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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Prison Wives, Prison Husbands
Aired February 26, 2010 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, prison husbands and prison wives married to convicted killers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I fell in love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Wed to criminals and jailed forever.
Why did they do it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had nothing to lose. So that's why I married him. I just took a chance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're going to take you behind bars and inside the lives of the most unusual marriages ever.
Weddings, conjugal visits.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a part of what makes our relationship work. It's one part. It's not the only part.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Locked up, in love and intimate look at a cold, hard world of passion that knows no bounds. Next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening. Interesting show tonight. Some very interesting guests to welcome the LARRY KING LIVE. A fascinating look at love behind bars.
Pam Booker is married to Lance Booker. Lance is serving two life sentences without parole for first-degree murder. Pam is a social worker. And Tim McDonald, retired airline captain, flew every equipment the airlines flew, father of two children from a previous marriage. He's married to Deion Harris, a 38-year-old grandmother serving life without parole for felony murder. Tim and his wife met on the Internet while she was in prison.
Their stories can be seen on a new show, "Prison Wives," on Investigation Discovery.
Pam, how did you happen to hook up with Lance?
PAM BOOKER, MARRIED TO CONVICTED MURDERER: Lance and I met when we were both working as counselors for the same human service agency, so we were together before prison.
KING: What crime was he convicted of?
BOOKER: He -- well, let me first just state that he was innocent of the crime for which he was convicted, and he was --
KING: You could believe he's innocent now?
BOOKER: Yes. Yes. The facts bear that out. He was charged and convicted of first-degree murder.
KING: And you believe he did not commit that murder?
BOOKER: No, he did not.
KING: Is he on appeal?
BOOKER: Yes, we're in the middle of the appeal process. It's a very slow process. So in that world, we're in our infancy stages.
KING: What prison is he in?
BOOKER: He's in Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, way up north by the Canadian border.
KING: You got to go see him a lot?
BOOKER: Yes. Fortunately, we live about two-and-a-half or three-hour drive, so we get up there as much as we can, pretty much like three times a month.
KING: Ever married before?
BOOKER: No. No.
KING: Tim McDonald, a retired airline pilot, married to six years to Deion Harris.
How did you meet Deion?
TIM MCDONALD, MARRIED TO CONVICTED MURDERER: I was doing Internet research. I was actually researching prisons, and the culture of prisons because I had a construction company with guys in trouble with the law. I would visit six prisons in six states by using the Internet to locate prisoners that would send me a visitation form. So I actually -- her picture caught my attention, and then I sent her a letter, and the letter that came back, the handwriting caught my attention.
KING: The handwriting?
MCDONALD: The handwriting on the envelope caught my attention way before anything else. I didn't even open the letter, I just stared at it, saying who is this person?
KING: Here is your wife -- here's how your wife describes getting together with you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEION HARRIS, CONVICTED MURDERER: He was a retired airline pilot. I'm like, what is a retired airline pilot doing writing a lady in prison who has life without parole? I let him visit me, I guess, a year after I met him. We visited a lot. And me talking to him made me feel secure with him. Because everything I told him he didn't run away from it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Who did your wife kill?
MCDONALD: She didn't kill anybody. Felony murder. She was there when an abusive man killed someone else, but she was there.
KING: Just being there, she got life?
MCDONALD: She got the same sentence.
MCDONALD: Well, there were three of them, actually. All three -- well, the killer plea-bargained to testify against the other two, and in exchange he got the same sentence as them.
KING: Was it a robbery?
MCDONALD: Yes. Robbery, kidnapping, broke down vehicle.
KING: You had a family, did you not? You had a wife and kids?
MCDONALD: My children were grown at the time that I met her, actually.
KING: Did you leave your wife for her?
MCDONALD: No, I did not.
KING: You were divorced?
MCDONALD: Marriage hadn't ended. The paperwork hadn't been signed. The marriage was over.
KING: And you knew going in, the odds, right, on marrying someone who was doing life?
MCDONALD: I didn't intend to marry somebody. I didn't meet her, nor did I even start visiting her intending to marry her. I mean -- I'll tell you up front.
KING: What happened?
MCDONALD: I fell in love. It was nine years ago in January. I watched her with her two children in that prison. At the end of that time, I said, anybody working as hard as you to raise children from a prison cell deserve help, and I guess I'm it.
