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December 7, 2018 29 mins

Melissa is conflicted by how her father’s crimes have shaped her life and her career. She’s also conflicted about the paranormal ‘gift’ they both share-- seeing and feeling ghosts. Does this bolster Sam’s psychopath argument? And has she passed this trait to her son as well? 

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Previously on happy Face. There was some dark force that
was trying to get rid of us, and I felt
that that force was your dad. The first year was
Melissa had went through two fires. Then shortly after that
we go camping and then I heard a bear. He

(00:23):
cleaned fish in front of the cabin, and he was
sleeping in the car. The moment I walked in that house,
I felt like I wasn't alone, that there were spirits there,
that I was being watched. And it was my first
night in this new house. I fall asleep a little bit,
but then I'm awakened by being touched. It's not a

(00:44):
heavy touch, it's a light touch. And so I laid
on the hallway floor with a light on, curled up
in a ball, hoping that the night would just go
away fast. And in the morning my dad stepped over
me and he said, did you fall asleep in the hallway?
And I said, I was being touched, Dad, And he said, oh,

(01:06):
don't pay any attention to them. They bothered me all
the time at night. Don't pay them any mind. And
the pines with the sun, I don't know shine oh

(01:28):
oh nfe through a bond. Melissa and her father's share
involves the spirits they both claim to encounter. Even to
this day. It's not a fearful feeling. It's almost a

(01:52):
peaceful feeling that I have these I have company with me. Okay,
it's like they're they're all watched me so and I
would like they're waiting for something to happen, like who
am I going to do next? Or or somebody. That's
almost like you're my company and I can't get rid
of them. So I may I have my own little
party in my own cell, and I'm all by myself,
but I've got all these eight spirits with me. Perhaps

(02:15):
these are her father's victims, or perhaps something else. Could
they be the manifestation of the psychopathy she fears her
father has passed on to her. To quote Edgar Allan Poe,
the boundaries which divide life from death are at best
shadowy and vague. Who shall say where one ends and

(02:40):
where the other begins. I'm Lauren Bright Pacheco, and this
is happy face. As we drove through her hometown, military

(03:00):
called her first real encounter. My first experience with a
spirit was when we lived in Charlie parkins Cela Washington,
a neighbor man was watching me. I was laying on
the couch and I remember looking up over the couch
and seeing this white being and it was protecting me.

(03:26):
So in a weird way, it was kind of normal
in your family. What did your dad talk to you about.
He would comment about seeing spirits as well, so I
felt that he understood what I was seeing. It wasn't
like an everyday conversation. Is just once in a while
he would talk about a supernatural event in his life.

(03:51):
There was a time where he was in a massive
car accident where his truck went off a cliff, totaled
the semi truck and fell off the cliff, and he
said he saw spirits that were around him. But my
first memory of seeing anything was that was when I

(04:11):
was probably about four years old, seeing a white being
and it was hovering. I wonder if I would have
been harmed by the man that was watching me, and
maybe that being was protecting me, But I don't know.
I don't know how that works. But ever since I've
seen them. Your dad talked a lot in his first

(04:35):
book with Jack Olson about the ghosts in Roberta's house. Yeah,
what did he say that they tormented him after Keith
left Melissa's mom. He moved in with his then girlfriend Roberta,
but he claims they shared her home with spirits. In

(04:59):
one of his conversations with al Carlyle, Keith even seems
to confirm the theory that perhaps these are his victims
and describes what he felt with Tanya Bennett while I
killed her. I felt like I felt like she just
absorbed into me. I felt like she just came right

(05:19):
up in something like I could feel she was right
there like asking me why and all this. I mean,
it was like she's just right there and she just
like over just surrounded me. And you know, I don't
think it frightened me, because I've been in a haunted
house for two years almost I felt this stuff before.
I felt I heard someone hung themselves in the house.

