Nov. 4, 2012

A Tale Of Guilt

by Ronald W. Clark, Jr (author's profile)



What is death, but a finality? What is life, but pain?

I understand both sides of the death penalty. So I'd like to share my thought's, my view's, and my tormented tale, a tale of guilt, a tale of pain, and a tale of sorrow, beyond belief.

The story starts early June of 1995. I was lying on my bunk in my 9 x 6...63 square foot cell, here at Union Correctional Institution, one of the two housing units for Florida's Death Row, when the officer's stepped in front of my cell, stating "mail call". On Q, I rumbled off my name and number, "Clark #812974" and he handed me the letter, as he continue down the hall. I looked at the return address, no recognising the name. Connie Bowers. So I immediately pulled the staple out of the envelope, which the mail room placed in it after opening it, and checking it for contraband. I extracted the letter from the envelope, unfolding it. I began to read it, as she told me a little bit about herself, and how she had moved from Ohio to Florida, and had just recently separated. She ended the letter by stating "I am not looking for romance or a young stud, but if you need a friend, I am here. "I immediately sat down and wrote her.

Over the next several month's our letters flowed back and forth in a nice rhythm. We built a friendship like I had never had before. There was so much about my life that she couldn't understand. One of those things was the relationship between my Father and I. I explained to her, that he and I had never had a father-son relationship, it was more like a friendship, a bad friendship. At the age of 6,7 or 8, I was able to sit on the tail gate of his '64 El Comino and have a beer with him. He use to make me fight other kinds, one in particular, he was a neighbour's kid name Jack, who was about three years older than me.

My Father went out of the way to try to make me tough and mean, because my mother was a lesbian, and he feared his son would turn out gay.

I told Connie of a fight in the mid '70's between my mother and father. They were fighting, both drunk, throwing blow for blow, when my father jumped off the ground saying, "I'm going to kill the bitch!". As he ran through the house, I ran behind him, screaming and crying. When I reached the bedroom door, I saw him pull the shotgun down off the gun rack. I turned around and my mother was behind me. I stood in front of her, crying, as my father stood before us with a 12 gauge shot gun, screaming, "Move Ronnie!" My step mother was in the background screaming, "Please don't Wayne!"

I don't know if it was my tears or her screams that convinced him to let is leave, but she got out of there alive. It would be month's before I, an 8 year old kid, would chance 'nother encounter with him. At 15 years old, I dropped out of school, and started dealing drugs for my father. No curfews, most night's I wouldn't even show up. I was selling drug's and hanging around with guys ten or fifteen years older than me. Connie couldn't comprehend what kind of father would allow this. Thus, she kept insisting on meeting him. I kept saying no. Sure he was my father, sure I loved him... but I did not respect him, not did I like him. He would show up once or twice a year for a visit, and as far as I was concerned that was enough.

In late September of 1995. against my better judgement, I broke down and gave Connie his address and phone number. I heard they spoke on the phone quite a few times. They met, and went out on several dates. I tried to tell her she could do better, she didn't listen. In November of 1995, Connie was finally approved to visit, and she came up to see me, bringing him along. By December if 1995 they moved in together, and in August of 1996 they were married.

That summer, I had met a woman named Brandi, from Texas. Her and I became really close, and in October of 1996, after months of writing about my case, for which I am under a sentence of death, Brandi came out and asked about getting me a lawyer. She asked me to check around, and the name of Barnard Daily came up, an attorney out of Tallahassee. So Connie called him and told him about my case. He agreed to take the case for $44,000. I told Brandi, and gave her Connie's phone number. The night she called, Connie had to leave for work early, so my father answered the phone. I never shared anything with him, for he was on a "need to know" basis only, and as far as I was concerned he didn't need to know anything when it came to me, for I didn't feel any love for him.

One time in the summer of '96 I asked him there in front of Connie, "Dad, how about coming up here once a week, for a few hours, just to get me out of this cage?" He said, "I ain't coming up here every weekend." I looked over at her, and she looked at him with disbelief. Another time over that summer, I received $20 from him. When Connie showed up for a visit, I sat down with her. I said, "I love you, but don't ever make him do that again. I don't want him to do anything that he doesn't want to do, and I've only received money one other time under his name, and that was $15 for my birthday in 1992, and he didn't send it, my stepmother Francis did. I said to Connie, "you send me money out of love, because you want to, not because you have to, so please, never again." He never did again.

But on that November night in 1996, he answered the phone and spoke to Brandi and found out that she was going to hire an attorney. I found out later that they spoke several other times over that week. Brandi never did speak with Connie. That next weekend, Connie and my father showed up. We had a nice visit, but as they were leaving he gave me a hub and said, "Son, no matter what happens, always know that I love you." I pulled back and looked at him, wondering what it was all about, but I could only watch as they left, visiting hours were over. I would find out soon enough what that was all about.

