duct duct duct
subscribe submissions contributors back issues trumpet fiction contact us legal links
support ducts
art gallery
best of ducts

Surviving Homicide: PART I
(PART II to appear in the Fall issue of Ducts)

Fredricka R. Maister

When her boyfriend is murdered, a woman tries to come to grips with his death and the justice system. 

(Some of the names in this piece have been changed for reasons of confidentiality.)

March 11th, 1986.

When my boyfriend, Richard, in his usual upbeat mood, phoned me at work around lunchtime to make dinner plans at our favorite restaurant in Chinatown, I was in a real snit. The day had been insanely busy and I detested my job. For the last few months, Richard and I had discussed my job predicament, so he was not particularly bent-out-of-shape when I yelled, “How can you think about dinner when it isn’t even lunch? It’s a zoo here and I can’t talk!”

“No problem,” he said. “I’ll call you at three-thirty and we’ll make the plan.” Before he hung up, he tried to calm me down. “You’ll be out of that place soon. Stop being so negative. Come on, I just want you to be happy. And you know what, I’m going to come pick you up at work and we’ll go down to Chinatown together.”

“That’s absurd, “ I protested. “I’ll meet you in Chinatown like I always do. Why take the subway from Queens, get off, come to my office, then get on the subway again. That’s two fares. What for?”

“Because you’re special. I’ll call you at three-thirty,” he said, hanging up.

Those were Richard’s final words to me. I often wonder whether some unconscious inner knowing that this would be our last conversation prompted Richard to want to do something out of the ordinary for me, to make me feel cared about and loved. To be sure, Richard sometimes went to extremes to accommodate me, but his insistence on picking me up was well beyond the call of amorous duty.

My behavior was also inexplicable that day when I went out during lunch and bought Richard a gift for no apparent reason. I had come across a bar of men’s soap-on-a-rope. I hemmed and hawed over buying it. Did Richard really need something else to clutter up his already cluttered apartment? Was I going to buy it out of guilt for having been so bitchy when he called? Why should I feel guilty when he understood the way I felt? But he’s a great guy. Why not give him a gift? I kept leaving the display only to be drawn back to it. A flash-forward to our dinner that evening and Richard’s expression of surprise when I would ceremoniously present him with his soap-on-a-rope finally convinced me to purchase it.

I returned to my office at about two-fifteen…two-thirty…or was it three o’clock? The authorities would later ask me when I went out to lunch and when I returned. My timing regarding that day was so skewed that I could not say with any certainty. All I remember is that three-thirty…three-forty…four o’clock passed with no word from Richard. I called his apartment. There was no answer. Something was not right. I knew Richard. If he said he would call at three-thirty, he did not mean four o’clock. It crossed my mind that perhaps there was a medical emergency involving his daughter who lived in Philadelphia and had just undergone knee surgery, but Richard would have called me before rushing off.

I kept calling Richard’s apartment, letting the phone ring an inordinate number of times. I was sorry that I did not have his friend Bill’s unlisted phone number with me. Bill lived in the building and might have a clue to Richard’s whereabouts.

Bill and Richard were polar opposites. While Richard was a highly intellectual and creative type with a genius IQ, a practitioner of Zen Buddhism and a witty, charismatic presence wherever he went, Bill was an auto mechanic and body builder totally absorbed in his good looks, overly developed muscles and female conquests. According to Richard, Bill was always busy working out or “servicing” a steady stream of adoring women.

Richard and I used to speculate about what drew them together, but we never came up with anything conclusive. In retrospect, what bonded them was their mutual attraction to drugs, mainly cocaine.

For years when they were mere acquaintances, Richard had gotten Bill marijuana. It wasn’t until coke became the prevailing drug of the early ‘80s, the pre-crack era, that their friendship solidified.

Richard had access to a dealer friend with a regular drug store and Bill could never get enough. Richard soon became alarmed about Bill’s overindulgence and confronted him. Bill then admitted that he was sharing his purchases with members of “The Family.” Even though recession had hit the Garment Center where Richard worked as a designer/patternmaker and he found himself unemployed, he was soon making a better living supplying Bill and his family.

From what I gathered from Richard, “The Family” was an organized crime family, Irish-style. Richard had never met any of its members with the exception of Maureen who sometimes visited Bill. Maureen was Bill’s sister-in-law, the wife of his brother Jerry, the head of “The Family.” Jerry was also our connection to Mel Brooks in Hollywood. Richard and I had written a screenplay which Bill had given to Jerry to pass on to Mel, a childhood friend from Brooklyn.

