This Longform Reprint is reprinted by permission of author.
Late one afternoon in January of 1993, a hand-drawn map, transmitted by fax machine, arrived at the police station in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. The map depicted a cemetery in Wellfleet. It had been found in a pickup truck in Maryland that belonged to a homeless man named Hadden Clark. A detective in Maryland had sent it. As a child, Clark had spent summers in Wellfleet at the house of his grandfather, Silas Clark. Silas, his wife, and their son, Hadden, Sr., were buried side by side in the cemetery portrayed on the map.
Two months before the map arrived, Hadden Clark had been arrested in Bethesda, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, for the murder of a young woman named Laura Houghteling. Clark had worked several hours a week as her family’s gardener. In warm weather, he lived at a camp in woods a few miles from the Houghtelings’ house. At the camp, he had a bed, a table, chairs, some books, and what he called “tree-to-tree carpeting.” The rest of the time, he slept in the back of his pickup truck, in places such as church parking lots, where he thought no one would bother him. Laura Houghteling failed to show up one day for work-it was October 19, 1992. Within a few days, a pillowcase was found in a small strip of woods not far from the family’s house. On the pillowcase was some blood, which turned out to be Houghteling’s, and faintly embedded in the blood were several ridges of a fingerprint that was eventually identified as Clark’s.
On the map of the Wellfleet cemetery, in the area where his father and his grandparents were buried, Clark had drawn an “X.” The Maryland detective asked the Wellfleet police if they would see whether anything seemed out of the ordinary in the vicinity of the “X.” Laura Houghteling’s body had not been found, and what the detective had in mind was that Clark might have buried her in the cemetery.
The chief of police in Wellfleet is Richard Rosenthal. He and one of his sergeants drove down a sand road in the cemetery until they came to the ground by some oak trees where the Clarks have their graves. “It was cold,” Rosenthal says, “getting dark, and right in front of the grave marked ‘Hadden Clark, Sr.,’ it was clear that the earth had been disturbed.” Rosenthal called the Massachusetts State Police, and said that “there might be a body buried in the cemetery.” The next day, a state policewoman arrived with a dog that had been trained to find human remains, a cadaver-recovery dog.
“We’re in the cemetery, and the officer starts rubbing the dog,” Rosenthal says. “She’s saying, ‘You want to go to work, you ready to work?,’ getting him excited, and then she says, ‘O.K., go to work, find it, go find it.’ The dog runs back and forth among the graves-nobody’s pointed him in any direction, they don’t want to give him any idea where he should be looking-and in about thirty seconds he’s by the disturbed piece of ground, and he’s digging furiously.”
Rather than dig anymore, Rosenthal called the police in Maryland. A couple of detectives arrived two days later. “We get shovels and dig up the spot, me and the Massachusetts State Police and the detectives from Maryland, and nothing’s there,” Rosenthal says. “Dig a little more. Still nothing. It’s winter, it’s cold, damp, and we’re standing around a hole in the ground, looking at each other and shaking our heads. I know now what happened-I know most of what happened, anyway-but for eight years I didn’t know anything.”
On the morning of October 19, 1992, a housekeeper for a neighbor of the Houghtelings was waiting for a bus across the street from their house. She was accustomed to seeing Laura and her mother, Penny, leave for work together. On that day, Penny Houghteling, a psychotherapist, who was divorced, was attending a conference in North Carolina. Someone the housekeeper took to be Laura came out the front door, wearing tan pants and a trenchcoat and carrying a black handbag. The figure, it turned out, was Hadden Clark. He sometimes liked to dress as a woman.
That evening, Laura’s brother, Warren, organized friends to look for his sister. When they didn’t find her, he called the police. The next day, Penny Houghteling returned home. Among other things, she mentioned to the police that before she left she had told Hadden Clark that she would be gone for a week and wouldn’t need him to work.
The police called a number where Clark received messages and asked him to visit the station for a talk. The next afternoon, he gave them an account of where he had been for the last few days. Then he left. On his way out, he began crying; he later said it was because he felt so bad for Penny and Warren.
The following evening, the police turned off the lights in Laura’s bedroom and sprayed the floor and the bed with chemicals that detect the presence of blood that can’t otherwise be seen-blood that has been cleaned up, for example. When the chemicals come into contact with blood, they produce a luminescence that is like the color of phosphorus in seawater. Nothing appeared on the floor, but nearly the entire mattress lit up.
