Interviews with convicted serial killers and mass murderers always gain huge viewing figures when broadcast on TV. There’s a macabre sense of intrigue that exists inside many of us who want to attempt to understand why these evil people commit the atrocious crimes that we occasionally see on the news. Unfortunately, these TV interviews with convicts are often scripted, heavily censored, or just a platform from which a psychopath can babble inanely in a low-brow attempt to increase viewership and ratings.
What I find much more interesting is that every now and again, we find out that a murderer was interviewed before they were caught. These interviews give us insight into how cold-blooded killers will sometimes feign the kind of emotions that regular people would feel should they become the victim of a despicable crime. So, here are 10 convicted murderers who gave TV interviews before they were arrested for their heinous crimes.
10 Stephen McDaniel
The first interview on this list features Mercer Law School graduate Stephen McDaniel answering questions about the disappearance of his neighbor, Lauren Giddings. The video starts with McDaniel offering potential explanations for what happened to his “friend.” About a minute in, the reporter informs him that the police have discovered a body during the process of their investigation.
Upon hearing this news, McDaniel breaks from the interview and sits on the grass to collect his thoughts, a reaction that many people at the time probably confused with grief. He then continues the interview, clearly showing signs of panic and distress as he realizes his life as a free man is about to end.
Just hours after the interview, police searched McDaniel’s room. They reported that he was behaving erratically, sweating profusely and that he drank 10 bottles of water in the time they were there. Investigators would eventually discover evidence linking him to the crime. After being arrested and held in custody for 10 months, he confessed to strangling and dismembering Lauren. He was sentenced to life in prison.
9 Matthew Haverly
In the video, Matthew Haverly is being interviewed by journalists outside his Bradford County home in June 2018. That morning, a body had been discovered in a nearby creek which had led to news teams interviewing local residents to get some idea of the circumstances surrounding the grizzly discovery. Haverly talks casually on camera about what he thinks happened, speculating that the body could have been dumped in the river after a “hit.” He even talks about how “concerned” his mother would be about the situation.
Despite his outlandish theories regarding the origin of the corpse and his apparent concern for his mother’s feelings about the situation, it turns out that Haverly knew exactly what had happened as he was responsible. The victim was the very mother he had feigned concern for, who was found to have died of blunt force trauma to the head before she was dumped in the creek.
Haverly claimed not to remember the incident and pleaded “no contest” to charges of involuntary manslaughter, abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence, and possession of a weapon. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison, and so far, all of his appeals for early release have been unsuccessful.
8 Brian Hawkins
In 1993, Brian Hawkins, along with Curtis Culver and his sister Shannon, abducted and murdered a 20-year-old man named Frank McAlister in Northern California. Frank’s car was found abandoned in a Costco parking lot, and detectives reported that there was so much blood inside the car they knew that foul play was highly probable.
Very little other evidence was recovered, though, so the investigation went cold for almost a year before a hiker discovered Frank’s remains in a rural part of Shingletown, a few miles east of Redding. Investigators now knew that Frank was deceased, but the details of his demise remained a secret for nearly 25 years until January 2018, when KRCR conducted an interview with Brian Hawkins.
In the video, Hawkins explains that he, along with his two companions, lured Frank to an isolated area where they stabbed him to death and robbed him. Hawkins claims that God wanted him to confess to the murder. After conducting this interview, he turned himself into the nearest police station and told them the same story, claiming that his life had been totally ruined by committing this brutal crime.
7 Dennis Rader
In 1991, Dennis Rader was interviewed on a local news show about animal attacks for his job as a dog catcher. The team doing the interview could never have known that they were actually talking to the BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill) killer, a former church leader who was responsible for at least 10 murders in Kansas by the time the interview was aired.
Rader used his position as a compliance officer to satisfy his need for control. And the fact that he was a commissioned officer who carried a badge and a gun probably added to the sense of invulnerability that he felt getting away with multiple murders over thirty years, all while sending taunting letters and poems to the authorities and local media outlets.
Eventually, Rader’s mocking of law enforcement became his undoing as he unwittingly gave away his identity by sending a floppy disk to a local news station. The metadata was used from the documents on the disk to confirm Rader as the BTK killer. In August 2005, he was sentenced to 10 life sentences, a minimum of 175 years without the possibility of parole.
6 Ian Huntley
On Sunday, August 4, 2002, 10-year-old school friends Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman disappeared after leaving a family BBQ in Soham, UK. The search for the girls garnered national media attention, but there was no sign of them despite multiple appeals to the public for information. Ten days later, an investigative team of journalists was reconstructing the girls’ last known movements when they stopped outside the house of Ian Huntley. He was a caretaker at the local school and the last known person to see the girls alive.
The video clearly shows a man who is comfortable with deception. Huntley calmly explains his fictional account of the last time he saw the girls, in much the same way you can imagine him telling the police during the numerous times that they had questioned him previously. Just a few days after this was filmed, Ian Huntley and his girlfriend Maxine Carr were arrested on suspicion of murder.
