Air Date: Tuesday, February 9, 1999
Produced and Directed by Michael McLeod
Alan Austin, Correspondent
[Tonight's program contains graphic imagery and language.
Viewer discretion is advised.]
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] His name was Clifford Boggess. He was one of 68 people executed in America last year. He had murdered two old men.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: [reading] "Dear Alan: Enclosed please find Xerox copies of two of my death row series ink drawings, my legacy to the world, my one big art project until I'm executed. I want to paint the inside of death row from the perspective of a death row inmate."
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] I spent more than three years on the Boggess story, and in the end probably knew him as well as anyone could.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: [reading] "It's Sunday now, Mother's Day. I never go to church on Mother's Day because I don't have a mother, and all the talk of mothers and how wonderful they are really depresses me."
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Clifford Boggess was an artist, a musician, a Bible scholar and a cold-blooded killer, a monster who spent his last years looking for redemption.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: [reading] "I only hope that you can find something relevant in my story and that I have something useful to say that will perhaps touch the lives of others."
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] This is the story of who he was and what he did and what was done to him.
PROTESTERS: Stop the execution! Stop the execution! Stop the execution! Death row must go! Death row must go! Death row must go!
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] This is a common sight in Huntsville, Texas, an execution. There's one about every three weeks.
PROTESTERS: Stop the executions now! Stop the executions now! Solutions, not executions! Solutions, not executions!
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] This one tonight is a little unusual, the 100th man to be put to death in Texas by lethal injection. So there are more protesters than usual, and more photographers. Still, there isn't much to see, and the condemned man is practically unknown. So few townspeople pay much attention. Few people anywhere pay much attention. America, it seems, has become comfortable with capital punishment.
I came to Texas's death row in 1995 wondering if there weren't something important still to be learned. I wanted to find a typical murderer, find out everything I could about him and his crime, and see if it still made sense to kill him.
Whoever I found would need to talk honestly about what he was going through and what he had done, and that was going to be a problem. There were 403 men here awaiting execution, but almost all of them were appealing their convictions or their sentences, and the core of most of those appeals was innocence, or at least the pretense of innocence.
I met plenty of men with interesting stories to tell-
JIM VANDERBILT: You know who's going to get executed days before it occurs.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] -men like Jim Vanderbilt, who survived 20 years on death row acting as his own attorney-
JIM VANDERBILT: You know how much of their appeal they've used up.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] -and Lesley Gosch, a convicted kidnapper and gunman who's legally blind.
[on-camera] You have a fairly strong case, right? [nods] Can you be any more specific?
LESLEY GOSCH: I'd rather not.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] But no one would talk about committing murder.
JIM BEATHARD: I wasn't involved in the murder, but I was nearby. I didn't know what was happening before, during and, in fact, afterwards. I really didn't know will after the murders.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] But Jim Beathard said there was someone I should talk to, his cellmate, a man named Clifford Boggess. Boggess, he said, is that rarity on death row, an admittedly guilty man.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: Good morning. Welcome to death row.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] What struck me first about Clifford Boggess was his cheerfulness. And he was willing to talk about anything.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: I have here something most people talk about or hear about but never mention, and that is an official state of Texas death warrant, actually called "An Order to"-
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] In the three years to follow, sometimes inside his cell or through its bars, sometimes in the interview room with bulletproof glass between us, he would talk about his crimes, about life on death row, about everything.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: [reading] -"of a substance or substances in a lethal quantity sufficient to cause the death of Clifford Holt Boggess."
I like my little sticker here, "Faith isn't faith until it's all you're holding onto," which I keep inside of what I call my "piddling" box.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] His cell was packed with visual aids to help him tell the story of his life.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: -a little mannequin here I call Woodrow. He's the only wooden mannequin on death row.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] This one was about the new Clifford Boggess, the one who'd become a serious artist.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: -sketches in my sketchbook, since I can't have models to pose for me all the time.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] He also kept reminders of the old Clifford Boggess.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: I have a photograph of one of my victims' tombstones, and this was taken for me by a pen pal who went there to visit. And whenever I'm looking at pictures of family and friends and things of that nature, I'm also reminded of this as a way to keep me humble and-
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] His story bounced back and forth between the horrible and the ordinary.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: That was me as a 4-year-old, by the way.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Through it all, the cheerfulness never deserted him.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: Internally, emotionally, yeah, the death penalty and possible execution makes you want to scream. You know, "Ahh! Help! Help! I'm facing this! I'm facing this!" And then two years go by. "Help. I'm facing this execution." Then three years and four years, "Help, help," you know? Sooner or later, you just run out of breath. You get tired of hollering to everyone else about it, and you come to terms with it one way or another.
In some ways, you try to think of this as being like a cell in a monastery, of sorts, for me and for my Christian walk, anyway, and try to get some solitude, try to get some prayer time.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Looking for an escape from hopelessness, he says he searched the Bible, and what he found there convinced him to start telling the truth about what he'd done.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: And I've been telling the truth about it ever since.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] After nine years on death row, Boggess's appeals were all but exhausted, and he was thinking a lot about the end of his story, sometimes indulging in fantasies involving his hero, Vincent van Gogh.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: Paintings of his room remind me a whole lot of this cell just because it has such a narrow focus, and there's not that many amenities at present. I'd like to go to France some day, go to all the great museums, look at all the great works by van Gogh.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] He knew very well that fantasy was not going to happen. He would never be going anywhere. But he had a real story, equally unimaginable, that he wanted to tell. Here was the man I was looking for, a man who might take me into the heart of the death penalty in America.
The raw facts of Clifford Boggess's first murder are packed away in cardboard boxes in the attic of a courthouse in northern Texas.
JACK McGAUGHEY, Prosecutor: He had an old man that wasn't capable of defending himself in the way a younger man would have been. It couldn't have been more brutal in terms of somebody setting out to kill someone and just doing everything he could to cause his death.
One thing that distinguished this is that the defendant in this case, the one that committed the murder, grew up in this town, knew the old man, had probably been in his store lots of times. So that there was that kind of sense of violation, also, in the community, that this was not just, you know, somebody from out of town that drove through and chose to knock off a store. This was somebody that grew up in the community and knew everybody in the community, knew this old man.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] This is the town where it happened, Saint Jo, Texas. Boggess is the most famous name in Saint Jo. A man named Herb Boggess founded the town and built the first building, a saloon alongside the Chisholm trail. Another Boggess was gunned down by the sheriff just outside the saloon door. Whiskey was such a staple of life here that when a man named Joseph Howell declined to drink, they named the town after him, Saint Jo.