(05:43):
But I do feel the spirit. I feel her when
I think of her. Well, I'm at night or something
like that. I'm laying there and I think they're all
sitting around watch ma'am in my cell. I think they're
all sitting there wait for me to go. When I
was at my dad's house at night, I would feel

(06:04):
like I was being watched and it was multiple as
multiple female spirits that I couldn't see them. I just
felt their presence. Not bad spirits, but they were uneasy spirits.
They were like trying to get my attention. Nobody else
will talk to me about the spirits about my dad.

(06:26):
I'm embarrassed actually telling you about this, because I'm thinking
you guys are gonna think I'm crazy. But I truly
I actually hear them too. They talk sometimes, and they
don't talk like audible. I'll just have an understanding of
what they're trying to convey and they don't need words
for that. The house is haunted, and that's my understand

(06:51):
I actually felt it was too, because the bird said
it was sort of a mother, and some strange things
happened that house while I was laying there, and like
you feel coldness, you feel this and that. And so
when after I killed Tanya, I kind of like looked
up and I yelled into the office and now, you
evil son of a bitches, Now I'm the most evil
person in here. Now shut the funk up, leave me
alone what I said. And I have no problem with

(07:14):
the goes after that. From Melissa's perspective, her father's acceptance
of spirits almost made her feel like seeing them was normal.
This is making me feel validated because it's something that

(07:36):
I'm afraid that people would think coming crazy. After he
murdered Tanya in that home, he told Roberta that maybe
the ghosts now would leave him alone because they'd know
what he's capable of. It's weird. I know some serial
killers collect souvenirs like driver's licenses or panties, or jewelry

(08:01):
or hair. Yeah, maybe my dad collected spirits. As we
gathered interviews for this story, a pretty distinct theme began
to appear, the appearance of ghosts. It was a twist
that honestly split our team for a variety of reasons,
but it was an undeniable one. People we spoke to

(08:24):
spoke of sensing ghosts. Whether these encounters were something sparked
by psychosis, the manifestation of trauma, or spirituality remains a question,
but they were a shared experience for Keith, Melissa and
Julie's son Don. Here's don with your mom. Did you

(08:44):
ever to refueler with you? I dried taxi now. I
felt my mom in the back of my cab. Even
when it first happened and I had a girlfriend at
the time, she didn't believe in it, but she felt
empties on the edge of the bed. My mom called me.
She called you. They say, when the other side contacts you,

(09:07):
they have made peace. Shortly after the first set of trials,
I went back to San Diego. No one had my
phone number. I was living in a rentom room with
a bunch of Mexicans that were illegal workers doing tar roofing.
One night, I decided to answer the phone. Hello, sweetie.

(09:31):
No one ever called me sweetie, and I know my
mom's voice. Mom. Mom. I dropped the phone, curled up
in a corner till daylight. She's okay, Okay, my mother
is at peace. Her and my grandmother have come to
see me in my dreams. They came to see me,

(09:54):
and I cried and they left. They weren't there to
make me cry. They were letting me know they're at peace. Okay.
For all of Keith's talk about the ghosts of his victims,
somewhere inside he feared them for what they really could

(10:16):
be a manifestation of his own evil. Even in jail,
he couldn't escape Tanya or the rest of his victims.
Did that seem real to use? Yeah? Yeah, it did
seem real. Did you feel her presence? Yeah, I felt
I feel it myself. I feel it all the time though,
I feel everyone everyone I've killed the film. I've heard

(10:40):
that from others talk about it's just a feeling that
they're just like I feel. If I turned around fast enough,
I can see him right behind me. Now they're guiding
me right now, I think is that they're they're just there.
I mean everywhere I go, there there, They're waiting for
me to die so that I can be in their world.
That's what I can do. I think they're gonna get even. Yeah,

(11:03):
they're gonna rule my rous because by that time, I
think they're going to have control of where they're at
and I'm just a new guy in the block down.

