It’s past midnight in a warehouse district north of downtown Minneapolis. The area looks abandoned for the weekend but, tucked between two large structures, a parking lot slowly fills with the cars of teenagers. Most carry US$13 tickets bought several hours earlier in the back of Cynesthesia, a small clothing shop near Lyndale Avenue South and West Lake Street. Along with the tickets came a stub of paper with directions: “From the front of this store go left … then go right at first light … take the first freeway entrance heading east … go to the foundry … turn left into parking area just before the ‘EZ Stop’ tanker.”
It’s dark near the metal door where a guy with a flashlight and an earphone takes tickets, but just inside, the monochrome of night yields to dazzling ’60s psychedelia-skulls, lines, curves, dots, and pumpkins are projected on the concrete walls – and thumping, pulsating techno music. Teenagers are clustered in groups along the walls, sitting cross-legged around candles. Others lounge in a black-light room. But most dance in the throbbing dimness before a wall of speakers, moving individually to the music, attentive in the manner of animals feeding. Many wave amber- or lime-colored “glow sticks.” Boys wear loose, unbuttoned flannel shirts and baseball caps, girls bell-bottoms. All sway trancelike to an electronic beat that never stops. This is a rave, the kind of all-night teenage party popularized a few years ago in Europe that has spread across the country.
A few dancers leave; a few more arrive. But up front, a few feet from the DJ, is one man who has been dancing for hours, and, with very few breaks, will continue to dance until dawn. Dancing, for him, is a therapy, a calling; it is ecstatic in the mystical sense. Here, he feels part of what he only half-jokingly calls “the church of the vibe.” Even in daylight, it would be hard to tell that this man is much older than everyone else. With his long blond hair in a ponytail and smooth, unwrinkled skin, Roy Eric Wahlberg doesn’t look like a 44-year-old making up for 17 years lost to prison, or like someone who, from behind prison walls, broke into the computer software business and silently built a company that grossed nearly $1 million a year.
The year was 1975 and the place was Ely, Minnesota, near the Canadian border in the region known as the Iron Range. Cold and insular, the range is a land of deep woods and open-air mines, brought down from boom times by the decline of American steel. Wahlberg, 23, sold milk during the day for his parents’ dairy distribution company and at night sold drugs: LSD, speed, cocaine, PCP, tranquilizers. “I celebrate every Saturday night,” he told the court during his trial; that Saturday in March he celebrated with beer, rum and Coke, speed, marijuana, and, right before attending a party in a trailer home with his girlfriend, Roxanne Ahlstrand, some LSD.
The LSD annoyed Roxanne, who said it left Wahlberg “hard to get along with … hard to communicate with.” His drug use occasionally led to rages – smashed windshields (usually his own) and trashed apartments (sometimes Roxanne’s). Roy and Roxanne argued at the party, and after several mixed drinks, he left with her younger sister. Fights between them were common, in part because Wahlberg fooled around on the side – often with underage girls. Once, caught naked in the back of a car with a minor, he had been thrown into jail.
At one point that evening Wahlberg passed through a local bar at the same time as a recent high school graduate named Jeff Goedderz (pronounced GED-derz). It was Goedderz’s 19th birthday, and he, too, had been drinking, beginning with a celebration before dinner at his sister’s house in nearby Babbitt. Trial testimony indicated that Goedderz had made a date that night with an Ely woman but it skipped his mind; at the jukebox in the bar he was soon making time with a college student home for the weekend from Duluth. When they and another couple went for pizza down the street at 1 a.m., Goedderz offered her his class ring.
No one remembers whether Goedderz and Wahlberg spoke at the bar; it is uncertain whether they even knew each other. But sometime after 2:30 a.m. they met up on the streets of Ely, two of the last people still awake on a cold night in winter. Goedderz, in poor condition to drive with a blood alcohol level later measured at 0.17 percent (almost twice the limit allowed by many states), let Wahlberg take the wheel of his Plymouth Gold Duster and climbed in back to sleep. They were joined by Wahlberg’s friend Red Nelson, a shoplifter and vandal who sold drugs to kids. The police theory was that Wahlberg murmured to Nelson his suspicion that Goedderz, who declined to take drugs besides alcohol, was a narc. (Nelson also suggested, years later, that Wahlberg was jealous of Goedderz, the outsider who was starting to date local girls.) As Goedderz slept, the two friends picked up a hatchet at Wahlberg’s truck and a stolen bowie knife at Nelson’s house. They drove to a remote logging road 8 miles north of town; the killing began when Goedderz stepped out of the car to pee. His last words, according to Nelson, were “Oh, no! Don’t do that!”
Goedderz’s car was found six days later under melting snow in the parking lot of the Ely Co-Op. Police noticed blood dripping into a puddle beneath the car and popped open the trunk to find Jeff Goedderz. Almost no blood remained in his body. According to officials, Goedderz died of loss of blood from multiple wounds. There were two long gashes to the head, both of which penetrated the brain, made by a hatchet. There were knife wounds to the face, arm, and neck. A knife blow to the left cheek had entered in front of the ear, broken the jaw, and knocked out two front teeth. And, in what the pathologist called a “defensive wound,” Goedderz’s left thumb was missing: hair stuck to the hand indicated that Goedderz had probably had his hand to his head, trying to ward off blows. He said Goedderz had been alive when placed in the trunk.
As the people last seen with Goedderz, Wahlberg and Nelson were prime suspects in the murder, but it took 17 months of investigation before the case went to a grand jury. During those months Wahlberg freely talked with the lead investigator; parrying with the police as they tried to trip him up was like playing “mental chess,” he later said. But Wahlberg lost the game when things he told the investigator confiicted with statements he made to others. Based on strong circumstantial evidence, Wahlberg was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
An Ely reporter covering the trial wrote that “occasionally tears swelled [sic] in the eyes” of Goedderz’s relatives in the courtroom. He was struck particularly by the intensity of Jeff Goedderz’s little brother, Jay, 15. A junior high school student, Jay Goedderz “watched Wahlberg intently as he was lead [sic] from the room” at every recess.
“We did everything we could to hold ourselves back and try not to choke that bastard,” Jay Goedderz, now 34, remembers. “There was so much anger and trapped violence.”
As there still is. Occasionally in the news we read about relatives of murder victims who, perhaps miraculously, are able to forgive the murderer and move beyond their burden of anger. Jay Goedderz is not one of those people. The murder of his brother was the pivotal event in his life; Goedderz felt a rage in that courtroom that, if anything, has deepened in the 20 years since.
