When I asked him about reports that he had killed over one hundred people, he actually chuckled and shook his head at the naïveté of nonmurderers: “They have no idea what it takes to do one, what it takes out of you.”

I asked him if the figure of thirty-five, which I’d seen in other accounts, was correct. He paused, stared at me, and scanned his censor to decide whether to admit such a detail – because that was where he had always drawn the line before. he had freely implied everything, but never admitted one detail, like some superstitious child’s idea of what could be held against him.

He finally nodded and mumbled, “Yes.” 

Ted’s conversation with Polly Nelson on January 22, 1989. From Defending the Devil by Polly Nelson.

“They have no idea what it takes to do one”

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