(11:34):
For Melissa and perhaps for Dawn, the ghosts serve as
a way to process their trauma or alleviate the magnitude
of their loss. But for Keith, he's become their prey.
They both haunt and hunt him, and to exercise his demons,
he attempted to purge them on paper. Letters have definitely

(11:59):
been a same you know, with my dad on the
road before he was arrested, he would send us letters.
He would send us postcards, and that's his way of
communicating with me my siblings while he was on the
road as a truck driver. So I'd have all these
postcards and letters from all these different destinations and I
would look forward to them. Then my father was caught

(12:23):
by writing a letter, a confessional letter to my uncle
and grandfather. Then when he was arrested, he starts writing
to the Agonian. And then after that he continues to
write letters to me and tries to stay in communication
with me, And he writes letters to media outlets, and
he writes letters to want to be writers and biographers.

(12:44):
He keeps using letters to be his medium to the world.
When speaking about his letter to the Oregonian, Jesperson almost
makes it seem altruistic to free to innocent people, but
he's unable to con seal his narcissism. The good feeling
I had when I wrote that smiley faced letter and

(13:04):
sent it to him that I shouldn't do it, but
I said, I'm going to do it because I'm trying
to get those two people out, or I'm trying to
stir up a hornlessness to get these people out without
turning myself in. That's when I said, why did you care?
I didn't think it was right that two people could
take the blame be prosecuted for my murder. I figured
that I was responsible for that. Nobody should be able

(13:27):
to take that responsibility from me. And then it's it's
kind of funny in a way that harr I'm a
cold blood and murder and had I'm worried about two
people in president doing my time. It makes sense when
you say I didn't want them to take that responsibility away.
What do you mean, Well, it was my murder, my
body count. It was like my victim, she hangs around me.

(13:49):
She's not hanging around them, hanging around me, and they're like,
we're into wound. We're kind of like And the fact
that I did eight at the end there towards the end,
when I said I did it, I did it. And
it became also important on credibility that they believed that
was mine. He wrote a confession letter to his brother
after Julie's murder, which he later claimed meant to serve

(14:12):
a dual purpose as both confession and suicide. Note why
take a chance, but confessing to him, well, I had
to when I left to go up in the mountains.
I wrote my letter to my brother, feeling I wasn't
gonna come back. That was my suicide note. I was

(14:34):
gonna let my brother know. Yeah, mar a letter. I said,
I killed Julian the truck, then tried to explain that
I had killed seven others here I let the cat
out of the bag even all. I just instead of
just been down for one murder and suicide, I was
trying to explain to my brother why I turned out

(14:56):
this way. And I couldn't you know in a short letter,
how can I explain it you have? I felt lost
at that time. I was not feeling myself. I was like,
I have to end it. I can't let the cops
get me and let the other go so your family
wouldn't know that well. I when I was arrested, when
I turned myself in, I thought I could just call

(15:17):
my brother up and say, just ignore the letter, destroy
the letter in that way, I'll just confess the one murder.
And I told him all the phone, there's nothing to
the letter, it's all bullshit, right, so just leave it
at that. And I figured I just confessed the one
murder and I'd be punished for the one murder period,
and I'd be the end of that and I'd get
out in fifteen twenty years after doing man Juan or
man to or who are you clearing your conscious when

(15:39):
when you put the other home of side, that would
be good a good aspect to it. Keith's letter to
his brother led to his confession to the other murders.
I come to the realization that I was going to
be convicted anyway. Like I wanted to kill myself though
the tooth wouldn't come out. But now that I was

(15:59):
in custody, I knew the truth would come out. One
of the reasons why I turned myself into I thought, well,
you know, I said I should face my my problem.
The first thing I did was I called a cop
up and I said I did it. I confessed to it.
I confessed to the one murder I never said. I
confessed to all of them only after my attorney came
over and he showed me the letter that my brother
didn't destroy, and then I was faced with having to

(16:22):
deal with all of them. That was the clincher. Keith
also waged a nearly year long letter war with less,
his now sober and dying father that ranged from back
and forth blame to declarations of love from I, the