It is an incongruous feature of the mild-mannered tax attorney for General Mills. Goedderz looks soft and gentle, like a pudgy bookworm whom older kids might have picked on. His boyish voice suggests latent playfulness. The president of his high school class, he earned a CPA – “the first professional in the entire ancestry,” he says proudly – and then began to pursue his real dream. He would become a prosecutor. “I admired DeSanto and Sommerness [the prosecutors of Wahlberg] very much.” In 1983, already working full time, he started a four-year night program in law. “My dad always said I was going to be a short, fat, bald-headed lawyer,” he confesses today. “I’m not bald yet, but the rest is right.”
He defends his anger as commensurate with the loss. “We were the last two left at home, so I was very close to him.” Jeff and Jay hunted and fished together in the woods near their house, rode snowmobiles and motorcycles. They modeled shorts in fashion shows on the stage at the local theater. They spent summers together up in the range visiting their sister, Rose, before Jeff graduated from high school and moved there.
Wahlberg’s conviction was a small compensation, Jay Goedderz says, for a single murder has many victims. Among members of his close-knit family – besides the parents there are now four sons and one daughter – Jeff’s death caused a transforming anguish. Older brother John, for example, felt guilty because he had been the family strongman, Jeff and Jay’s protector. Rose, too, felt for years that she was to blame. “If Jeff hadn’t been staying with us it wouldn’t have happened,” went her thinking. Also, she and her husband had made a birthday present to Jeff of a bottle of banana liqueur, which he drank that night.
There were 147 mason jars of freshly pickled tomatoes and cucumbers when I visited the Goedderz parents’ home in the woods near Crosby, Minnesota, and five framed photos of Jeffrey. Katie Goedderz wore an apron and was frying the pike she would serve us for dinner. Before we ate she showed me an album with other pictures of her son.
“Here’s one when he was real small – even his look there, you can see he was timid.” Jeff Goedderz always seemed to have his hands in his pockets and his eyes toward the fioor. She told how he used to climb out his bedroom window at night to ride his motorcycle, and how local friends of his had named their kids after him. “You know,” she said, starting to weep, “you have other boys, but nobody could take his place … he didn’t deserve to die that way.”
It was the end of the evening before Stan Sr., a tall and taciturn retired miner, could address me. “I had a long time before I could say the Our Father,” he said. “I mean, ‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sinned against us?’ I could never forgive him, ever.” His idea of justice, his fantasy, would be to send Wahlberg running across a field “and give me my 30-06. Just one shot is all I’d need.”
All his children supported the death penalty and were skeptical of parole and prisoner rehabilitation. “Somebody that evil I personally don’t believe can ever change their inside, no matter what,” said Jay. John, like his father, wanted to administer the capital punishment himself. Forgiveness, they all said, was a nice thought but simply not possible. Those who had not lost a loved one to murder could not understand.
Roy Wahlberg, a talkative fellow generally, has little to say about what drove him to kill, even years after his conviction. Many times he told me he remembered almost nothing about that evening, he had taken so many drugs. It’s what he told the court, too, and two other people I heard ask him. But late one night as we were driving on a highway near Minneapolis, a few months after we met, I brought it up again and got a different answer.
“My memory is very, very piecemeal,” he said. “I have an overall impression of killing myself. Of killing myself. For a long time, I remembered watching Red commit the Myrtle – I mean, the murder. Looking through the back of the pickup truck. And about five years later I remembered, wait a minute, we had a camper on the back of the pickup. I couldn’t look out the back.”
Myrtle Kangas, interestingly enough, is the name of Roy’s mother. By all accounts, she has been the central figure in his life. (Once while describing a drug overdose in prison, Wahlberg told me that he had said to himself at the time, “Whoever it is that I think I’m striking out at, my mom or whatever, it’s me that I’m killing.”) Kangas bore Roy when her other two children, daughters Judy and Joan, were already 12 and 9 years old. According to Georgann Ahlstrand, the mother of Roy’s girlfriend at the time of the murder, “His sisters have told Roxanne that when Roy was born, it was like they didn’t exist anymore.”
While his mother lavished attention, Wahlberg’s father, Roy Sr., kept his hands off. “Poach deer. Spear walleyes and shoot deer out of season, that’s all my dad taught me,” Wahlberg said. “He had a problem at home – his dad never did nothing to reprimand him or anything,” recalled Georgann Ahlstrand. “One time Roxanne went out to his house with him. I don’t know what he had done … but his mother kept hollering to his father, ‘Get the belt! Get the belt!’
“But the father didn’t budge. He didn’t do nothing. So she went and got the belt and started hitting him in front of Roxanne, who was standing by the door. Well, anyway, then I suppose he was very embarrassed, so he got up and he went in the bedroom and he came out with a gun. And he calmly told his mother he was going to kill her.” His mother backed down and they left. “Roxanne was just flabbergasted, and when she come home she was very shook up.”
Roy’s mother would call the Ahlstrands repeatedly if her son was late getting home on a work night. She appeared behind their house once, taunting him outside the car where he was parked with Roxanne; he took refuge in the Ahlstrands’ until his mother resumed her calling and wouldn’t stop. At two or three in the morning Roy went home, saying simply, “She won’t quit.”
“I told my husband as long as she’s alive, Roy’ll never be better,” said Georgann Ahlstrand. The only thing Wahlberg would ever say to me about her was, “She is a wonderful person. She’s just wasn’t a very good mother.”
Others said his mother was Roy’s champion. Phil Potterjoy, who along with Red Nelson was Wahlberg’s best friend from high school until the time of the murder, envied Wahlberg for his looks, his charm, his vehicles, the family’s cabin on the lake, and “the mother who was behind him.” Just the same, when he mentioned “a lot of things I did with him that have affected me to this day,” bad treatment of women was at the top of the list.
“My wife says I don’t have any respect for women, and I guess I don’t. Basically I’m a pretty good guy, but there’s deep down things that we did with women….” Serial sex with “a fat gal in town” in the back of Wahlberg’s van was one of them. “I saw him get rough with Roxanne a couple of times,” added Potterjoy, saying that Wahlberg wanted to keep it quiet. “He had an image – ‘nothing seemed to bother him’ was his image, and he was there to help people – he wanted people to think that.”