KING: The children are with her?
MCDONALD: The children were with her parents in the community that she was convicted of. They were three and four when she went to prison, and she was still trying to raise them from the prison cell. They were 10 and 11 when I met them.
KING: Do you take care of them?
MCDONALD: They never lived with me. I was never able to get them into my house. I moved to Huntington, Tennessee for that purpose.
KING: How often do you see your wife?
MCDONALD: I see her every weekend. I saw her last Saturday and Sunday, and I'll see her this Saturday and Sunday.
KING: Pam, your husband was convicted of first-degree murder.
We're going to take a look at what happen. Here's a clip from the program "Prison Wives."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: According to investigators, Lance and the mastermind lured Drabik to a quite neighborhood to discuss a carpentry job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The shooter walked up to Chris, went to shake his hand and pulled out a gun and shot him in the chest. The shooter ran away, ran back to the vehicle that had the mastermind and Lance Booker in it. And they fled the scene, and they left Chris dying in the street.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The man who played a key role in the death of a police informant will spend the rest of his life behind bars. Lance Booker was sentenced in Rensselaer County court this morning.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: He was sitting in the car. Did he know something was going to take place?
BOOKER: No, he did not. He thought they were going to do something else. Going some place. He thought they were coming to New York City. And so he hopped in the backseat to go to sleep. And he was asleep when, in fact, they went.
KING: How the hell was he convicted?
BOOKER: There were a whole lot of things that went on for them. There were some of it is similar to Tim's situation, the theory of conspiracy and being there. The interesting part was he was convicted of conspiring with who was referred to in the clip as the mastermind, but the mastermind was never charged or convicted of conspiracy.
All right, we'll be back with more. Obviously, there are extenuating circumstances in both of these cases.
A man who was married to a follower of Charles Manson is here next. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her crimes were horrific. Unimaginable acts of violence, and her behavior afterwards, the stares and smiles at the camera was as disturbing to some as her deranged leader, Charles Manson. Among Susan Atkins victims, actress Sharon Tate and her unborn child. Investigators say they were stabbed 16 times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Pam Booker and Tim McDonald are with us here in New York.
Joining us now from Los Angeles is James Whitehouse. He was married to Susan Atkins, a Mason Family disciple until her death in 2009. Susan was serving life in prison for her role in the infamous taped LaBianca murders. They were married back in 1987.
James, how did you meet Susan?
JAMES WHITEHOUSE, WIFE WAS MANSON'S FOLLOWER, SUSAN ATKINS: Well, she wrote a book in 1977, and about 1985, I was able to find it. I was going through a point in my life were I was trying to get out of partying, and I found this book, and it was mainly about her Born Again experience, but it talked about how she had turned her life around from death row, and it was hard for me not to decide that if she could do it from that environment, I certainly could get my act together with all the advantages that I had in life.
KING: How did you get to meet her? How did you go to meet her? WHITEHOUSE: Well, I realized that at that time there was only one women's prison in California, and at the time, it was the largest women's prison in the world. And so I wrote her.
KING: Is that in Chino?
WHITEHOUSE: Yes. And so I wrote her mainly for encouragement as I went through these changes in my life, and she wrote back, and I was surprised at how articulate she was and how intelligent and how encouraging. And So I just kept writing her.
KING: You got married in prison?
WHITEHOUSE: Yes, in 1987.
KING: What did you get out of the marriage?
WHITEHOUSE: A heck of a lot, probably the same thing that you get out of your marriage. Incredible support, someone who was always there. Susan had an incredible background being older than me. When I met Susan, I was a dropout from junior college, and win a couple years, I had moved on to get a scholarship at the University of California, where I graduated from two degrees, summa cum laude and magna cum laude. And I went on to get accepted to Harvard Law School, where I also graduated with honor. And this is -- the only way that you can do that is if you have a heck of a lot of support.
KING: But you slept alone?
WHITEHOUSE: No. Actually, at that time in California, we had family visits.
KING: Oh you did?
WHITEHOUSE: They were eliminated in 1996, I believe. So, yes, we have nine years where I was able to go up and spend time with her.
KING: Do you have conjugal visits, Pam?
BOOKER: Yes, we do.
KING: Do you have them, Tim?
MCDONALD: No, I do not.