Bill was always running off to take care of “Family Business.” I remember he once stopped by, dressed to the nines, briefcase in hand, before hopping “The Family Plane” to South Carolina to supposedly avenge the murder of a young nephew. There was also talk of “The Family Compound” in Tahiti to which Richard and I were invited but then disinvited when we were ready to accept the invitation. “The Family” even offered Richard a job as a warehouse manager, but when he seriously considered taking it, the warehouse suddenly burnt to the ground in a suspicious fire.

After hearing some of Bill’s “Family Tales,” I would ask Richard, “Did you really believe that?” His response: “You’re asking me? Who knows with Bill? He’s just weird.”

Weirdness aside, Richard trusted Bill. He even gave Bill a set of keys so he could have access to the closet where the cocaine was stashed. Richard once told me, “Bill would do anything for me. If someone tried to hurt me, that man would risk his life for me.”

Because Richard trusted Bill, so did I.

When five o’clock passed and I was still unable to contact Richard, I was beside myself, emotionally torn between anger at him for leaving me in the lurch and worry that something had happened to him. I raced home to call Bill.

When I arrived, I checked my machine, half-expecting to hear “Hello, machine, this is Ricardo…” followed by an elaborate explanatory message. When there was no such message, I frantically started dialing, alternating between Richard and Bill. There was no answer anywhere. Finally, after a half hour or so, a female voice answered Bill’s phone. I introduced myself and explained why I was calling. She said her name was Marlene, and that Bill was also concerned about Richard and was downstairs checking his apartment. They’d get back to me as soon as they could.

Within three minutes, Bill called. “Get over here,” he said. “What’s the matter?” I asked. “I’m your friend, get over here,” he answered. “Oh, my God. Is he dead?” I blurted out. He wouldn’t answer me. “Bill, is he dead?” I repeated. “Just get your ass out here!” he ordered.

I fled my apartment in a panic. My hand shaking, I could barely lock the door. As I proceeded down the stairs to the street to summon a cab, I knew I was moving forward into an unspeakable reality, into a world in which Richard would be irreversibly gone. I just wanted to return to the security of my apartment and set the clock back to my life a few minutes before when the truth was still unrevealed to me.

The cab driver who took me to Queens must have initially thought me mad. Overwrought, I kept screaming,” My boyfriend is dead, I just know it,” to which he kept saying, “How do you know that? Why would you say such a thing?”

The ride seemed endless. My mind raced, my chest tightened as I tried to come to grips with what I was about to face. I felt as if I was going to choke with emotion or worse, have a panic attack and not be able to breathe.

I struggled to be rational. How could Richard be dead? It made no sense. He was not the heart attack type; his heart, cholesterol and blood pressure, according to his latest medical exam, were in enviable condition. It must have been something that killed him instantly without warning—an embolism or massive stroke.

As we turned into Richard’s street, I saw an ambulance and two police cars parked in front of his building. I was right: Richard was dead. I burst into tears and paid the driver, a stunned look on his face. As I ran towards the building, I heard him call after me, “Take care of yourself, okay?”

Crying and hysterical, I rushed into Richard’s building past the doorman and took the elevator to Bill’s apartment.

I knocked on Bill’s door. When he opened it, I screamed. “I need a Valium.” I felt as if I was jumping out of my skin. Marlene, the woman who had answered the phone, was with him and apologetically explained, ”There isn’t any Valium left. Bill took the last of it in the car.”

Some of what subsequently transpired is a blur or missing from memory. For example, I have no recollection of who told me that Richard had been murdered. That was one of the first questions the District Attorney posed to me and I simply could not remember whether it was Bill, Marlene or a police officer.

What I vividly recall is crying out, “Murder? Murder just happens to people in the headlines!’” and later sitting on a couch across from Officer Wang, a rookie cop who appeared shaken as if this was his first murder. I later learned that he was the first cop to arrive at the crime scene.

I asked Officer Wang if Richard had been shot to which he replied, “No, there were no gunshot wounds.” After an uncomfortable silence, I reluctantly asked ”Was he stabbed?” His reply: “Yes. Multiple stab wounds.” I felt as if Officer Wang had punched me in the stomach. I wanted to keel over. Multiple stab wounds! What did that mean? Two? Maybe five? The autopsy report later revealed that Richard had been stabbed ten times and had a fractured skull from a blow to the head.

