January 1995

I hesitated a good while before finally deciding to go ahead and write this memoir, detailing the experiences of my life that led me to relinquish my high post at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and retreat into sudden obscurity seven years ago. I’ve long resisted any such revisiting of my baffling investigations related to the “Cordelia Heart-Killer” case in the fall of 1987, but after much consideration, I have concluded that attempting to repress this entire matter has done nothing whatsoever to restore sorely needed balance to my shaky mental equilibrium of late.

So I have opted to take the opposite route and to “open up,” as we so often and so vacuously say these days, about everything I saw, heard, felt—and did—when I met a captivating and unsettling young man named Johann Salvadorus while undertaking to understand the massive hysteria and troubling violence that overtook a certain well-heeled Atlanta suburb seven Octobers ago, touching off psychic reverberations across the nation and the world that haven’t yet died down.

I must begin by establishing that I am a woman with a strong prejudice toward rational interpretation of all phenomena, however seemingly inexplicable. During my previous life as a criminal profiler, I witnessed all kinds of wickedness, depravity, and overall loathsomeness of character. I am no naïf; I well know the evil, seemingly inhuman, things that often lurk in the human heart. Yet I don’t buy into occult or spiritualistic notions of the origins of evil, because I’m simply not oriented that way.

That said, all understanding has its limits, including materialistically-grounded, factually-guided understanding. A crucial aspect of maturity involves coming to terms with the fact that one must sometimes humbly accede to reality being not altogether within one’s purview or control. Sometimes our efforts to comprehend what we witness in life simply come hopelessly apart at the seams.

On the entire matter concerning the Cordelia Heart-Killer, I admit that I am finally stumped. No rational explanation readily asserts itself; indeed, every possibility just seems too outlandish for proper consideration, except for the fact that one of them apparently must be true. For this reason, I offer no commentary on the plausibility of the events I am about to relate, simply because nothing fits as it should; very little makes any sense, and I am a woman who, above all else, cannot abide nonsense.

So I’ll tell it as it happened and leave it to the reader to draw conclusions. I’m afraid that if I presume to scrutinize the details too closely, I‘ll lose whatever mind I have left…


Seven years ago, in the capacity of my job, I was brought in to consult on the case that led ultimately to my professional undoing. Surely you’ve heard of the “Cordelia Heart-Killer” event, and you’ve probably also heard of me, though my star has definitely faded of late. My name is Frances Newman, nee Lazarus, and a short time ago, I shone as one of the brightest lights in the federal law enforcement establishment. Yes, I was quite the media darling back in the early 1980’s. You may have read my autobiography, Glass Ceiling Be Damned, in which I appear on the cover in a tight-fitting pantsuit, my hair in a severe, close-cropped bun, my face grimly determined: “I am woman, hear me pontificate!”

Oh, it’s all quite embarrassing now, but at the time, I took a lot of pride in that persona. I was featured in all kinds of glossy magazines, projected to the periodical reading world as a paradigm of the “new woman”: fearless yet fashionable, ambitious yet feminine, substantial but sexy…such overblown, nauseating tripe!

Yet back then, I really basked in all of the adulation. After all, I’d worked hard to get where I was. Too hard, in fact. I couldn’t think of anything else but the job. It became an obsession for me. And I’m not going to utter all of the warmed-over clichés about a career woman having second thoughts or the ticking biological clock or anything else like that… although my mom, bless her soul, would certainly be happy to chime in about all of that stuff if she were here. (She’s still alive, and nagging, at age 75; my dear old cheating and abusive dad—may his body rot and his soul burn—died of a heart attack while trying to fuck some tramp in a back alley on September 11, 1977.)

Did I just reveal my father issues in a parenthetical phrase?

Well, kindly put that aside, would you please? Yes, my dad was a jerk; yes, he always loved my older sister and always hated me (and when I say “hated,” I don’t exaggerate; once when he was drunk, he even told me so—a fine thing for a girl to hear from her father at age 14!—since I reminded him so much of my mother, from whom he’d been long divorced by then.)

Ah, again the parenthetical confessions! I am a certified mess. I’ll admit it openly now. I couldn’t always do that, but then pride goeth before a fall, as I indeed found out in the fall of ’87…


I suppose you’ll make all of the necessary inferences about how my troubled relationship with my bastard father, who loved my skank-whore sister because she smiled pretty and acted nice and plied him with expertly-ladled flattery, even as she casually slid daggers into my back while still flashing that gorgeous, malicious, malevolent smile, all the while stealing my things and sleeping with my boyfriends…yes, I’ll just leave it to you, reader, to connect those dots in just the way you see fit: how, to spite my bitch sister and in some way prove myself worthy to my unloving father, I immersed myself in my studies, eventually becoming valedictorian, which made my mother proud (but then, she’s always been proud of me, so who cares?), made my sister roll her eyes (glorious!), and made my father…do absolutely nothing but sit and glare and look unimpressed and take another sip of his bitter beer.

