vaccaro receives a life sentence.
Woody: Back then, you only had to have 10 out of 12 to get a guilty verdict. On a death penalty case, if you're going-- there's two separate phases. You have the trial phase and if he was found guilty, would have been first-degree murder. Then, you go into the penalty phase. For the penalty phase, if you get the death, it's got to be 12 out of 12. So, somebody felt guilty and didn't want him sentenced to die.
Jim: No doubt about it. Now, Willie's mother, Elizabeth Oalman, who would help her son evade police, pled guilty to accessory after the fact and she served one year of a five-year sentence. That was the one thing in the actual movie, Dead Man Walking, they did talk about her prison sentence for helping him kind of evade police after the fact. So, Robert Lee Willie was found guilty of the murder of Faith, and he was sentenced to death. However, there was a technicality, happens a lot in cases. It could have been he wasn't read his rights at some point.
Woody: The deal is a death penalty case is scrutinized much harder. I mean, had it been a regular burger case or whatever, probably they wouldn’t have been looked at so hard that they could actually find technicality.
Jim: Right. No worries because the evidence was stacked against him, he appealed. It had to be retried and he was again found guilty and sentenced to death. Now, next up was a trial for Brewster and the 16-year-old Debbie Cuevas, who I just told you about. You see, in the trial for Faith Hathaway, Debbie Cuevas actually testified. Obviously, she wasn't involved in that court case from a victim standpoint, but she testified maybe to the state of mind of these individuals.
Woody: It shows that they're beasts.
Woody: And that Hathaway wasn't the only one.
Jim: 100%. Now, because Brewster and Cuevas were taken across state lines, this became a federal case under the Federal Kidnapping Act, which was brand new back then in 1980, and basically gave federal courts jurisdiction over any kidnapping that goes over state lines. They just have more resources than your state government.
Woody: They can coordinate. Smart criminals go across state lines because even now with the FBI and this act, but back then, especially because law enforcement agencies didn't have the communication resources they do now. If you go across state line, it makes it harder to get help in another jurisdiction.
Jim: 100%. Now, during the trial, Willie was up to his old tricks with Cuevas. In the trial where she was going to get justice, he's blowing kisses to her. He actually would draw his finger across his throat while she would look at him. That's how much of a piece of shit this guy was. In the middle of the trial, and this is where it gets very disgusting, now, Willie and Vaccaro were both tried at the same time. All of a sudden, middle of the trial, they both stand up and they say, "We want to go ahead and take a plea." They stand up in court, they take the plea, and the judge says, "What do you plead?" And they say, "Yeah, we're guilty. We just wanted to put y'all through this," looking right at Cuevas, who had to testify in detail about the many rapes she endured at their hands. That's insane.
Willie and Vaccaro plead guilty to two counts of kidnapping, one count of conspiracy to kidnapping, and they both received life sentences. Now, although Brewster did live, he was partially paralyzed after the incident.
Jim: Holden, you may wonder about Holden. "Well, what about the guy in the trailer, the third guy?" Well, he actually was charged with accessory to federal kidnapping, and he took the coward's way out. He committed suicide in his cell by hanging himself shortly after the trial.
Woody: Just death everywhere. Hell of jail for him. Jim: Hell is probably where he's at.
Woody: It's just crazy. While on death row in Bloody Angola, Robert Willie pled guilty to yet another murder because he had killed Dennis Hemby. In 1978, Willie and his cousin, Perry Taylor, beat and drowned Dennis Hemby, who was 19 years old, to steal weed Hemby had in his possession. Just winners, right?
Woody: Yeah, probably a bag of weed. Not like pounds or something. But Dennis Taylor pled guilty to manslaughter in the case and received a 21-year sentence. Willie pled guilty to second-degree murder and received another life sentence. What else? How many life sentences can you do? Willie also confessed to the 1978 murder of Louis Wagner, who was a St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's deputy, and he implicated three other men. Wagner was killed in retaliation for repeatedly arresting one of the four men. Charges were brought against all four but were dropped against all, but Robert Willie after Willie recanted his statement and said the men had nothing to do with the deputy's murder. He pled guilty to second-degree murder in that case and received another life sentence. It is alleged that Willie recanted his story after his father told him he had violated the honor code of convicts regarding being a snitch. Father of the year.
Jim: Father of the year. Snitches get stitches.
