Radar Online

In the late ’90s, pop-culture historian Bill Geerhart had a little too much time on his hands and a surfeit of stamps. So, for his own entertainment, the then-unemployed thirtysomething launched a letter-writing campaign to some of the most powerful and infamous figures in the country, posing as a curious 10-year-old named Billy.

To his surprise, replies soon started pouring in. Everyone from Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld (on tree-fort diplomacy) to Oprah Winfrey, Mister Rogers, Janet Reno, and members of the Supreme Court had words of wisdom for Billy. (“I like the Egg McMuffin,” wrote Justice Clarence Thomas when asked about his favorite McDonald’s food. “Actually, I like almost everything there.”) Responding to Billy’s idea for a “Hustler for kids,” Larry Flynt wrote back encouraging the fourth grader to “Hang in there. You’ll be 18 before you know it.”

As it turns out, no group hates to disappoint a child more than convicted killers, all of whom responded promptly to Billy’s questions about dropping out of school. Their letters, published here for the first time, range from criminally insane to downright sensible, offering snapshots of the personalities behind some of America’s most hideous crimes. Recently, Radar asked Billy to follow up with his mentors as a college student.

The replies are hilarious, especially from Charles Manson and Richard Ramirez… Ramirez getting his own Nightstalker letterhead complete with Satanic symbol.

View the letters here.

Thanks, Chris Vallee.

  1. bobbo says:

    I don’t admire Billy taking advantage of non-criminals compassion for kiddies. It could only harden public officials once they found out?

    It still actually bothers me that Manson is allowed to breathe.

  2. andy says:

    charles manson would fit right in at the ziff-davis gaming forums.

    schwarzenegger’s reply was the worst. can’t argue with clarence about those egg mcmuffins.

  3. pjcamp says:

    Somebody is clearly hoping we’ve all forgotten about Lazlo Toth . . . . .

  4. McCullough says:

    Bobbo- funny that Manson was not convicted of murdering anyone first hand, so I assume you are FOR the death penalty for murder by proxy?

  5. SJP says:

    #4. No Saddam was railroaded.

  6. Lou Minatti says:

    Don Novello did it far better. Google “Lazlo Toth”. Bill Geerhart is a hack.

  7. Balbas says:

    The barn, Billy.

    Always remember the barn.

  8. bobbo says:

    #4–McCullough==you surprise me. My bias shows. I give you moderators too much credit. Thinking you all are “basically liberal” but level headed and steady? Just like I like to imagine myself?

    My general thought is that you can’t correct a death penalty executed on error. That happens too often in USA due to faulty notions of due process and right to counsel and the obligations of judge and prosecutor to act in the name of justice. We have some nice sound bites, but track record is poor. More on all that on request or subsequent thread.

    Death penalty should apply only in the worst forms of murder. This should include murder for hire, multiple murder, murder by laying in wait, murder of cop, murder the result of torture by way of example. Murder as the result of crime of passion usually does not warrant death penalty. The felony murder rule should be abolished==murder occurs in a bank and the driver of the getaway car gets death penalty==ie the driver did not murder “first hand” as you say==we agree.

    Charlie was convicted of “Conspiracy to Murder” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Manson which looks like no “first hand” activity but in fact is even worse than first hand.

    “But for” Charlies direct instigation, planning, directing of his family members, the many murders of strangers for psychotic reasons would never have taken place. I find him as culpable as anyone can be and more deserving than many for the death penalty.

    Other issues not addressed==Charlie was and is insane. I believe the law regarding insanity should be “Guilty and Insane” with all penalties as if insanity was not present, rather than “Innocent by reason of Insanity.”

    I think Roman Polanski deserves a lot of slack. Fantastic director, overcame so much, only to have Manson enter his life. Probably one of the most tortured mea ever to continue living. Few of us could survive his tormented circumstances.

    What have I missed?==No parole ever for the family members==again, borderline insanity for those meat puppets. Rose Bird should not be allowed ice cream in hell for negating the death penalty for these scum.

    Other than that, I think prison makes more problems for society than it prevents, and it hardly ever cures. I think prison terms should be very bi-polar–much less time in jail if any for most crimes, even serious ones, with lots of counseling, half way houses, electronic bracelets, and then more life sentences without parole for the un-rehabilitatable. Death sentence swift and sure for those convicted of heinous murder with more confirming circumstantial evidence than we use today.

