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Peter Allen Clarke
By Tom Owen
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2016 Tom Owen
All rights reserved.
Peter Clarke stood silently in the shadow of a nearby apartment complex. To protect himself from the cold wind off Lake Michigan, Clarke pulled his black ski mask down over his face. The added warmth of his army-issue pull over wool sweater felt good against the plunging temperature, which he guessed was close to zero.
It was one-o'clock in the morning and Amanda Sawyer's house looked deserted. Sawyer liked to party and Clarke guessed she was still at Benson's, an upscale bar and grill on the north side of the city that catered to young professionals who worked and played hard.
According to her colleagues, Sawyer was a "brilliant litigator." Although she was only 30-years-old, Sawyer had already established a sterling reputation in the Chicago legal community. Her bosses thought so too, especially her mentor Bryce Metcalf. Metcalf of Metcalf, Holmes, and Sedgwick, LLC, with offices in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Columbus, Ohio, thought very highly of Sawyer and hired her the day she graduated from Yale Law School.
Metcalf, a Harvard man, didn't let Ivy League rivalries prevent him from hiring Amanda. In fact, Richard Sawyer, Amanda's father, was a classmate of Metcalf's wife, Heather. They met at Stanford as undergraduates and remained close friends throughout the years.
Metcalf closely followed Richard's career at Armiger and Son, a large and highly respected hedge fund started in 1972. According to Wall Street insiders, Armiger managed a reported 45 billion dollars. As founder and CEO, Richard's personal fortune was well north of nine billion dollars, a sum he never publicly admitted to.
Although Armiger and Son Hedge Fund had "Son" in its title, there was no son. Instead, Richard and Annie had two daughters, Amanda and Cora. Cora, a precocious 19-year-old, was just as smart and ambitious as her older sister until a drunk driver killed her as she was returning to Princeton University from a long Christmas break.
Bryce Metcalf saw himself in Amanda Sawyer, a raw, talented, and ambitious young lawyer. Being best friends with the Sawyers also helped, but Metcalf knew a diamond in the rough, and quickly took her under his wing.
As a junior litigator, Amanda quickly rose through the ranks of Metcalf, Holmes, and Sedgwick, winning her first criminal case in the Illinois Superior Court at the age of 25. The case involved a corrupt Chicago politician who'd accepted bribes from a private contractor building a city-owned parking structure. Sawyer cared less about the politician's political bent, rather her concern was an unlawful search warrant served by the Cook County Sheriff that had an incorrect date on it. When the case went to trial, the judge dismissed it due to the faulty warrant.
After every legal victory, Amanda was quick to celebrate at Benson's, an upscale bar located on the north side of the city just off Lake Shore Drive. Well-known as the "go to" place for the city's up-and-coming elite, Benson's regulars would soon be taking over the reins of power in Chicago.
Amanda, sitting at the bar alone, looked beautiful and immediately caught the eye of Peter Clarke. He wasn't sure what attracted him at first. Perhaps it was the subdued bar lighting, or her chocolate silk blouse that subtly outlined her nipples.
Clarke looked around the room to see if anyone else had noticed her, and from the ogling stares of both men and women; it was obvious that Amanda Sawyer was a charismatic and highly sexual force that drew immediate attention.
Clarke wasn't interested in her curriculum vitae, which he guessed was Ivy League, but rather her sexuality. Intrigued, Clarke continued to watch for the next several minutes as she struggled with her purse looking for a credit card. Sensing the time was right, he got up from his table and walked over to a bar stool that stood empty next to her. Clarke slid it slightly to his right, leaned on the bar, and quickly read the name on the card that was now laying face up on the bar. Amanda L. Sawyer. Motioning to the barkeep, he said, "Barkeep, a dark Patron, straight up, please."
"Yes, sir, coming right up," responded the bartender whose much too wide dark-red tie hid his nametag.
Sensing his presence, Sawyer turned towards Clarke and smiled. Clarke nodded and smiled in return. As he did, he saw her blouse slide forward, exposing her ample breasts. Clarke, sensing an opportunity, put his half-finished tequila down, and said, "May a gentleman buy a lady a drink?"
"Why yes, a gentleman can always buy a lady a drink," responded Sawyer.
Holding his drink up, Clarke turned to the bartender who was at the other end of the bar, and pointed with his right index finger to the half-finished Patron.
"Barkeep, two more please; one for the lady and another one for me."
The barkeep nodded and responded, "Coming right up, sir."
Clarke knew he wasn't going anywhere with the stunning brunette seated next to him, but that wasn't his goal. He was on the prowl and his blood was up. He desperately needed to fill an unexplained void in his psyche that he couldn't define, much less let explain.