KING: Tim, your wife had a role in the murder of a man who stopped to help her on the road. She flagged down the drive, pretending to need help. And her two accomplices attacked him and shot him.
Let's watch what happened next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And in the still of the night, the unimaginable occurred. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They took off both legs. They lacerated one arm.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But the crime didn't end there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Using the butcher knife that they had brought from Teresa's house, Walter said that he did remove the heart. At that time, it was passed around to each person.
HARRIS: And he gave it to me. He put it in my hand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And each person was supposed to put their lips on it. They were supposed to kiss the heart.
HARRIS: And I knew he knew that I was nervous. And I couldn't show fear that night. Because if you show fear, then you can get hurt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Is she appealing, Tim?
MCDONALD: Her appeals are done.
MCDONALD: We're finished.
KING: So she's got life?
MCDONALD: She has life without parole unless she gets a gubernatorial commutation.
KING: Have you applied for that?
MCDONALD: Not yet. (INAUDIBLE) last year, we will.
KING: Do you expect California to reinstate conjugal visits?
KING: Tennessee, right.
MCDONALD: No. They've never had them.
KING: Does it ever been proposed?
KING: I don't know of it. I don't know they're being proposed in Tennessee.
You're probably asking, what a prison wedding like? Can a husband and wife kiss, hold hands, wear white?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS: My name is Teresa Deion Smith Harris.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Deion Harris is a prison wife, but she's the one behind bars.
MCDONALD: My name is Tim McDonald.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tim McDonald fell in love with Deion through letters and visits, and married her, even though he knew her sentence.
MCDONALD: I'm married to a woman serving life without the possibility of parole.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And knew her crime -- murder.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was just so particularly bad with the dismemberment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But Tim didn't care. And soon ended his 32-year marriage, and started a new family.
HARRIS: He's a good man.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, Tim defends the wife he loves, despite concerns from his own family and total strangers who were out to get him.
MCDONALD: A rock through the front window in a community life this is sort of like a burning cross.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What keeps them together, and how do they live apart.
HARRIS: When you're incarcerated, you feel like everybody hates you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Pam Booker, Tim McDonald, James Whitehouse, all married to people in prison.
James, of course, is now a widower. We welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE, Vernell Crittendon. He is the former public information officer for San Quentin State prison in California during his many years there. He oversaw the weddings of high-profile inmates, and he's been a fairly frequent guest on this show.
Vernell, did you conduct the wedding?
VERNELL CRITTENDON, FORMER PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, SAN QUENTIN: No, I didn't conduct it, but I was involved with the background information on preparing the life row inmate or death row inmate for marriage.
KING: Is it easy to get married in prison? CRITTENDON: Well, I don't think it's difficult, but there is a process that they will have to go through beginning with petitioning to be considered for marriage, and then scheduling with a counselor to prepare all of the necessary paperwork for the marriage.
KING: What happens at the marriage?
CRITTENDON: Well, actually, we do it in a visiting room here at San Quentin, as I think is similar to most of the state prisons in California. And at that time, you will have a group of people -- we do ours once a month that will be coming in to get married. And it would be like seeing the Justice of the Peace. We have a notary on staff. We will then do the ceremony, and then we allow about an hour to two-hour visit following that ceremony for the wedding party.
KING: Private visit?
CRITTENDON: No. About 1996 we stopped providing family visiting rights to individuals serving life sentences, or those that are on death row.
CRITTENDON: It was centered around security and safety issues. And so based on that, our facilities were located outside of the secure area. And the State of California then suspended that privilege to that classification of inmate. So normally all they would receive would be that two-hour visit, and then after that, they could come in on regular visiting times and visit in the visiting room.
KING: Could they kiss at the wedding?
CRITTENDON: Yes, they are allowed to embrace at the wedding. They do that traditional kiss at the point that they are joined as partners, and they can embrace and kiss at their first meeting as well as just prior to leaving the visiting room.
KING: Did it puzzle you -- so all -- prisoners that got married when you were there were all men, right? San Quentin is a men's prison?
CRITTENDON: Yes, that is correct.
KING: Did it puzzle you why women married men in prison who are there for life or on death row?
CRITTENDON: Well, it was something that did interest me. And I went to great effort to reach out to the prospective brides and spend some time talking with them just to kind of see what type of a person they were. It wasn't part of my duties, but it was something that I had some interest in. So I had an opportunity to talk to about 200 women that came in during my 16 years in the warden's office as a public information officer.
