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September 30th, 2007

Murder and Remorse

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I was just reading about a Queens case the NYPD’s Cold Case Squad recently solved where the murderer said he was sorry. Not surprisingly, the family did not accept the apology. Now, I wasn’t there, I don’t know the man, so I don’t know how genuine his apology was. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. I can understand how that might be immaterial to the family.

It’s just that I was recently posting online about this. I don’t think I have ever seen a murderer express genuine remorse. Except, I haven’t seen a lot of murderers. Maybe it happens.

I’d been googling Willie McGee. He was executed in 1951 in Mississippi for raping a white woman, although it was said that they were in a consensual relationship and she cried rape when he broke it off.

I was curious if the woman who accused him, Willamette Hawkins (aka Willette, sometimes Wilmetta) ever expressed remorse for what she had done. I fantasized calling her up, but she is dead now.

It made me wonder if anyone ever expresses remorse later. I was thinking mostly about civil rights because of my search. I specifically asked if anyone ever expressed regret later for spitting or jeering or screaming at the Little Rock Nine. Well, I just found this story on Vanity Fair about the woman in the famous Will Counts photograph (shown above). Hazel Bryan, the girl in the white dress, apologized later to Elizabeth.

It’s not murder, but this is an extremely interesting article. With a very depressing ending, mostly because of the other people who didn’t apologize and to this day don’t seem to think they have anything to apologize for. But I’m glad Hazel apologized. I’m for accepting apologies if they are genuine. If we don’t accept apologies it means we’re not accepting that people can become better people, and that’s like saying society will never change, never get better, so why bother? But again, when it’s someone you care for who is murdered, I can certainly understand feeling differently.

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