I still try to visualize what Richard looked like lying on the floor, mutilated, his blood splattered about the room. Sometimes I hear the phone ringing—my frantic calls to contact him. Would it have been better if I had seen him? At least I would have known and not have to imagine the worst. But maybe Sergeant Schmidt, one of the homicide detectives in charge of the investigation, did me a favor.

Later that evening, as swarms of police and detectives descended on Richard’s apartment, I kept thinking of Richard, dead and defenseless, surrounded by all the mayhem, his apartment ransacked and overrun by strangers looking for clues. I wanted to be there with him, to protect him from this onslaught, so I went down to his apartment. When I announced that I was going inside, Sergeant Schmidt stopped me dead in my tracks. “I don’t think you should go. It will be unpleasant for you,” he said, his voice authoritative and firm.

During the course of the evening, Bill, Marlene and I were repetitively interrogated by a number of police officers, then by Sergeant Schmidt and his partner, Sergeant Palumbo. We told them about the threatening calls Richard had received.

I was at Richard’s when the first call came in at three o’clock one Sunday morning in January, a few days before we went on vacation to Mexico. The caller had said, “You’re a dead man.” Richard took it in stride, saying, “It must be some kind of joke, but who? I don’t have any enemies.” I wanted to call the police. He thought I was being foolish. “What do you think the cops will do? Listen, no one’s going to call you up if they really want to do you in,” he reasoned.

When we returned from Mexico, Bill, who had been watering Richard’s bonsai trees and feeding the fish, reported that when he had stayed over a few nights, three more threatening calls had come in. It was never clear why Bill stayed in Richard’s apartment (he also said he wore some of Richard’s clothes). Richard and I simply shrugged his behavior away, attributing it to his “weirdness.”

There was talk that it had been a crime of passion because of the nature of the stab wounds, possibly the brutal work of a homosexual killer. Sergeant Schmidt told me it had to have been someone Richard knew (there was no forced entry), someone who came at him from behind, someone strong (one of Richard’ s ribs was broken). The detectives thought money had been stolen. A few dollars had been found scattered in the closet as if someone had been in a rush.

There were no drugs to be found, only a scale and other low-level drug paraphernalia. That was contrary to what Bill had told me shortly after I arrived. He had said that Richard’s apartment was a mess, that there were drugs all over, so he didn’t go in. Bill also advised me not to say anything about drugs, Jerry, The Family, Mel Brooks or the screenplay.

At that point, I should have been suspicious of Bill, but my thoughts and emotions were not focused on Richard’s killer. It was Richard and what he had suffered that mattered to me. Because of that, I often found myself at odds with the detectives. They wanted to probe and I just wanted to be left alone to mourn Richard’s sudden, violent death.

Some of their questions--“Did Richard have women in the afternoons?,” “Isn’t it strange that you were together 14 years and weren’t married?,” or “Why did you each have your own apartment?”--were hurtful and invasive of my privacy, but I was too traumatized to protest. There was never an expression of sympathy or inquiry about my emotional condition though I was obviously in shock and in great pain.

It was becoming evident, even at this early stage in the investigation, that my status as a girlfriend did not remotely approximate that of a widow in the mindset of the authorities, and that I would be treated accordingly.

Whereas I was greatly bothered by the interrogation and the police presence, Bill and Marlene took it calmly, even joking at times with the detectives. Bill, who was wired and talked non-stop, seemed overly enthusiastic about lending a helping hand in the investigation. He was constantly going down to Richard’s apartment and engaging in tete-a-tetes with the detectives. It annoyed me that he was privy to what was happening and I had to stay upstairs and wait to be informed. What I did not know was that Bill was “invited” down to the crime scene because he was a suspect. As one detective later put it,” We just let him talk.”

Marlene, a very articulate, in-control type person, who I learned was also Bill’s realtor, stayed upstairs with me and was, in the absence of family and friends, my sole support system. She helped with the calls I needed to make and the calls that came in. That evening I slept at her apartment where she went out of her way to make me comfortable. I could not thank her or apologize enough for imposing on her kindness. I felt sorry that she had unwittingly become involved in what was happening—just because she had spent the afternoon with Bill and was at his apartment when he discovered Richard’s body.

In my vulnerable, disoriented state, I bonded with Marlene, thinking for sure that, because of the uncommon experience we shared, this was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. In fact, when my former therapist (I called her that evening after not having seen her professionally for over a year) advised me, “No matter what, don’t stay alone tonight.” I responded, “That’s no problem. I’m with my friends Bill and Marlene.”

