Death Sentences

A gruesome triple murder puts a Boulder publisher and its how-to-kill book in the crosshairs.

"I am afraid she was quite offended by my answer," the author continues. "It is my opinion that the professional hit man fills a need in society and is, at times, the only alternative for 'personal' justice. Moreover, if my advice and the proven methods in this book are followed, certainly no one will ever know."

In the 130 pages that follow, Feral provides a step-by-step guide to setting up a murder-for-hire business, covering everything from mental and physical preparation to laundering the illegally gotten gains.

A basic equipment checklist, Feral writes, should include an AR-7 rifle, hollow-point bullets, a double-edged knife, lock picks (for which Feral provides templates) and a disposable silencer (the manufacture of which is detailed in seven pages of photographs).

Feral explains how to drill out the serial number on the AR-7, making it all but impossible to trace ownership of the weapon. Hollow-point bullets are recommended "because they deform on impact, making them nontraceable. As an added precaution," Feral writes, "you can fill the hollows with liquid poison to insure success of your operation."

In this line of work, neatness counts. So when using a small-caliber weapon such as a .22, Feral advises, "it is best to shoot from a distance of three to six feet. You will not want to be at point-blank range to avoid having the victim's blood splatter you or your clothing. At least three shots should be fired to ensure quick and sure death."

If, however, a hit-man must shoot from a distance, "aim for the head--preferably the eye sockets."

Feral also carefully explains what to do once the hit has been completed. Gather up all the empty cartridges that were ejected when firing the gun, Feral writes. And, while still at the scene, take the time to run a rat-tail file down the rifle bore to alter the trademark impression the gun barrel leaves on bullets, thus making it more difficult for criminologists to ascertain whether or not the gun was the murder weapon.

When leaving the scene, Feral advises, "Toss your gun parts out at intervals or in various locations about town. Drop them into lakes or waterways. Bury or sink the gun barrel or silencer in different spots."

With the disposal of each piece of evidence, the fear of being caught eases, Feral writes. "Your biggest problem now is learning to deal with your ego."

Feral's biggest problem, however, will be remaining anonymous. As of last week, plaintiffs' attorneys had not yet identified the author, but Marshall says one of the first pieces of information he plans to seek from Lund in a deposition is Feral's real name. If and when the plaintiffs learn Feral's true identity, he says, she will be named as a defendant.

You made it! Your first job was a piece of cake! Taking all that money for the job was almost like robbery. Yet here you are, finally a real hit man with real hard cash in your pockets and that first notch on your pistol.

--Excerpt from Hit Man

The bodies of Millie Horn, her son, Trevor, and Janice Saunders were discovered early on the morning of March 3, 1993, by Millie's sister, Vivian Rice.

Millie's body was blocking the front door. She lay on the floor in front of the stairs, her hair curlers scattered around her fallen body. It appeared to police that she'd been killed after being roused from sleep. She'd been shot in the eyes.

Investigators found Trevor's night nurse, the 38-year-old Saunders, on the floor in Trevor's bedroom. Detectives theorize that Saunders was shot as she sat knitting and rocking in the chair beside the boy's bed. Her knitting needles were still in her hand. She, too, had been shot in the eye. (Saunders, the mother of a five-year-old son, had not been scheduled to work that night; she was filling in for another nurse who was unable to work the shift.)

Officers found Trevor in his bed, surrounded by stuffed animals. The cause of death was not immediately apparent, but the high, piercing whine of his respirator alarm filled the house, accompanied by the loud hum of his dehumidifier. Police thought at first that Trevor had died when his respirator was disconnected. They soon learned that that was not the case.

"You'd think that disconnecting him from the machine would kill him, [but] it didn't," says detective Craig Wittenberg of the Montgomery County Police Department. "No doubt who did it had inside information. The [killer] had to know that merely disconnecting it was not going to kill him. He actually had to smother the child."

Investigators believe that Saunders was killed first, then the boy. Something--police think it may have been the sound of the respirator's alarm--alerted Millie to a problem, and she was shot as she went downstairs to investigate. She probably never heard the gunshots that killed Trevor's nurse; detectives believe the killer used a silencer. "Although we don't know that he used one for sure," says Maryland deputy state's attorney Robert Dean, "we think he did, because we found large pieces, stray pieces of bullets, and the wound patterns were consistent with a silencer."

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