The Nice Young Man
One day many years ago my mother called me on the phone. We usually spoke one a week and chatted for 15 minutes or so. She would tell me the goings-on in my tiny hometown, often detailing the lives of people I didn’t even know.
On this particular occasion, she went on at length about “the nice young man who delivered firewood.” He not only delivered the firewood but also stacked it and split the larger pieces so they would be easier to handle. She invited him in for a glass of lemonade.
“I don’t think you would have known him. He’s older than you. But what a nice young man,” She said. “His grandparents live in the valley.”
“So, does this nice young man have a name?” I chuckled.
“Walther. He grew up with his grandparents. So nice. Eric Walther. Did you know him?”
I told Mom I had to check on something and I’d call her right back. I thought what I’d heard on the news, well, I must have mis-heard. But now, it turned out to be true. This “nice young man” was wanted in 16 states and there was an extensive manhunt in progress.
Walther was captured in the small upstate New York town where my mother lived. Ultimately, he was extradited to California where he was convicted in 1988 of capital murder in under the name Lee Max Barnett.
I’m sure he was very nice and polite to my mother.