It was eventually revealed that one of the girls had suffered a nose bleed while walking past Huntley’s house. He lured them both inside under the pretense of helping them clean up before brutally murdering them both. He was given two life sentences for his heinous crime, and numerous reports in British newspapers in the years since have made it clear he is having a very rough time in prison at the hands of the other inmates. His girlfriend Maxine Carr, a teaching assistant at the girls’ school, was sentenced to three and a half years for conspiring to pervert the course of justice.
5 Gerard Bayden Clay
The video shows the moment that Gerard Bayden Clay faced news cameras in Queensland, Australia, to plead for his wife Allison’s safe return after she was reported missing in April 2012. It had been three days since he had murdered his wife and dumped her body on a creek bank in Brisbane, but it would take authorities another week to finally discover her remains.
When this video was shot, Clay was only as much of a suspect as anyone else, and it took two weeks for police to complete their investigation after a canoeist found Allison’s body. A post mortem failed to conclusively prove how she died, but Clay was still charged with murder and interfering with a corpse. He was found guilty two years later and was sentenced to life in prison, despite his insistence that he was innocent.
The investigation revealed that Allison’s life was insured for over half a million U.S. dollars. The couple had been on diverging financial paths as Gerard’s business had suffered badly during the recent Brisbane floods while she was forging a successful career for herself as an executive for Flight Center. It was also revealed that Clay had a mistress. and some people suggested the murder was an attempt to start a new life without his wife.
4 Chris Watts
On August 13, 2013, Shanann Watts and her two young children were reported missing by her close friend after failing to show up for an appointment or respond to her text messages. The next day, Shanann’s husband Chris appeared on two Denver TV channels pleading for his family’s safe return. However, he did not really show the kind of emotional response one might expect from a man whose loved ones were missing and presumably in danger. From the video, you can judge his demeanor for yourself.
The very next day after this interview was conducted, Chris Watts was arrested on suspicion of murdering his wife, two children, and his third unborn child, who Shanann was pregnant with at the time. It was discovered that Chris was having an affair and had decided to kill his wife and children after an argument about getting a divorce. He eventually confessed to the murders after failing a polygraph test, and on November 19, 2013, he was given five life sentences without the possibility of parole.
3 Margaret and Neil Archer
Margaret and Neil Archer are a murderous (and not very smart) mother and son duo from Mannum, South Australia. They repeatedly made pleas on TV for the safe return of Neil’s girlfriend, Jody Meyers, even though they had already murdered her and buried her body under a concrete floor in their shed.
The video shows the full extent of the moronic pair’s efforts to deceive police, media, and the public while at the same time revealing their terrible crime to investigators by using Jody’s credit cards and cellphone.
In September 2015, nearly a month after Jody was reported missing, detectives swooped in on the Archer property and found her remains under a freshly poured concrete shed floor. Neil was given 22 years for murder, and his mother was sentenced to six years for her role in attempting to help her son cover his tracks.
2 Miles Evans
The video shows Miles Evans, an army truck driver from the UK who smothered his nine-year-old stepdaughter to death, attempting to convince the general public that he is desperate for her safe return. Hours before he appeared in this plea alongside the girl’s mother, Evans had helped in searches for the girl despite allegedly already knowing of her fate.
In the video, Evans’ body language is analyzed by experts, who explain the clear signs that he is being deceptive. He was convicted of murder in 1998 and sentenced to life in jail, although he has always denied the allegations against him.
During the trial, the prosecution declared him to be a callous killer who took his stepdaughter, Zoe, in the middle of the night and may have sexually abused her. The post mortem revealed that she had died from asphyxiation after a t-shirt had been used to gag her. She was also punched in the face before being dumped in a badger den and partially buried near her family home.
1 Kristi Abrahams
Kiesha Abrahams was a “vulnerable and defenseless” six-year-old girl living with her mother Kristi and her mother’s partner, Robert Smith, when she was brutally murdered in her family home. Kiesha had suffered months of abuse, including being punched in the face, bitten, burned by cigarettes, and eventually killed by a blow to the head that came from her mother, the one person who she relied on for protection the most.
Abrahams reported her daughter missing a few days after she murdered her and continued the charade for eight months while authorities searched everywhere for the young girl. She even appeared on TV alongside her ex-husband to tearfully answer questions from the media and increase awareness of the case.
The TV appeal made by a wailing Kristi was recorded a few weeks after the murder, and the apparently distraught mother is seen pleading for her daughter’s safe return, knowing the whole time that Kiesha’s body had been stuffed in a suitcase and burned before being buried in a shallow grave. Kristi was sentenced to 22 years behind bars for murder, while Robert Smith was jailed for at least 12 years for his part in the despicable treatment of a helpless child.