Woody: If all that's not crazy enough, serial killers, Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole confessed to killing Wagner. When they confess, Willie completely recanted his story again saying the only reason he confessed the murder is he assumed he would stay in the St. Tammany Parish jail for a trial which he knew would be easier to escape from than Angola. It's crazy. Willie also claimed to kill two other men, one being a hitchhiker and the other being a brick truck driver. He gave no details on the hitchhiker but said he killed the brick truck driver after robbing him and then disposed of his body in a pond along the interstate in St. Tammany Parish.
Jim: Absolutely crazy.
Woody: Yeah. Fuck, I lost how many murders--[crosstalk] Jim: Total serial killer.
Woody: Yeah, absolutely a serial killer.
Jim: Just to back up for a second on something you just mentioned, Woody, and that was the name, Ottis Toole and Henry Lee Lucas. We're not going to go into-- that's a whole another episode. We'll tell y'all about those jokers. But I will tell you they were sexual partners, openly gay serial killers that had confessed to over 250 killings throughout their, I guess, serial killer reign. Just a whole other story with those guys. As a matter of fact, Ottis Toole is if you remember the Adam Walsh case back, I was a young buck back then and that scared me to go play around in a mall because he got beheaded after being kidnapped from, I believe, it was a Sears department store. Of course, his father, John Walsh, became a huge advocate for the milk carton stuff where you see the kids on milk cartons. That was John Walsh that spearheaded a lot of that. Whole another story. I'm getting chills thinking about it because that's important to tell.
Woody: Also, America's Most Wanted.
Jim: America's Most Wanted. Ottis Toole, to sum that up, is who confessed to that murder, and as a matter of fact, his lover actually confirmed that. There'll be more on that in another episode.
If you've seen the movie, Dead Man Walking, like I just talked about, it's based off of a book and that book was written by Sister Helen Prejean. Now, Sister Helen Prejean's book is centered around the facts of her experience as a spiritual advisor for the Angola condemned. It really is an amazing account, y'all. Believe it or not, she's still alive and a really amazing lady. I think anyone that commits to religion as she has, in her mind, everything she's doing is for good. Who am I to argue with that? That being said, the movie is very-- and I mean very loosely based on the reality of Robert Willie. It's Hollywood, y'all. They didn't want to show accurate accounts of Willie's murders because, let's face it, if you had known what I just told you about this guy, you're not going to feel sorry for him. You're not. At the end of the movie, if you didn't know any better, I almost felt sorry for him.
Woody: Yeah, that's crazy.
Jim: It really is. Now, her work as an advocate against the death penalty, it's known worldwide, and she's 83 years young as of today and resides in the Slidell area, I believe, just an hour from where we're currently recording this episode. So, hey.
Woody: Still St. Tammany Parish.
Jim: Sister Prejean, if you're listening, Woody and I would love to have you on the show.
Woody: We would love to have you on, sister. I respect what she does.
Woody: Can you imagine-- Actually, if I'm not mistaken, Willie's case was the first one that she actually took on.
Jim: Yeah. She was young. Woody: Right. Yeah, it was the first.
Jim: You remember exactly right. As a matter of fact, they were pen pals. She was writing to inmates and had never even met a death row inmate before.
Woody: And then went over there and called a lot of flak for it. Just think about this gap, Willie. You know the one thing I think they probably got true in the movie is when he tried to make sexual advances at her. He's a fucking animal. Let's go to Robert Willie's execution. Right before Robert Willie's execution, John Willie, who's the dad, said his son deserved to die and that Vaccaro should be executed along with him.
Jim: Father of the year.
Woody: He said, "If a man did me wrong, I'd have no problem with killing him like I'd kill that chicken out there," he said. "But I could never do anything to hurt a woman, a child or a young person," because you got to have some morals, huh?
Woody: When Faith's parents, Vernon and Elizabeth Harvey, went to John's home and asked him if he believed in capital punishment, he said he was willing to pull the switch
himself. Well, you know what? If he'd been a better daddy, they would have never had to ask that question. Robert Willie's grandfather, a former sheriff, also said his grandson most likely deserved to die. He said, "Her life was precious to her and he took it, and they ought to take his life," Keaton Willie said. Vernon Harvey admitted that he had twice considered killing Willie during the trial.
Jim: Good for you, Vernon.