A few hours later, the police stopped Clark’s truck, and he got out of it. A detective named Ed Tarney asked him if he had seen Laura Houghteling. He said, “I’m so scared,” and started crying. Tarney said that there was nothing to be afraid of, and Clark got down on one knee and said, “Oh, God, I just want to die.” Tarney took him to the police station. Clark was wearing a T-shirt and jeans and a woollen sailor’s cap. Tarney asked him whether he thought Laura was pretty. He said that he hadn’t paid much attention to her. When Tarney asked, on a hunch, what he had done with her, he pulled the cap down over his face and refused to say another word.
“We didn’t know what we had at that point,” Tarney says. “We knew we had a nut, but was this head case smart enough to hide her body and clean up the crime scene? We just didn’t know if he was that sophisticated.” The police let him go because they had no evidence on which to press charges, but they kept an eye on him.
The next Sunday, Clark attended church, and in the collection plate he left a note that said:
Hadden I. Clark homeless
Is life really worth living any
More or is it time to commit suicide.
Around the twenty-ninth of October, the police gave up watching Clark. A week later, they identified his fingerprint on the pillowcase, and on the night of November 6th they found his truck in a church parking lot. Peering through a window of the truck’s cap, they saw him asleep, with his arms around a Teddy bear. When they told him that he was under arrest for the murder of Laura Houghteling, he said, “O.K.” At the police station, they left him in a room and watched him through a one-way mirror. He looked around, he shifted in his seat, and then he leaned over and said to his Teddy bear, “Not getting out of this one.”
A few weeks before Clark’s trial was to begin, in June, an inmate at the county detention center where Clark was being held told the police that Clark had been sitting at a picnic table in the yard one day while some prisoners were playing volleyball. The ball rolled over to him, and they asked him to throw it back, but he didn’t. He was sitting with his head in his hands, and he was crying and saying, “I shouldn’t have killed her, I shouldn’t have killed her.” The day before the trial, Clark pleaded guilty to second-degree murder; he received a sentence of thirty years. A few days later, he led the police to Laura Houghteling’s body, which he had buried in Rockville, next to Bethesda, in woods near a highway exit ramp.
Laura Houghteling was not the first person Hadden Clark killed. In May of 1986, he killed a six-year-old girl named Michele Dorr, who had disappeared from her father’s house in Silver Spring, Maryland. Michele’s parents were in the midst of a spiteful divorce, and the girl lived with her mother and visited her father on weekends. Carl Dorr, Michele’s father, told the police that his daughter had vanished after he had filled a wading pool for her in the back yard and then gone inside to watch the Indianapolis 500 on TV. He said that he had last seen her a little after two o’clock, when she came inside for a towel.
Hadden Clark was living two doors away, in the basement of his brother Geoffrey’s house. Geoffrey had a daughter a little older than Michele, and the girls sometimes played together. The police spoke to Clark, and during the interview he threw up. He had arrived at work, though, at 2:45 in the afternoon, and the police decided that there hadn’t been sufficient time for him to kill Michele, dispose of her body, and show up at his job.
After Laura Houghteling’s murder, Ed Tarney became convinced that Clark had also killed Michele Dorr. In 1995, Carl Dorr told him that he had last seen his daughter not at two o’clock but perhaps as much as an hour earlier. Whenever Tarney questioned Clark, however, he said he’d had nothing to do with her disappearance. A year later, an inmate at the prison where Clark was serving time told Tarney that Clark had talked about killing Michele Dorr. The inmate asked Clark why he had done it, and he’d said that he hadn’t meant to. In the fall of 1998, Tarney and another detective brought Clark to an interrogation room and left him to sit by himself. He began making a series of gestures he sometimes makes and that he says are American Sign Language. He sang a song:
He’s still working on me
To make me what I ought to be.
Took Him just a week to make the moon
and the stars, sun and the earth
And Jupiter and Mars. . .
How loving and patient He must be. . .
He’s still working on me.
There really ought to be a sign upon my
Don’t judge her yet, there’s an unfinished
But I’ll be perfect just according to His
Fashioned by the Master’s loving hand.
Tarney and the detective came into the room and hung a poster-size photograph of Michele Dorr on the wall. The photograph had appeared time after time in newspapers and on television, and when they asked if he knew who she was, he said, “Yup.” In one of his storage lockers, the police had found a collection of tools that a landlord of Clark’s said Clark had stolen from him. Tarney showed Clark pictures of the tools and asked if he could identify them. “That’s mine,” he said. “I got that from my grandfather’s workshop . . . That’s mine. I got it when I was in high school . . . This was an old vise that came out of my grandfather’s shop up in Wellfleet . . . He used these tools to tune pianos,” and so on. They showed him a collection of Chinese coins.