KING: Was there a rule of thumb that ran through most of them? CRITTENDON: Well, you know, I have to say that it's anecdotal information. It's nothing that I can say that applies to everyone or most people. But the ones that I have spoken with, I found that there was a rule of thumb that I felt most of them had been victims of male abuse during their lives. And I think that that was some of the issues that they were wrestling with when they came to a prison to seek out -- to find their soul mates.
I found that they were also very committed, though, to those men behind the bars, where they believed in their innocence and were willing to do whatever they could do to assist them.
KING: Did any of the marriages that you observed result in the execution of the prisoner?
CRITTENDON: No. None of the 13 executions that I've attended or married were inmates that were married. No.
KING: Tim, how often do you see your wife?
MCDONALD: I see her every weekend.
KING: Every weekend?
MCDONALD: I'll skip a weekend, but I don't skip more than one.
KING: But you can't be alone with her?
KING: Pam, how often do you see your husband?
BOOKER: As often as possible, usually about three times a month. But we do have the conjugal visits.
KING: How does that work? They put you in a room, where you stay overnight? What?
BOOKER: Yes. In New York State, they're known as family reunion program visits and as for the entire family. So any of his immediate family, spouse, kids, parents.
KING: Do you have romantic time together?
BOOKER: Yes, we do. We're set up in an apartment-like setting...
KING: On the prison grounds.
BOOKER: ...on prison grounds, yes, but separate from the main facilities.
KING: Remaining faithful to a spouse in prison cannot be easy. That's next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This should be fun. But shopping for a prison outfit is not as simple as it might seem.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fashion designers don't seem to match- up with the Department of Corrections regulations. You know, they have real restrictions on what we wear.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Low-cut and sleeveless tops are out. Clothes with metal studs may set off the scanners and slow down the visit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: James Whitehouse, did you -- you were able to visit Susan before they stopped conjugal visits in California, right?
KING: OK. When they stopped it, were you ticked?
WHITEHOUSE: Yes. But certainly that's not the reason you marry someone, and that's not the reason you stay with them. So, yes, it was annoying, but ironically that wasn't the main thing I got out of our marriage.
KING: But for you, Pam, it has to be important, one would wonder. Physical togetherness.
BOOKER: Yes, it's a part of what makes our relationship work. It's one part. It's not the only part. Sometimes the most important part of a family reunion visit is just having time together alone, sometimes just to watch a movie, to do nothing at all.
KING: Do you think all prison should allow conjugal visits?
BOOKER: Absolutely. Empirical research does play this out that it is beneficial to keeping families united. It helps reduce recidivism rates. It helps reduce intergenerational crime. And it helps keep the prisons in order, because it gives the prisoners something to work toward.
KING: An outlook.
BOOKER: Yes. They're not a right that's given to everyone. They're a privilege, so they have to be earned. So it's a way of prisons to maintain passive control.
KING: Tim, have you ever cheat on your wife?
MCDONALD: No, I have not.
KING: Ever think about it?
MCDONALD: I've thought about it many times. KING: What prevents you? She would never know?
MCDONALD: I probably -- I don't have any interest. I love my wife. I admire her, I respect her and I just have not found that interest in another woman.
KING: Vernell, were you there when Richard Ramirez got married?
CRITTENDON: Yes, I was. I was actually part of the wedding ceremony.
KING: He was known as what?
CRITTENDON: Richard Ramirez was known as the night stalker.
KING: The night stalker.
Well, who married them?
CRITTENDON: One of the staff in San Quentin as we do Justice of the Peace-type ceremony.
KING: Don't a lot of people ask you, Tim, puzzled by why you would enter into a marriage. You're handsome, young man. You're still young. You're an airline pilot. And you got amazing credentials.
MCDONALD: Well, I'm flattered and honored at 65.
KING: Don't a lot of people ask you, Tim, what do you get out of this?
MCDONALD: No, they actually don't. Most people don't really -- they speculate behind, but nobody ever comes up to ask me, and probably because I'm so up front about the fact that I love her. I love her and respect her. And I get all the emotionally supportive things that you get from any spouse or should get from any spouse. But you're talking about in-house? Well, all right. But at my age, it's easier to take than, say, if I was 35.