"Sir, two Patrons, straight up. That'll be $30 please."
"Thank you, here's a fifty. Keep the change."
"Thank you, sir."
Turning to the brunette sitting next to him, he introduced himself. "My name is Robert, Robert Harper."
"I'm Amanda, Amanda Sawyer. And thank you Mr. Robert Harper." Holding the drink up, Sawyer looked at Clarke and with the sweep of her right hand, raised her glass, and then with a hint of condescension in her voice, offered a toast. "To the LITTLE PEOPLE in the world who make all of this possible."
Clarke laughed and repeated the mantra, "To the little people," and tipped his glass. With that, Sawyer let out a short laugh and looked straight ahead at the bottles of high-priced liquor lined neatly against the wall on glass shelves.
Slowly she turned and said unapologetically, "Look, Robert, I do appreciate the drink, but I'm not looking for anything tonight. I've had a hard day and it's time to leave. Again, thank you for the drink, but I have to go."
"That's fine, and I understand. I've had those days too. May I get you a cab?"
"Yes, that would be nice. Thank you."
Clarke reached into his front right pocket, took out his black cell phone, and quickly dialed a number. When he finished, he put the cell phone back in his pocket, turned, and said the cab would be there in 10 minutes. Sawyer finished her drink, stood up, and began to fumble with her purse. Clarke pushed his stool back, stood up, and helped her with her coat. When he finished, he said, "May I walk you outside while you wait for the cab?" Sawyer smiled, and responded, "My, you ARE a gentleman."
The night was cold, windy, and the lake-driven snow only added to their misery as they waited outside Benson's. When the cab pulled up next to the curb, Clarke opened the door, and held it open long enough to hear the address she gave the cabbie. He said goodnight, closed the door, and stepped back from the curb.
As he watched the cab disappear into the night, he made a mental note of the address, then adjusted his burgundy cashmere scarf around this neck. Thinking to himself, he wondered if Amanda Sawyer would be the one — that special one who would somehow satisfy an irresistible itch that desperately needed scratching.
To shield himself further from the cold of Lake Michigan, Clarke put both hands into the pockets of his tan cashmere and camel's hair coat, and walked briskly to the bar's parking lot. As he waited for his pickup to warm up, he checked the digital clock on the neon blue instrument panel and noticed the time. It was just past one-o'clock in the morning and it was snowing harder than ever. Time to go home.
Shifting his gaze, he checked the vehicle's heat gauge and noticed the needle begin to move off "Cold." Feeling the warmth of the car's interior, he stepped on the brake and slid his right arm to the center console. Shifting into drive, he released the brake, and exited Benson's parking lot wondering if Amanda Sawyer would be the next one.CHAPTER 2
Jack Leon Purdy was his real name, but he took the name Peter Allen Clarke after his release from prison. His real name no longer mattered, because if it were known, he would lose his job. Being famous was hard, being infamous and an ex-felon made life impossible. Yet, as a narcissist, he secretly craved the notoriety his past gave him.
Seven years earlier, a jury of his peers found him guilty of multiple counts of murder and sentenced him to death. The media labeled his crimes "salacious," "vicious," and "perverted," and quickly dubbed him "The Trash Bag Killer."
Jack Purdy wasn't guilty of murder despite finding his DNA at several crime scenes. A jury of his peers, composed of five women and seven men, dutifully heard the evidence, considered the testimony of so-called "experts," and quickly rendered their verdict. According to the prosecuting attorney, DNA was proof of guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt."
Sentenced to die by lethal injection, Purdy soon disappeared into the abyss of the state's most infamous hellhole, Huntsville State Prison. Built in 1902 by convict labor, Huntsville stripped death row inmates of their humanity; subjecting them to mind-numbing routine and solitary confinement 23-hours per day. Yet through it all, Purdy continued to maintain his innocence.
Jack Purdy knew who he was and where he came from. He was the adopted and later abandoned son of two hardscrabble farmers from Adkins, Texas. Only later, while rotting on death row, did he learn who committed those 13 murders. The real killer was Samuel Robert Kimball, a man who shared his identical DNA.
Sensing an opportunity to enhance his bona fides and cement his reputation among Chicago's elite as a committed liberal, Metcalf took Purdy's case on appeal. Working with the Innocence Project of New York City, Metcalf accepted the case pro bono, hoping that between both firms, enough evidence would surface to warrant the state appellate court to overturn Purdy's original conviction.
Metcalf quickly assembled a team of lawyers, senior law school students, and dug into Purdy's case. As they plowed through the voluminous case file, they quickly realized that Purdy's court-appointed public defender had done a commendable job defending his client, but DNA evidence doesn't lie.
