Charmin' Billy: Part Two

Women kept falling for William Neal's story. But now, he'll finally take the fall.

Karen hadn't heard from William Neal for years, and suddenly she was getting a lot of hang-up calls from Colorado. Three rings, and then no one on the other end of the line.

Finally, one of Bill's sisters put Karen in contact with Jennifer. Somehow, together, they found the courage to keep each other sane.

Listening to Jennifer, Karen recognized that Bill had used the same tricks, and probably used them on every other woman he'd ever met. First came the charm -- the bubble baths, the rose petals, the extravagant gifts, the promises of a bright and shiny future. Then the obsessive jealousy and accusations of infidelity. And the other women.

The survivors: Members of the victims' families describe how William Cody Neal ruined their lives.
Brett Amole
The survivors: Members of the victims' families describe how William Cody Neal ruined their lives.

That's why, despite her fear, it became so important to Karen to let the families of Neal's victims know this behavior wasn't new. He didn't suddenly snap. He'd been building toward this -- if, indeed, this was his first act of murder, and she had her doubts about that -- for a long time.

"The thing that made these women so wonderful, trusting, loving, were the things that made them targets. He found things in all of us that he could exploit. I just hope someday to be able to convey to the families that it could have been any woman in their daughter's and mother's shoes. None of us were stupid.

"He's just the con artist from hell. There was nothing they could have done to stop him from picking those women. If he wanted them, he was going to get them."

She wonders if he ever loved her. Whether the creature hiding behind that smile and those blue eyes was even capable of love.

"All I know is that life, and love, is not about bubble baths and rose petals," she says. "Be careful, and if you ever run into a man named William Lee Neal, turn and walk away."

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