Despite the Valium Marlene gave me when we arrived at her apartment, I could not sleep that night. Tormented with questions—Why Richard? How could murder happen to someone so non-violent? Who wanted Richard dead? What human being could have possibly chosen to pick up a knife and deliberately end Richard’s life?—I had no answers. I lay awake, struggling with the few facts and details I had to make sense of an act that defied all reason.

The detectives came early the next morning and interviewed Marlene and me, then escorted us to the stationhouse for more intensive questioning. Bill was already there. Once we arrived, Sergeant Schmidt fingerprinted me because, as he explained, my fingerprints were most likely all over Richard’s apartment and they needed to distinguish mine from any others they might find. Even with this explanation, I felt ill at ease as he pressed my fingers into the black powder to make the impression. Was I paranoid in thinking that I was a possible suspect in Richard’s murder? According to the entertainment and news media, which dictated all my perceptions regarding homicide, wasn’t it only the “bad guys” that got fingerprinted?

Marlene was also fingerprinted because she said she had been in Richard’s apartment once. I did, in fact, recall Richard telling me that Bill once brought his realtor to the apartment.

The interrogation at the precinct seemed interminable. My relationship with the authorities was becoming strained, almost adversarial. Accusing me of being uncooperative and withholding information, they looked upon me as an anti-establishment type with an attitude, and I viewed them as callous, case-hardened bureaucrats who would not let me mourn Richard.

I wanted and needed to grieve at home with family and friends, not in a stationhouse with strangers. There were funeral arrangements to be made, obituaries to be placed, and relatives and friends to be notified. And my parents were flying in from Florida that afternoon.

Everything was put on hold as I fielded questions about Richard and Bill’s relationship, drugs, and people whose names appeared in Richard’s address book and personal papers. They asked if Richard had dealings with loan sharks. They wanted to know whom Richard and I met when we were in Mexico. Did we smuggle in drugs? Someone had told them Richard had been to Mexico six times, and that we went on many vacations. Who fed them such lies (Bill?) or were they concocted by the detectives to see how I might react?

The only respite from the interrogation was the trip to the morgue to identify Richard’s body. The day was dreary, damp, and very gray—in sync with what I was about to do. I could not help but recall a similar day years before when I visited the Dachau Concentration Camp.

I had never seen a dead person before. In Judaism, the religion in which I was raised, closed coffins were the norm, so I did not know what to expect when Richard was wheeled into view. Separated from me by a glass partition, he was wrapped in a sheet, only his face showing. His mouth was open as if he had been taken by surprise. He did not look peaceful or even human. What I saw was a body, a bag of skin and bones that had nothing to do with the Richard I knew; that realization was very comforting.

After the visit to the morgue, I went with Bill and the detectives to Richard’s apartment to remove the valuables. Because a homicide had been committed, the apartment was to be sealed for a month barring all access to it.

As I waited in the hall, Bill and the detectives brought out the various items. When Bill asked me if he could have Richard’s flamingo, a beautifully handcrafted piece that Richard had brought back from Mexico, I looked at him askance and he put it down. How inappropriate, I thought.

There had been another incident earlier that day at the stationhouse that disturbed me. Emerging from an interrogation session, I noticed that Bill and Marlene suddenly looked worried. I approached Bill and, in a non-accusatory, pleading voice, asked, “Do you know who could have done this?” “No, I don’t,” he muttered under his breath. There was something angry and menacing in his repressed tone, as if he was being pushed too far.

After removing the valuables from Richard’s apartment, I was driven back to the stationhouse for more of the same questioning, this time with the precinct captain in attendance. I was eventually dismissed about six-thirty that evening.

I stayed that night at a friend’s apartment where I was to stay for the next month—at her insistence. While I thought I was functioning well enough to stay alone, no one else agreed, and I felt too emotionally battered to argue.

I will never forget the experience of trying to eat an English muffin the next morning, my friend coaxing and coaching me as I force-fed myself for two hours. Food never tasted so awful. I felt as if I would choke with every bite. I lost seven pounds that week.

Operating on sheer emotional adrenalin, I attended to the memorial service and notification of relatives and friends with phenomenal efficiency and stamina. My phone rang non-stop with people calling to help or wanting to hear about Richard’s murder and the police investigation.

Everyone had difficulty assimilating what had happened to Richard. A few people even called back to confirm the reality of what they had just heard. After the initial expressions of shock, horror, silence or condolences, inevitably the conversation shifted to the particulars of the death. I spent hours on the phone rehashing and reliving my story of Richard’s murder. People needed to know and I needed to ventilate. This obsession with details was all we had to convince ourselves that murder had happened to someone we knew.