Massive cattle drives came through, and outlaws, some of whom stayed. Boggess Street in Saint Jo leads past Boggess Park and on to the cemetery, where several Boggesses are buried. And so is Frank Collier, Clifford Boggess's first victim.
Frank Collier's brother, Jack, 95 years old, took me to see where it happened.
JACK COLLIER: That's his store there, the two white fronts. He was stretched out right here, and his head was right here on some of this stuff, or on some stuff, I don't know what. But it was covered with blood, the floor and everything. Right there is where he bled to death because that's where he cut his throat. He wasn't dying fast enough to suit him. After he'd stomped him, you know, and caved his face and lungs in, he drug him out here. Cut his throat right there.
ALAN AUSTIN: [on-camera] Make you angry?
JACK COLLIER: Huh?
ALAN AUSTIN: Does it make you angry?
JACK COLLIER: It does something to me. I never walk in here without I see him. [weeps]
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] And then I asked Clifford Boggess to tell me the story from the beginning.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: I'm thinking I'm doing good. I started putting a little money back, saving a little money, thinking, "A-ha. I'll save up that money and go back to college." And I'm driving home one day, and the motor in my pick-up blows a rear main seal. All the oil shoots out the back and the motor's ruined. And I can fix it, but it's going to take all that money I'd just saved to get myself back into college.
This was, like, the day I snapped and decided "I need some money, and I'll go get it from whomever I need to." The first one I thought of was Frank Collier back in Saint Jo. And I didn't have a gun at the time, but I'm thinking, "Well, I'm big enough, and he's old, and I got a pocket knife. I can go in there with that and do it." And I hitchhiked a ride from Gainesville to Saint Jo with some old man who'd been doing a lot of drinking that day. Got him to drop me off at the city park.
Once I was in Boggess Park, I took out of my pocket some previously purchased Superglue and coated the ends of my fingertips with Superglue to eliminate fingerprints without having such a noticeable thing as gloves on my hands in the middle of a summer's day, telling myself, "Even though you're nervous right now and excited, and the adrenaline's flowing, stay calm and walk slow so you won't be picked out of a crowd."
So I casually walk up to his store, like it's no big deal. And on the inside, all my internal alarms are going off. I'm just as nervous and scared as I can be. I've already made up my mind before I walked in the store that I'm going to kill him.
I was in the store alone with Frank. I walked behind a shelf and took the pocket knife out of my pocket. I held up the pocket knife where he could see it as I reached for him, and I said, "This is it, Frank."
And as I grabbed him around the throat with my arm, he said, "Oh!" And it was just- there was fear in it. There was pain in the sound of it that only an old man could make. And my grandpa being old, as well, it really bothers me to this day, the sound in that voice.
I was very mentally active during al of this. I was scared, but- and I know it doesn't sound right, but I was in complete possession of my mental faculties. People coming in, what steps to take next, all the mechanics of what I was doing I was completely mentally aware.
Cut his throat, and then just for overkill- "What if this doesn't kill him? What if I need to do more?" because he was still breathing - I proceeded to stab him in the Adam's apple and larynx area five or six times.
ALAN AUSTIN: [on-camera] Was there some anger in the brutality?
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: More than I expected. I don't know where it came from. Once I started attacking Mr. Collier, a hatred and an anger came out that I didn't know was there. It was no longer just to kill him, but also hurting him just for the sake of hurting him, just to be brutal.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Within days of the murder, police were beginning to hear Boggess's name. He was bragging about it to friends. At the time, he was living 20 miles from Saint Jo in Gainesville with a woman named Phoebe Boaz. I went looking for her from one apartment house to another in Gainesville, directed by acquaintances who said she was practically in hiding, constantly moving, though it was 10 years after the murders.
It took me several weeks to find her, and she did seem all but petrified with fear, still frightened of Clifford Boggess. She described him as a "Jekyll and Hyde."
PHOEBE BOAZ: When I met him, he was a wonderful human being. I mean, completely- he was totally a wonderful human being. And one night he asked me, he said, "What would you do if I disappeared for a week?" And I- I thought, "Well, I don't know. You know, I would- that's your business." And when he came back, he'd killed somebody, you know? Well, I didn't really believe it. You know, he came back- because people spout their mouth off and everything. I hadn't heard anything about it, so I didn't believe it.
I can't imagine anybody enjoying something like that. It made him want to enjoy sex more.
ALAN AUSTIN: [on-camera] When he talked about murdering a man.
PHOEBE BOAZ: Yes, when he talked about the sound of the blood and the feeling of the warm blood.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: The second murder occurred August 17th, barely three or four weeks after the first one. Phoebe Boaz, whom I was living with- I was out of money again, and I had told her about Frank Collier's murder. And she seemed all right with it, at the time. Of course, I also threatened her and said, "If you ever tell anybody, I'll kill you." Don't know that I would have killed her, but it sounded good at the time. I was really playing tough for her.
I asked her if she knew of anyone similar to Frank Collier who had a lot of cash money in their pockets. I didn't say it had to be an old person. I didn't say it had to be a man or a general store. I just asked for someone that carried a lot of cash in their pockets. She told me about a man named Roy Vance Hazelwood in Whitesboro, Texas.
PHOEBE BOAZ: And he talked me into going to Whitesboro one day, and we got over to Whitesboro. And that's when I said, "You take me home," because he was talking about this on the way over there. I said, "You take me home." He was driving my car. So he took me out to the country, and he dumped me out.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: I went into town, found the general store, parked the car in the back, walked around the front, walked in. And then the man's granddaughter came in with a carload of her friends to get some gas.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Lisa Hazelwood was 16 years old when she walked into the middle of her grandfather's murder.
LISA HAZELWOOD: Go ahead, Daddy.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] She and her father, Jim Hazelwood, were so traumatized by what happened that day that this is the first time they've been back to the now deserted store in 10 years.
Lisa says her grandfather was nervous about something, and then she saw the other man.
LISA HAZELWOOD: -and he was there and looking up and down. And you know, I can tell you to this day, he was wearing blue jeans, white tennis shoes, a white T-shirt with the sleeves rolled up, dark hair, and standing there.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Her grandfather said peculiar things to her, calling her "son," as he practically shooed her out of the store. She is now positive he knew what Boggess was going to do and was desperately trying to save her.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: When I heard her refer to him as "Grandpa," it struck a chord in me because my grandpa was the man I loved most in the world. I almost backed out at that moment, but at the same time, I decided "I'm already here. I've already committed myself. The time to do this is now."