The next day at mail call, I laid back on my bunk and opened Brandi's letter, and in her very sentence she stated, "You sorry S.O.B., your father told me everything! How you and Connie are trying to con me out of my money." I threw the letter down, and I felt sick. I felt hot flashes running through me. No, he wouldn't!!! Sacrifice his own son!!! Let his first born go to the electric chair, just so he could live more comfortably!!! NO!!! But he did. Love? This is love?!! I threw my locker at the door, how could he?!! I laid back on my bunk and the tears ran down my cheeks, it felt like someone was standing on my chest.

I tried to understand why? Why would he do this? How could he do this? He knew that money would save my life. After a while I put it all together. The words he whispered in my ear. So I wrote to Connie and said, "please come see me this weekend, it is very important, and don't bring that bum!" I then sat down and wrote to Brandi, I said, "I don't expect you to believe this, but everything he said to you is a lie." I said, "here is what is fixing to happen...he is going to continue to call you and even write to you and send you photos, he is coming to Texas, and going to leave Connie, and try to get with you for the money. I know what you are thinking, no way would a father do this to his son and abandon his son on death row for financial gain." I said, "just wait, wait and see."

Connie showed up that weekend, and I told her what all had taken place. She was shocked, in total disbelief. She said, "how could he?" I responded, "he always has, and he always will put himself first. A loving father doesn't put a beer in his little son's hand, a loving father doesn't put his 15 year old son on the street, selling drug's for financial gain. He is a bum, he was a bum the day I was born, and he will be a bum until the day that I die. "She said, "that explains why he has been getting the Bronco ready, he is planning a trip to Texas". She left out of the visiting park that day more confused that I had ever seen her. She left him in December of 1996 because of that. Brandi would send me a card which my father had sent her, with photos of him enclosed, wearing no shirt. Yep! He did exactly what I said he would do.

He and I would correspond for a few more months. In late January of 1997, Connie would come in to visit. As we sat there, I asked her, "and she stopped mid sentence. I finished it for her, "Fernandina". She said yes. I said, "you are back with Dad?" She said, "Ronnie, you of all people know what it is like to be alone, and I don't want to be alone. I responded, "you can do better, he is a bum and he always will be!" She tried to justify his actions. I wouldn't accept it. I told her I never wanted to see him again. She tried, Oh how she tried to get me to forgive him.

In mid February of 1997 I got into a fight and went into disciplinary confinement (DC) there are no visits, only mail. So Connie and I wrote two or three times a week. I knew my father was looking at my letters, so every letter I would ask "how's the bum doing?" He wrote a letter with blood on it and said, "you can't deny that," with an arrow pointing to the blood. Connie told me, "your dad is reading your mail, and he gets upset when you call him a bum." She wrote, and said, "when you get off of D.C. I'll be up there to get you out of that cage every weekend, I don't care what your dad says. I received that letter on March 26, 1997. I would receive another on March 27th or 28th. On March 31, 1997 at noon, I was doing cell clean up. I had just swept my cell and the officer was standing there talking to me, when he asked, "Was that guy in the Lake City newspaper last week related to you?" I said who, and he replied "Ronald Clark." I asked "Ronald Wayne Clark, Sr.?" He said "yea". I was backing away from my cell bars. I didn't want to know. I knew I didn't, but it came out. "What did he do?" When the officer responded, "he killed his wife." NO. NO. NO.

I threw one punch, and then another into the concrete wall. My chest hurt, my head hurt, I felt as if someone had just stomped my heart into the ground. Why did I give her his number? Why???!! I might as well have killed her myself. I laid down on the bunk and cried and cried and cried until I couldn't cry anymore. I hoped and prayed that someone would tell me it is not her, that is was a bad joke, or a dream, or anything but the truth. I hated him! I wanted him dead! An eye for an eye!

I would later learn some of the accounts that lead up to it. They had gotten into an argument the morning of March 24, 1997. Neighbors would say they heard her scream "Please don't, Wayne!" as he chased her out of the house, shooting her with a 12 gauge shotgun. As she continued to try to escape, the coward shot her down in the front yard, laid the shotgun down, sat on the front porch, and waited for the cops to arrive.

Hearing those details of her pleading for her life further infuriated me. I would lay in bed thinking of how I could kill him. I would hurt to my soul, to the deepest part of my heart. I felt guilt, sorrow and pain like no one could feel, for I believed the bum murdered her because she spoke out against him, about me. Maybe about him screwing up the chance of getting me a good lawyer.

The State Attorney was seeking the death penalty for him. At first I wanted him dead, and would have killed him if given the chance. The more and more I thought about it, death was too easy. For he would be escaping his pain filled life, into the unknown. Escaping into a spiritual world of peace and tranquillity? Escaping from the punishment that I want for him. Yes, death was far too easy. Life in prison, that was what I wanted for him. The State Attorney would later offer a plea bargain, on part of Connie's family. He would accept.

In November 2000 he would be sentenced to spend the rest of his natural life in prison. I would later correspond with him. I started off that correspondence seeking the answer to the one question I yearned to know...why did he kill her? He would never reveal it to me. He said that he didn't remember any of it. Yet, he told the homicide detectives years earlier that he killed her because she bad mouthed his mother. I don't believe that for a second.