    Separate pre-conviction facilities for those awaiting trial. No prison for victimless crimes.

    When you do even a cursory review of the USA criminal justice system, if you have any brains/common sense/humanity you should come to the conclusion we have too much of it backwards. Charlie Manson being alive is one such case.

  9. mike cannali says:

    Dear Mr. Dvorak
    I was thinking of dropping out of the software business. My friend Stevie said I should ask you. I’m sending you a CD so you can send me a service pack with bugs and blue screens.
    Your pal

  10. Mister Mustard says:

    >>I think Roman Polanski deserves a lot of
    >>slack. Fantastic director, overcame so much

    BOBBO!! Does this mean that you support with rape of a minor by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14, and furnishing a controlled substance (methaqualone) to a minor??

    I’m shocked. SHOCKED!

  11. bobbo says:

    #12–Mustard==no, I don’t and I don’t have any details on that event “but” I can quite well believe she was a movie star want to be and was fully and voluntarily involved in everything that happened.

    Any voluntary behavior pales in comparison to having your near term wife hacked to death by strangers for the fun of it.

  12. OhForTheLoveOf says:

    #12 – Samantha Geimer forgives Roman Polanski, so as far as I care, its settled…

    BUT, if you’d bother to type in the URL for Google, you could actually know, rather than guess, and then you’d know that Samantha Geimer was plyed with Champaign and Qualludes and that her participation in the photo shoots for French Vogue was at her mother’s behest… who in many ways aided Polanski.

    I don’t have to like Polanski personally, but he is truly one of the most gifted filmmakers of the past 40 years and many of his films will remain enduring classics for ages to come.

    Despite being very uncomfortable with the 1977 statutory rape of 13 year old Samantha, I have a great deal of empathy for him after the 1968 slaying of his wife.

  13. Barty says:

    Every breath Manson breathes is a waste of oxygen.

    I think it is nice that all these people took the time to answer Billy. As an earlier post eluded, I hope this ruse doesn’t result in real children’s letters going unanswered in the future.

    It is a pretty interesting project, nonetheless.

  14. NewVeraCity says:

    The state of Indiana learned from a hostage situation about thirty years ago. A man with a shotgun held a person with a shotgun to his head for days. He was found not to have been sane during the incident and went free. The state now has a possible verdict of “guilty but insane”.

  15. bobbo says:

    #13–OFTLO==why should I confirm something I don’t care about? And, btw, how do you justify ragging on me for xyz and you turn around and do the same thing? Again, if I cared, I would figure out le mot juste for xyz and spell hypocrite correctly?

    #15–NVC==its clear that many medically insane people get convicted without regard to their sanity. Manson is a good example. Most mothers who kill their children, your example most likely.

    That makes me think though. I don’t think mothers who kill their own 3 kids should be executed unless there was a clear motive such as money or new boyfriend to overcome the assumption of motherly love and depression. Maybe I over emphasize property concepts of ownership as well. Every general rule needs a few exceptions, or you aren’t thinking.

  16. Mister Mustard says:

    >>Mustard==no, I don’t and I don’t have any
    >>details on that event “but” I can quite well
    >>believe she was a movie star want to be and
    >>was fully and voluntarily involved in everything
    >>that happened.

    Jesus, Bobbi, you’ve got the weirdest punctuation habits I’ve ever seen. Is that your own special system, or did you learn that somewhere?

    As to the event, he snookered some 13yo into taking dirty pics allegedly for Vogue; he was 44 at the time (sound like the Vanity Fair debacle?), and fucked her after loading her up with champagne and ‘ludes. He skipped the country before his sentencing. He’s been a fugitive from justice for over 30 years, and only travels between France and Poland, so that the US can’t extradite him for his pedophelia.


  17. OhForTheLoveOf says:

    #16 – #13–OFTLO==why should I confirm something I don’t care about?

    If you don’t care about it, why would you bother to offer an opinion on it?

    And, btw, how do you justify ragging on me for xyz and you turn around and do the same thing?

    I didn’t. I looked it up.


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