He's showing me different things. We go behind the counter, and that's when I saw a sawed-off double-barred 20-gauge shotgun behind the counter. I picked it up, and he told me, "Be careful. That's loaded." And I checked it, and it was. I clicked off the safety, raised it and leaned it out towards him and shot him the first time in the back.
At the moment, the thing that shocked me the most was that this was not like T.V. This was not like Hollywood. He didn't fall the way a Hollywood stunt man does or whatever. In fact - and I don't say this to be cruel to the victim's family or anything, because I know it sounds horrible - it was horrible - but it was as if you had a puppet on a string, and someone just cut the strings. He dropped that quick. He just crumpled completely.
JIM HAZELWOOD: This is the area that his body was found in. This is the blood area that was cut out by-
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: Mr. Hazelwood kind of rolled over on his back and started to sit up and look me in the face with this questioning look in his eyes, like "Why have you done this? What are you doing to me?" And that was the hardest part of it, seeing that. I'll never forget that look on his face. But at the same time, it didn't deter me from the task at hand. I leaned forward and shot him a second time in the chest. And then the gun was empty. [www.pbs.org: Read Boggess's full account]
LISA HAZELWOOD: I've never heard how long after I left he killed him, but I don't feel like it was but just a few minutes.
PHOEBE BOAZ: And when he came back and picked me up, he throwed that man's wallet in my lap, with his picture showing, and blood on it.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] The next day Phoebe Boaz told the police that Clifford Boggess had done both murders.
CARL DUNLAP, Police Chief, Gainesville, Texas: We pretty much had the location where he was staying pinpointed. And at that point, our units moved in on him. When the marked patrol units turned on their lights, the officers were able to take him out of the vehicle without any incident whatsoever. He was very solemn, very cold, like nothing in the world was wrong. "The game's over. You got me. But I'm damn sure not going to say anything about it." You know, "This is- this is my thing. Take me on to jail, whatever you got to do."
He acted like he didn't care. This guy was almost proud to be a criminal. "I'm the baddest guy in town. I'm the John Dillinger of north Texas." You know, "I'm going to do what I want to do, and if you catch me, that's okay. But I'm going to have fun till you catch me."
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] The trial of Clifford Boggess in October, 1986, was quick. The best the defense could hope for was a sentence of life in prison. Scrambling for some reason why Boggess should not die, his attorney played to the jury's emotions.
ROBERT ESTRADA, Defense Attorney: I pointed out all the positive character traits that he had accumulated throughout his life. His grandmother kept virtually every honor he'd ever had. He was an athlete. He was a star on the football and basketball team. And yet at the same time, he was one of their best students. He graduated with honors. He was active in church. He played the piano. He was especially talented with the piano. People sought him out to play at their weddings.
There was a little mold. You've seen one of those, where kids do a mold of their hand and put it on a paper plate and hold it up, and it says their names. And this one had a tiny hand. And I held it up, and I said, you know, "What you've found by your verdict is the hand that made this mold is the hand that slew the victim in this case. You've got to decide what you're going to do with the fact that when you kill the man, you kill the little boy inside. And the little boy that wrote this poetry and placed his hand on this mold and wrote those lovely notes to his grandmother and played those pianos is still inside this man. Don't kill him, too."
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] But even as the trial was under way, Boggess was busy ruining his chances of mercy. From jail he wrote his cousin, saying he'd kill the judge if he pronounced the death penalty. And he wrote Phoebe Boaz promising to find some way to kill her. "I'll get you for what you've done to me," he wrote her. "Lucifer, my lord Satan, he and I shall see your soul burn in hell." She testified against him and produced that letter.
The jury took just two hours to decide on a penalty: death.
CARL DUNLAP, Police Chief, Gainesville, Texas: He had no feelings, as we would have, of emotions, and I think that's- when you talk about psychopaths, I think that's what you're talking about. A psychopath is just a cold-blooded killer.
PHOEBE BOAZ: He wasn't scared at all. He was tough. He was vicious. [www.pbs.org: Was Boggess a psychopath?]
ALAN AUSTIN: [on camera] You're afraid of him even now?
PHOEBE BOAZ: Oh, boy!
ALAN AUSTIN: Why are you so afraid of him?
PHOEBE BOAZ: Because he doesn't have a heart.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Clifford Boggess at age 21 did seem to be exactly the sort of person capital punishment was intended for. How did that happen? How did the smart, talented, sweet little boy become such a man?
Boggess told me he hated his home town, Saint Jo. "Never felt part of it," he says, never felt part of the Boggess family. And he wasn't born a Boggess. He was rescued from a Georgia orphanage by a couple named Steve and Shirley Boggess when he was a year-and-a-half old. And when they divorced, he was sent to Saint Jo to live with his adoptive grandparents in their little house by the creek. He was 4.
His grandmother, the person who should know more about Clifford than anyone, still lives there. She says she still loves him, but it's too painful to talk about him. She did give me a picture of him at age 4, when he first arrived. She said he had had intense nightmares at that age about a tunnel and a light. He doesn't remember those nightmares, but he does remember falling asleep at night listening to his grandfather's records on an old phonograph, Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, Scott Joplin, and his favorite, Judy Garland. ["Somewhere Over the Rainbow"]
His former teachers and schoolmates remember him as a good pianist with big hands, polite, but with an explosive temper, a good football player, not especially talented, but he played very hard. Everyone agrees that Clifford Boggess craved attention. The shop next to the old Boggess saloon used to have a piano in the back room. Clifford would wander in and play it. He had learned to play his favorite song, played it all the time. It made him think of getting away, going to some better place.
Like his grandmother, others in Saint Jo who knew Clifford best shied away from talking about him. The editor of Saint Jo's weekly newspaper, Sonny Cole, perhaps wanting to avoid opening old wounds, seemed scarcely to remember Boggess, even though Boggess had worked for him, and they had recently corresponded.
SONNY COLE: Yeah, he played- he played football. I'd even forgotten about that.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] And Mr. Cole had trouble remembering the Collier murder, even though it happened just one block away, and he covered it for the paper.
[on camera] Did you know that he might be connected to this one?
SONNY COLE: I don't recollect whether immediately there was a connection or not.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] I came across another story Cole had covered four years before the murder of Frank Collier, another story about a murder in Saint Jo. Someone named Boggess was arrested for that one, too. Not Clifford Boggess, but Carl Boggess, Clifford's uncle.
[on camera] What's the deal there?