Then, I’ll again leave it to you, good reader, to discern how, after high school and college, I became increasingly fixated upon serial killers, wanting not just to track them down and make sure they’re put behind bars, but also to understand them, to know them inside and out, to see the full length of their sick, scary guts and massage the frazzled tendons of their resurgent, damned souls: in short, to get them, in every sense of the word.

And you may think, good reader, that this is because when my bitch sister started dating a guy in college, one who was charming and cute and funny, and who also happened to be a repulsive, sociopathic creep who beat her silly, then expertly finagled his way back into her good graces by pulling a puppy dog face and saying he was really, really sorry, before subjecting her to ever-more escalating sessions of truly grotesque and humiliating abuse that finally broke her spirit, making this once proud and haughty daddy’s girl want to die several times over.

And then he was ready to oblige her! She even asked him to murder her, told him he’d be doing her a favor…but at the last minute, as a sheer act of supreme sadism, he refused. Told her she wasn’t worth it and broke up with her. And would you believe it? My sister never even thought about pressing charges. Instead, she tried to kill herself and had to be institutionalized for a while.

I really hate to admit this, but I must: I loved that sicko for the number he managed to do on my bitch sister. I know how horrible that sounds, good reader, but I must be honest. This guy struck me at the time as an avenging Angel, sent to right the wrongs I’d suffered at the hands of my main tormentor in life, the girl I hated with a passion that certainly approached, if it didn’t actually exceed, the degree of murderousness.

And I’m going to go even further than that, and confess something even more disturbing: that guy who fucked up my sister’s mind turned me on, big time. I mean, thinking of him got me seriously wet, aroused me more than anyone ever had before. And it was only after the news of his mean, sadistic, psychopathic streak emerged that I started thinking of him in that way at all. I’d met him on maybe three or four occasions during the year when he was dating my sister: I was an overachieving undergrad at the time, and barely had time for anyone or anything besides my studies; the girls at my dorm thought I was such a tiresome geek, because I never partied and hardly ever went out with boys, much less took them home with me. (My roommate, on the other hand, seemed to have a new guy in our room practically every night, be it weekday or weekend—I’m exaggerating a little, but not much; the girl was nothing if not prolific.)

Anyhow, the few times I saw this boyfriend of my sister’s, he didn’t strike me as anything special. He was slightly better than average-looking, bespectacled, and a little quiet. I’d say that he didn’t seem like my sister’s type, but the truth is that my sister didn’t really have a type; or rather, her type was my type: whenever I liked a boy, she had a way of finding out, and doing whatever she could to make him want to fuck her, which of course he always wanted to do (my sister was very pretty, and teenage boys are teenage boys, after all), and once she managed to worm her way into my new crush’s pants, of course that boy no longer had any interest in me: the younger, plainer sister who wouldn’t put out, or rather, who never got a chance to, whether she would have or not…

The sheer calculating malice with which she always saw fit to one-up me was breathtaking indeed. It didn’t strike me until later, in my more mature years, how she would never even have thought to go after me in this way if she didn’t on some level feel threatened by me in the first place. And it also took me a lot longer to make the connection between my sister’s way with boys and her way with our father, how quick and adept she was with seemingly careless, off-the-cuff flattery—do men ever love to be flattered!—and how that could always seal the deal: to have some gorgeous girl smile at you nicely and tell you, in a manner that didn’t seem phony or put-on, that she found you so interesting, so charming, so cute.

My sister could do that with boys, and she could also do that with Dad. Sleazy old drinking, womanizing creep that he was, she had a knack for finding a means to massage his fragile male ego, to tell him in a thousand ways, each more nauseating than the last, how great he was. And just as doddering old King Lear fell for the unctuous phrases of his two scheming daughters, while his one honest, plain-spoken little girl got royally screwed, so Vicky Lazarus always outmatched her little sis when it came to winning Daddy’s favors and affections. She would kiss up to him in ways I found loathsome, and while Mom always agreed that my concerns were valid, she always played the good sport (story of her life—the cheerful doormat!), and said I really should make an effort to “get along better” with my father.

Thanks a lot, Mom! There I go, despising the man who cheated on you habitually and called you fat and even hit you a couple of times (though you always steadfastly deny that any such thing could possibly have happened)! Yes, there I go, hating this guy who left you behind to marry his fucking 23-year-old secretary! (How cliché is that, by the way? You really could have done better in doing bad, dear ol’ Dad; your backstory reads like a bad TV movie…) I loathe the guy whose sperm I’m ashamed to claim as a part of my DNA, and for that, Mom, you castigate me for my bad attitude!

I’d have thought you might thank me for my loyalty, but then, doormats are never grateful to their would-be defenders…

Ah, me. Here I am, going over all of this old junk, and I’m a 45-year-old woman! It’s true what the shrinks like to say: we never really grow up.


This is an excerpt from Andy Nowicki’s new novel, Heart Killer. You can purchase the book from Terror House Press here.