KING: Is it hard to be faithful, Pam?
BOOKER: No. No. My marriage is the same with him inside as it was with him outside.
BOOKER: We do things differently. I was faithful to him when he was outside. I'm faithful to him now that he's inside. I will say, however, that that family reunion program does make that easier.
KING: Of course, because you know you can have that.
BOOKER: Yes. I don't have to struggle with the dilemma that Tim and some of the others might have about --
KING: Did it make things easier for you, James?
WHITEHOUSE: I was younger then, and it probably made a difference. It wasn't hard to stay faithful to her when those were discontinued. When you're in love with someone, you believe in them, that's who you're thinking about. And as Tim said, if I had cheated on her, no one would have known but me, and that would have been too much.
KING: Vernell, is it true that Scott Peterson, the infamous Scott Peterson, after being convicted of his wife's murder, had dozens of women try to meet him?
CRITTENDON: Well, actually, I received a number of calls in the office shortly after we had incarcerated Scott Peterson onto death row. And yes, there were a number of them that were very interested in trying to establish a romantic relationship with Scott Peterson.
We'll be right back.
Another incredible story of a prison wife. Her husband serving a life term.
Stay with us.
KING: We'll spend a few moments in Tampa, Florida with Latoya Marion, married to Cornelius Marion, who is 20 years into serving a life sentence for grand theft auto and armed robbery. They've been married for 14 years. And her story can be seen on that new show we're talking about, "Prison Wives." It premiers Valentine's night, Sunday night, February 14th, on the Investigation Discovery Channel.
Latoya, how did you meet Cornelius?
LATOYA MARION, MARRIED TO CONVICTED MURDERER: I met Cornelius through his cousin. I grew up with his cousin and -- and I just asked her one day, do you have any cousins I could talk to?
KING: And he said, yes --
MARION: So we --
KING: -- he's in prison?
MARION: Yes. Well, she said I have two cousins and one have a condition.
I said, what is that?
She said, he's imprisoned but he only have three more years to do. So I was like, OK, maybe we can do the three years. I'll see what it's about -- you know, what it's all about. I wrote him and found out he had a life sentence. KING: But that didn't dissuade you.
MARION: It kind of, because the first thing I asked him, what did you do, murder somebody?
And he was like, no, it was my score sheet -- you know, I had a whole bunch of priors that Florida make you repay for. And so I said, well, I'm going to re -- research your case and see if you're telling the truth and if you're telling the truth, I'll help you fight to the end. But if you're not, I'm going to leave you so.
KING: All right, you -- you're still with him.
Here's your husband, by the way, Cornelius, describing what it was like hearing from you.
This is a clip from "Prison Wives" on Investigation Discovery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CORNELIUS MARION, PRISONER: It was funny because one day I just got a letter and I thought it was my cousin writing me. So during count time I opened the letter and read it and a picture fell out. And I -- who is this here?
I was a typical guy incarcerated, you know. I wasn't married, single. And it was like, um, OK, you know, it probably won't amount to nothing, but we'll see anyway.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: It sure did amount to something, 14 years.
Latoya, can you have a physical relationship in Florida?
MARION: No, we can't. If I could, I wouldn't fight his case.
KING: And what are you --
KING: What are you fighting for?
MARION: What I found out in his case is he was too tall to be the suspect of a robbery case and, also, he had priors that he wasn't even arrested for, that was on his score sheet that belonged to another man.
KING: Where do you stand in your fight?
MARION: We just won the court case January 20th before Judge Susan Saxton (ph). She granted -- she took off a law that they was trying to put on us called Latches -- the Doctrine of Latches, saying the case was too old to even confront the evidence that was factual evidence.
KING: So now you can confront it?
MARION: Yes. Now we go back on March 16th to get the score sheet reduced from a life sentence to maybe about 20 years and he walk out.
KING: Why did you marry someone in prison?
MARION: Because what happened is I was not intentionally trying to marry him. My cousin had died and I felt like if I -- well, if -- you just look at my life today. I was just going to college, and if I die, what have I accomplished?
I had no kids, so I had nothing to lose. So that's why I married him. I just took a chance.
KING: But how about the prospect of meeting men outside of prison?
MARION: The men that I met outside of prison didn't have a plan. This man had a plan. He was writing his cousin, so he wasn't playing games with his cousin. He didn't know I was reading his letters. So that's the reason why I was interested in him.
