My name is Conny Krispin, I live in Germany with my husband Thomas and our
3-year-old daughter Lena. This is a short account of what the friendship with
Cliff meant for me, how it has changed my life - and how I changed his.|
What can I tell you about this man you just saw on your TV screen - a killer
that has been one of my closest friends, like a brother, whom I watched growing
from an indifferent un-caring brutal murderer into a compassionate man able to
share the Grace that he had received - and who seemed to revert back into old
patterns of behavior as his short life drew to a close... Who became my mentor
and teacher in growing as a Christian and whom in the end I had to show "tough
love" in not compromising with things that were clearly hurtful to others -
whom I saw almost slip away from his Faith before he finally slipped into the
hands of his Savior.
How can I tell Cliff's story without excusing anything he did and yet emphasize
the changes he went through - how can I do this without causing more hurt?
Maybe that's not possible at all.
We started out as pen-pals, very superficial, at times naïve - just two
young people trying to get to know each other's circumstances and share a bit
of the worlds we lived in.
For the first few years, I had been one of Cliff's primary contacts with the
freeworld - and then one of those very rare visitors. Over the years, we felt
like we were "growing up" together - we both became Christians (and that was
the major turning point in both of our lives), we both had to deal with issues
like forgiveness, anger, self-control etc. We discovered that we were very much
alike in many areas, such as childhood experiences with various forms of abuses
etc. Thus, we were able to help each other get on with our lives. And it was a
mutual help. I had more access to books, counseling material, etc., he had more
time to really think through things, and for a while this was a good team work.
However, conflict is prone to happen in any kind of relationship, and ours was
Looking back, I think one of the major threats for Cliff concerning our
friendship was when my daughter was born. He had been depending on me for a lot
of things, especially reassurement of his worth as a human being, and even
sometimes for his salvation.
Now, when I had this baby, I suddenly did not have all that time anymore to
write him every other day or at least once a week. Also, I had not expected
that becoming a mother would change my life so much - one of those things that
you simply have to experience to understand... But there she was, and my focus
shifted from caring for my friend on Death Row to caring for my baby, though of
course I still did care for Cliff. It was almost as he had been dethroned from
his position of the only child by this new baby (though it took me a long time
to realize that) - and he fought this, of course.
It was not until two days before his execution that Cliff was able to admit
that he had been jealous of Lena and her place in my life. Maybe it did not fit
his image of being a friend to be jealous - it certainly was not the reaction
of a mature man, but of a hurting little kid wanting love and attention so
badly, and I understand about it - but the emotions were there and they were
real. We were finally able to deal with them, very, very late, but better late
Besides Lena and the jealousy, there were so many other things to deal with in
these last months and weeks - I often wondered about my position in all this,
what my job was - and what it really meant to be a friend to a man on Death Row
whose days were very explicitly numbered, and who was hurting in so many ways
that he seemed like kicking around in panic - and mostly kicking those he
loved, for the things they did out of love for him. It is one form of detaching
oneself from relationships in order to make it easier to go - though it was a
tough one for those that stayed behind and had to deal with the additional
I realized that my "job assignment" was not so much the encouraging and
supporting of the early years anymore, but pointing out the unresolved feelings
of anger and resentment that were surfacing in many areas, admonishing and
correcting him wherever it was necessary. It was not easy, and I got to wanting
to quit many times. But then, what is a friend? Who, if not a friend, could
rebuke in love and help with the repercussions... I found some personal
encouragement in the Bible "Wounds of a friend can be trusted, but an enemy
multiplies kisses." (Proverbs 27:6) - and I was not disappointed with the
results of this tough love. About eight hours before Cliff's death, we were
able to reconcile, to cry over hurts we had been inflicting on each other, to
forgive and to let go. Yes, I believe with all my heart that Cliff had peace at
the end of his journey. And I did, too.
I know that for the victim's families it is not all that easy, and I do
understand. I have seen the photos of the crime scenes, I have heard Cliff's
confessions in details he never had shared before - and I know that there is
nothing that can be done anymore than to ask for forgiveness.
One of the last things Cliff asked me was "Do you regret ever meeting me?" and
I can say now as I said then, no, for I have learned a lot about life and
death, about the value of time together, about how important it is to teach our
children acceptance and values, to discipline them in the right way in the
right time in their lives - and most of all, that people CAN change, that God
is able to break hardened hearts and soften them in the healing process, and
how important it is to stay on track with it, to not shy away from the tougher
issues that need to be dealt with - and all of this will keep on playing an
important part in my life.
A final note about not attending the execution:
Of course I had always thought I would attend the execution, if it ever would
come that far. In the process of preparation, however, I came to the
realization that it was not necessary for me to be there. I know that might
sound strange. Let me explain: I knew Cliff would go in peace; I knew his soul
would be with Jesus - there was not the slightest doubt about it.
He also said it would be almost easier for him to go if he would not see those
he left behind grieving. I had sought a lot of counsel about this decision, and
finally, I felt God speaking to me, reminding me to a song I had written a few
years ago called "When I close my eyes", where it says
Do we weep for the flesh
So basically I chose to focus on what happened with Cliff's soul rather than
what was done to his body. Again, this was no easy decision, but a healthy one
that I have not regretted. I know that for others it was important to SEE that
Cliff was "dying well" and in peace, and that is ok, of course.
Or rejoice for the soul
Here's a decision to make
How do we choose
When it comes to the final exam
Of our hope, of our Faith, our beliefs
For we all have to close our eyes
I hope I could provide you with some additional insights into the life of
Clifford H. Boggess - thank you for caring enough to read this.