SONNY COLE: I think he became a suspect in that. I don't recollect exactly what the connection was. I haven't read this in quite some time, but I think he was a suspect in-
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Carl Boggess was never tried for the Saint Jo murder, but he did rob a bank in California in the '70s, shot a policeman and served time in Folsom Prison. Clifford had idolized his uncle.
Carl and his family live in the house next door to his mother, Clifford's grandmother. They were no more eager to talk about Clifford than she had been.
WOMAN AT DOOR: We're here to live our lives. He's going.
ALAN AUSTIN: [on camera] Yeah.
WOMAN AT DOOR: It's what he leaves behind.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] But one day I found Carl outside alone, working on a truck, and we did talk.
CARL BOGGESS: My mom was scared of him.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Carl said he could see there was something very wrong, something missing with Clifford when he first arrived in Saint Jo.
CARL BOGGESS: He was crazy.
ALAN AUSTIN: [on camera] Crazy?
CARL BOGGESS: Well, he didn't act like normal people.
ALAN AUSTIN: In what way?
CARL BOGGESS: He just- the way he got with things. I could see it. I seen the same feelings in his eyes as I used to see in real crazy sumbitches up there in Folsom. They just- they didn't care. They were all screwed up, you know, but we don't go around killing people. I've shot some people in robberies and stuff, but I never went in to do it, you know? It- I went in to rob it, and it turned into a gunfight or something, yeah. But Clifford just went into it with murder- planned on murdering people when he went into it.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Clifford agreed that there had always been something wrong. He mentioned it in a letter to me.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: [reading] "I can remember at the age of 6, after receiving a whipping for something I'd done, plotting in my mind how I could stand on a chair behind a door with a piece of one-inch pipe in my hand and beat my grandpa in the head when he came through the door as retaliation for the whipping he'd just"-
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] And always he has been fixated on the mother he never knew.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: [reading] "It's Sunday now, Mother's Day. I'm not going to church today because it's Mother's Day. I never go to church on Mother's Day because I don't have a mother, and all the talk of mothers and how wonderful they are really depresses me."
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] One day, when he was 8 or 9, Clifford left his grandparents' house and began to walk. He walked all the way to the next town, and then kept walking- 10 miles. When he reached his piano teacher's house, he asked to come in and rest a while. He told her he was running away from home to find his mother.
The search for Clifford Boggess's biological mother and what she might reveal about the creation of a murderer led to Alabama. The search came much too late to find her. She had been dead for 20 years. Her name was Mary Elizabeth Mann. She had died a horrible death, and so had three of her children. She had 10. Clifford was the youngest.
[to prison security] Film crew to interview an inmate.
[voice-over] I found Clifford's oldest brother, Willie Joe Mann, in the Alabama state prison serving time for child molestation.
WILLIE JOE MANN: Three of us had the same mother and father. My mother and my dad were living together, like, you know, husband and wife, but the kids after that, none of them belonged to my dad. He took the kids that he knew didn't belong to him, even after they were divorced, and he raised us. You know, he did the best that he could with us.
After Clifford was born, I can remember Mom bringing him to my dad's house, and I remember her and Dad having a discussion about her leaving him there with my dad. And he told her that he had all that he could handle right then- you know, more than he could handle.
But then the next time I saw my mom was she didn't have Clifford, and I didn't know until years later that she had gave him up for adoption.
She could be as loving and caring as anybody you wanted to see, but then she could also be as spiteful and hateful as anybody you ever wanted to meet. She could be as abusive as anybody you wanted to meet. And she was at times.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Mary's sister, Jennifer, still lives in Alabama.
[on camera] Tell me about your sister, Mary Elizabeth.
JENNIFER: Always wanted attention, which she felt like she didn't get.
ALAN AUSTIN: Was she having trouble with alcohol or drugs at that time?
JENNIFER: Yes, she was.
ALAN AUSTIN: Which?
ALAN AUSTIN: How'd she treat the kids?
JENNIFER: I was kind of hoping you wouldn't ask that because she was an abusive mother. I know that there was several instances of child abuse. Some of them I could tell you about. Some of them I would prefer not to because they're so horrendous that you wouldn't- probably wouldn't believe them.
ALAN AUSTIN: [on the phone] Hi, Debbie. This is Alan Austin again. I just wanted to make sure I got the directions right.
[voice-over] Clifford's sister, Debbie, lives in the back woods of northern Alabama. Debbie would paint the darkest picture of life with Mary Elizabeth Mann when Clifford was an infant. She herself is still scarred by the experience.
DEBBIE: She was on so many drugs, she didn't even know what she was doing. I've got scars all over my body where she mistreated me, hit me with matches, knives, just anything she could pick up. She was drunk and using drugs when she was pregnant with Clifford and Bubba and, you know, at least half of my brothers. Probably with me, too. I don't know that, but I do know that she was when she was pregnant with Clifford.
I remember the day she brought him home. She brought him in and put him in the bed. And she had to leave and go get her some drugs and alcohol. And he wasn't, like, three days old, and she had to have that more than stay in there with her baby. I do remember that.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] After more than a year in an orphanage, Clifford was adopted. His new mother was Shirley Boggess, a sailor's wife. She says the little boy wanted to be hugged all the time. But two years later, when Clifford was not quite 4, Shirley and Steve Boggess divorced, and Steve shipped off to Guam. Shirley, penniless, allowed 4-year-old Clifford to be taken to Texas to be raised by Steve's parents. She believes now that it was a terrible mistake.
SHIRLEY BOGGESS: He was angry, and it's understandable. He felt that I'd abandoned him. And sometimes I blame myself, although he has told me repeatedly "It was not your fault, Mom." But I feel like that maybe if Steve and I had stayed together, had not divorced, that Clifford might have been different. And he was a wonderful child, and he's still my baby.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] The little boy never did find the mother he was looking for. As a teenager, he would get to meet and spend a little time with his adoptive mother, but it would be many years before he discovered the truth about Mary Elizabeth Mann. "The more I learned about her," he said, "the more I could see myself." By then he had killed two people and was on death row.
By the time I met Clifford Boggess, he had been on death row for nine years and had undergone a transformation, or so it seemed.
[on camera] How long have you know him?
JIM BEATHARD, Cellmate: Man, since just about the time he got into death row. He was in lockdown for a few months, and they moved him to the work program, and I was his first cell partner in the work program.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] His cellmate, Jim Beathard, says he knows the changes in Boggess are real.
JIM BEATHARD: April of '88. Wow. It only seems like 30 years.
ALAN AUSTIN: How was he then?