Whatever hatred Wahlberg bore inside toward women did not keep them from flocking toward him. “No one had his charisma – and no one since,” said Potterjoy. “People followed him like he was Moses or something.” This had not been the case in high school, when Wahlberg was a loner who played the French horn – “clean-cut, straitlaced, all the little old ladies liked him.” But a darker, evidently sexier Roy Wahlberg emerged after a year away at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where he started experimenting with drugs and dabbling with Satanism. This new Wahlberg revealed himself on a smelting trip to Lake Superior, Potterjoy recounted, when he and Roy stopped in at a local bar. Only earlier that day had he learned that Roy was carrying a pistol; that night, on the loud, packed dance floor, Wahlberg raised it above his head and started firing through the ceiling. “He’s in there going bang bang bang …. People lived up there, and he’s shooting through their fioor! He was a crazy guy,” Potterjoy said. A fun-loving guy, he added.
“Hope-to-die druggie” is the phrase Wahlberg used to describe himself to me at the time of the murder. Though many desired his company, “I was so full of self-hatred that there was no way I could feel love for anyone. I had no respect for me or anyone else.” He hated life in small-town Ely and, at least at some level, hated his parents, with whom he lived and worked every day. “Murder,” as Richard Coe has written, “is … an act of liberation – in every sense. Liberation from … society, liberation from oneself and from God. It is the supreme act that destroys the status quo, whatever that may be.”
It is said that murderers arrogate the power of God. A killer “destroys one order, only to give himself the freedom to create a new world and a new order, in which he himself is the controlling will,” writes Coe.
Until, that is, he gets caught.
Still a drug user and still denying that he was a murderer, Roy Wahlberg entered the medium-security Minnesota Correctional Facility at Stillwater in June 1977. He had attempted to commit suicide while in jail during the trial and after evaluation was placed on Stillwater’s suicide list. “His ability to laugh was excessive under the circumstances,” wrote the psychiatrist after their first meeting. “I believe that the possibility of serving a life sentence is just now beginning to dawn upon him … Because of his fair complexion and youthful appearance, he … states that he has been getting a lot of pressure from the other inmates for sex.”
In that first year Wahlberg’s father died of a heart attack while shoveling snow off the roof of their house, and Roxanne stopped visiting, citing the migraine headaches she’d get whenever she did. His psychiatrist prescribed him antidepressants and sedatives, but he ended up in the infirmary anyway, close to death from injecting himself with the narcotic painkiller Dilaudid. Prison, for Wahlberg, was turning out to be everything the Goedderz family had hoped.
To make himself less physically vulnerable, Wahlberg began lifting weights. He tried to stay in his cell and do a lot of reading – anthropology, primatology, Carlos Castaneda. Slowly he stabilized, and he attributes this, and virtually all the progress he made in prison, to a prisoner-run program called Insight.
Insight had been started two years before Wahlberg arrived. Two inmates, one of them an intelligent double murderer named John Morgan Jr., lobbied prison authorities to let them earn bachelor’s and even graduate degrees; they would pay for them with corporate and other grants. Minnesota, a state with a long progressive corrections tradition that even today ranks number two nationwide in per-inmate spending, gave the nod. New inmates took Iowa standardized tests. Those accepted lived in a special cell block and, in addition to full-time prison work, carried a full academic schedule delivered via classroom, independent study, and computer terminals.
Roy Wahlberg scored high and was immediately accepted, to his relief. Insight’s Cellblock D was a safe haven with a special library, higher standards of behavior (you couldn’t wear your hair long or wear jeans), and a special kind of camaraderie. He began working toward a bachelor’s in computer programming. It was a slow start, due partly to his years of drug abuse. “My own theory is I was carrying so many chemicals in my body, like PCP, it just took time for that to dissipate, and then for my mind to start working again. All of a sudden, whatever barrier there was on some major thoroughfare of my brain came down, and POOM!” Prior to that, Wahlberg said, as a druggie in his early 20s, he had devoted most of his mental power to hiding the fact of his addictions. “That’s the curse of intelligence,” he once said. “There was enough processing power there for me to appear normal.”
But in Insight, Wahlberg completed his bachelor’s degree in computer programming, and began to work on an MBA. He also taught programming to fellow inmates. “I had to learn like five or six additional (computer) languages and basically just stay barely ahead of the students. It was the first time in my life that I’d ever really been challenged by any job, where I had to pour absolutely every ounce of effort and intellectual ability into something. And it was at that point I stopped doing drugs, too, because of that …. I was looking for immediate gratification my entire life, up to that point.”
In the meantime, Insight had gone online and received a large grant from the Control Data Corporation, the socially minded supercomputer manufacturer. Wahlberg soon became lead instructor for Control Data’s Homework project – a national training program for homebound and disabled people conducted over the company’s Plato network. In many cases his students were quadriplegic, programming with a mouth stick. And, Wahlberg says, they soon became his world. “I just identified with them so much … they were isolated from the mainstream workplace just like me.”
All was not community service with Wahlberg, however. Unknown to the Insight rank and file, in 1982 he secretly teamed up with a Control Data analyst, Barbara Hansen, to form a corporation, Digital Dispatch Inc. DDI sought contracts for computer-based education programming from outside companies like Merrill Lynch (which wanted a broker education program) and the Florida State Lottery, and then subcontracted with Insight for programmers to do the work. Most of these programmers thought DDI was Hansen’s alone. Wahlberg and Hansen profited handsomely from the arrangement, and the increased business allowed Insight to invest in, among other things, a land company, and to greatly expand its education offerings to inmates.
But DDI was only a first step for the enterprising Wahlberg, who longed to be a white-collar entrepreneur but whose prior business experience had been mainly drug dealing. In 1985 he read an article in a computer security journal that anticipated the arrival of computer viruses. The piece was theoretical, but “given what I knew about the people around me,” said Wahlberg, he concluded, “yeah, this is gonna happen, no doubt.” His initial work on an antivirus program got a boost when he ran into Bill Couture, an assembly programmer whom a consultant I asked described as “a friggin’ genius.” Couture had recently killed a man in a love squabble and was going through Stillwater orientation. Seasoned inmates weren’t supposed to contact new arrivals, but “I got in touch with him in the chow hall and I said, Well, I got this idea.
“Of course he was looking for something to do, so I went back [to the office] and I – in fact, it was my first C program – and I wrote kind of a shell, a first version of this antivirus program.” Wahlberg met Couture by the guard’s desk and exchanged materials. “So he’d write essentially in his cell, on paper, and I’d go back and I’d put it back in the computer and come back to him with the error messages.” The subversive, criminal potentials of computer networks were being successfully anticipated by two criminals themselves.