“Money, my coin collection,” Clark said.
“You speak Chinese?” Tarney said.
“You speak Chinese?”
“Yup, I speak German.”
“You speak Chinese?”
There was a pause, then Clark said, “I don’t speak Chinese. But I listen to Chinese music. I listen to a lot of different types of music. I listen to Chinese music. I listen to Mexican music, too. Caribbean. I like Caribbean music, too.”
About an hour had gone by when Tarney placed a document several pages long on the table in front of Clark-a warrant charging him with Michele Dorr’s murder. The other detective then asked if Clark wanted some coffee, and he said he did, and the detectives went to get it. They knew that Clark had a habit of talking to himself, and they wanted to see what he might say. He turned the pages of the warrant. He said, “Oh, well.” He took the picture of Michele Dorr from the wall and put it face down on the table. He sat with his elbows on his knees and clasped his hands. He said, “Oh, well, going to court.” He read slowly through the pages. He rubbed his chin. He said, “Oh, well, I’m the Rockville Rocket, the Rockville Rocket, that’s me.” Then, “This could be just a bunch of bullshit to try and break me.” He spread his elbows on the table and put his head down on the warrant with such force that someone opened the door and said, “You all right?” Then Clark folded the warrant, put it in his pocket, and sat back and waited for his coffee.
In October, 1999, Clark was tried for the murder of Michele Dorr. The doctors who examined him concluded that he was fit to stand trial. The prosecution relied on remarks he had made to other convicts, and Clark was found guilty and given another thirty years.
Shortly before last Christmas, Clark began describing murders for which he has not been charged. He says that he killed a girl “named Sarah” in Massachusetts, in 1985, and that he consumed some of her remains before burying her in Wellfleet. The details of his description of the girl and her disappearance match those of a girl named Sarah Pryor, who vanished that year from Wayland, a suburb of Boston. In addition, he has described two murders on Cape Cod. One is of a woman whom he says he met in Vermont in 1975 or 1976 and drove to Wellfleet, then killed and buried on his grandfather’s property. Her body has not been found. He also says that he killed a woman who is buried in the Provincetown cemetery under a marker that says “Unidentified Female Body Found Race Point Dunes July 26, 1974.” In newspaper stories, she is often referred to as “the Lady in the Dunes.”
Two years after Clark pleaded guilty to killing Laura Houghteling, the Wellfleet police searched for Michele Dorr’s body in the cemetery with another cadaver dog. This one was trained to lie down when it detected the scent of a corpse. Left to wander among the graves, the dog passed one headstone after another until it arrived at the Clark family plot, and then it circled the family’s graves and lay down where the other dog had burrowed. This past January, and again in April, the Maryland police, along with the F.B.I., brought Clark to Wellfleet hoping to find Sarah Pryor and the woman from Vermont. So far, they haven’t found the remains of either of them, and it is possible that Clark’s accounts of both murders are imaginary.
I heard about Clark last winter from Richard Rosenthal, the Wellfleet police chief. The name Hadden Clark was obscurely familiar to me, but I couldn’t figure out why until my mother told me that he and I had played together occasionally as children. I must have been very young, because I don’t remember it. My parents built a house in Wellfleet in 1952. One of Hadden’s uncles was a plumber in town, and he dug my family’s well. Sometimes, when he came to repair the pump, my mother says, he brought Hadden with him. I have an incomplete memory of standing beside a skinny, shivering boy named Hadden (swimming lessons, Gull Pond), but Clark has told me that he didn’t learn to swim in Wellfleet. Most of his time in Wellfleet, he says, was spent in the woods around his grandfather’s house.
Clark’s murder of the young woman in Wellfleet, in 1975 or 1976, was of particular interest to me because, at the time, I was a policeman in Wellfleet. I had just graduated from college, with a degree in music. I had never seen people threaten each other and look as though they meant it; I had never seen people really scared; I had never seen someone hanging from a rope he had strung from the ceiling. One of the men I worked with had been a policeman in Washington, D. C., and he used to say that everything he had seen in Washington he eventually saw in Wellfleet, too. What I think he left out, at least what I never saw, was an example of what I would call evil. I think of evil as the ability to see another person as an offering for your amusement-as prey.