JIM BEATHARD: Oh, well, he was pretty green. I mean- I mean, he was still Cliff back then, you know, but he's changed a lot since then, too. I've seen the guy- he's grown up a lot since he's been in here. He's developed as an artist in here. That's the big thing that I've seen change is the way he's developed as an artist. And his religion. He's got- you know, he's developed a very close relationship with Jesus in his life, too. I mean, that's probably the defining thing for Cliff, you know?
And I've seen all those changes come through. I can remember when he couldn't pick up a pencil and paper and so much as draw a cartoon hardly at all. And now he's one of the better artists around here. Now, then, I've watched those changes come, you know, and it's interesting to watch somebody change and grow like that.
We're not supposed to be able to change. That's why we have the death penalty. They're wrong about that. A lot of people do. Cliff's a prime example of people who've changed since they've been in here. Whatever it was that led him to screw up in the world, there's remorse for that. And if he could do anything to change it, he does- it bothers him every day of his life.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Now that Boggess has dropped all claims of innocence, his only hope of avoiding execution is to convince a federal judge that his value as an artist and a Christian warrants a review of his death sentence.
ROBERT ESTRADA, Defense Attorney: I had not seen Cliff for quite a while in person because I'd been working on his appeals. These paintings were going to be the new evidence. It was reasons why Cliff Boggess should not die. And I asked him to let me know where his paintings were, how I could locate them so I could show these to the judge.
He calls this "Family," and as you can see, it's- it's fairly complex. This is Cliff's rendition of a friend of his from Germany that's been a pen pal of his since she was 19 years old. This is what he thinks she probably looked like when she was a little girl.
This is the horror within. It's his way of trying to release some of the- as he described it, some of the anger he had for himself.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] His early self-portraits reveal a Clifford Boggess much more in character with his monstrous acts and the resulting torment of death row than the face he wears now. Later his paintings softened and avoided the subject. [www.pbs.org: See more of his artwork]
Had he driven off the demons with his relentless cheerfulness and devotion to Jesus, or had he only hidden them?
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: [reading from diary] "When the time of my execution is finally here, will I face death with strength and dignity, unwavering in my faith in God and in Jesus Christ as my savior? Will God strengthen me in that hour of need? Will the Spirit give me the words to say which will make the end of my earthly life a powerful witness for God's son?"
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Religious conversions are common on death row and hard to verify. Is this one real or a sales pitch?
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: You know, some of the things that I think about and wonder about while I'm down here. I don't want people to think that I'm not thinking about what I've done and what's going to happen to me. I'm not distracting myself totally with artwork or television.
ALAN AUSTIN: Clifford Boggess has said he'd like to get a chance to say how sorry he is.
JACK COLLIER: I'll bet he would. He might convince some people that he's a new boy, that he's God's boy, but he'll never convince me. Anybody that could do what he did, they couldn't change. They're that way.
Why, do you think that you could knock a fellow down and stomp him with big, heavy shoes on, leave your shoe prints on his chest, in his face, and then cut his throat and ever be a new fellow? I don't. I just don't think that he- he makes that talk now, trying to get out, of course, that he's God's boy now and he's guilty of everything that he did, that he's changed, he's God's boy now.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] In Whitesboro, Lisa Hazelwood has spent the years since her grandfather's murder reliving that day over and over, wondering if she could have saved him and wondering about Boggess, despising him, but feeling confused about whether he should be executed.
LISA HAZELWOOD: [reading letter] "My name is Lisa Hazelwood. I would be interested in what you wanted to say to me and how you feel about killing my"-
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] For a long time she talked to no one about it. Finally she consulted a therapist, who advised her to make her grief known and to seek answers to her questions.
LISA HAZELWOOD: "What were you thinking when I walked into the gas station that day?"
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] She's decided to write to Clifford Boggess.
LISA HAZELWOOD: "If I had been alone, would you have killed me, too? Why did you choose to destroy my family? I'm haunted by what you have done almost every day of my life. Try to put into words what was going through your mind and what led up to you killing him. I need to try to understand why."
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Lisa Hazelwood's letter reaches Boggess on death row just as his long-time pen pal, Conny Krispin, arrives from Germany to visit him.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: [singing] I want to hug you from a distance, I want to get closer to you. Good to have you back.
CONNY KRISPIN: Yeah! I'm glad to be back here.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: Wish I could give you a hug.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Their correspondence began as part of her work with Amnesty International, which opposes capital punishment. In the six years since, they've become such close friends that she once visited him on her honeymoon.
CONNY KRISPIN: Well, he's my best friend I have. He's like my big brother.
ALAN AUSTIN: [on camera] Not romantic or-
CONNY KRISPIN: No.
ALAN AUSTIN: -or sexual at all.
CONNY KRISPIN: No. Absolutely not. And we clarify that on every visit again because it's very important for both of us to make sure. And of course, for my husband, that's very important, too, because he's at home, and I'm here, and I could do whatever without him knowing it.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] On this visit, more than anything Boggess wants to talk about Lisa Hazelwood's letter.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: Over and over, she keeps asking why, you know?
CONNY KRISPIN: Of course. Of course.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: The way she worded one of her questions-
CONNY KRISPIN: Yeah?
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: -is "Why did you kill my Paw-Paw."
CONNY KRISPIN: Oh.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: That's what she called him. Yeah, and, you know, just hearing the love that she feels for him-
CONNY KRISPIN: Yeah.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: -and this was her Paw-Paw-
CONNY KRISPIN: Right.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: -that she called him. You know, just- oh, man!
CONNY KRISPIN: And you realize-
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: I mean, it just kind of settles-
CONNY KRISPIN: Yeah.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: -on me all over again-
CONNY KRISPIN: Sure.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: -just exactly what it was I did. She actually asked what things happened in my life that led up to me being the kind of person that would do this sort of thing.
CONNY KRISPIN: Just talk to her as if you were talking to me. That's a little hard, I know.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: I can't talk to anybody the way I talk to you.
CONNY KRISPIN: No!
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: Best friend.
CONNY KRISPIN: Yeah. It's- I know it's hard.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: Very hard. It'd be easier to take a punch in the nose.
CONNY KRISPIN: I know, but-
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Boggess spends six weeks composing his answer to Lisa Hazelwood.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: [reading letter] "Miss Lisa Hazelwood: I write this letter hoping that my words will be of some help to you and that you and your family will find peace for your own souls and be reconciles to Christ."