KING: Is it true that you carry around clothes in your car for the day he gets out?
MARION: Yes, it's true.
MARION: I have everything ready. I've been thanking God for his EOS from the day I met him. I just -- that's -- that's the way of -- my symbolization of my faith for his release.
KING: Latoya what keeps you going in this?
MARION: Just God empowers me. He gave me the power to do it. I just kept going to church and just kept thanking God, you know, just kept fighting the injustice.
How could you walk away from the injustice?
So I had -- I mean, I was fighting really not for him, but the injustice.
KING: Don't you miss being able to touch the man you love?
MARION: Yes, I cried every night. I burned, I cried, I screamed, I hollered. I hate it. Then I just stopped crying one day and started forgiving and started fighting the case.
KING: Good luck, Latoya.
We're going to follow up on this. MARION: OK. Great. Thank you.
KING: Latoya Marion.
By the way, why on Earth would someone marry a person, a convicted criminal, no hope of getting out?
We're going to ask an expert what she thinks, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tim holds on to a few things that help him feel closer to Dion (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Found one of these in a scrap yard. That's a prison toilet, came out of a jail in Madison County.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is actually trying to live in a space and feel what I feel every night when I go to bed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Remaining with us are Pam Booker, Tim McDonald and James Whitehouse.
And joining us here in New York is Dr. Robi Ludwig, psychotherapist, contributor to Care.com, a frequent guest on this program.
What's your read on this?
DR. ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: You know, it's very interesting. You know, it's very easy to judge and say oh my gosh, these people are in prison, they're dangerous, how can anybody get into this kind of relationship?
But the studies show that for women who get involved with these men, these men are very seductive and attentive. And they can really give attention to a woman in a way that a man who's busy in life really can't. You know, a man who has a job, is working, is juggling children, paying bills, is frazzled, is going out with the guys, has a lot of freedom, probably won't focus on a woman in the way that a man in prison will.
KING: Is Pam a little different since she was with her guy before he went to prison?
LUDWIG: That is a little bit different. That is a different situation, because they had a pre-existing relationship.
KING: All right.
LUDWIG: It is different than somebody who becomes a pen pal and then falls in love. KING: How do you explain Tim and James?
So I would love to know a little bit more about your background and what it is you find appealing about this relationship?
What do you think drew you in?
MCDONALD: First, I don't consider her dangerous.
MCDONALD: I don't -- I do not consider her dangerous. She has a dependent personality disorder.
MCDONALD: It's just battered women complex.
MCDONALD: I have to say, though, that, really, she had two children. They were 10 and 11. And I -- I -- I looked at those kids and I said those kids are going to follow you to prison unless something is done. And I guess I was just in a place in my life where my kids were grown. I have two children -- I've got two daughters, 31 and --
KING: Well, that's the caretaker approach.
MCDONALD: You're correct.
LUDWIG: And that's so --
LUDWIG: There was something about taking care of young children that probably resonated with you. It was something you were good at. So you can feel like a good man in this role. And everybody wants to feel good about themselves.
KING: How about James Whitehouse, though, married to the late Susan Atkins, a Manson family disciple?
LUDWIG: Yes, you know it's -- it's -- a lot of it is who does this person remind you of?
And in some cases, if you are drawn to somebody -- in most cases, who are -- you know, who's dangerous, in a -- in a way you're protecting yourself. You're with a dangerous personality, but there are boundaries that keep you protected. And then for the person who's notorious, a celebrity of sorts, that personality says, you know what, I like the idea of being with a celebrity and I'm probably not going to be with a regular celebrity. I might get an autograph, but I'm not going to get a marriage proposal.
So the opportunity to be with somebody who makes history in some way is a powerful pull for some people.
KING: James, you buy any of that?
KING: She was a celebrity.
WHITEHOUSE: Yes, but this is the second show in 24 years I've ever been on and -- and the only reason I've come on this show and the other show is when Susan was fighting for her compassionate release.
What drew me to Susan initially was -- was I helped kicking this addictive disorder while I was fighting for my life. I once told someone that when you're drowning, you don't pay attention to who's throwing a life preserver to you.