I was inept as a policeman, but I was also doing the best that I could. It never occurred to me while I was crashing police cars or sleeping in the woods when I should have been on patrol that anything serious might have been happening somewhere else in the town. I used to drive slowly past Silas Clark’s house late at night and shine the police car’s spotlight into the woods, looking for deer. It makes me shudder to think that on one of those nights I might have illuminated a man engaged in digging a grave.
Last November, Clark was transferred to a prison where he shared a cell with another murderer, a man who has a beard and long hair. Soon after they met, Clark told his cellmate that God had recently visited him and had shaken his hand and said that he was sending someone to hear his sins. “I know who you are,” Clark said. “You’re Jesus.” Not long ago, I wrote to Clark, asking if I might talk to him. When I received no reply, I wrote to Jesus-because he is a confidential informer, I cannot use his name-and one night I got a collect call from him.
After we had talked for a while, Jesus said that he would ask Clark to call me. The only complication, he said, was that Clark believes himself to have two personalities. The second personality belongs to Kristen Bluefin, a woman. Kristen says that she committed the murders, and that Clark is blameless. When she takes over Clark’s personality, he is apparently unaware of what she is up to-until she withdraws.
I asked Jesus what Kristen was like, and he said, “The whole demeanor to me changes when he’s Kristen. When you talk to Hadden sometimes, he’ll bow his head and talk with his eyes closed and constantly fiddle with his watch. He’s kind of slow and a little retarded. Kristen is smart and evil. You can see there’s nothing behind the eyes with Kristen-it’s unnerving. I can easily visualize him in a car, dressed in women’s clothes, with a butcher knife, riding the roads and looking for a victim.”
Clark was born on July 31, 1952, in Troy, New York. His father was an industrial chemist. As a toddler, he walked unsteadily and was slow to talk. When he was four, his mother took him to the Yale Child Study Center, where he was diagnosed as having some brain damage and a mild form of cerebral palsy. His parents were unhappily married. His father drank, and tended to become violent when he did. He changed jobs frequently, and the family sometimes moved as often as once a year. They spent the summers in Wellfleet, where Silas Clark, who had once been the mayor of White Plains, New York, had retired.
In addition to his younger brother, Geoffrey, Clark has a younger sister, Alison, and an older brother, Bradfield, who is in prison in California. In 1984, Bradfield was a graduate student in social psychology and needed only to write his dissertation to receive his doctorate. He invited a woman he worked with and her husband to dinner at his apartment. Something prevented the husband from going, and his wife went alone. Bradfield dismembered her and hid her remains in the trunk of his car. He has said that he was drinking heavily at the time and that he has no recollection of what happened. According to Geoffrey, Hadden and Bradfield never had much to do with each other.
“Hadden was always strange,” Geoffrey says. “He was always different. As a child, he’d ignore people when they asked him a question sometimes, or run away. It wasn’t that he was being rude. The concept of rude wasn’t there for him. It’s like someone who doesn’t taste sweet. If you give them a plate of strawberries, they’re not going to taste them. ‘Rude’ didn’t occur to him. As he got older, a lot of his emotional development didn’t move beyond being eight or ten. As a kid, he did a lot of impulsive things, but it didn’t matter. As he got older, it began to matter. There were a lot of times when I got hurt from something stupid he did. I have the scars. One time, we were riding our bikes, and we were trying to learn to ride one-handed, and I told him not to ride too close to me, but he did, and we were just learning, so we didn’t have that much control, and he swerved in front of me, and I fell and hit my head. Hadden ran home, and when he saw my parents he said, ‘Don’t worry, the bike’s all right.’ ”
Clark did poorly in school. His classmates either teased him or ignored him. He was held back twice, and at ten was placed in a special school, where he did better. At fifteen, he was sent to a conventional school again and fell behind. When he was sixteen, a woman who had hired him to work in her yard found him in her house wearing her nightgown. A year later, his parents came across him wearing a nightgown and standing in front of a mirror. His mother mentioned these incidents to the therapist he was seeing; the therapist recommended that she not confront him, and she followed his advice.
After high school, Clark went to the Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park, New York, to become a chef. He received an associate’s degree. Once, when he was angry at a teacher, he secretly urinated into a vat of mashed potatoes. From 1980 to 1981, he worked for the Norwegian Cruise Line. He specialized in making pastries, and he was also adept at carving sculptures from ice and from salt that had been baked until it was hard.