By 1987 Wahlberg had transferred to Insight’s headquarters in the medium-security state prison at Lino Lakes, where almost immediately he got a small office with a terminal linked to the Internet – and “that’s where I lived. When I got in front of the computer terminal I could be communicating with all of academia, and people with larger ideals, living in warm, fuzzy worlds. And I could be who I purported to be, too. I mean, people didn’t have to know that I was a prisoner, that I was a murderer.”
He was also learning about the power of the Net as a marketing tool: over the next couple of years, as viruses began to hit the Net and the press, Wahlberg and DDI were ready with one of the first antivirus products, Data Physician. Initially he spread the word online, and then Barbara Hansen got to work in the real world. Data Physician took off, particularly through sales of site licenses to large companies and federal agencies. DDI’s tax returns from 1990, 1991, and 1992 refiect this success, showing gross receipts of $813,904, $942,839, and $833,525, respectively; in 1991, Barbara Hansen took home a salary of $147,000.
The media interest was commensurate. First the computer magazines started calling, and then national media. With Barbara Hansen routing the calls from the comfortable riverside home she’d bought with Wahlberg to the Insight cell block, reporters had no idea they were interviewing a prisoner. Wahlberg was quoted about sales of antivirus products in the November 8, 1988, edition of The Washington Post. And, answering a question from National Public Radio’s All Things Considered about the genesis of viruses, “Eric Hansen” – Wahlberg’s alias consisted of his middle name and Barbara’s last – told America that programmers, envious of people who are less smart but with more social skills doing better in the world, might be tempted to create a virus to enhance their sense of self-importance.
Meanwhile, at a nearby desk, programmer Bill Couture – now also a member of Insight at Lino Lakes – handled all the Data Physician technical support calls from people at the US Department of Transportation, US Department of Energy, the US Postal Service, and the Internal Revenue Service. None of them had any idea they were dealing with inmates.
The main problem with all of this for Wahlberg was that his fast-growing corporation was a secret from prison authorities. Inmates weren’t supposed to run a for-profit business – not that the question often arose. But in the late 1980s, the Minnesota Department of Corrections was sweetly ignorant of the power and sweep of the Net, not to mention its commercial possibilities. It was left for the inmate cognoscenti to see what they had wrought and sweat the consequences.
“Oh, it was a terrifying time for me,” Wahlberg said, aware that discovery by prison authorities could well torpedo any chance at parole. “I never knew when my calls were monitored [but] I’d spend days talking to these [media] people … I was getting so stressed out. Finally Bill said, Look, if you’re gonna crash you might as well grab hold of the controls and have fun on the way down … I took on that perspective, and said, All right, let’s go with it, let’s have fun with it. But I always just assumed it was going to blow up in our faces.”
Jay Goedderz first heard that Roy Wahlberg might be paroled when a preposterous story filtered out of Ely through his brother Johnny. Not only was he being considered for parole in 1993 – his earliest possible date – the story went, but Wahlberg had become a millionaire in prison by selling some kind of invention having to do with computers. “His mother was mouthing off up north,” bragging to her friends, Jay Goedderz said. Goedderz called the Department of Corrections, which said it was just starting the “community investigation.” “I said, Well, we’d sure like to participate in this.”
The community investigation was a part of Minnesota’s parole process in which an investigator visited the town where a crime took place, felt out local sentiment toward the felon, and met with relatives of the victim to tell them parole could be on the way. But it was hardly a fact-finding mission. The investigator who interviewed his parents, said Jay, was interested in nothing so much as “trying to convince them that [Wahlberg] is a changed person, who long overcame the problems that caused him to kill.”
The report of the principal investigator suggested that the state was inclined to release Wahlberg before the community investigation. Noting that the family was “adamantly” against it, probation officer Beverly A. Fuglie nevertheless concluded that Wahlberg should receive serious consideration for parole, adding, “This officer feels Roy Wahlberg can be an example to others that they can overcome grave mistakes and begin again.”
Given what was known about Wahlberg’s achievements, it is hard to imagine a parole officer not recommending release. Wahlberg met with his review committee and shortly after received a letter from them. Its members stated fiatly that “you are not perceived to represent any threat to the community. In fact, we believe the contrary in that you have the ability and intelligence to make a tremendous contribution to society and to put the past behind you and enhance your productivity at extremely high levels.” They outlined the ways he should prepare for his next appearance, in August 1992.
Jay Goedderz, not privy to the exact nature of these proceedings, nonetheless figured out what was going on. “Basically, they sit down with the prisoner and tell him you jump through these hoops like a dog and you’ll get out. It started becoming quite evident that they were on a dead course to release him at the earliest possible date.” Goedderz played his trump card, informing the Department of Corrections that Wahlberg was running a secret business.
But the Department of Corrections replied that such a business did not exist. Enraged, Goedderz organized a methodical campaign to stop Wahlberg’s parole by infiuencing public opinion. He wrote to Governor Arne Carlson, who did not respond. Then he mounted a petition drive, sending family members into the stores and bars of Crosby and the Iron Range, and himself canvassing General Mills, Babbitt, and Ely. He appeared on local radio and television shows, spoke to Republican groups, and urged everyone to call or write the governor. He allied himself with the national victims’ rights group, Parents of Murdered Children, which organized a nationwide letter-writing campaign. In all, Goedderz believes, the governor’s office was besieged with about 4,000 letters and signatures.
But in Minnesota, the power to parole rested solely with the commissioner of corrections. (Eventually Jay would succeed in passing the “Goedderz Law,” which transferred power of parole in first-degree murder cases to a panel consisting of the governor, attorney general, and chief justice of the state supreme court.) In January, 1993, announcing his decision to parole Wahlberg that July, Commissioner of Corrections Orville Pung was defiant: “This is a guy who represents no risk to the public,” he told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “He is probably the best example of a person who has changed. I don’t know of anybody who has been so ready to go out. It is just a person who has done some remarkable things in prison.”
Jay Goedderz was by now a lawyer. Prosecutors he had approached during law school had discouraged him from becoming a prosecutor, sensing he was too emotionally invested in putting criminals away. So Goedderz became a tax lawyer. But the impulse to use law against Wahlberg remained strong. On June 3, he sued Pung, saying Wahlberg was being improperly paroled. The court refused to stop the parole, and Roy Wahlberg was released from prison on July 23, 1993.
When we had visited Jeffrey Goedderz’s grave site in Crosby, his mother Katie had broken down in tears and said bitterly, “Wahlberg’s in his big office and this is all we’ve got.”
