"I want you to tell me about the day your husband was
The woman glanced toward the camera before returning her
eyes to me. Then, in a quiet tone, she launched into the
story. It was one she must have told a hundred times in the
last three years—to police, family, friends, prosecutors,
and now, to me.
Her husband had managed one of those excessively
cheerful chain restaurants in the northwest suburbs of
Chicago. He’d recently started putting in a lot of hours
because the couple was saving for their first home and
planning a family. He’d wanted, as the woman now told me,
to give them a secure future. But it wasn’t to be. One
night, after he’d closed the restaurant and let the rest of
the employees go home, he stayed to send some e-mails to
the corporate office. While he worked, two men broke into
the restaurant, one of them an ex-employee. Fearing
identification, the men shot the husband in the face. His
last words, apparently, were, "Tell my wife I love her."
The killers were caught six hours later, having stolen only
forty dollars. The rest of the day’s take had already been
deposited at the bank by the assistant manager.
"Forty dollars," the woman repeated, still struggling to
believe that her husband had been murdered, and her future
shattered, for so paltry a sum.
She told the story beautifully, and with remarkable
composure. But as I listened, nodding my head
empathetically, my eyes glistening as if on the verge of
tears, all I could think was—this would be so much better
if she cried.
When she finished, she leaned back and looked, as they
all do, for my approval. I gave it. I was her friend, after
all. Though we’d only spoken once before today and I’d met
her only two hours ago, I was now her best friend. That was
what I needed her to feel so that she would trust me, tell
me things in confidence, forget that a cameraman and audio
guy were just a few feet away, recording everything she
said for the cable television show I worked for. Caught!
was one of dozens of true-crime shows littering up
television and yet we never ran out of new murders to
I leaned forward in my chair. We were sitting with our
knees only inches apart but I needed to get even closer to
block out everything but me.
"You did a great job with that," I said. "It was really
hard, I know, but you did better than anyone I’ve
I could hear the sincerity in my voice. I could imitate
sincerity so well that even I believed it. I glanced toward
the photo of her husband, strategically placed behind her
"Doug was a very special man."
As they all do, she turned to see what I was looking at
and saw the photo of her husband on their wedding day. She
kept her eyes there, reluctant to turn her back on him.
"He had such wonderful dreams for you both," I
continued. "I can imagine it was something you talked about
"It was." Her voice cracked.
"He must have wanted to give you everything."
"I guess that’s why he was working so late."
That was it. Tears came down her face. She began to
shake. I reached over and placed my hand on hers. She
turned her eyes back to me. She was so vulnerable, in so
much pain. It would look great on camera.
I leaned back and spoke gently. "I want to go over the
last question one more time. I know this is difficult, but
tell me again about the day your husband was murdered."
She barely got through the story.