In 1982, he joined the Navy (“to get some education,” he told me). According to Geoffrey, he was looking for a home. He had trouble getting along with the other sailors, though. Once, they shut him in a meat locker. Another time, he was set upon and beaten so severely that he woke up unable to recall what had happened. “I came to,” he told me, “I was in the hospital. I see all these windows around me, that’s how I knew it was a hospital. Navy ships don’t have windows.”
Clark was discharged from the Navy in 1985. In a safe-deposit box that he rented, the police found a report written by Navy doctors who had observed Clark during his hospital stay. The report says that he often felt that people intended to harm him. He thought that he had a split personality, and although he didn’t like hurting people, he sometimes did things that he wasn’t aware of having done. He heard voices that told him that he couldn’t trust anyone, and as a result he talked only to himself. He saw things that no one else saw, but he didn’t describe what they were. At times, his speech wandered, and what he said didn’t always make sense. His behavior in the hospital had been notable for its “extreme seclusiveness.”
After Clark left the Navy, he lived in the basement of Geoffrey’s house, in Silver Spring. For a while, he worked as a cook at a country club, and when he left he was given a letter of recommendation which said that he was “diligent, punctual, and everything you could wish for in an employee.” Geoffrey shared the custody of his three children while he was getting a divorce. His brother’s behavior around the house was peculiar, and Geoffrey, concerned for his children, asked him to leave. On the afternoon of May 31, 1986, Geoffrey, his girlfriend, and the children went to a soccer game. While Hadden was moving out, he heard noises in the house and he went to his truck to get a knife. He found Michele Dorr in his niece’s bedroom. He slashed her across the chest, and then cut her throat. He put her body in a duffelbag, then put the duffelbag in the back of his truck and left for work.
In 1988, Clark again came to the attention of the police-and was given probation. He had been boarding with an older couple, and they asked him to leave because their daughter wanted to move into the room he had been using. When he left, he stole tools, records, and some rare books from them. He wrapped fish heads in plastic and hid them around the house. Late one night, he hanged the couple’s cat and left it on their doorstep. “I knew that would get to them,” he later told Detective Tarney. “I knew that hurt them.”
Not long afterward, Clark’s mother, who lived on Block Island, unexpectedly saw him coming from her outdoor cellar, carrying things. She accused him of stealing from her. He knocked her down and kicked her until she got away. She brought charges against him, and he was put on probation for a year. She wrote him a letter saying that from then on she would pretend that he was dead, and she asked him to stay out of her life unless he got help. The letter ended, “Always remember that your mother and father loved you.”
In photographs, Clark appears tall and gaunt. He shaves his head, and he also shaves his eyebrows. His features are sharp, and the expression in his eyes is often abstracted and menacing. His voice on the telephone is nasal; a detective who knows him describes it as “whiny.” Over the years, Clark has used the names Hallen, Haleen, Haveen, Hadeen, and Judy Kelsoe. He often occupies himself by reading the Bible. He is given to attributing quotations to it that aren’t there. He will say, “It’s like the Bible says, ‘Ask a stupid question, you get a stupid answer.’ ” Or, “Like father, like son-you ever read that in the Bible?” He also reads religious tracts that he receives in the mail. Sometimes, on envelopes and in letters, he draws elaborate pictures of smiling little girls and of hands making sign-language figures. He plays chess by correspondence with people whose names he gets from chess magazines, and he plays with other prisoners. If he feels that they are cheating, he cheats, too. He is poor at solving problems. To check into a hospital in Washington, he once drove his car to Rhode Island and left it at his mother’s house, because he was not allowed to park it in the hospital lot. Penny Houghteling noticed that whenever she asked him to dig a hole in her garden she would return to find a hole twice as big as the one she had told him to make. According to Detective Tarney, who pursued Clark for years, the police in Maryland asked the F.B.I.’s Behavioral Science division to assess him. “They took one look at him,” Tarney says, “and told us, ‘You got your hands full. Never seen anyone like him.’ ”
The first secret Clark confided to Jesus was that one of the things he had buried in the Wellfleet cemetery was a bucket containing jewelry he had taken from people he had worked for and from girls and women he had killed. He said that he’d buried the bucket after killing Laura Houghteling, during the period when the Maryland police had given up following him. On his way back to Maryland, he got as far as the rotary in the town of Orleans, twelve miles from Wellfleet, when he said to himself, “Hadden, you didn’t do a good enough job.” He went back to the cemetery and dug up the bucket and something else he had buried along with it-he didn’t say what-and then he drove to his grandfather’s house. He unloaded the bucket and the second parcel at the bottom of the driveway, out of sight of the house, introduced himself to the caretaker, asked if he could look around, then retrieved the bucket and the parcel and buried them separately in the woods behind the house.