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] A very long letter which describes in excruciating detail both murders, his remorse and his salvation.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: "I know that sounds harsh, but it is also the truth, and I"-
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] The confessions and the apologies, like those I'd heard before, seemed strangely detached and mechanical, as though he's trying to convince us he's become fully human, but doesn't know how.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: "You can give your grief to Jesus and"- [www.pbs.org: Read the entire letter]
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] He laces the letter with Bible passages he suggests may comfort her and dispel her anger. But the letter has exactly the opposite effect on Lisa.
LISA HAZELWOOD: He's in jail on death row, and he's preaching to me. That's what I'm thinking, you know? I mean, nothing he can say is going to make it any better, or nothing he could do.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Now she is certain that she wants Boggess to die.
LISA HAZELWOOD: He can be right in the eyes of God, but certainly not right in my eyes, ever.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] So far from gaining anything like forgiveness from his six weeks' effort to write the perfect letter, Boggess had succeeded only in making Lisa angrier. Even that news seems hardly to affect him.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] I'm not after her sympathy, and she may never forgive me, or the rest of her family. I don't want their forgiveness for myself. It's not necessary. God has forgiven me of my sins, and I've secured eternal life in heaven accepting Christ's blood.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] But in a way, Boggess is thriving on death row. He's developed a commercial enterprise that has brought him both friends and money. His pen pal, Conny Krispin, takes Boggess's paintings back to Europe with her to sell them for him. She already has sold many.
Major Catherine Cox of the Salvation Army has been buying, exhibiting and selling his artwork in Dallas. When her efforts don't satisfy him, he takes her off his visitors' list. Lawyer Estrada is also handling Boggess's paintings. And pen pals all over the world are acting as his agents. He has a Web site where he sells greeting cards with pictures he's painted of life on death row. He's even worked out a plan for spending the money he's making.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: My desire is to have my body cremated, and I want to have my ashes scattered inside a monastery in France where Vincent van Gogh once lived and painted.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] So he's been shopping by mail for a mortuary that performs economical cremations.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: Once I have an execution date, then I'll make sure they get the money prior to my execution. For them it's convenient because they'll know the exact day when I'm going to be deceased, when to come pick up the body and where.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] He is repulsed by the idea that when he's executed he may be buried anonymously in a plywood coffin in the prison cemetery, where the grave markers carry only the person's prison number and the date of his execution.
I'd been coming to see Boggess for about a year when he tried to rope me into his art enterprise.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: Howdy, howdy.
ALAN AUSTIN: [on camera] How're you doing?
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: Good. Good. I've got a- they may ask up front, or they may need you to ask up front for me later. I've got a drawing that I want to give out to you, and two additional letters of permission for-
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] He's brought a piece of art with him to the visiting room, a drawing of a cowboy. He wants me to forward it to one of his agents. But the warden has become suspicious of the drawing, and suddenly the interview is terminated.
[on camera] I'm getting all sorts of signals that we have to quit.
[voice-over] Back in his office, the warden has peeled apart the matting of the cowboy drawing and found another drawing hidden inside of the prison fence. The warden is angry. Sending out pictures of prison security is forbidden. He suggests I might have become part of an escape plot. He confiscates Boggess's art supplies and puts him in a locked-down cell for six months. I wouldn't see him again for more than a year.
Meanwhile, the executions continue. In the three years I spent reporting on death row in Texas, 69 men and one woman were put to death, 8 in a single month. About noon on the day an inmate is to die, he is driven from death row 22 miles to the "death house" at another prison called "The Walls" in downtown Huntsville.
NEIL HODGES, Assistant Warden: Once the inmate arrives, he's escorted in. And we ask him to come up to the table, hop up and lay down. Five officers, at that point, go to strapping him down. And once they're through strapping him down, they leave, leaving the chaplain and the warden in here. Then the execution team, they'll come in from this way. They'll establish an I.V. into each arm that's strapped to these boards, and it'll run back through this little window to an I.V. stand that we have in this room back here.
ALAN AUSTIN: [on camera] It's cold in here.
NEIL HODGES: Yes, sir. We try to keep the air conditioning running in these two areas here.
ALAN AUSTIN: Probably the first air conditioning they've felt in 10 or 15 years.
NEIL HODGES: Quite some time. Yes, sir. Once they have a good I.V., a good saline solution drip going, then we'll call for all the witnesses to be brought back. At that point, he says whatever he wants to say.
ALAN AUSTIN: Who do they say it to?
NEIL HODGES: Usually, if they have any personal witnesses in this area, in the witness area, they say it to them. Once he's through with his last statement, then the warden will give the signal for the first of the three chemicals to be administered. Usually, he goes to sleep within just a very few seconds.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] In January, 1998, Lesley Gosch's number comes up. He is the legally blind kidnapper and murderer I'd met my first day on death row. Gosch is famous here for having taken the ride to the death house years earlier and lived to tell about it. He came within minutes of execution before receiving a stay.
LESLEY GOSCH: After I got back from The Walls, is when you notice how much tension you were under because you feel like somebody just beat you with a two-by-four. You don't realize it, but you've just clenched up so tight that when you finally relax, you feel like you've been worked over.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] When Gosch returned to his cellblock following that narrow escape, he described the execution chamber to his friend, Clifford Boggess, who drew a picture of it. Now, almost a decade later, Gosch is back inside the death house.
It's already past the scheduled 6:00 o'clock execution time. Gosch's attorney, Maury Levin, is making frantic last-minute phone calls on a pay phone outside the prison, still trying to save him. Levin thinks the U.S. Supreme Court may be considering another stay. It sounds far-fetched.
REPORTER: Maury, can you just give us a statement? [crosstalk] What did you just hear? It's obviously great news.
MAURY LEVIN: The Supreme Court granted the stay of the execution.
REPORTER: On what grounds?
MAURY LEVIN: They didn't say. It's a 5-4 vote, and that's all we know, and they're going to be conferencing the issues, and- that's all we know.
REPORTER: Where do you go from here?
MAURY LEVIN: I don't know. I'm going try and go see Leslie.
REPORTER: What will you tell him?
MAURY LEVIN: That he got a stay.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Those who saw Gosch back in his cell in the following days described him as a man in shock. He told them he had heard the officers laughing as they prepared the chemicals that were to kill him. He would have it all to go through again just three months later, and this time there would be no stay.
JIM BEATHARD, Cellmate: I've been here for almost 150 executions. I've watched the best friends I've ever had, the people who've been like family to me for over 13 years now- I've watched them go and die.