Metcalf wasted little time suing the state for unlawful incarceration once the authorities tied his identical twin brother to "The Trash Bag Killer" murders. Wishing to avoid additional public scrutiny and embarrassment, the state quickly settled out of court. Anti-death penalty advocates were overjoyed and pointed to "The Trash Bag Killer" case as prima facie evidence of a broken criminal justice system manned by overzealous police and prosecutors eager to make an arrest and get a conviction.
Jack Purdy, just like all the others who survived years of oppressive prison routine, came out of the experience a different person. Recidivism, a fancy word cooked up by penologists to explain an exploding crime rate, meant nothing. For him, it was a meaningless term used by politicians to increase the Texas State Department of Corrections' budget.
Observers who reported on the machinations of the state legislature knew it wasn't about sending more criminals like Purdy to jail. Rather, increased appropriations meant more union power and more money flowing into friendly politicians' pockets.
Tired of an out-of-control murder epidemic whose face was Samuel Robert Kimball; the public wanted something done immediately. Former corrections officer Richard Mariano, now Vice President of the Texas State Corrections Union, sensed his opportunity and quickly took over control of the union, demanding higher pay and greater benefits for the membership. The state legislature, acutely aware of public opinion, quickly capitulated and appropriated an additional billion dollars for new prison construction.
Amanda Sawyer first heard her father discuss the Purdy case when she was an eleventh grader at Treadwell Academy. From that point forward, she knew she wanted to follow her father's example. As her parents later tearfully described, Amanda felt compelled to help the underdog and the defenseless. Even though her first case at Metcalf involved public corruption, her true passions were defending death row inmates and working to abolish the death penalty.
The night he met Amanda Sawyer at Benson's was pure happenstance. He was in no hurry looking for new victims; in fact that was the last thing on his mind. He already knew whom he wanted to kill. He only walked into Benson's to relax and to get out of the God-awful Chicago weather. Besides, he had nothing to go home to — his wife and children killed by a drunk driver that ran a red light.CHAPTER 3
A Bad Seed
The woman sitting across from him was a new patient and Doctor Andrew Levy listened intently as the plainly dressed women told her story. Wiping tears from her eyes, she began: "Doctor, I don't know what I've done wrong raising my boy."
Mrs. Leon Reginald Purdy was an unassuming but intelligent woman in her late 40s and at her wit's end. Suffering from depression and anxiety, it was clear that her adopted son Jack was now the center of her life.
"When he was growing up," she said, "he fought frequently with other children, especially in school. He did have a minor learning disability, and the fact that we were poor, didn't help either. His teachers called him mean and he had few close friends. We lived on a farm and life was rough. My husband loved him, but he was a hard man who showed little emotion. Doctor, what can I do? Are we bad parents?"
Doctor Levy wasn't the first child psychiatrist to see Jack. Others had and reached the same conclusions. Despite his learning disability, Jack was an intelligent and resourceful boy who was also mean and defiant.
Psychiatrists know children are born with blank emotional slates that are intrinsically good until external factors such as bad parenting intervene. As the saying goes, where there's aberrant behavior there must be bad parenting.
"Mrs. Purdy, I know that I shouldn't be saying this, but I was trained to see people's misbehavior as something inherently wrong that needs treatment. We often say there is no such thing as a bad person, just a sick one. In the case of Jack, there's something else at work here.
"Other doctors have examined him, and after reviewing their files, I've noted the following: First, you previously said your husband showed little emotional attachment to your son, this coupled with your excessive, and by your own admission effusive praise, leads me to conclude Jack suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder. Second, Doctor Early said that both you and your husband are unpredictable and unreliable caregivers. As you put it, the fact that you worked on a 'hardscrabble farm in the middle of nowhere,' made it difficult to take care of Jack. Third, despite Jack's mild learning disability, testing shows he has an inflated worldview of his abilities coupled with grandiose feelings towards himself.
"Mrs. Purdy, there are several factors at work here, both related to how you and your husband raised Jack. Clearly the dysfunctional interactions between the three of you account for some of Jack's problems. You say your husband was indifferent, yet you were indulgent towards Jack. In my opinion this led Jack to either overcompensate for a lack of attention or assume an unrealistic self-perception. I think Jack needs professional help.
"As noted by Doctor Wrigley, and I believe fully explained to you earlier while in his office, there are now studies that show a structural abnormality in the brains of those with narcissistic personality disorder. The literature indicates there might be less gray matter in the left anterior insula of the brain. This area controls empathy, compassion, and emotional regulations of behavior, as well as cognitive thinking.
Excerpted from Peter Allen Clarke by Tom Owen. Copyright © 2016 Tom Owen. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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