Shortly before last Christmas, Clark told Jesus that what he had buried in the Wellfleet cemetery that had drawn the cadaver dogs was the body of a little girl named Sarah. He also drew a map of some woods in Silver Spring, where he said that he had buried Michele Dorr. Jesus told his wife what Clark had said, and she called a state trooper she knew.
Not long after that, Detective Tarney, Chief Rosenthal, and officers from the Massachusetts State Police, following Clark’s instructions, dug up the bucket that Clark had described to Jesus. It was perhaps two feet belowground. Attached to it was a shred of plastic which had apparently torn loose from a trash bag. The bucket contained two hundred and thirty pieces of jewelry-valuable bracelets and earrings and little bead chokers strung on rubber bands, such as a child would wear. One of the items was a brooch with a winged female figure reclining against a blanket. Television reporters like to say that he calls the brooch his “Angel of Death,” and that he wore it whenever he killed someone. Clark says that somebody else must have given it that name, because he sure didn’t. He says that the brooch had belonged to a girl named Debbie, whose car broke down in Pennsylvania during the seventies. He gave her a ride, and she kept asking to drive his car, and he got annoyed and killed her and buried her. Also in the bucket were a ring and a watch that Penny Houghteling later recognized as having belonged to her daughter.
In January, the police took Clark to a ravine in Silver Spring. They also took Jesus with them, since Clark talked more readily to him than to anyone else. Fourteen years had passed since Clark had buried Dorr, and the map turned out to be inaccurate. He told Tarney that he had placed an old box spring over her and then covered the box spring with dirt. After the dogs had worked for several hours without finding anything, one of the dog handlers took Clark aside, as Tarney says, “to clear his head from all the people standing around being a distraction. He was about twenty feet away from me, talking to the dog handler about what time of day it had been when he buried Michele and where the sun had been. I looked down and saw a wire sticking up and started pulling it, and it looked to be about the size of a child’s bed. I said, ‘Hadden, is this it?’ He came over and looked around at the trees and the landmarks, and then he got down on his knees and started pawing the ground.”
All of my conversations with Clark took place after midnight, which is the only time that he was allowed to use the phone. Jesus told me that if I wanted to discuss Clark’s crimes with him I had to address him as “Kristen.” When Clark finally called me, I said, “Hello, is this Hadden or Kristen?” He said, “Who do you want?” I said, “Well, I have some questions for Kristen-is she around?” He paused and said, “This is Kristen, what do you want?”
I asked Clark if he would describe what had happened to Sarah Pryor, and he said, “O.K. That was ’85, in the fall, an Indian-summer kind of day. I was on my way to the area from Maryland to see my father. He lived in Sudbury, the town next door. My father was seeing another woman then. I think my mom and dad were divorced at the time. I had just got out of the military, things weren’t going so good for me. I got to the house, and he wasn’t there. I had plans to help him move some things. I drove all that way to help him move some stuff, and he didn’t show up. It’s cancelled, big deal, but it’s very frustrating to drive all that way and it’s cancelled. I was on my way home. I forget what route I came through Wayland. I asked this girl about directions. I was acting like I was lost. I already felt like I was going to kill something. I don’t know what makes me feel that way. I know I have a problem-if I’m doing these things, I must have a problem-but no one gives me any help. Something makes me mad, and I take my anger out on anything. You get in my way, it’s like a tornado.
“So I sort of lured her into the car, pulled her in, took her to a field, one thing led to another. I told her I wanted her mom, not her. And she didn’t tell me where she was. I left her in the field then, covered up, and I went to, like, one of these stores to get some plastic bags. I came back, put her in the bags. It was late in the afternoon. Only thing I left behind was her head. I dropped it just like I dropped the pillowcase in Maryland, by accident. I headed back to Maryland. I knew a rest area where I could pull over and hide it and get it when I came back up. I think it was in Rhode Island. I sort of buried it, put stuff around it so that no animal could get to it-rocks. It wasn’t a permanent grave site. I had already planned going to Wellfleet to bury her at my grandfather’s place. I wasn’t worried about anybody finding her before I got back. I never had anybody find anything I didn’t want them to find.”
Sarah Pryor was nine years old in October of 1985. One warm afternoon, she told her father that she was going for a walk. She was five feet two inches tall, with blond hair and hazel eyes, and she was last seen between four and five o’clock, at an intersection a mile from her parents’ house. In late 1997, a piece of bone small enough to fit in the palm of a hand turned up in a field in the town of Wayland-a fragment, it turned out, of Sarah Pryor’s skull. No other remains have been found.
