I am Allison Richards, a Psychologist for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, based in Washington D.C. I specialize in profiling serial killers. I also interview some of the most notorious and prolific killers incarcerated in America’s prisons.
Trying to get inside the head of a monster isn’t easy; and when I do, I am left with a land slide of emotions that sometimes I can’t shake for days afterwards. Many of the men I interview are psychotic and come from a childhood of abuse or neglect. Those men I can understand; even if I don’t condone their crimes. Something triggers a Psychotic break; they no longer live in reality.
It is the criminal that was raised in a normal family environment of middle or upper class parents who gave them every opportunity in life; who scare me most. Some of them are sociopaths; void of true compassion or remorse. They can appear normal in every way; mimicking emotions and saying what others want to hear. They are consummate liars and can appear charming and trustworthy.
The case file of Robert Evan Patterson is one I am presenting to you today. Born in nineteen eighty-one in Charleston, South Carolina. He was raised in an upper middle class family with an aunt and uncle. He graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in Business Management.
Robert is currently serving two consecutive life sentences, with no possibility of parole for murdering Amanda Clarke, age twenty four and Kelly Kyser, age twenty-two. Although it is believed Robert probably killed upward to fourteen women; he was tried on these two cases due to the evidence being stronger for conviction.
Robert’s mode of crime involved abducting women and keeping them locked in a room dug beneath his basement floor for several weeks, repeatedly raping and terrorizing them, before eventually killing them and disposing of their bodies.
He is currently thirty-two years of age. Robert is six feet three inches tall and weighs two hundred and twenty pounds. He is attractive; with blonde hair, blue eyes and is very articulate. Most people who knew Robert describe him as above average in intelligence and charming, although he could become extremely upset if everything didn’t go his way.
The following information comes three interviews I did with Robert in Broad River Correctional Institution in July, 2012.
Case File #117 Robert Evan Patterson
I knew going into the prison that I would be facing a man who had an inflated sense of himself. In order to get information from him I would have to play into his ego; making him want to show me just how smart he was in committing the murders and evading capture for years.
Sociopaths can be difficult to interview due to their inherent need to be in control and their ability to lie convincingly. They are pathological liars; believing themselves to be superior to everyone around them.
I sat down at the desk in the small grey room and waited for the guards to bring Robert in. I put a recorder on the table and prepared for the interview; which would be like so many others that I had done over the past eleven years.
Robert entered the room, accompanied by two prison guards, shackled hands and feet; the chains rattled as he walked toward the table. He looked up at me and smiled; as if he were greeting a friend who had come to see him. I knew that smile all too well; it was not one of greeting but one of arrogance. Once the guards had attached his shackles to the table; they left the room to stand guard outside the door.
“Hello Robert, thank you for agreeing to meet with me. My name is Allison.”
“Hello Allison, so you’re the Psychologist they sent? I’m surprised; I expected a man.”
“Are you bothered by the fact I’m a woman Robert?”
“No, not at all Allison; as a matter of fact; I’m quite happy you aren’t a man. It’s been awhile since I talked to woman.” He smiled.
“Good; then let’s begin the interview, shall we?” I turned on the recorder and laid a manila folder on the table.
“Robert, during your trial you admitted to murdering Amanda Clarke and Kelly Kyser; is that right?”
“That’s a matter of court record Allison. I’m sure you’ve done your homework before coming here; don’t you have better questions to ask?”
“Alright then; let’s talk about Amanda Clarke. Was she your first victim?”
“Victim; I take offence at the use of that word. Amanda was asking for what happened to her. She approached me at the bar. She hit on me, so she was more of a participant; not a victim. But to answer your question; yes, she was the first.”
“So you have no remorse about the things you did to her; the rape or killing her?”
“Why would I feel bad about some woman I met in a bar? She was out for sex; I gave it to her. Since I gave her what she wanted; she in turn had to give me what I wanted. Tick for tack Allison; tick for tack.”
Robert ‘s mouth curled into a crooked smile; as he tilted his head as if he said something profound and was waiting for me to agree with him. He was playing games with me and I decide to take a different direction and talk to him about his years as a child.
“Tell me about your childhood Robert. You were raised by relatives; your aunt and uncle I believe?”
“Ah here we go; Mom and Dad are dead, so let’s blame Uncle Dave and Aunt Linda for how I turned out? That’s not very original Allison; its text book Psychology. Determine the environment; and perhaps find clues as to why he turned into a serial killer? Well, I had a great childhood Allison; my aunt and uncle doted on me. They couldn’t have kids, so I had everything I wanted and more; no beatings or neglect, sorry to disappoint you.”