It’s what I was thinking of when I went to visit Wahlberg at the offices of his business, Digital Dispatch Inc., in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington: Wahlberg as tycoon. I had pictured a tall glass office tower. Instead, I found myself in front of a typical ’60s-vintage four-story apartment complex. DDI’s offices were a two bedroom apartment. Opening the front door, I had to squeeze around the first programmer, whose desk partly blocked the entryway. A big-screen TV and mounted moose head were reminders that this had been a living room. Every inch of the rest of the apartment was crammed with computer equipment, files, and cartons. Cords and wires criss-crossed the carpet. I passed two more programmers at their computers as Wahlberg led me to his “office”: a small back bedroom stuffed with three desks. In there, modems, hard drives, and monitors were stacked up higher than my head. The louvered-door closet behind Wahlberg bulged with loose-leaf notebooks and software manuals.
It took Wahlberg about half an hour to extricate himself from the phones before he and I could leave for lunch. The work of Digital Dispatch had by that point evolved from antivirus software to mainly computer-based training – developing interactive multimedia software courses that companies could use to train employees. Among the clients of DDI were still Merrill Lynch, 3M, and the Mayo Clinic.
Present in the apartment were only some of the workers; others, on contract, worked out of home, which for most meant facilities of the Minnesota Department of Corrections. Bill Couture, for example, the co-author of Data Physician, was still doing telephone technical support for Data Physician while finishing his murder sentence at Stillwater.
One of the people who did not introduce herself was Wahlberg’s mother, Myrtle Kangas. A thin, deceptively frail-looking woman in her 70s, “Myrt,” as she was known, drove her pickup seven hours from Ely every week to do the books for DDI, of which she was majority stockholder. Kangas would not engage in more than small talk with me – “I don’t think Roy should be talking to reporters,” she had always said. But she did let me watch TV with her during lunch break, as I awaited her son. During a commercial I asked if she thought O. J. was guilty.
“No,” Kangas replied instantly, “I really don’t believe he is.”
When I first met him, in early September 1994, Roy Wahlberg had been out of prison for just over a year. His manner was thoughtful and restrained, but he had a ready laugh. The only disconcerting thing was an unwillingness to meet my gaze for more than an instant; “He don’t want you to see his soul looking through his eyes,” his high school pal Phil Potterjoy would tell me in Ely. I admired Wahlberg for the lengths it seemed he’d gone to erase his existential deficit, to take responsibility for his life. But I was also wary; I did not want to be conned by a con. Wahlberg said he would tell me his story, and I said I would listen.
After a brief stint in a halfway house in St. Paul, he had set out to put his life back together. After 17 years, a lot of things were different, from interior car door handles (“They’re so little now – half the time I can’t even find them”) to clothing styles. An 18-year-old he was dating took him out clothes shopping with her friends, and he bought and wore their suggestions, but it didn’t put the uncertainty to rest: “That’s them, not me.” He was always getting lost in the big city, and, after years in a cell, the daylight bothered him. Wahlberg bought some PhotoGrays, but again it was more of a trick for getting by than a true adjustment. More than a year into his new life, Wahlberg said, he was still “rattling around in an empty world.”
He found a social life, as well as an address to give his probation officer, through an ad for stereo equipment. The seller was Andrew Kerwin, 22, a neophyte rave promoter. Wahlberg soon became his main backer and was invited into the townhouse Kerwin’s mother had bought him. The door to Kerwin’s pad was always open; the three bedrooms were full of a changing cast of teenage and twentysomething slackers. Many who passed through knew that Wahlberg was a paroled murderer. But oddly, they all called him “Eric,” his middle name. When I’d call and ask for Roy by mistake, they’d tell me that I had the wrong number – Kerwin was the only one who knew he’d changed his name to put the past behind him. On my first visit, I entered the living room to this tableau: the television tuned to a documentary on dolphins, a guy with a goatee and dreadlocks named Rico experimenting with how the remote control could change the color of the display on the new VCR, and, on the couch between the TV and Rico, Andrew Kerwin, wearing only a robe, lying next to a slender woman wearing a short black skirt and fishnet stockings. They were possibly having intercourse; I couldn’t be sure. It was about 7 p.m.
Wahlberg took a call on his cellular phone, while through the door came Anna, pretty with long blond hair, glitter mascara, and hiphugger jeans, and a guy with tousled red hair almost as long as hers, carrying a pair of huge shorts for the next weekend’s rave. They watched TV until Roy got off the phone and mentioned he was heading to dinner. The announcement caused a stir: because the others were so poor, Wahlberg at mealtime was always the Pied Piper. He took orders and headed off to the restaurant with me and Anna.
She did the talking, telling me about life on the street in the Twin Cities, of squatting and selling drugs for a living, of how she should write a book. She had an earring through the cartilage on the inside of one ear, and when I remarked on it Wahlberg said I should see the one on her nipple. Anna showed me. She had been fired that day from her waitress job, she mentioned in passing, for eating some food she wasn’t supposed to eat. But it wasn’t weighing her down. She gobbled her Chicken McNuggets and asked Wahlberg why he wouldn’t marry her. He giggled, enjoying the attention.
Back at Andrew’s, action on the couch had intensified. Anna shrieked that she wanted to join in, pulled her fiannel shirt up over her head, and jumped on Andrew and his girlfriend. A guy I hadn’t met jokingly picked up a very large vibrator and started poking it into the mass of flesh.
“The main problem here,” Wahlberg told me later, amused but exasperated, “is getting some sleep.”
Wahlberg had had several girlfriends among the women who composed “the mix,” as Andrew called his crowd, the most persistent being Jenny, a beautiful woman with jet-black hair and a dark and domineering personality. Not given to pleasantries, Jenny’s favorite tense was the imperative; she loved to tell Wahlberg what to do. And he loved to be told. It was part of their fiirtation. “I’m helpless to resist her,” he liked to say. He also seemed spellbound by her divinations; Jenny practiced black magic, by her own account, and when, for example, she called to tell Wahlberg that a piece of his hair had told her he should cancel a rendezvous he had planned that night, he canceled it.
The odd opposite of his life with Jenny and Andrew’s crowd was Wahlberg’s relationship with Carol Michels, 32. Unlike the others, Michels was married (though separated), had two children and a steady job, and had known Wahlberg since she was 12 years old, in Ely. Michels is petite, with shoulder-length chestnut hair and green eyes. She works for a trust company, processing fixed-income assets. There is a streetwise quality about her, a toughness, but when the subject of Wahlberg comes up, she’s 12 years old again. “I first met Roy when I was walking up to my house. He was giving one of my sisters a kiss, and I thought, ‘My turn will come!’ He was cute, had fast cars, and gave good parties – there was a group of girls who were always after him.”