I spoke with Bill that day, mostly about the arrangements for Richard’s service. He offered to help find a hall and said he wanted to have a private mass for Richard at his church. I told him I thought that was a nice gesture, and that I would attend.

Marlene also called later that day, very upset. The police had followed her to her mother’s house and had taken Bill for a polygraph. I did not know what to think. Although I clung to the belief that the polygraph would ultimately clear Bill of any involvement, I intentionally did not return his call later that evening. I was at a friend’s house when my mother called to say that Bill, sounding distraught, wanted to talk to me. He had told her, “Imagine them interrogating me like that. I was Richard’s friend.” The next morning, I was whisked away by my parents to my aunt and uncle’s suburban New Jersey home for what was to be a weekend of peace and quiet. Free at last to mourn what had happened to Richard, I thought. Was I wrong!

A day after I arrived, I learned Bill had been arrested for Richard’s murder. He had “flunked the polygraph with flying colors” and Marlene had broken down and confessed she had lied when she said that she had been with Bill all afternoon on the day of Richard’s murder.

“You’re going to be involved in a murder trial!” was my aunt’s immediate reaction to the news. I was too overwhelmed by a sudden rush of anger to consider the implications of her statement.

Ever since Richard was murdered, I had been feeling a kind of free-floating, low-key anger but, mixed with the myriad of other emotions and without a specific face to rage against, it never manifested with the intensity it did as when I heard that it was Bill who had snuffed out Richard’s life. I suddenly hated this man who had dared to call himself our friend.

Why? I had to know why. Had Bill been free-basing cocaine and lost all human perspective? They said it was a crime of passion. Did Richard say or do something that provoked him? Did Richard “bug” him about Mel Brooks and the screenplay? Could Bill have been a closet homosexual who suddenly made advances that Richard rejected?

Was it over money? I knew that Bill was always behind in paying Richard for his cocaine and at one time had given Richard a deed to a condo he owned as collateral, but I thought that had been squared away. In fact, I had asked Bill that first evening if he owed Richard any money. “Two thousand dollars,” he had said without hesitation. Did he murder Richard because of two thousand dollars? Or was there something inherent in Bill’s personality that Richard and I had overlooked or dismissed as “weirdness,” a pathology that could inspire Bill to commit murder? I groped for answers but only found more questions.

I returned to New York, physically and emotionally exhausted. Pushed to the limit, I thought. I was wrong about that, too.

Awaiting me in my apartment was a phone message from the detectives to call the precinct. “I don’t believe this. Now what do they want from me!,” I protested to a friend who had met me at the bus station. I immediately called them. They asked me to come out to Queens for more questioning. They needed to be sure of their information before the case against Bill went to the Grand Jury the following week. Like a Pavlovian dog, I heeded their call, and my friend and I were off to Queens, an hour and a half, two-bus trek from where I lived.

This was the most unpleasant of my encounters with the detectives. For four hours straight, I was made to feel more like a suspect than the mourner of a homicide victim. In fact, my friend, who had to wait outside for me, said that when she inquired about what the detectives were doing with me for so long, the officer on duty jokingly responded, “Torturing her.”

The detectives told me that Bill, in maintaining his innocence, insisted that he was protecting someone. They wanted the names of Richard’s supplier and another friend, a legitimate Garment Center executive whose wife happened to be related to a reputed Mafia kingpin. I adamantly refused to divulge that information on the grounds that my policy was not to “rat on” friends and implicate them unnecessarily, but the detectives were unrelenting in their pursuit of these questions. I felt so stripped of my right to privacy that at one point I asked if I needed an attorney. Moreover, Sergeant Schmidt had the audacity to offer such evaluations as, “You’ll feel differently about this in six months,” as well as to blatantly come on to me: “If you cry, I’m going to kiss you” or “You look so sexy when you pout.”

One might argue that in light of Bill’s statement that he was protecting someone, the sergeant was just doing his job and checking me out as a suspect. His remarks were his way of testing my attachment to Richard. On the other hand, if I had been Richard’s wife, would the detectives have been so invasive of my privacy and ruthless in their questioning? Would they have even suspected me? And would the sergeant have taken such liberties and come on to a widow?

The detectives and I stayed locked in a tug of war. I refused to name names and they refused to stop probing and let me go home. But I was starved, over-tired and emotionally vulnerable, with no one on “my” side—a perfect candidate out of whom to eventually extract information. In the end, I reluctantly gave the detectives what they wanted. “Now was that so bad? Look what you put yourself through for nothing,” was their reaction. They then admitted that they already had the names and merely needed my confirmation. I still felt like a traitor who had collaborated with the enemy.

