Charmin' Billy: Part Two

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

Bachmeyer's first impression of Neal was that he had an almost desperate need to be liked, whether it was by the guards, the police investigators -- even the prosecutors who were trying to kill him. But she felt his behavior toward her went beyond friendliness to flirting, testing, seeing how Bachmeyer, an attractive blonde, would respond.

"Hi, Miss Bachmeyer," he'd say when he saw her, smiling, twisting his head to make eye contact. "Don't you look nice today," he'd add, no matter how conservatively she dressed. If he heard that she'd been on vacation or had a few days off, he'd want to know how it went. To her, he came off as the sleazy guy at the bar -- the one with all the pick-up lines.

Neal knows them all. But on the tape, Bachmeyer hopes, the judges will see him as he really is. She pushes the "play" button. On monitors around the courtroom -- at the defense and prosecution tables, on the witness stand and in front of the judges -- Neal suddenly appears as he looked a year ago. Still in the orange jumpsuit, but with long hair and a dark goatee.

He begins the September 1998 interview by buttering up Zimmerman, the investigator who had talked him into giving himself up two months earlier, and Aceves, who is talking to him for the first time. "You guys have totally respected me the whole time I've been with you," Neal says. "That's another reason why I'm comfortable in talking with you, is because of how you have handled things with me during this time that we've been in this situation."

The investigators ask their questions. Neal answers some directly and takes off on tangents with others, his hands flying around like disturbed birds. Several times, he irritably insists on finishing a thought only he has much interest in. He ranges from complimenting the investigators on their insight, to warning them not to push him into discussing subjects he doesn't want to discuss, to thinly veiled threats, which he quickly backs away from. The interview follows no particular chronological order, offering up Neal's scattered thoughts.

On his state of mind as he planned the murders:"I'm very clear and calm...I was totally comfortable."

Was it like an adrenaline rush? "No, it wasn't an adrenaline rush there," Neal replies. "The adrenaline rush would come when I would kill somebody, like being a Highlander. [The Highlander is a television show in which the hero, an immortal who has been alive for hundreds of years, must fight other immortals who seek to absorb his life force.] You know how he feels when he just sits there and he kills somebody, and he raises his hand.

"I'm not being funny about it, I'm just saying that in order for me to deal with killing..." Neal searches for what he wants to say, "these three murders were not like that with me, okay? This was different to me, all right? Because I cared about them."

Do you say overall, Cody, that you're a very controlling person?"You know, I'm learning about that issue right now." One of Neal's sisters had told investigators that "nobody controls Bill," and he now acknowledges, "I think she's right on that. But I don't believe it was done in an evil sense."

It's just your nature? You like to take charge of the situation? "I'm a strong-willed person...I mean, if somebody has to make a decision, let it be me, because right or wrong, I'm going to make it. I mean, somebody has got to be a leader."

At another point, Neal talks about controlling people by molding himself to be what they want or need. "It's like you want a raise, you're going to have to look a certain way, do your job a certain way, smile at a certain person instead of saying, 'You stinkin' asshole' when you want to. Or you let somebody think you like them when you don't...I mean an illusion, taking advantage, finding a weak point in a human being -- you know, greed, lust...to get my own way."

On why he gave himself up and confessed:"I need prosecution, I need justice to be served, because I'm representing three dead people...as well as a rape victim. I want justice to be served and the truth to be known so that people can get on with their lives."

On getting Suzanne, the rape victim, to the townhouse: "She came of her own free will on the understanding that what we were doing was legitimate. I mean, you know, if I had told her I'm going to take you to the house and I'm going to tie you down and I'm going to rape you and you're going to witness a murder, she's not going to go...I'm not being sarcastic with you at all, Jose.

"I just said, 'This is how I want you to do the surprise with Beth...You know, they always knew how crazy I was...and I don't mean crazy, I feel, in a bad way...I was always kind of like, fun, and I would do things people wouldn't seem to do, just partying and enjoying myself, do something different. And so part of that reason I believe she trusted me."

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