Why you should care
Because there are some who have absolutely zero interest in not being bad.
I’d just broken up with my psychotic ex-girlfriend Paula. She was my all-time worst girlfriend and it was quite possibly the worst year of my life. But after we broke up, I had nowhere to go.
My grandmother Diane gave me my uncle Johnny’s number. Reluctantly. She didn’t want me to stay with him and told me so.
But I quickly got in touch with my 84-year-old uncle, and he agreed to let me stay, right then and there. Johnny used to be a contractor, and he said he had built a house for Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys. He also told me that while building Wilson’s house, he had met Charles Manson and that “Charlie was over there all the time with his girls.” He also said, “Charlie was a cool guy” who had gotten a “raw deal with that murder rap.”
I’m not supposed to be alive, I don’t deserve to go on living. I’ve been a bad, bad man. Shoot me …
I had been there for about a week, and Johnny and I had some interesting chats. During one such talk, he made a dark admission, and in the middle of this admission, he lurched across the room to a trunk and brought out … his penis pump in its original 1980s clinical packaging.
“Life lost all meaning when I could no longer achieve an erection,” he admitted, and then he looked down with anger at the contraption that had failed him so many years earlier.
On Aug. 22, 2004, Johnny randomly asked me to go to the hall closet to retrieve something for him. Once I got to the closet he told me to pick up the rifle in the corner, and I did.
This was the first time I had ever held a rifle. Then he told me where to find the ammunition.
He then instructed me to shoot him in the head and kill him.
“I’m not supposed to be alive, I don’t deserve to go on living. I’ve been a bad, bad man. Shoot me, Stanton, kill me.”
Stunned, I dropped the rifle back in its original place, and said, “No!” I walked away from the scene to the sound of Johnny grumbling in disappointment.
I avoided Johnny the rest of the day and night, and I didn’t speak to him until the following afternoon. I decided that I should at least check to see if he had done himself in or not. He was still alive, sitting in his chair, a fat toad with bulging eyes and crud in the corners of his mouth.
When I saw him, I asked him if he needed anything. “Yeah, Stanton, there is something I need. Can you go in my room for something?”
I said I would. I had never been in his room before as it was on the other side of the house from my room, with the living room in the middle.
He asked me to dig in the drawer, second down from the top, and reach in the back. There was a revolver there. He told me to bring it out to the living room. To shoot him in the head with it. Again!
Like the day before, I left in a hurry when I realized what he was doing. This time I didn’t return until the following night, a little after 9 pm.
On Aug. 24, just before midnight, I was in my room when I realized Johnny’s TV was still on and there were some lights on as well. That was out of character for Johnny, who went to bed every night right after the 10 o’clock news.
I knew Johnny’s schedule and knew something was amiss. I wondered if he had blown his head off for real this time. Lots of questions went racing through my mind as I prepared to discover my uncle’s dead body. Suicide would sure seem strange to detectives as I was staying with him. And he hadn’t had guests or company of any kind in ages, decades maybe.
I expected to find Johnny in his chair in a puddle of blood and brains, so I slowly crept out into the living room. Johnny wasn’t in his chair. I continued on to Johnny’s darkened bedroom to find him sprawled diagonally across his bed. He was dead –– but he didn’t kill himself. In fact, Johnny’s head was perfectly intact.
For no apparent reason, he died on Aug. 24, the third day after asking me to shoot him two days in a row with two different guns.
I had thought myself noble for not having snooped around in Johnny’s things before he died, something I certainly would have inevitably done at the age of 26 back then. What I found when I started to carefully look through all of his files were accusations of the worst crimes conceivable: He had raped many children and had done horrible things to many victims.
He had used the cock pump he complained had failed him to rape people. To make matters so much worse, the evidence was right under my nose, kept in file cabinets in the very room I had been sleeping in.
If my uncle had not died when he had, as fate had it, I would have eventually found all those letters he kept as trophies. There were letters from people citing John Hall as having “ruined their lives” and another from someone who had been raped from age 3 years old and on. Ever the controlling type, in one instance, he had corrected the statement, “you raped me from ages 3-12” and changed it to say “ages 4-11,” like a teacher reviewing grade school exams.
Along with the letters, I found dozens of wartime photos, grisly corpses, the remains of what definitely appeared to be civilian victims. On the back of the photos, he had written “funny” captions to entertain himself.
If I had found all of this out while he was still living, I tell you, I would have killed him with my bare hands and with a smile on my face. So, in a way, by dying on his own, he spared me from having to go to prison for killing him.