Despite its grueling aspect, the session with the detectives did shed some light on the dark side of Bill’s personality. When I inquired about Jerry and The Family, the detectives did not give much credence to their existence. They doubted that the screenplay ever went anywhere, speculating that Bill had either discarded it or tore out the title page and submitted it as his own. I also learned that Bill’s Porsche actually belonged to a girlfriend who was using his garage privileges. Why did he tell Richard it was his Porsche? I wondered what else he lied about. The threatening calls? The two thousand dollars? All those stories about The Family?

And what about Bill’s daughter, a model who lived in California whose magazine photos suddenly appeared all over his apartment a few months before Richard was killed? Richard had even remarked, “All these years, I never knew Bill had a daughter.” Those photos, especially the one with “I love you, Daddy” scribbled across it, used to haunt me for some reason I could not articulate, but it never occurred to me to question their authenticity. Why would someone invent a daughter if they didn’t have one?

I also wondered about the meditation cushion, an exact replica of Richard’s, the detectives said they found in Bill’s apartment. I could not fathom why Bill would have use for a meditation cushion unless he wanted to be like Richard or…he wanted to be Richard.

That revelation startled me at first, but it did not seem so illogical and farfetched a notion when I considered Bill’s wearing of Richard’s clothes while we were in Mexico, the sudden appearance of a daughter similar in age to Richard’s daughter, not to mention his frequently expressed desire to have his nose fixed to resemble Richard’s (Richard had a fine nose, but not one a plastic surgeon might seek to emulate.).

Whenever I thought I had an interlude of calm to mourn Richard, an unexpected, anxiety-provoking disruption relating to the case against Bill inevitably arose to set me back. It was cruel punishment for being the survivor of a homicide victim. Wasn’t I suffering enough? I felt victimized, powerless and resentful that homicide was ruling my life.

Those were my sentiments when I heard Assistant District Attorney Levine’s voice on my answering machine summoning me to appear the very next day before the Grand Jury considering the murder indictment against Bill. I was furious over this turn of events. I did not anticipate having to testify until the murder trial, which, if there was one, was months away. Richard’s memorial service was in two days and I did not feel emotionally prepared to go to court. Only a week had passed since Richard’s murder. It was too soon; I still hadn’t sorted out the details.

To ensure that I not forget anything, I stayed up most of the night writing down everything I could possibly remember that might be relevant to my testimony—from the chronology of events to my assessment of Bill’s eccentric behavior.

Levine was young, perhaps a few years out of law school. He tried to be sympathetic and human, prefacing his interrogation with quick, garbled condolences, but then it was business-as-usual as he began firing questions at me: “When was the last time you talked to Richard? How did you know Richard was dead? Who told you Richard had been murdered?”

When I started reading my notes, he seemed visibly annoyed. He advised me not to write down anything else. As it was, he had to give a copy of the paper with my notes to Bill’s defense attorney. I asked whether I could continue writing in my journal, which I had been keeping up-to-date with renewed diligence since Richard’s murder. He cautioned against that, too. Naturally, being a writer, I did not heed his advice. How could my intimate writings be of interest to the Defense? If anything, they would undermine the case for Bill’s innocence.

At the end of the meeting, I was required to sign a waiver of immunity, which I did like an automaton, thinking it standard procedure for anyone who took the stand. I later realized, after learning that other witnesses were not asked to sign such a document, that I was still regarded as a possible suspect in Richard’s murder.

During the nerve-racking hours I sat waiting to testify, I felt as if I had descended into the underbelly of the criminal justice system—an almost surreal world inhabited by those who either worked for the justice system or transgressed against it. The criminally accused, cuffed and led around by armed guards or attorneys, at times sat only a few feet away from me.

Among those waiting to testify were the detectives and Richard’s neighbor who, on the afternoon of Richard’s murder, saw Bill in the building at the time he said he was elsewhere. Marlene, who had been summoned by the prosecution, was conspicuously absent. I could not help but wonder where she might be.

My actual appearance before the Grand Jury lasted no more than 10 minutes. I told my story as I had countless times before. When I mentioned that upon arriving at Bill’s apartment, I screamed out, “I need a Valium,” there was an explosion of laughter because of my presentation (I tend to get dramatic when nervous) or out of empathy. Whatever their motivation, I felt supported and confident that justice would be served on Richard’s behalf.

To Be Continued...