(16:45):
Creation of a serial Killer by Jack Olsen, the letter
from Less the last letter you sent me was full
of bitterness and resentment. It left me with a feeling
that it was not my son that was writing that letter.
I have never reprimanded you for your terrible crimes. I

(17:06):
have forgiven you and have asked the Lord to forgive you. Also,
you have to admit you put your family through one
hell of a mess. Letter from Keith, Dad. I do
two hours in the morning of classes, so if I
get out of prison, I won't do this again. The

(17:29):
class is called anger Management, deals with the way I
was raised and the punishment dished out to me as
a child. We talked openly about the belt and the
wooden spoon, and the fist and the back hand and
the verbal abuse. Under the program, we have the prison
pointing into your corner on why I'm here and why
I turned out to be a serial killer. But that's

(17:52):
all right, Dad, I still love you anyway. Melissa wrote
her father after his arrest, and he wrote her back.

(18:14):
He was hurtful and planted seeds in her mind that
would fester and make her wonder for decades if she
was like him, that his evil could also be inside
of her somewhere. Her husband, Sam would often read Keith's
letters to act as a filter to protect Melissa from
their worst content. I think periodically she would get a

(18:38):
letter from him, and instead of reading it, she would
ask me to read it because she didn't want to
be impacted by his words because he was so cruel.
I would read them, and then I would kind of
decipher what I thought would be helpful, and then like
filter out the things that weren't needed. So it's not
like I read things verbatim back to her. I literally
just kind of filter through and then go, this is

(18:59):
what he said, or this is what I think might matter.
I don't think she really wanted to hear from him,
but she also maybe want to still stay connected to
him because it was her dad. And what was your
take on the personality behind those letters? You said cruel? Yeah,
he was strange, weird, like inappropriate. He made some of

(19:20):
the most inappropriate comments to your daughter. He just was
always out of touch with what was appropriate. For sure.
He was always kind of condescending to and always trying
to tell Melissa that she was. I don't think he
thinks she's that smart, or he feels like it's his
job to make her feel not smart. He was never

(19:43):
very kind, never loving by any means. Over the years,
Melissa received many letters from Keith, and many of them
remained unread. They just collect. As you can see, they're old.

(20:04):
And now I'm wondering if these are more honest than
actually meeting him in person, that if these are the
true his true confessions, like a diary versus what he
would say to my face. I don't know why I
collect them. Sometimes I throw them away when they come
in the mail, and sometimes I just saved them, maybe

(20:24):
because I'm not ready to read them when I received them,
but maybe I think that I'll be ready to read
them another time when this one so nine. Dear Melissa,
I'll let you in on a secret you should be
well aware of by now, but haven't come to understand
just yet. It matters little what the real truth is

(20:48):
when telling stories in the press. You see most people
reading those press reports don't know the true facts, and
they're relying on the reporter to get them the story.
Therefore they read it and believe they are getting the truth.
Or as close to it as they can get. It
is of entertainment value. People read it to pass the time.

(21:10):
People right to throw across to the public, recording it
a message. What is the message? It's to sell, It's
to get enough to believe them and not the other guy.
Does it matter that Angelus a Breeze was alive when
I dragged her body down the freeway. Does it matter

(21:35):
that I plan to kill Laura and Pentland hours before
I drove over to Wilsonville just to see her. Doesn't
matter that when I drove into the rest area at
Turnlock that I was going to kill someone the first
one I saw. Doesn't matter that every victim to come
to me after Claudio was going to die because I

(21:58):
fulfill the plan once I decided to kill them. My
story is the story I wanted to tell, the truth,
according to Keith, the story to sell to the public.
But apparently it won't sell because people such as sick, perverted,
bloodthirsty monsters like publishers and true crime writers and victims

(22:20):
and their people want to read about it. The gore
the thought process to why I killed. They want to
tell a morbid tell to put me in a certain
light of darkness in order to sell their books. But Dad,
you're not telling the truth. I'll tell you a story.
Musnew it all. Neither are you. I know you think