Wahlberg’s murder conviction did little to discourage Michels’s crush. “My whole reaction was that I didn’t really care,” she said. Her parents did, though, and they forbade her to visit him at Stillwater. She first went when she was 18. Wahlberg had been inside for four years at that point, and while others forgot about him, Carol Michels never did. She visited once or twice a week, for years. “I asked him to marry me a couple of times, and he said no. He said it was pointless for me to wait around, because he was going to be in prison for the rest of his life.”
Michels finally backed away when Wahlberg started romancing Barbara Hansen, his partner in DDI. She married someone else, had two kids with him. Then, when Wahlberg had been out just a few months, she separated and filed for divorce. Her relationship with Wahlberg resumed, and complications ensued. Her ex threatened to drag Wahlberg into the custody proceedings. And Wahlberg’s attention, again, was incomplete: the youthful, nighttime world of Andrew & Company had an appeal that Wahlberg wasn’t ready to give up.
“Name one other person out of that whole group who has a child,” she steamed. “None of them have grown up yet – they don’t have jobs, and they don’t care. They don’t have anything invested, anywhere.”
And yet, several nights of the week, it was where Wahlberg wanted to be. Michels got a couple of other nights; sometimes they were combined. Wahlberg briefiy broke with Andrew after a disagreement but soon returned, cosigning a car loan for a used Volkswagen Jetta that Andrew couldn’t have afforded himself. Cosigning on cars was something he did with disconcerting regularity: he was also on the deeds for three Mitsubishis (one for Jenny, one for his nephew, Jorn, and one for another woman), a Toyota, and a Lincoln Continental, which he drove until Andrew totaled the Jetta by hitting a deer.
“I always find myself in the same situation,” Wahlberg told me. “I tend to have money and I tend to work hard. And there are people generally who don’t have that. Then, because I’m so hungry for affection and connection – they sense that, that’s my weakness – they give me that in exchange for the money.” Unlike for some people, he explained to me, compiling money was not his biggest concern in life; “friendship is the most important thing to me.”
“And if the friendship is bought?” I asked.
“It’s better than nothing!” Wahlberg asserted. “Believe me, it’s better than nothing. Even if it’s fake. You know, people don’t believe that. People don’t believe it. I’d rather have fake friendship than nothing.”
When I countered that Wahlberg didn’t need to buy friends, and the friends he could buy weren’t real, anyway, he would shake his head and tell me I didn’t understand, that it was different with his record. “I did the time of a sane man but I carry the stigma of an insane man,” he said, referring to the way he killed Jeff Goedderz. But buying stuff for people went way back to Ely, I pointed out; Carol Michels had mentioned how he shared his money even then. “It’s a fault,” he admitted.
I still admired Wahlberg’s resilience and persistence and the way he could joke about himself. And yet the more time I spent with him, the more I noticed radical disjunctions between things he purported and things he did. We all have gaps between words and action, but his concerned the major aspects of his life: his principal romantic relationship, his work, and his crime. He claimed to long for a monogamous relationship, but consistently fooled around. He spoke of his advocacy for inmates and the disabled, but did nothing about it. And he had said for years that one of his life goals would be to set up an educational foundation in Jeff Goedderz’s name, but he never took any steps to do so.
There were those – Carol Michels and Andrew Kerwin among them – who believed that a part of Wahlberg wanted exactly those things; it was just that another part could speak more loudly. Wahlberg told me that, of the many who had tried, Mark Stodghill of the Duluth News-Tribune was the only reporter he had spoken to for years and years, and it was simply because Stodghill had blurted out, “But don’t you feel any remorse?”
“That’s what I’m built of!” Wahlberg protested. Yet I never heard him say, even in response to leading questions, “I am sorry” or “Every day I wish I could give Jeff his life back”; rather, when pressed he would say, simply, “I can’t defend myself” – by which he meant, “I have nothing to say in my defense.” He offered regret, but no apology.
His failure to keep Wahlberg in prison had discouraged Jay Goedderz, but “I can’t seem to let it rest,” he said. “It’s almost as if my brother’s spirit drives me forward.” Now studying at night for his law degree, Goedderz found a new way to infiict damage on Wahlberg: he’d file a civil suit, for wrongful death. “There’s no greater damage you can do than take away a life,” Goedderz told me, “so it makes sense that there’s ‘damages’ to be gotten for it. Damn it, I’ll take money for my suffering anytime.”
But first he had to ask his family. “In a way I keep thinking, Oh, we should let Jeffrey rest, give him a little peace, you know?” Katie Goedderz said she told Jay when he approached her. But a stronger voice inside told her that Jay was justified in continuing to pursue Wahlberg. Jay reassured his oldest brother, Stan Goedderz Jr., that his worries – “You don’t want to get a caged animal in a corner where he’s going to strike back” – were misplaced. Wahlberg, he said, was not a stupid man.
Wahlberg was served with the civil complaint in May 1994, and chose to deal directly with Jay Goedderz’s lawyer, Jerry Snider of the Minneapolis based Faegre & Benson. In a letter to Snider and Goedderz dated June 13, 1994, Wahlberg offered an annual payment to the family: 5 percent of his net, after-tax income, 80 percent of any inheritance or “windfall earnings,” and 50 percent of the proceeds from the sale of any business interest – evidently for the rest of his life.
“I believe it is in the best interest of both parties to solve this matter in this fashion,” he wrote. “My original intent in turning my life around in prison was to try and succeed economically in order to create an educational or business investment trust for your family. There was nothing I could do to bring back the life that was lost, but I had to at least try to do something positive. I’d like to try to do that again. “As I said, the person you hate died long ago in prison – I grew to hate him, too. But hatred harms both parties and I can only hope that you are able to start whatever healing process is possible for you.
“Forgive me if this document is clumsily written. And please don’t misread the tone – I have nothing but sorrow in my heart. Roy Wahlberg.”
The offer was rejected. Goedderz and Snider suspected that DDI had yielded Wahlberg substantial wealth, and on July 15, Snider and an associate deposed Wahlberg to determine his assets. The lawyers videotaped the session; Wahlberg, accompanied by Carol Michels, wore dark glasses and a silk scarf over his head to hide his appearance from future viewers. As he told the lawyers, “I’m assuming that this transcript [and videotape are] going to be available to my enemies, who then may become rather creative in terms of who they pester or send newspaper articles to describing in great detail the heinous person I am.”