After I got to meet her, I was just overcome with the number of people that she touches of a -- or of lives she touches. And -- and because of her notoriety, ironically. And I wanted to be a part of that. I -- I had gotten a little older and -- and realized that that's really how you define yourself in life, isn't by how many TV shows your on, it's how many lives you touch. And she was able to do that in -- in a way that few of us have an opportunity to do.
KING: James seems like a very good man, Robi.
LUDWIG: Yes. And -- and I'm certainly not saying that these people aren't --
KING: So does Tim.
LUDWIG: -- good people.
KING: So does Pam.
LUDWIG: They all seem like lovely people. They're -- they're lovely to sit next to and everybody --
LUDWIG: -- and everybody certainly has their story. And what you find with these relationships is a mental connection more than a physical connection.
KING: We're going to connect you with Pam's husband in a minute.
Imagine if someone asks you about your spouse and you say they're in prison for life. The social stigma of prison husbands and wives face, right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAM BOOKER, MARRIED TO MAN SERVING LIFE IN PRISON: My name is Pam. I'm 48 years old. My husband Lance is in prison serving life without parole.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pam Booker married her husband Lance just weeks before he was in prison for first degree murder.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lance Booker got a fair trial and he's in prison for the rest of his life.
LANCE BOOKER, PRISONER: I didn't kill anybody, and they know I didn't.
P. BOOKER: I just whisper to myself, hey baby, I'm here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But how long can Pam fight for her husband and their family?
P. BOOKER: The very thought that he may die in prison is unbearable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now, Pam, your husband says he's innocent.
Let's take a look at him talking about his role in the crime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "PRISON WIVES," COURTESY INVESTIGATION DISCOVERY)
LANCE BOOKER, PRISONER: I'm sitting here with two natural life sentences without the possibility of parole, alone with an eight and a third to 25 and I didn't kill nobody. I didn't. I didn't kill anybody. And they know I didn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's got to drive you nuts, right?
He didn't -- he was there, but he didn't kill anybody. He was sleeping in the car.
KING: He wrote you a, what, a poem?
BOOKER: Yes, this is a poem he wrote that kind of sums it up the way someone doing life without parole is feeling.
It's: "Look at me and tell me what do you see? My eyes tell the sad story of a man who has been hurt countless times. Do you see my pain? I wake up everyday in a prison cell alone and cold. Can you feel my pain?
They said life without parole. That means forever. Can you understand my pain?
What about my children, my wife, my mother, brothers, sisters? But most of all, what about me?
No one -- no one can ever see, feel or understand my pain. I feel it every day and now my life feels like a rainy day each and every day. The pain will never end because they said life without parole."
KING: Has he got a good lawyer?
BOOKER: We -- right now we're in between lawyers. We've gone from having what we thought was a very good lawyer who is, historically, in his career, but made a mistake in Lance's trial, to having an appellate lawyer who wasn't so good.
Tim, is -- there's a manikin in the front window of your house dressed as a bride?
KING: What is that all about?
MCDONALD: There -- it's not -- she's not there right now.
MCDONALD: But, actually, I bought a house in Huntington, Tennessee and the people I bought it from, the woman had a wedding dress business and she had a manikin. And I was there trying to get married. At that time, we had just applied to the prison system for permission to marry.
And I said to my wife, I said, do you need a wedding dress?
And she says, I can't wear it.
But I said, well, you know what, I'll bet you I can get you a wedding dress.
I did. I got her a wedding dress. I got her one she liked. But it has to stay on that manikin in the house.
KING: Why wouldn't the prison let her wear one?
MCDONALD: I think you'd have to ask the prison system. They will not allow her -- they would not allow her to get a ring. I could not carry a ring in to her.
KING: What is she going to do with a ring?
KING: I mean what's --
MCDONALD: I mean, you know, in other words, I carried this ring in --
KING: You wear a wedding ring?
MCDONALD: Yes. I carried this ring in. I carried it on this finger and then I allowed her to slip it over. But they would not allow me to carry in a ring for her.
KING: She can't wear a ring?
KING: So there's a lot of things about this that there -- there's no payoff for these people, Robi?
LUDWIG: There is a payoff. I mean how --
KING: There is?
LUDWIG: How can you say there's no payoff?
People don't do things without a payoff. So it's not traditional, but. You know, you have couples who are not living in the same home together. But there are lots of different ways for people to feel intimate. And sometimes people can feel more intimate and more connected if their situation is unusual or if there is a challenge involved, where you have to work toward being with someone psychologically.