Woody: I think everybody that has to sit through their kid's murder trial thinks that too. He said in the courtroom during his second sentencing trial, "The deputy sheriff was standing less than 2ft in front of me with his unstrapped holstered .357 magnum pistol." He said, "I thought about stepping up and grabbing it, but there were other people too close to Willie," said Harvey. On the other occasion, Vernon saw that Willie had federal marshals driving him and he considered ramming the car. He said, "I contemplated ramming the car and trying to push it into lake. But then I figured the federal marshals hadn't done me any wrong." Willie was executed on December 28th, 1984. And I tell y'all the fires in hell burned a little bit brighter that day. He was a sixth man to be executed at Bloody Angola in a 13-month period. He rode the lightning Gruesome Gertie style. He was 26 years old.
Jim: Amen. I'll tell you, before you go any further, in the movie, it's lethal injection he gets. Here, he didn't get lethal injection. He rode the light sponge.
Woody: [crosstalk] sponge on that shaved head and-- Jim: Put that sponge on there.
Woody: [crosstalk] -would say, killed him good. All right. Y'all, Willie asked Sister Helen Prejean to be with him on the day of his execution. He was also visited by his mom and his brothers. Sister Prejean attended the execution at his request, and he winked at her right before they threw the switch. Willie's last meal consisted of fried fish, oysters, shrimp, French fries, and a salad. Prior to his execution, he said to Hathaway's mother and stepfather, Elizabeth and Vernon Harvey, who were there as witnesses y'all for the prosecution, he said, "I hope you get some relief from my death. Killing people is wrong. That's why you put me to death. It makes no difference whether it's citizens, countries, or governments. Killing is wrong."
Jim: Coming from someone who would know.
Woody: Yeah [crosstalk] killed more people than we even talked about today. But Debbie Cuevas, the teen who endured all those horrible rapes from both Willie and Vaccaro, wrote a book on her experience and stated in the book that Willie never felt remorse. Asking Sister Prejean, did he show any real remorse before he died? To which Sister Prejean responded, "No. And you know, Debbie, I'm not sure he was capable of that."
Jim: Good call, Sister Prejean. You're probably right.
Woody: That’s psychopathic [crosstalk] she was honest. Psychopath to the end.
Jim: Yeah, really. Just so many lives affected from this guy. It just sickens me. Debbie Cuevas later married and had a son and daughter. And then, as Debbie Morris, she still struggled to come to terms with her experience. She eventually forgave both Willie and Vaccaro for their crimes against her. And she even wrote a book, y'all. In her book titled Forgiving the Dead Man Walking: Only One Woman Can Tell the Entire Story, she tells of her spiritual journey. She writes that she had decided to forgive Willie for the crimes he
committed. Now, after her book was published, she began writing to Vaccaro in prison. Through this period, Morris also established a friendship with Sister Prejean.
She's a lot more forgiving person than me, I can tell you. Morris opposes capital punishment. She has said in her book that she believed her testimony contributed to Willie being sentenced to death and executed. Now, Michael L. Varnado, the detective in the case of Faith Hathaway, also wrote a book, and it's called Victims of the Dead Man Walking, and it recounts his views of the case.
Woody: It's crazy. Back then, or even when the movie came out, books were more widely read than they are now. But these would have come out using the name of the movie, Dead Man Walking, so they could tell their side of the story.
Jim: Absolutely. Look, when this movie came out, and I think everybody in that movie won some sort of award, it was up for an Academy Award for best movie at that time. Good for these victims to take advantage of that to maybe help their income out and help get their story out. I'm sure some of them, it was about getting the story out, not even [crosstalk] the income.
Woody: For me, it'd be like, you Hollywooded it up, let's tell the real story.
Jim: Yeah. That's what I love about doing Bloody Angola, is that's what we just gave you. We gave you the real story of who this guy is. I'm sure a lot of you have seen that movie. If you're a true crime fan, I'm sure you watched it. I can tell you, you're probably like me after I finished this research and that was, "Holy crap, this is nothing like I thought. I thought this guy may have made one mistake in his entire--" oh, no, this guy was a full-blown piece of fucked.
Woody: Serial killer, man. He just killed so many people, destroyed so many lives. That's the ones that we know about. Anyway, we want to thank y'all for listening to this episode. Our Patreon members, you're getting more episodes than probably any other podcast in the history of the world gives. We hope you're enjoying them. Y'all, if you want to be a Patreon member, you can go to--
Jim: You can go to Patreon. Just type in "Bloody Angola Podcast," it'll pull up. Or you can go to the Facebook page, we've got our little link tree there. You click on that and that's got our links, not only to our Patreon, but all of our--
Jim: Everything we pretty much have now. We have different levels on Patreon. It's
everything from our Chase Team, to our CERT Team, to our Tie Down Team.
