Charmin' Billy

William Cody Neal knew how to spin a story. Believing him was murder.

Neal taped her mouth closed again. He fondled her breasts and legs, but there wasn't time for more of that, he said. He had to leave to get somebody else, and she'd better not make a sound. "Because there were people upstairs, and if they were to come downstairs that they wouldn't be as nice to me as he had been. And he said that, you know, one guy would come down and would rape me, and I would die."

Covering her from head to toe with a blanket, Neal left Suzanne in the dark, thinking of the horror around her. She concentrated on the country-Western music station he'd left on the television, counting two music videos and two commercial breaks before hearing him return.

Apparently he'd brought someone else with him. She could hear them whispering. Then there was the sound of duct-tape being pulled off the roll.

Life of the party: "Wild Bill Cody" Neal.
Life of the party: "Wild Bill Cody" Neal.
Rebecca Holderton, Candace Walters and Angela Fite all made fatal mistakes: They believed William Neal.
Rebecca Holderton, Candace Walters and Angela Fite all made fatal mistakes: They believed William Neal.


Previous Westword articles

"Judging the Judge,"
September 30, 1999
After a year on the Jefferson County bench, Brooke Jackson knows it can be a real hot seat.
By Steve Jackson

"Judgment Day,"
May 6, 1999
The state's first death-penalty panel spares the life of Robert Riggan.

In his deep rumble, Neal asked the newcomer, "Can you get out of that?" There was the sound of duct tape pulling apart, and then of more tape being applied. "That's better," he said, then asked, "So, how's your day going so far?"

Suzanne heard a woman answer him. She recognized the voice: It was Angela Fite. She heard Neal ask Angie if she'd talked to Mike, her estranged husband, that day.

In his confession to the police, Neal said this was the point at which he showed Angela the bodies of Rebecca and Candace, saying, "Welcome to my mortuary." But Suzanne couldn't hear all that was said and doesn't mention this.

Instead she recalls the blanket suddenly being pulled from her lower half and a hand briefly groping her upper thigh. A moment later, the blanket was pulled from her face and she saw Angie, sitting facing her in a chair a foot or so from the end of the mattress, her wrists and legs bound to the chair's arms and legs with duct tape.

"I think it really took Angie by surprise," Suzanne recalls. "She just looked at me, and she shook her head and she said, 'I'm sorry...We're not going to get out of here alive, are we?'"

Neal ignored the exchange and kept talking to Angie about Mike. He was smoking and let his captives each have a draw from his cigarette, pulling the tape from Suzanne's mouth. Whatever he was up to, he seemed in no hurry.

"He just stood next to [Angie] and put it in her mouth, and she inhaled. Then he took it back out, and then a few minutes later he asked her if she wanted a whole one, and if she could smoke it without her hands. She said yes.

"And then I think he retaped my mouth after he let me have some of his cigarette. He taped it very tight, tighter than it was at the other point in the night."

"Tight enough to hurt?" Tingle asks.

"It was uncomfortable, yes," she replies. "And so then he said he was going to get a treat for his cat."

It was about 11 p.m. Neal had been sitting in a white plastic patio chair next to the mattress. He got up and walked past Angela, disappearing from Suzanne's sight.

Suddenly, he reappeared behind Angie. In his half-raised hands was a long-handled splitting maul -- half ax, half sledgehammer. "Then I saw him hit Angie," Suzanne sobs. Her family, Angie's family and the other victims' families cry out as well.

In a flash, Neal brought the maul crashing down into Angie's skull. She fell to the side, but he struck her again and again, six times, before the young woman on the mattress could turn her terrified eyes from the gruesome scene.

Then, as if he'd finished some chore, Neal calmly walked away. He returned without the ax and stooped to pick something up. At the first blow, the cigarette Angie had been smoking had popped from her mouth and onto the floor. Now Neal settled into the chair next to the mattress to finish smoking it.

Suzanne could hear Angie's blood splashing onto the wood floor -- not one drop at a time, but like water pouring from a pan. Neal got up and placed a blanket under Angie's head "so you don't have to hear that," he said, and sat back down.

Angie had been saying things she wasn't supposed to, he explained. That's why he'd done what he had to do. "You see how calm and smooth I am," he boasted. "Bet you didn't know that was coming."

After he finished Angie's cigarette, Neal stood and undressed. He left his shirt on but removed his pants, underwear and boots. He came over to the mattress and untied one of Suzanne's hands. Then, laying down next to her, he made her manually stimulate his penis.

When he tired of that, he untied her other hand and her feet. Pointing a small-caliber handgun at her, he went and stood just behind the lifeless body of Angie Fite, slumped over but still held into the chair by the duct tape. He ordered Suzanne to kneel next to Angie, "maybe about a foot, if that" close, and then take his penis into her mouth.

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