And, also, some of these people in prison, they write beautifully. They're very romantic. They're in need of feeling that connection. And that's very powerful for some people.
KING: Some spouses of felons keep pleading the loved ones' cases.
We'll examine that in our remaining moments.
Don't go away.
KING: Pam, you keep fighting, right, though?
BOOKER: Oh, yes.
KING: You don't let up?
BOOKER: No, never.
KING: Even though it seems hopeless at times?
BOOKER: Hope is all we have. It's hope that gets us through each day.
KING: What keeps you going, Tim?
MCDONALD: Hope, of course. But what keeps me going, I -- probably just a unwillingness to walk away, even -- no, I won't do it. I love her --
KING: Can she ever get out?
MCDONALD: The -- if -- yes, with the proper set -- sure, she can get out. Anybody can get out --
KING: But it would need to be commuted, right?
MCDONALD: But it's going to have to be something other than the legal system --
KING: Have you written --
MCDONALD: -- maybe a change of law.
KING: -- to the governor of Tennessee?
MCDONALD: You know, I have written him many times about the children.
KING: For what?
What -- wanting what for the children?
MCDONALD: Uh --
KING: To let their mother out?
MCDONALD: I think the system should pay a little more attention to the children of the prisoners and see that those children don't follow their parents to prison.
LUDWIG: I agree with that.
KING: Yes, that's weird.
LUDWIG: Because they can identify with their parents --
KING: Because there's no interest in the children?
LUDWIG: Well, not only that --
LUDWIG: -- but children can identify with the -- their parents and say -- think that they're bad just because they have a parent that's in prison.
BOOKER: And generalize it --
BOOKER: You know, the thing is --
BOOKER: -- when a person does time, we all do time. My husband is not the only one doing time. We all are, including his kids.
KING: James, do you want to get married again?
WHITEHOUSE: I hadn't thought about it.
KING: Do you think about Susan a lot?
WHITEHOUSE: All the time. She's only been -- it's only been 100 -- 100 and so many days since she passed away.
KING: What did she die of?
WHITEHOUSE: It was a malignant brain tumor. They told me I had a couple of days to say good-bye to her and she stayed with us for over 18 months.
KING: All right. Did they get you to be with her at the end?
WHITEHOUSE: I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with her in the last -- during those 18 months. And, yes, the last day I spent all day with her --
KING: Because she --
WHITEHOUSE: -- before she passed away.
KING: She passed away in a prison hospital?
WHITEHOUSE: Yes, a skilled nursing facility in Central California. Incredible workers -- their aides and nurses really took good care of her.
KING: Robi, these are all regular nice people, right?
And we have a misconception that they're somehow very needy or there's something wrong if you marry someone who's incarcerated.
LUDWIG: Well, it's not ideal. I mean, you wouldn't want it for your kids. I wouldn't want it for mine. And -- there -- there is a subgroup of people who certainly have personality disorders, either they're vulnerable or depressed or they had a parent who was abusive and -- and so they're drawn to certain personalities.
But I think you'd need to look at everybody's story before making a judgment. That's what we've learned here. KING: Tim, I would bet when you were up in the skies for Northwest flying a 747 to Japan, if someone had said to you, by the way, Tim, you're going to marry a lady who's in prison for life, you would have done what you're doing now, right?
MCDONALD: I would have said, you're crazy.
LUDWIG: But, look, he gets to be a hero. He was a hero in the sky and now he gets to be a hero with his wife and his wife's kids.
MCDONALD: Thank you.
MCDONALD: That's very nice of you.
KING: That's right. You've got -- so there's --
KING: -- there's the payoff.
MCDONALD: I'm glad somebody thinks so.
LUDWIG: That's how he --
MCDONALD: I'm glad somebody thinks so.
LUDWIG: -- sees himself. He is a hero.
KING: If I would have said to you, Pam, 10 years ago, you're going to be married to a convict?
BOOKER: I would have also told you, you were crazy. I could have never (INAUDIBLE) --
KING: All right, James, you're going to marry someone was involved in -- in the Manson murders?
WHITEHOUSE: No, I wouldn't have thought that. No.
KING: Hey, you should -- we all should watch this. "AC 360" starts right now.