It's like a psychological experiment. You take all these people, and you put them together, and you put them under stress, design stress even, put them through adversity, and put them like that, and you see what happens to these people. Step two of the experiment, you kill a few of them off. Step three is do this again and again and again for 10, 15 or 20 years. And then you look and you see what psychological effect the stress, the years and the deaths have caused to the few people that are left. And I feel like I'm the result of that experiment.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] The long, indefinite wait for Clifford Boggess's execution exacts a different kind of agony on the families of his victims. All the Colliers in Saint Jo are now dead, except for Jack. He still tends his murdered brother's beehives.
JACK COLLIER: See them working in and out there?
ALAN AUSTIN: [on camera] Frank was the main beekeeper of your brothers?
JACK COLLIER: Yeah. Yeah, he and Joe were working with them all the time. I never thought that much of them, myself.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Jack lives alone on his farm outside Saint Jo.
JACK COLLIER: Yeah, I guess the horses are down there in the barn, James.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] His nephew, James Cooksey, drives in from Dallas every few days to see if the old man is all right, and together they somehow keep the place going.
JACK COLLIER: He says feed them in the trough around there.
JAMES COOKSEY: I came to the house first, and they told me that Frank had been killed. I drove up to the store, and the store had been-
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Cooksey describes a family tortured by thoughts of the murder, every family conversation returning to the same morose subject. Cooksey is certain that the life of his mother was shortened by the tragedy and the frustration of being trapped in a story with no ending.
Jack says his goal is to outlive Clifford Boggess. Everyone is waiting for Clifford Boggess to die - Jack Collier, the Hazelwoods, me, Clifford Boggess himself - all waiting to see what the execution will reveal.
In the spring, the Supreme Court denies Boggess's last appeal, and his name appears on the list of scheduled executions- June 11, 1998. He had requested that date. It was his birthday, and he liked the idea of going out on the day he came in. With his execution imminent, Boggess has been moved to a locked-down cell. He can leave it only under heavy guard and in handcuffs.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: And I got my rosary, which is another custom-designed job. I have really big hands, and I like the extra-large beads-
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] He has switched religious from Protestant to Catholic. It seems more solid to him, and he says too many Protestants support the death penalty.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: -either have this in my pocket or hold it in my hand when I'm executed.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] His conversion became official the day he received his execution date and was more important to him, he says.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: Now, that's pretty much what I'm finishing up my time with.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] A Franciscan priest from Boston will be coming to counsel him in the last days.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: Writing some letters to some people.
ALAN AUSTIN: [on camera] Pretty busy.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: Very busy. Got my little calendar up there. I got eight days left. Counting down to June the 11th. I specifically wrote them down on there - 8, 7, 6, 5, 4 - to remind me. Home, sweet home. This is what I'm leaving behind.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] He has written a letter to the newspapers in Whitesboro and Saint Jo apologizing to friends and families of the two old men. "Yes," he writes, "I am guilty of my crimes. Like the thief on the cross at Calvary, I go willingly to meet my maker. It is my hope and prayer that this gives you some measure of peace."
But it doesn't.
JIM HAZELWOOD: [reading] "With sincerity and respect, Clifford Boggess."
ALAN AUSTIN: [on camera] What do you think of that?
[voice-over] Jim Hazelwood, Lisa's father, is contemptuous of Boggess's attempt to compare himself to the biblical thief. As usual, nothing is working. No redemption seems possible.
In Saint Jo, Jack Collier has read the letter, too, and the long-awaited news that the execution is finally about to happen. Neither brings him any peace. Instead, they have triggered the old, crushing memories so powerfully that when he tries to speak, nothing but sobs come.
Boggess has been given back his art supplies and is hurrying to finish a final drawing, a crucifixion scene, Jesus promising heaven to the thief on the cross next to him. The drawing seems to be a final pitch to God.
Conny Krispin arrives from Germany to say good-bye and attend his execution. For eight years they have been best friends, but now there is tension between them. She considers his conversion to Catholicism frantic and his plans to have his ashes scattered in France a waste of money, and has told him so. So he has turned his attention to other pen pals and given much of her visiting time to them. All his old friends are being replaced.
ROBERT ESTRADA, Defense Attorney: If he gets executed, he wants me at his execution.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Two years earlier, Boggess had asked his lawyer, Robert Estrada, to be one of the five witnesses for him.
ROBERT ESTRADA: [reading letter] "If you don't want to be there, I won't be offended. I'll understand." Well, I can't turn him down.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] But now Boggess has taken Estrada off the witness list, and he wants no members of his family to be there. He says he's replacing them all with his new Christian family.
DEBBIE: [reading letter] "May the 15th, 1998, 27 days left. Dear Debbie: Thank you for writing to me. Do not" - and he underlined "do not" - "try to come visit me. It's too late for all of that now. The time to visit would have been during the previous years that I've been here."
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] I am allowed one last visit with Clifford Boggess. I wonder if he'll show any signs of cracking under the strain or if he'll be as cocky and cheerful as ever.
[on camera] How are you doing?
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: I'm doing good. Other than the fact that I'm super, super busy trying to get everything done.
ALAN AUSTIN: Yeah.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: But other than that, I'm doing great. For me, there's nothing to be sad about.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] He insists he is now eager for death and certain of heaven. But it has occurred to him that there he might meet the two old men he murdered, Frank Collier and Roy Hazelwood.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: So I thought about it for a while and waited until late one evening. Turned out all the lights in my cell and turned off the radio and got real still and quiet and spent some time praying and asking God to open my heart and talking to Jesus and everything, and then finally addressed them by name and asked them to forgive me and apologized to them and said, you know, "I'm sorry. You didn't deserve what I did to you, and please forgive me. I wish I could take it all back. I shouldn't have done those things."
And something reached down inside my gut. I mean, it physically hurt down in my gut. And I sobbed. Not just a tear or two, but sobbed, like a cry from the gut like I hadn't had in years. And I believe in my heart that they have forgiven me.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] This isn't the first time he's talked about tears, but like other signs of sorrow or remorse, I've never seen any. The constant grin reminds me of what his Uncle Carl had said: "He's a great pretender." But which is pretense, the talk of tears or the grin? Now and then, there is a flicker of doubt that says he's not quite sure he has sealed the deal with God.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: Sometimes I have the occasional doubt of, "Yes, but what if I get to heaven and Jesus says, `Yeah, but you killed two people. That's way worse than what I was talking about in the Bible,' and sends me off to some sort of punishment?" I don't think that's going to happen now, but occasionally I guess you'd say Satan tries to tempt me with those doubts, and I chase them away and say, "No, that's ridiculous. Get out of here. I know what my Bible says."