“Well, there’s no intent here to interfere with any customers that DDI has,” answered Jerry Snider. “In fact, on the contrary, it would be our desire to foster those relationships.”
“Really?” asked Wahlberg sarcastically.
Wahlberg laughed bitterly. “I’ve waited a lot of years for somebody to give a shit about [helping my business] – and this is finally the way it can be done, huh?”
Snider pursued the question of what became of all of Wahlberg’s money, including a $25,000 loan he had made to another felon.
“What’s his name?” asked Snider.
Wahlberg kind of collapsed in his chair. “Oh, God. This is gonna fuck everything up, man. ‘Cause he’s gonna come after me. This is gonna go on and on and on.”
Wahlberg claimed he was broke, and the lawyers were unsuccessful at proving otherwise. The entrepreneur, they concluded, had given away, loaned out, lost, or successfully hidden his wealth. He carried over $10,000 of credit card debt, and his bank accounts were empty. DDI, according to the books, was barely making money.
Snider made a counterproposal. Wahlberg would pay Goedderz $5,000 up front, $5,000 within 30 days of signing the agreement, and 50 percent of any windfall earnings. In addition, each year at tax time he would submit a copy of his returns to the family and then pay them zero percent of the first $10,000 of after-tax income, 10 percent of the next $10,000, 15 percent of the next $20,000, and 20 percent of all sums in excess of $40,000. Over his lifetime, the cap on total payments would be $375,000. And he was never, under any circumstances, to attempt contact with any member of the family.
Wahlberg agreed. But with less than a month before he made the first $10,000 payment on September 30, he told me he’d have to go to a loan shark. He had traded the stress of the lawsuit, he complained, for the stress of making good on the loan. More than once he referred to the payments as “blood money,” and I remembered his words from the deposition: “This is gonna go on and on and on.” If Wahlberg stumbled now, he seemed to be saying, whose fault would it be?
Jay Goedderz, for his part, suddenly realized his family’s new link to Wahlberg. “It’s an ironic, eerie thing to think that now, financially, I’m interested in his success,” Goedderz told me. “I don’t like that.” He added that he’d rather see Wahlberg fail than succeed, even if it meant less money. The point wasn’t money, after all; it was to make Wahlberg, an unredeemable monster, suffer as much as possible. “What the family would really like,” Jay told me, “would be if he just killed himself.”
A final part of the Goedderz campaign bore fruit just two months later. Spurred on by Jay Goedderz, Minneapolis’s WCCO-TV spent more than a year developing a 60 Minutes-style exposÃ© of Insight Inc. The station timed its two-part broadcast, “When Prison Pays Off,” to coincide with television sweeps week and with the November 1994 elections. Republican Governor Arne Carlson was up for re-election, and, in the fall’s anticriminal climate, vulnerable on crime and prison issues. Teasers preceded the reports by a couple of days – “Murderers, robbers, rapists, all paying for crime in state prison – or are they?” “How a convicted killer can make prison pay off” – and showed a hidden-camera photo of Roy Wahlberg, long hair blowing in the breeze, leaving the DDI apartment building and climbing into a low-slung, lemon-yellow Mitsubishi 3000GT he had recently leased.
WCCO reported that the Stillwater and Lino Lakes prisons were places “where violent felons control a lucrative business called Insight.” Wahlberg’s old boss John Morgan, the double murderer and kidnapper, came in for the opening hits. The program showed a copy of his 1991 tax return, in which he made $106,553 from Insight (while paying $67 to a victims fund), “more than four times what the average Minnesotan on the outside earns.” It also showed a photo of Morgan in a suit, standing next to former Governor Al Quie, who was signing a proclamation in Morgan’s honor.
Wahlberg was featured the next night. WCCO didn’t know how much money he’d made, but it referred to the Washington Post article in which he boasted (idly, if the tax returns are to be believed) that his business was doing $2 million a year. The reporters grilled Deputy Corrections Commissioner Jim Bruton and asked if he thought some of the inmate compensation was, maybe, “inappropriate.” “We had no knowledge of it at all,” Bruton averred nervously, adding “it’s our intent to do a massive and thorough investigation of the program.”
In fact, the investigation had already begun. Four days before WCCO aired its first show, the state had shut down Insight. Insight’s computers and financial records were seized, and the four inmates on contract to DDI were locked out of their offices. For a while, Roy Wahlberg was able to stonewall his clients by saying that technical difficulties had closed down his operation for 30 days. Part of him believed that the Department of Corrections would clear this all up by the beginning of December. It had, after all, seized a commercial product – all the source code for Data Physician was in computers at Lino Lakes – and blocked workers contracted to him from performing their duties. The technical support line manned by Bill Couture at Lino rang unanswered. And the big computer-based training contract he had recently landed with Bellcore – he had assumed the use of Insight programmers in figuring his fee – could be completed only by hiring others at a huge loss.
But the Department of Corrections had other plans. Because it had found child pornography from the Internet on one hard drive, it announced to the press, it had sent the computers to the FBI. Wahlberg, facing threats of legal action by Data Physician licensees who needed tech support, in turn contemplated a suit against the Department of Corrections. “But after the wrongful death suit,” Wahlberg said, “I don’t have the money.” Besides, suing the agency in charge of your parole may not be the best idea.
His moods, always unpredictable since I’d known him, began to swing wildly. From out-of-state clients who presumably hadn’t heard the fuss, he succeeded in getting more multimedia work. “I’m slammin’ away on projects, lovin’ the work again – I just won another contract yesterday,” he told me in a manic mid-December call. “I know how to be tremendously productive – creating beauty out of nothing. And it turns me on.”
But another day, when he picked up the phone, I could hardly hear him. “I’m in a catatonic state this morning. I’ve got to call Merrill Lynch [one of his oldest and most steadfast clients] and tell them I can’t do anything. ITC [International Training Centre] is gone, I’m pretty sure.” Business was hemorrhaging due not to the revelations about his past, but because he couldn’t live up to commitments. “And of course, the Data Physician stuff. That’s a day-by-day thing … it just fuckin’ bleeds you to death. It’s a death of a thousand cuts.” The metaphor had an eerie echo.
“In times past, people went down with their ship. That’s what I’m inclined to do … it’s the honorable thing.” By which he meant what, exactly? “Well, I called my parole officer and asked if it was possible to have my parole revoked.” Apparently she talked him out of it. But the defeatist strain was ascendant. He told a reporter from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “If I had it to do over again, I wish I’d never learned how to think. I woke up in prison. But I should have just stayed dead.”
