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boggess being arrested after the murders
a letter from boggess to lisa hazelwood


December 2, 1995

Ms. Lisa Hazelwood,

I'm sorry it has taken so long to answer your letter. This has without a doubt been the most difficult letter I have ever written in my life and I wanted it to be "right." I've done my absolute best to convey my thoughts and feelings to you accurately. If my thinking seems disordered or jumbled on occasion, please bear with me. There is a lot that needs to be said and deciding just what order to put it in is difficult at best. Thus, the delay in answering you.

Before I go any further I would like to assure you that no matter what I say to answer your questions or explain things, NOTHING I say is intended to JUSTIFY my past conduct. (In the words of King David in Psalms 51:3, "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.") There is no justification for what I have done and I accept responsibility for my actions. What I did was wrong , HORRIBLY wrong, and it CANNOT be justified. This letter is NOT and "excuse."

For the killing of Mr. Hazelwood, your PaPa, I am as sorry as a human heart can be, and I apologize from the deepest depths of my soul to you, and to your entire family. There is not a day that goes by that I don't feel and agonize under the immensely heavy burden of what I have done. [And this is as it should be!] I know words are so inadequate in situations like this, but the truth is: I did it, I am guilty, and I am sorry. I would gladly do anything in the world, make any sacrifice, to bring your Grandpa back to you. As God Almighty is my witness I swear to you, if my execution would bring your Grandpa back to life, I would willingly drop all my appeals this instant. But sadly, there is nothing that I can do. My death won't bring him back. It will only create another grave, another funeral, another set of mourners overburdened by their grief. [My family. I deserve whatever happens to me, but my family doesn't deserve any punishment, just as your family doesn't deserve what happened.] I am sorry that I can't bring your loved one back to you. I sincerely wish that I could.

In March of 1989 I gave my heart and life to Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior and was baptized in the prison chapel. This is not a case of "Jailhouse Religion" as there is no purpose to that "scam" on Death Row; I am not up for parole and religious conversion is not considered by the courts in appeals. It is something I had to do for myself and in response to God's promptings when the Holy Spirit convicted my heart....

... Grief, anger, hatred, vengeance... all of these things eat at a person from the inside. They must be dealt with for the sake of your own health, both mental and spiritual. I am not the only one who feels this way. The scriptures agree with me. (Matthew 6:14-15, "14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.") Here also is a quote from a recent Ann Landers column that made me think of how some members of your family might be feelings. Here is the quote from her column:

To Ann Landers

"...Our family is struggling to deal with our anger and outrage over the murder. There are so many unanswered questions: How long did she lie there suffering and bleeding before she died? Was she conscious through it all? We pray not. Did she call for anyone? If so, who? Our pain will never end. When I read letters about protecting criminals from "cruel & inhumane treatment", my blood boils. How many of those animals thought about the cruel and inhumane treatment of their victims? I have zero sympathy for them.

--M. in Fla.

Dear Fla.

You have every right to be bitter and angry, but there is nothing you can do to help your daughter, so I hope you will try to help yourself.

If you haven't had grief counseling, I urge you to do so. You need to come to terms with your loss, let go of your anger and find peace. I hope writing to me will be the first step toward the final resolution."

I'm including in this letter a newspaper article that may be of some interest to you. Also, I would encourage you to get in touch with members of an organization called Murder Victim's Families for Reconciliation. They are victim's families, just like you, and they can help you with your grief and pain. They put out a newspaper entitled "The Voice." Here is how you can get in touch with them.

The Voice
Murder Victim's Families for Reconciliation (MVFR)
P.O. Box 208
Atlantic, VA 23303-0208
Phone: 804-824-0948

... And now I will try to answer the rest of the questions in your letter. I'll start with a specific question from your letter, (underlined), and try to answer that specific question before going on to the next one.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO DESTROY MY FAMILY? The simplest reason for the crime is that your Grandpa was known to carry a large amount of cash in his pocket and this was a robbery that became a murder. And the main reason for the murder was that, at the time, I thought it would keep me from being identified later. If I couldn't be identified, it meant I might not get caught. At the time I was young, stupid, full of anger and emotional problems, not thinking about others, or caring about them or myself, and I was selfish, greedy and sinful. You are right in saying I "chose" to do what I did. Although there are many contributing factors that made me who I am, etc., nobody was there to actually "make" me do anything. I "chose" and I chose wrongly.

WHAT WERE YOU THINKING WHEN I WALKED INTO THE GAS STATION THAT DAY? (If I had been alone would you have killed me too?) When you walked into the station that day I was "waiting" for everyone to leave. I was waiting for everyone who might identify me or attack me to leave the store. No, I would not have killed you too. I honestly don't think I could have killed a girl even at this extreme time in my life. Nor could I have killed a child. Even though I was "psyched up" to do a vicious and terrible thing, I was also filled with adrenaline and fear, and felt almost as if I was forcing myself to do something I knew was horribly wrong. Because of this fear, I didn't want anyone else around. I was waiting for everyone to leave.

TRY TO PUT INTO WORDS WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND AND WHAT LEAD UP TO YOU KILLING HIM. I want to restate that none of what I say is intended as an "excuse" for what I did, but merely an explanation. Many things occurring in life contribute to who we all become as people. No one thing justifies anything we do later, but each "straw" on the "camel's back" adds to the total effect. Having said that, let me start with a brief history. (i don't expect you to feel sorry for me, but perhaps it will help answer your questions of "Why?".)