I wonder if there's anything back there in those first couple of years of my life, if there's something there that would mitigate in my favor when it comes time for my judgment. I don't know.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] After three years, I had run out of questions.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: Oh, there will be something. June 12th, you'll think of something! You'll think of something. Yeah, June 12th, you'll think, "Oh, we should have asked him this!" Always the way it works out.
Okay. Take care. I'll see you when I see you. Might see you on down the road one of these days- decades from now.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Something should have happened, some revelation, but it hadn't. Unless it's that in the end, Clifford Boggess couldn't care any more about his own life than he had a dozen years earlier for the lives of the two old men. He'd done and said all the things he could think of to make himself fully human. He never stopped trying. It just hadn't worked.
The Hazelwood family heads for the execution. Lisa and her father, Jim, have decided they have to be there. Jack Collier, who's 97 now, has stayed behind in Saint Jo.
JIM BEATHARD, Cellmate: He is the closest friend I've had in my life. I'd do anything in the world, if I could, to stop it. The people who were my family in here are dead. The last one dies tomorrow night.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Lisa is afraid, afraid that in the death chamber Boggess may look directly at her. And what will she do if his death is agonizing? Jim Hazelwood has begun to worry about something else. Will his father soon be sharing heaven with the man who murdered him?
SHIRLEY BOGGESS: There's nothing we can do to stop it. I haven't even been able to cry for him! I cry a tear or two, and then it's gone. I can't cry no more.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] At 6:00 o'clock, Jim and Lisa Hazelwood enter the prison to witness the execution.
LISA HAZELWOOD: As we were walking across the street, I can't even describe how I felt. Scared to death, I guess.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] And then come the witnesses Boggess has chosen, three of his Christian pen pals and the Franciscan priest from Boston. His German friend, Conny Krispin, has decided not to be there.
As usual, there isn't much to see. I sit outside feeling lousy, even though inside Clifford Boggess is probably having the time of his life. I keep thinking of what his Uncle Carl said about him. "Poor little son of a bitch," he said. That seems about right.
CLIFFORD BOGGESS: I will be expecting to see something. I will be looking for Jesus.
LISA HAZELWOOD: And of course, he's looking me when I walk in. And I'm thinking, "Well, does he know who I am?" And he turns his head over, and he says, "Well, hello there!" And he said, "I'm sorry for all the pain I caused you." He said a prayer, and he took one deep breath, and he went to sleep.
PRISON SPOKESMAN: Clifford Boggess was pronounced dead at 6:21 P.M., eight minutes after the lethal chemicals were introduced. As a last statement, he wanted to say that he was sorry for the murders of Roy Hazelwood and Frank Collier. To his friends, he said he loved them, and that he was glad that they were a part of his life. He then said, "Remember that today I'll be with Jesus in paradise, and I'll see you real soon."
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] The prison chaplain, who had attended over 50 condemned men, said later that Clifford Boggess in his last hours was more at peace than any of them.
Clifford's adoptive mother, Shirley, had asked me to call when it was over.
SHIRLEY BOGGESS: [on the phone] They let him call me about an hour before the execution, and he told me that he thanked God for letting me be his mother and that he loved me. Those were the last words he said to me is, "I love you." I'm going to make it because he told me he's waiting for me.
ALAN AUSTIN: [on the phone] Mr. Collier?
JACK COLLIER: Yeah?
ALAN AUSTIN: How are you?
JACK COLLIER: All right.
ALAN AUSTIN: I know that you've learned that Clifford Boggess was executed last night. What do you think about it?
JACK COLLIER: What do I think about it? Well, I think it was okay, don't you? He was entitled to what he got, if not more. It was too easy compared to what he did to my brother, Frank. He says he went to heaven, but he says he's the one that said that. Jesus Christ I don't think said that.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] Did it make sense to execute Clifford Boggess? Did the relief and the sorrow it brought others add up to justice? Did killing him lend dignity to the two old men he murdered or only diminish us all? And had the execution actually punished Clifford Boggess?
Three months afterwards, Lisa Hazelwood says she's glad she doesn't have to think about Clifford Boggess anymore, doesn't have to wonder what he's doing. Even so, his death had not been enough.
LISA HAZELWOOD: And the fact that he got to pick his birthday- that still just- I mean, I suppose if that's the way you want to do it, that's fine. My Paw-Paw didn't get to chose the day he died. He got to choose his- I mean, he- I just feel like it was too easy. And yeah, I felt like he finally got what he wanted in the very end. He had accepted it. He had time to accept it. He had time to get things right with his life and to have God in his life and- you know, that's not- you can't say that for these other two men. We don't know whether they had God in their life or whether it was right and- they had no time to say good-bye, and this man did.
ALAN AUSTIN: [voice-over] I got an envelope from him postmarked June 11th, the day he was executed, a photo of one of his last paintings, the execution as he expected to see it, a door in the prison wall, a tunnel and a light.
The ashes of Clifford Boggess were mailed to one of his pen pals in Europe. She would carry them to the monastery at Saint Remy, France, where Vincent van Gogh was once confined, and scatter them there, just as Boggess had planned.
JACK COLLIER: He earned it.
ALAN AUSTIN: [on camera] His execution?
JACK COLLIER: His execution, yes. I think that he ought to feel like that he's getting his money's worth. A guy that could commit the kind of murders that he did- I just can't imagine a guy like that, can you?
ANNOUNCER: Explore FRONTLINE's Web site and go further inside the mind of Clifford Boggess. Look at his paintings, read his letters to the victims' families, watch Boggess as he describes the murders and also his early life, and read the reflections of some people who felt close to him and much more at www.pbs.org.
ANNOUNCER: Next time on FRONTLINE: After the cold war, Russian experts say that their nuclear warheads have been dismantled and stolen. Dozens of nuclear briefcase bombs are unaccounted for, and the Russian early-warning system is disintegrating. FRONTLINE investigates he frightening evidence of a continued Russian nuclear threat in Russian Roulette. Watch FRONTLINE in two weeks.
CREDITS DURING THE PREVIEW
Produced and Directed by
Michael A. Dawson
YOUNG BOGGESS AT THE PIANO
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
KFDX-TV Wichita Falls, Texas
Major Catherine Cox, Salvation Army
Saint Jo High School, Saint Jo, Texas
Hilliard Funeral Home
Cooke County Library, Gainesville
St. Vincent dePaul
Gainesville, Texas Police Dept.
Michael A. Dawson
Julie A. Parker
LoConte Goldman Design
The Caption Center
SENIOR STAFF ASSOCIATE
Lee Ann Donner
Karen Carroll Bennett
SENIOR EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
A FRONTLINE coproduction with
First Light Productions
WGBH EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION
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