And he was bothered afresh by anonymous phone calls, which had been going on since he was paroled. “How’s it feel to be free?” one guy kept asking. “Too bad Jeff can’t be free.”
He thought about preempting the battering. “There’s an old Native American principle that if your enemy has a knife at your throat you lean into it, to rob him of the pleasure of your fear. I want to lean into their knife. It’s like the ultimate Fuck you,” Wahlberg said. “I’m leaning into their knife, and they don’t fuckin’ expect it or like it.” They wanted control, but the only way the state or the family had power, he said, was if he started “caring about being free.”
But you do care about it, I argued; obviously you do. He hedged, said he wasn’t so sure.
Soon after he called and started speaking in the past tense of his struggles, as though they now were over and here was the final, postgame analysis of how everything went wrong. I asked him what he was talking about. He expected to be arrested, he said. He had done something stupid, something criminal, an offense against not people but property. He felt the chances were 65 to 75 percent that it would catch up with him.
Apparently he slipped past it. But things seemed to get worse. In mid January, Wahlberg told me, he tried to commit suicide by running his car in a closed garage. “But the damn Mitsubishi was too efficient! I was in there all day long,” he said, with his usual black humor. Not long after, Andrew told me that Roy had loaned an old prison acquaintance his car, and it had been used to commit yet another crime. Nobody was arrested, but DDI was searched and ransacked, said Wahlberg.
Though Wahlberg seemed to believe that his return to prison was a foregone conclusion, I never did. Perhaps that was naÃ¯ve. One night two weeks later, in early February 1995, the telephone rang several times – Jay Goedderz calling, Carol Michels calling, a friend calling who had been watching the news: Roy Wahlberg had been arrested.
The charge was possession of LSD. The bail was $500,000. If convicted, Wahlberg could be sentenced to as many as 25 years in prison and fined $100,000 to $500,000. His parole, of course, could also be revoked, meaning that Wahlberg would have to spend many, many more years in prison – possibly, truly this time, the rest of his life.
The story, which I pieced together from various sources, had a complex plot and a classic Wahlbergian cast of characters. There was Heather, a cute woman Wahlberg met at a pie shop; Tony, a friend of Heather’s who wanted to sell Wahlberg some LSD; Jason, a young homeless guy who had been living with Wahlberg; Michelle, 19, Wahlberg’s latest heartthrob; and Cathy, 15, who had run away from home that morning.
Jason (homeless) and Cathy (runaway) had gone in Roy’s truck to a meeting with Tony (drug dealer) in the parking lot of the FantaSuite Motel in suburban Burnsville, on Minneapolis’s southern edge, to buy the LSD. Jason, who was carrying $150 of what he said was Wahlberg’s money, called Roy from the motel to say that the truck wouldn’t start. Roy and Michelle drove down to help. Soon the truck started and in its cab, police alleged, Jason handed the sheet of 100 hits of blotter acid to Roy. In an instant, a swarm of agents from the South Metro Drug Task Force descended and arrested not Jason, not Michelle, not the runaway, but Roy Wahlberg.
The meeting had been a setup; Tony, it turned out, was a police informer. Jason, presumably to save his own hide, had turned on Wahlberg and implicated him soon after the buy. Had Tony just stumbled onto Wahlberg in a stroke of luck, or had the trap been set with Heather in the pie shop? The police claimed they hadn’t targeted Wahlberg and didn’t know about his record until after the arrest.
Jay Goedderz said his family was “elated” at news of Wahlberg’s arrest. He was looking forward, Jay said, to witnessing the second prosecution of Wahlberg, to getting another good look at his brother’s killer in the courtroom, to having that killer see him again, 20 years later, and to seeing justice done this time.
But that encounter never occurred. Legal delays left Wahlberg sitting in county jail for months. Unable, as the trial drew near, to locate Jason or Jeff, their main witnesses, the district attorney’s office finally decided to drop all charges. But Wahlberg was not released; the Department of Corrections, citing his possession of LSD, as well as a T-handled knife, revoked his parole in February, 1996, sending Roy Wahlberg back to Stillwater for at least three years.
Wahlberg’s mother closed DDI’s apartment/office, sold or gave away most of its computers, and put its files in storage. The employees, at least six of them, went looking for other work. Data Physician was sold to a competitor, RG Software Systems Inc. (Contacted by phone, RG Software said it had no idea of Data Physician’s prison genesis nor of the background of Wahlberg and declined further comment.)
Wahlberg called me from jail numerous times. More striking than the betrayal, to me, had been his self-destructiveness; I asked how a man as smart as he could have been so stupid as to get involved in the small-time LSD transaction.
“I wasn’t going to buy acid,” he said. “I knew there were cops down there.” If they wouldn’t revoke his parole without cause, in other words, he’d give them the cause.
But when did you accept defeat? I asked – and why? “I had you pegged as stronger than that.”
“You can’t know what it feels like to be the focal point of all that negative energy,” he shot back. “You can read about it in the newspapers, but you’re not sitting there at the focal point, having the pressure from reporters, and listening to the direction they’re going – you question everything after a while, especially yourself.”
Rather than paroled too soon, he said, he was paroled “about three years too late, after the hatred started coming in.” Maybe not everyone would be so vulnerable to a campaign like the Goedderz’s, he said, but with his low self-esteem he “absolutely” was. After trying for years to believe he could be a force for good in the world, Wahlberg said, he was shown the petitions and letters that had been generated by the Goedderz family against him.
“Then was when I really saw the intensity of the hatred. A normal person only has so much psychological strength – in any man you can find the limit of his faith in society and his faith in himself. Having to resolve the wrongful death case tapped out a lot of my assets, not to mention that it kept me crunched under psychologically. I don’t know who told me about where [a lawsuit] sits on the scale of major stressors in a person’s life but … somewhere around losing your parent or something.”
The bitterest irony, he said, was that “the only good thing I ever did in my life [the Data Physician software] becomes the agent of my destruction.”
Roy Wahlberg was settling back into prison, and this time, he told me, even if Insight resumed its computer programming, you’d find him in the yard or in the TV hall, eating three squares a day and losing himself in the ways he could, working out and keeping his hopes down. He wouldn’t make the same mistake twice.
“This is a story about hatred gearing up after two fuckin’ decades and ruining a beautiful person,” Wahlberg said. “I looked in the mirror the other day and thought, I could have been a professional.”