Chief Gerald Galvin, of the Wayland police, told me that he had interviewed Clark and that “there was information that said to us, This is not the person we’re looking for.” Among the reasons the Wayland police don’t believe Clark killed Sarah Pryor is that the day after she disappeared he was at a veterans’ hospital in Maryland; but the trip could easily have been managed in the time Clark had available. He also identified a landmark imprecisely and failed to mention details of the town’s appearance-oversights that would seem to be of no consequence, since he had merely been visiting the town.
Another night, I asked Clark about the Lady in the Dunes. She had been found, in July of 1974, in a grove of pine trees near the ocean, by a dog on a walk with its owner. She had been dead for several days. She was about five feet eight and between twenty-five and thirty years old; she was naked-her jeans and a bandanna had been folded and placed under her head; her skull had been fractured; her head had nearly been severed; and her hands were cut off and have never been found. She was described in the papers as lying on her side, but she was actually lying face down, and her wrists had been forced into the sand, as if she were doing pushups. Presumably, the police had withheld this detail because only the killer would know it.
Detective Tarney first thought that Clark might have had something to do with her murder when an inmate told him that Clark had said that a good way never to be caught for a murder is to cut off your victim’s hands. When I asked Clark about her, he said, “In 1974, I was vacationing on Cape Cod, at my grandfather’s, and I went into one of my episodes. I was in Provincetown, and I came across a beautiful girl; I lured her into the dunes. I smacked her in the head with one of my surf-casting poles, and after she was unconscious, and I had killed her, I removed all her clothes, folded them neatly and put them under her body, and I did some things with her body. I folded up her clothes real nicely, I went back to my truck for a saw, and I cut off her hands and stuffed her arms into the sand like she was doing pushups. Then I took her hands and put them in her purse, like a beach bag. I cut off a couple of her fingers and used them for fishing bait. I buried her hands in a different place. I didn’t bury her, because I was making a statement. I don’t know why I was doing it; maybe if you were a trained psychologist you could tell me.”
A diary that Clark has kept for the last several months begins with the observation that when he was born, his father was disappointed that he wasn’t a girl. “The female thing is really embedded in him,” Jesus told me. “He’s been made to believe that he’s a girl.”
In January, after finding Michele Dorr’s body and the bucket of jewelry, Tarney and several other detectives, acting as escorts, brought Clark to Wellfleet so that the Massachusetts State Police could see whether he was telling the truth about Sarah Pryor and the Lady in the Dunes. They also brought Jesus along. It was snowing when they arrived, which meant that the dogs couldn’t work properly, so they waited until April, then brought Clark back again. On the way, Tarney and the others stopped at a department store in Orleans and bought Clark panties, a bra and a slip, and a skirt and a blouse. They didn’t need a wig, because they’d brought one from Maryland. The clothes were necessary, because Kristen-not Hadden-was going to lead them to the bodies.
During the April trip, a second female personality emerged in Clark-Kristen’s daughter Nicole. “She is, I’m estimating, about fourteen or fifteen,” Jesus told me. “She’s a pretty evil, pretty nasty person-a smart little kid with attitude. She was mad, because she felt that the police were disrespecting her mother. When we’d stop and go to the bathroom, they’d take her to the men’s bathroom.” Clark slept in the Barnstable County jail. On the way to Wellfleet, he got into a dispute with Detective Tarney and tried to bite him. “Clark goes through these tirades,” Tarney says. “The night before we went to find Michele Dorr, he didn’t eat, he got lethargic, he just got comatose on everybody. It’s just like an exorcism he goes through.” According to Jesus, the tirades are a result of a conflict between Hadden and Kristen. “When we went to get Michele Dorr,” he says, “Hadden’s in the holding area, and he won’t talk to us-he’s down on his knees, beating his head against the wall and talking in a crazy language. He was in turmoil. We didn’t know it, but the problem was that Kristen had told him not to tell anyone where Michele was buried.” Clark began saying to Tarney that he wanted to die, that he thought it was a good day to die. Tarney held Clark’s head in his lap for twenty miles. Then Clark tried to scratch Tarney. “The next day,” Tarney says, “he rode from the jail with a couple of F.B.I. agents, and he tried that stuff, and they tuned him up real cute. We brought him back, he’s sporting this big black eye.”