“You were ten when your parents died, is that right; in a house fire, along with your younger brother? Tell me what you remember about that Robert; that must have been a traumatic thing for a child to deal with. I assume you went through some kind of therapy after their deaths?”
Robert’s jaw clenched; he no longer made eyes contact with me. I sensed this was not a subject he was comfortable discussing. Finally, he looked back up; his eyes looking beyond me to the wall.
“It was Christmas, and like everyone we had a tree in the living room. We were all asleep when the fire started; the tree lights shorted out they said. They didn’t make it out; I did…end of story. I went for counseling for awhile; but I was handling things ok, so my aunt and uncle saw no need for me to continue. ”
He showed no sadness at recalling the fire that claimed his entire family. His voice was calm and calculated; merely stating facts to me as if recounting a story that happened to someone else.
“How was it that you were the only survivor? “ I pressed on.
“How should I know? Maybe the smoke got to them; I was a kid. I woke up smelling smoke and I went out a window.”
“When neighbors found you outside; they say you were standing on the lawn clutching a toy. I believe it was a Game Boy, is that right?”
“Yeah, I got it for Christmas. I still have it; at least I had it until I was sent here. I asked my parents for it for months. On Christmas day I went to open my presents; the usual stuff, clothes, action figures and junk. I was really upset at first that I didn’t get the Game Boy.
Then, my mom brought another box out. She had hidden it way back under the tree with the presents going to relatives. I went to tear the wrapping off; but she stopped me. She called my younger brother Mike over and said we had to open it together, since it was for both us. Can you believe that shit? I had begged for it and now I had to share it with my kid brother? “
“That made you pretty angry I take it?”
“Hell yes it made me angry! It should have been mine; not shared with him. I ran up to my room with it. Dad came up and made me hand it to my brother to play with. He said since I had been so rude, Mike was going to play with it first; then it would be up to Mike if I got to play with it. Mike didn’t even want the damned thing; he just asked for a Game Boy because I did. He always asked for things I wanted.”
“They deserved to burn up in that fire; all of them! I warned Dad; I told him to give it back to me.”
I sat back in my chair stunned. He didn’t technically admit to starting the fire that killed his family; but my gut was screaming that he did. He killed them because he wanted that toy to himself. As a sociopath, his wants superseded the rights of those around him; there deaths were simply a means to an end for him.
“Congratulations Allison; you hit a nerve. Not that it matters considering where I am right now.” He smirked.
“You got away with it didn’t you? You were very smart, even back then weren’t you Robert?”
“Well, I don’t like tooting my own horn Allison; but a sobbing little boy is pretty hard to see as a suspect now isn’t he? I mean; I lost my family at Christmas time; who wouldn’t feel bad for a kid like that?”
I forced a smile on my face as I looked at him. I wanted to make him feel I was impressed with his intelligence. Inside my head, I was seeing his poor family trying to escape that fire; fighting for their lives.
“Was there ever another time, as a kid, when someone made you that angry again Robert?”
I knew from school records that Robert had problems in school. There were some suspicious accidents with his peers; although only one of them could be traced back to Robert. He was expelled for breaking a boy’s arm in eighth grade. Robert had claimed it was an accident and the boy admitted they were fighting; so no legal charges were brought.
“Why do you ask? Ah I get it now; you’ve snooped into my school records haven’t you? You know about Steven Everson? Did they tell you that he had just moved to the area and I had played that position for two years before he came? He didn’t deserve to get it.”
“So you broke his arm to keep him from playing?”
“You ask that as if I had a choice? It was his fault; don’t you see that? He could have gone out for any position on the team; the pitcher position was mine. Everyone else knew it, that’s why no one else ever went out for it.”
“Why don’t you concentrate on the subject you came here to talk to me about Allison? I’m tired of this shit; I’m not here to be diagnosed. Do your job and ask me about how I killed them. Ask me how I got away with it for so long. Isn’t that what all of this is supposed to be about?”
Robert’s eyes were fixed on mine. The light blue color of them seemed to darken as he spoke. He was becoming upset; I felt we should take a break and resume the interview the next day. I also wanted him to know I was in control of the interview and the questions I would ask.
It was clear Robert wasn’t happy that I was ending the interview session. He wanted to talk about himself; brag about what he had done and I was cutting it short.
I had breathed the same air as Robert long enough for one day. The stench of a prison gets into your clothes and when you walk out of them; all you want to do is go home and shower. I find myself scrubbing so hard it leaves my skin red; and still I can smell the vile odor of them.
Robert Patterson can wait another day to revel in his own contemptuous sadistic acts perpetrated on women.
That room although now dismantled; must still echo the sounds of their cries. Tomorrow is soon enough for me to listen to what he did to them before granting them the mercy of death.