(22:40):
you can say anything you want and it will be
published because you are the victim here. You are a killer,
yourself called so because you killed your baby, but you
had a reason right well, still murder, killing a baby
that could have lived and not had one thing to
do with why she was born. Are you caring what

(23:04):
I did and holding it high to tell the world, Hey,
look at me. I'm the daughter of the happy face killer.
I'm a victim here. But it seems now that you
want the world to know who you are, not Melissa
More but the daughter of the happy face killer. I've
created a monster in you because you're telling him you

(23:27):
are a victim. He wrote what you say and believe
it even though it isn't true. You know this. I
don't know. He's insane and that's not This is why
I don't read these fucking letters. This is why I
don't freak them. What do you want to say? This
is why I don't read them. Just what he says,

(23:52):
it doesn't make it true. Just because he writes, it
doesn't make it true. It's not true. Do you know what?
Hell him? The letters had undoubtedly opened old wounds that

(24:13):
had never fully healed. It also seems that, having read
the letters that he sends you, that this is an
incarcerated man who is still inflicting violence with words. Absolutely,

(24:35):
it's just emotional abuse. It's verbal abuse through the writin form.
So words are his weapon of choice now I would
say words are his weapon instead of his hands now,
he writes. Judging from Melissa's reaction, Keith appears to have
known exactly what he was doing. What has always been

(24:59):
your eightiest fear with your father? But I'm just like him,
he said, I'm just like him. He has told me
for years growing up, and then after his arrest, you're
just like me, and I believed it. And what would
that have meant in terms of who you are? It

(25:23):
means I'm a horrible person. It means I'm a murderer,
I'm a monster, I am not human, I am I
am nothing. And what's your greatest fear about your mind?
Genetically that I am wired to be like my dad,

(25:44):
that I'm genetically created a clone of my father. I
look like my father. I smile like my father. My
eyes are my father, my nose is my father. I
look in the mirror and I see my dad. I
wanted to know, did my insides match my dad too?

(26:04):
Everything that I am is it my dad. I thought
I was choosing to live against my nature and that
was delusional, and that people could see through that, that
my nature was a psychopath and my nature was my father,

(26:24):
and that I was going against the grain of my
DNA to be a good person. And then you look
in your children's faces, and what do you say, my dad?
I see my dad's hair, and my son. I see
my daughter's work, ethic, you know, And that's so much
to my dad. There's so much, you know, that's Ruda

(26:46):
and my Dad, and I see him everywhere. Vill Melissa
hadn't heard her father's voice and person in nearly two decades,
she still felt as though he were right there with her,
speaking through his letters. And he knew everything. He knows

(27:14):
all my fears, and he put all my insecurities on
two pages of paper. And I wasn't prepared to read
his words, and it felt a little prophetic in some
ways when he said you need a doctor and tomorrow,
I'm gonna go see a doctor. Not only a doctor

(27:37):
could really tell me what's can tell me the truth.
In the next Happy Face, Melissa's pet scan brings her
face to face with a neuroscientist who understands psychopathy on
a very personal level. There's a whole other part of

(27:59):
psychio with the which are these positive or pro social,
pro social traits. It makes sound like you're really nice
to be around everything. It just means that you can
navigate through society and everybody thinks you're okay. So it
makes you more dangerous than one says. So you have
these pro social traits. People with just negative traits, everybody
stays away from me. Happy Faces of production of How

(28:26):
Stuff Works. Executive producers or Melissa Moore, Lauren Bright, Pacheco,
mangesh At ticket Ur, and Will Pearson. Supervising producer is
Noel Brown. Music by Claire Campbell, Page Campbell and Hope
for a Golden Summer. Story editor is Matt Riddle. Audio
editing by Chandler Mays and Noel Brown. Assistant editor is

(28:46):
Taylor Shacogne. Special thanks to Phil Stanford, the publishers of
the Oregonian Newspaper in the Carlisle family, burnt

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