“Your husband killed himself in prison. We’re sorry for your loss.”

Those words were like a dagger in my wife’s heart. The phone call was from a “private” number, and the caller had identified himself to her as a prison official. She never got his name and, because English is her second language, she always worries that she is missing some nuance of the conversation. In shock, and certain that she must have heard him wrong, she asked him to repeat it again.

“He’s dead. He committed suicide,” the caller told her again, before terminating the call.

My wife let out a horrendous wail and crumpled to the floor, unable to fathom what she’d just been told. She spent an unknown period of time there, crying hysterically and in shock, before contacting other family members to tell them the “news.” More than once, as she laid there on the floor, she contemplated ending her own life. She’d already been through so much since my arrest and now this was happening the same week as our thirtieth anniversary.

shadow-sittingOur trusted friends and family attempted to calm her and promised to find out what, if anything, actually happened. It was getting late, however, and getting any useful information from prison officials would mean waiting until business hours the following day.

My wife spent the rest of that night and half of the following day believing I was dead. Friends and relatives consoled her and made numerous phone calls attempting to get at the truth. To their relief, they soon learned that I was alive and well – if not particularly happy – at Seagoville Federal Correctional Institution, near Dallas, Texas.

The phone call to my wife that night was a cruel and unconscionable hoax, perpetrated upon an innocent and vulnerable person who had nothing whatsoever to do with my crime. The kind of monstrous amorality that would be required to be able to conceive of and carry out such an atrocious act is, frankly, completely unimaginable. And yet, in the sick and twisted minds of these self-styled vigilantes, it’s registrants who are the monsters. The truth of the matter is, their targeting of an innocent family member with such an act of cruelty demonstrates to the world just who the real monsters are.