I even tried to forgive him. That was Connie's goal to begin repair an unrepairable father and son relationship. I tried, but I just couldn't do it. I was torn between love and hate. I last saw my father on that November day in 1996 when he whispered in my ear, "no matter what happened, Son, always know that I love you." I had enough guilt to deal with before any of this happened, but the guilt, the pain and the tremendous amount of sorrow he placed on my shoulders was anything but love. When he shot and murdered her on March 24, 1997, he killed half of me too. I would not wish what I feel on anyone.

So as I sit here, on death row, I know both sides of the revenge factor. I also realize that life is full of pain, and death is the finality to that pain. I realize that I am here for a purpose and although I can't see, and sometimes can't understand what purpose, I must carry on to fulfil my purpose in life, and yet carry on with guilt.


Replies (21) Replies feed

AlecZisi Posted 9 years ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years ago   Favorite

It brings me sorrow to hear of your story, but strength to hear that you will carry on with the guilt because you know that you have a purpose you will fulfill. Your story reminds me that where you currently are does not determine where you'll go, but where you'll start. I wish you nothing but the best in the future.

-Alec Zisi

iThinkB4uAct1981 Posted 9 years ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years ago   Favorite
Wow! Speechless. So Sorry this happened to you! Do you ever see your father in prison? That is so sad.

arcadiaego Posted 9 years ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years ago   Favorite
Hi Ronald,

Wow, what a story. I am so very sorry that you have experienced such things. it sounds like your father is a very immature and pathetic person, who has caused much damage to you as well as other people in his life. I hope you don't still feel as responsible for Connie's death as you did, as it sounds like she was a person who wanted to try and fix people and was determined to get in touch with your father.

iThinkB4uAct1981 Posted 9 years ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years ago   Favorite
I agree with what arcadiaego said.... it was not your fault for her passing. She was a grown woman and knew what she was getting herself into. Looks like your father is suffering everyday for what he did to her. That is so sad. She is in a better place...

SAH Posted 9 years ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years ago   Favorite
why is this sob story any more relevant than the victim of your crime? You remember that murder, right? How horribly sad for this woman (her family). You and your father have committed the most heinous of acts. Go away, Mr. Clarke.

SAH Posted 9 years ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years ago   Favorite
Mr Clarke - you need only to atone for the murder you are convicted of. The one you have repeatedly posted you are guilty of. The guilt post sounds like you are trying to *pin* your act on someone else. You commit murder (trial/jury) and you are on death row. I'm pretty sure your number will be up soon. Personally, I'll have a steak with baked potato when they execute you. I always make a salad and I'll do a mighty cobb salad in your honor.

SAH Posted 9 years ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years ago   Favorite
I forgot to add.........CYA, WOULDN'T WANT TO BE YA

SAH Posted 9 years ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years ago   Favorite
As a grandmother (caretaker) of teenagers I'd like to see monsters like Mr Clarke executed. I work and pay to assure my grandchildren live a life that does not include *monsters*.

SAH Posted 9 years ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years ago   Favorite
VICTIM OF CRIME: I am raising my grandchildren. What were YOU thinking when you pulled your punk robbery? You have espoused about the hiring practices at your prison....anyone with a pulse gets hired. Why didn't you get a job? Instead you hijack a good sam and kill him.

SAH Posted 9 years ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years ago   Favorite
I won't be visiting this site again until Mr Clarke is executed. I don't agree with the death penalty EXCEPT in cases like this. I am a grandmother raising teenagers due to violent crime.

iThinkB4uAct1981 Posted 9 years ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years ago   Favorite
SAH - how do you look up people's backgrounds before writing to them?

SAH Posted 9 years ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years ago   Favorite
google is youe friend, ithinkb4uact981

iThinkB4uAct1981 Posted 9 years ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years ago   Favorite
Google is my friend, it is working. I think I will write to Mr. Clark and ask him myself.

Schneehase Posted 9 years ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years ago   Favorite
if you´re against the death penalty EXCEPT in cases like this and you´d like to see "monsters like Mr. Clark executed", then you are NOT against death penalty. ;-)

Ronald W. Clark, Jr Posted 8 years, 11 months ago.   Favorite
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Ronald W. Clark, Jr Posted 8 years, 11 months ago.   Favorite
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Ronald W. Clark, Jr Posted 8 years, 11 months ago.   Favorite
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iThinkB4uAct1981 Posted 8 years, 5 months ago. ✓ Mailed 8 years, 4 months ago   Favorite
Ronnie: Well said honey. Sometimes you have to be the bigger person. Some things are just better left unsaid... and if you must say something, then just kill them with kindness!


Ronald W. Clark, Jr Posted 8 years, 3 months ago.   Favorite
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iThinkB4uAct1981 Posted 8 years, 3 months ago. ✓ Mailed 8 years, 2 months ago   Favorite
I am super duper busy these days.... but I will try to get you a letter out. Hope all is well your way...


Ronald W. Clark, Jr Posted 8 years, 1 month ago.   Favorite
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