Writing to a Convicted Murderer – Part II

In a previous post, I wrote about my struggle with writing to a convicted murderer, and gave you some tips for composing your own letter. I hope that post was helpful to some of you aspiring true crime writers out there, and I hope it helped you with your research.

If you click back to my post “How to Write to a Convicted Murderer,” you’ll see that I mentioned that I never mailed the letter. Well, I finally finished it, and it’s about to go out in the mail. I’ve included the letter I wrote below, and hope you can get some ideas and tips for your letter from it.

Dear Mr. Connolly,

I have begun this letter at least a dozen times on paper and in my head. I guess it’s because I’m not even sure entirely what to say, nor am I sure that you’ll write back to me, although I do hope you will. Knowing exactly what to say or what to ask is difficult. I’ve only ever written to one other inmate before in my life, and that was my brother (when he had to serve time in a Parish jail). But writing to him was, as I’m sure you can imagine, quite different.

I suppose I could begin by telling you a little something about myself. I’m ## years old, happily married, and have children ranging in age from ## months to to ## years old. I live in Texas, but I’m originally from Louisiana. I was born in ######### (and here I hope you’ll keep reading) and lived there until my family moved away in 1990.

I have a master’s degree in Education and a Ph.D. In English, though I no longer teach at the college level. Instead, I spend my days at home now with my toddlers, and I mostly enjoy doing so since I couldn’t do the same with my older children. I spent the majority of their childhoods as a single mom working and going to school. But I think that’s enough about me for now.

I must be honest Mr. Connolly. You were a difficult man to find. What I mean by that is I originally thought you were on death row. I even had an address for you there from Cell Door Magazine Online. But it appears you no longer are, and so I hope I’ve addressed this letter correctly and that it reaches you.

As I mentioned earlier in the letter, I am originally from ########## – I feel it’s best to get that out in the open now because I don’t want to be untruthful with you in any way (transparency is always best, I think) – but I don’t personally know you and never met you. Though I suppose it’s possible you went to school with my mother, if you attended ####### High School in the mid to late 1970s. I also think you have a younger brother who joined the military, and who was good friends with my uncle back when they were teenagers in the 1980’s (my uncle’s last name was Lile), but I can’t say for certain now because my uncle passed away several years ago. You might have even known other relatives or family members of mine (my maiden name is ##### ). ######### is and always has been a small town, and it seems like most people there know a ######.

In the spirit of being as honest and transparent, I should also tell you that in the early 80’s, when I was around 3-5 years old, my family and I lived next door to the Pullen family on Duke St. I guess you could say my brother and I (but mostly my brother) were, at one time, childhood friends with Perry Jr. I also have a few vague memories of Shane when he was a baby and I was no older than 4 or 5. Other than that I have no connection to the Pullen family. But that’s not what this letter is about.

This letter is to introduce myself and ask if you will correspond with me. If so, maybe you can share with me any mail rules I need to know and any topics you’d like to discuss or not discuss in future letters. All too often prisoners are dehumanized because of the crimes they have been convicted of, but I’m hoping that by corresponding with you I can humanize you and get to know you as a person. I hope to hear back from you soon.

You can write to me at the following address:
##############
##############
##############
Sincerely,
JM

As you can see, it’s pretty concise and to the point. While I hope that writing to this inmate will open up a dialogue about the crime he was convicted of, but I also realize that it may be something he isn’t prepared to talk about, and I give him the opportunity to make it an off-limits topic. I was honest, up front, and transparent with him, and I followed my own tips for writing to a convicted murderer. Hopefully, this will inspire you to write your own letter!


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