Clark and Jesus and the detectives from Maryland, along with several F.B.I. agents, arrived at the Wellfleet police station at around eleven in the morning. “Clark changed at the station-red wig, gray cotton blouse, sort of a pullover, tan skirt with a pattern,” Chief Rosenthal says. “I’m tempted to use the term paisley, but I think I’m wrong.”
Silas Clark’s house is built on the side of a hill, about two and a half miles from the Wellfleet police station. “We go up the driveway,” Rosenthal says, “take him out, he starts walking the area, and eventually he points out several sites where he says he threw dead bodies.” The dogs that had been brought to help had never made old finds-that is, discovered bodies that had been in the ground for as long as these might have been. In such cases, the chemicals that provide a scent are not so easily located; they drift and disperse. The dogs failed to find a scent.
Clark had marked the spot where he had buried the bucket filled with jewelry because he intended to return for it, but he had never marked the graves. “I never planned to come back and get the bodies,” he told me. “I was done with them. I didn’t care where they were.” He also said that he felt the Massachusetts State Police didn’t work sympathetically with him or give him enough time, unlike the Maryland police when they’d found Michele Dorr. On that occasion, Jesus says, Clark and the dogs and the detectives walked past her grave perhaps fifteen times before Clark and Tarney finally found her remains. In Wellfleet, when Clark pointed to the place where he thought Sarah Pryor was buried, the Massachusetts State Police said that they’d come back to dig on another occasion. Several newspapers and television stations were following the search’s progress, and the police didn’t want to dig until they could do it in secret. Frustrated, Clark grabbed a shovel and began digging, but they took it away from him. Several days later, the police drove Clark to Provincetown. He led them to the area where the Lady in the Dunes had been found, but the sands had changed so much during the last twenty-five years that he wasn’t able to find any of the other places that he said he remembered.
Detective Tarney believes that, unless Clark somehow heard about the murders of Sarah Pryor or the Lady in the Dunes from Jesus, he must have killed them. On their third day on the Cape, the police decided to give Jesus a lie-detector test. Jesus agreed immediately. (Later, he also agreed to have his cell searched for any papers that might contain references to the crimes.) During the test, he proved to be unintentionally resistant. Whenever he heard Clark’s name, his visceral response was so emphatic that it exceeded the limits that the machine could register reliably.
Jesus told me, “I think I have an ulcer now from this guy. Since I’ve been dealing with him, I’ve been drinking Pepto-Bismol like you probably drink water. My face has a rash from internalizing stuff. He’s just not the normal person you meet in prison who killed somebody and that’s trying to make amends, or trying to make a better life. Or is sorry for anything he’s done. He’s the person that if you let him out he’d resume his life and sickness. For the rest of his born days, he should be locked up in a mental hospital for the criminally insane. I asked him, ‘What would you do if you got out?’ He said, ‘What do you think?’ I said, ‘There’d be a lot of bodies, huh?’ and he said, ‘What do you think?’ ”
On the way back to Maryland, Clark apologized to Tarney for not being able to lead the police to the bodies, as he had done twice in Maryland. “He got like a little kid,” Tarney says. ” ‘I didn’t send you on a wild chase,’ he said. ‘Who I told you was up there is up there.’ ”
In May, the Massachusetts State Police quietly returned to Silas Clark’s property with ground-penetrating radar. The readings they got did not tell them whether there were bodies where Clark had said there would be, and they plan to return again. In the minds of people who are familiar with the abilities of the cadaver dogs, however, there is no doubt that Clark buried human remains in the Wellfleet cemetery. Two dogs, on four occasions, led their handlers to the place where the first dog had dug. Furthermore, it seems that sufficient time has passed that the site no longer provokes them to a response.
“Clark’s not the most organized person,” Rosenthal says. “He doesn’t always state clearly what’s on his mind, and there’s always the suspicion that he’s misleading you-he gives you a little truth, a little fantasy, a little truth, a little fantasy. Also, it’s hard to translate what he says, and that’s what you’re doing-translating. You’re not speaking to Hadden, you’re speaking to Kristen. My view is that he’s clearly a person with the mind-set to kill people. When given the opportunity, he does it. He does it for a number of reasons; one is sexual, one is revenge or anger. Or he just likes it. He’s probably been killing since he was twenty. He says so. You have to give him some credence. There have been fifteen hundred missing women in the last fifteen to twenty years. I think he can legitimately lay claim to a few of them. As for the graves in the woods, I have no doubt that there is the body of a little girl buried somewhere in my town.”