Woody: To the Warden.
Jim: To the Warden Team. As it goes up, you get more and more perks. Please go to the Chase Team-- or the Patreon team site and you can see what those different membership levels will get you. But it's really the only way we can continue to do the show, is through our Patreon team.
Woody: We even have the option and you get the discount, if you sign up for a year at a time. We want to thank everybody that's done that. That's growing, because it's growing and we're getting more Patreon members, we're able to lock up more of these bonus episodes. This one not being one of them, obviously, but you're getting way more than I ever heard of in podcasting. So, go check it out. Hey, you can't be a Patreon member, we get it. We love
you anyway. Please, if you feel so inclined, go leave us a review, like us, remember, wherever you listen to the podcast, hit subscribe. That way, anytime we drop an episode, you'll get the notification and it'll be there waiting so you never miss another episode of Bloody-
Jim: -Angola. We want to shout out real quick. Each episode we're going to take a different team and we're going to kind of shout out those members. Today, we want to shout out our CERT Team members.
Woody: Right, straight up. Y'all, CERT Team is our affectionate name for-- we're trying to keep it all in the prison names. CERT Team is basically the SWAT team. They're the ones who train to respond for everything from cell extractions to hostage situations to whatever, special kind of security.
Jim: We do want to mention, the CERT perks include ad-free episodes. You get early access to those episodes, obviously, and you also get access to our companion episodes. This would be considered a regular episode of Bloody Angola.
Woody: Commercial free.
Jim: You get commercial free and all that as a CERT Team member. But you also get those companion episodes that are in our sally port that we do all kinds of stuff with. We've got about 20 different companions that we put out. $15 a month, y'all. You get all those perks with the CERT Team.
Woody: And it's love-- Like Jim said, you can check out all the different perks you get, but for $15 a month, if you like Bloody Angola, you're going to love being a CERT Team member. The first one, I want to thank is Ms. Tisha Dubrock. Tisha, we really appreciate you being a CERT Team member. Thank you.
Jim: And we also want to thank Ms. Tasha Brown. Thank you so much for joining the CERT Team and supporting us.
Woody: And Tabitha Amall, that's a good, strong Cajun name. Thank you, Tabitha. We really do appreciate you.
Jim: The next one I want to thank, and I'm going to pronounce it both ways, it's either Renee or Rena. Make a comment or something below this and correct me. I'm not even going to go-- it's one of those two. Last name, Walton.
Woody: I'm going to go with Renee.
Jim: There you go. Woody is going with Renee. Ms. Walton, we appreciate you so much for
Woody: Thank you. And Payton Myers. Payton, thank you. We appreciate you. Couldn't do without you. Thank you.
Jim: All right. Mamu Wama.
Woody: I'm going to say Mimu.
Jim: All right. So, you comment too below that, you can tell us which one is right. Woody: You let us know who is right.
Jim: But thank you.
Woody: Thank you so much. And Michelle Carter. Thank you, sweetie. We really appreciate
you backing us and supporting us.
Jim: Woody gets all the easy names. [chuckles] All right. I'm going to go with Leah? Woody: I'm going with Leah too.
Woody: Fuselait. I'm going with that too.
Jim: Thank you so much. Let us know if we got it right.
Woody: Let us know if we got it right, Leah, but thank you for your support. He's right because I got another easy one. Catherine Ford. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. We really do appreciate your support.
Jim: This next one, we know. She's an OG from way back on everything we do. And that's Ms. Jennifer Lamley.
Woody: Jennifer Jerram Lamley. Sweetie, you know we love you and thank you for always supporting us. We really do appreciate it. Shoutout to CERT Team members. We appreciate, y'all. Thank you.
Jim: Thank you so much. And until next time, I'm Jim Chapman. Woody: And I'm Woody Overton.
Jim: Your host of Bloody-
Jim: A podcast 142 years into making.
Woody: A Complete Story of America's Bloodiest Prison. Jim and Woody: Peace.
Jim: Bloody Angola is an Envision Podcast Production, in partnership with Workhouse Connect. Music produced and composed by Alfe DeRouen in Studio 433, with vocals by Thomas Cain. Created and hosted by Jim Chapman and Wood Overton.
[Bloody Angola theme]