I was born to a Manic-Depressive & Alcoholic mother, the 8th child and the 5th one fathered by her illicit affair with her husband's boss. Her lover killed himself and this drove her into more despair and alcoholism. There was a lot of abuse in this house. I was left in a play-pen alone, not fed or cared for properly, and beaten occasionally if I cried too much. I have an Aunt who can remember coming to visit and seeing bruises on my arms when I was six months old. At the age of 11 months, the State of Georgia (where I was born) came in with the police and took me away from my family "due to severe neglect and abuse". I have seen the paperwork from the state welfare department on this. I was pulled from the arms of my (then) 8-year-old sister. The State took all children away from the family. Later, as they got their house in order, children were gradually given back to the family, beginning with the oldest first. When it was time to give me back, my mother told them "I've got too many kids already. I don't need another one, especially an infant." I then belonged to the State, she signed away her parental rights, and I was put up for adoption. I was suffering from some mental, emotional, and physical deficiencies. I was put through two different Foster homes until my health seemed better, and at the age of 2 was adopted by a man from Texas, (a 20-year naval man), and his wife. At the age of 4 they divorced and I was sent to Texas to be raised by the people I call my Grandparents. I was a victim of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome which causes some emotional impairment. I was also born Manic-Depressive, although nobody knew it at the time. In addition, one of the Grandparents who raised me was filled with bitter resentment toward me because she didn't want me there, but wasn't asked about it first. Her overbearing resentment over the years, plus the fact that it was a completely dysfunctional family totally lacking in communication skills or the ability to show love, plus my childhood ailments that nobody knew about at the time, all created an emotionally bankrupt childhood that lead to all kinds of emotional problems that essentially guaranteed I would be a "screw up" of one kind or another in my adult life. I never felt a part of a family, knowing from childhood that I was "adopted" and that "these people" weren't my real family. I was always haunted by the fact that my real mother didn't want me and gave me away. I never EVER felt truly loved or wanted anywhere in my life as a child. None of my emotional needs were ever met. In addition, although physical abuse was never more than an occasional slap or spanking with a board, switch, or rubber hose (once), as a 10 year old boy I endured some sexual abuse by an older cousin that scarred me for life.

All of these things were contributing factors. As a young adult I quickly fell prey to the crowd of drinkers and drug users because of the "easy acceptance" available there. I became a drug abuser and alcoholic. I was suffering black-out drunks by the time I was 21. I dropped out of college because of drugs. I tried the army and later got kicked out because of my drugs and alcoholism. (I was physically and intellectually very capable, yet all the while the emotional problems were contributing to my slow downward spiral in life. I was steadily acquiring more inner rage, more alienation from society, and less feeling for the "world" that seemed to have done so much wrong to me.)

After the army I returned to Texas and bounced around from one job to another, partying and doing more drugs and alcohol. My life was going nowhere and so was I. I had talked to my Dad about going back to college, and he demanded that I earn my first semester's tuition myself. I began to save money. I began working out at a gym, quit drugs for 2 months, quit cigarettes for 6 weeks, and quit beer for 2 weeks (the hardest thing for me to quit). I thought I was fixing to get my life together. The, on the way to a job one morning, the pick-up motor blew apart. This meant that my money-for-college would have to go to auto repair. There went my plans to return to college and thus "fix" my life. Whether because of mental impairment, bad genetics, Satanic influence, Original Sin, or whatever, when this happened something "snapped" inside me and on that exact day, (June 13, 1986), I ceased to care about anybody or anything in life, including myself. I went out and bought a case of beer, 5 hits of LSD, some Methamphetamine (speed) for intravenous use, some cigarettes, and began a VERY self-destructive "spree" of drugs & crime that ended 65 days later with me in jail suspected (& guilty) of two murders...

... I sincerely hope and pray that you will write to me again. I'm guessing that you will share this letter with family members, and perhaps they will have additional questions as well. Please feel free to ask me anything. I have nothing to hide anymore. I want to help you all that I can.

Alan Austin said your mother said I had turned your Christian family into a distrustful & vengeful one, and wanted to know what I had to say about it. Other than "As God is my witness, I am TRULY sorry" all I can do to explain is say that I was a sinful man & a slave of Satan, following Satan's ways. Once I was the man described in Romans 1:28-32. (Please read the verses.) But thanks be to God, through his grace I realized my need, and threw myself on the mercy of the blood of Jesus. [John 3:16, Romans 10:9-10, John 5:24, Romans 8:1, Isaiah 55:7, Ezekial 18:23, 27-28, Ezekial 36:26, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 John 1:8-2:2] I can only hope that now, for your own sakes and because of the Scriptures, you can give your grief to Jesus and find his love and forgiveness in your hearts. [Mark 11:25, Luke 17:4, Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13, Matthew 6:14-15] And it is my sincerest hope and prayer that some day, by God's grace, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we may have love for one another. [Mark 12:30-31, John 13:35, 1 John 4:7-12, Matthew 5:38-48, Luke 6:27-38.]

I am sorry; I repent of my sins; I beg your forgiveness. May God's grace and mercy and peace be yours, now and always.

A Disciple of Christ.
By God's Grace,
Clifford Boggess

read hazelwood's response

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