The Dangers of Falling in Love With a Serial Killer

If you overlook the time he murdered a fellow inmate by beating him to death, Thomas Creech has been a model prisoner. He writes poetry for his guards at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution (IMSI) and plays the guitar in his cell. Very sweet. 

The former warden at the prison where Creech sits on death row supports his bid for clemency, as does the judge who sentenced him. According to Idaho Department of Correction Director Josh Tewalt, “Some of our correctional officers have grown up with Tom Creech…. Our warden has a long-standing relationship with him. … There’s a familiarity and a rapport that has been built over time.”

On February 28, when the state of Idaho finally managed, after four decades, to carry out Creech’s death sentence, the IMSI prison warden, Tim Richardson, had to hold back tears while Creech was wheeled in. 

Creech, lest we forget amongst all this sentimentality, is a serial killer. 

He murdered five people in three states. Those, at least, are the killings for which he was convicted. Creech is suspected in a half dozen other cases.

Creech has been sitting on death row in Idaho after murdering, in cold blood, a fellow prisoner, a mentally disabled man named David Dale Jensen, who was serving a sentence for car theft. While working out with Jensen, Creech pulled out a sock filled with batteries and beat him over the head until he was stopped by guards. Jensen died of his injuries. This was in 1981. 

Creech’s execution, however, failed due to an alleged “glitch” in the lethal injection procedure. The prison staff assigned to carry out Creech’s sentence couldn’t seem to find a vein in which to insert the IV carrying the poison. The executioners, who were dressed head to toe in medical gowns and masks, cannot be identified. These staff, all of whom were volunteers from the prison staff, tried eight times to hook up the requisite IV. They failed each time. 

This failure is not nearly so mysterious in light of the sentimentality the prison staff obviously feel toward Creech. 

The warden and guards have fallen in love with a serial killer. Their sentimentality has, almost certainly, triumphed over the demands of the law. When it comes to the scum of the earth, it turns out that feelings do trump facts. 

The inability of the Idaho Maximum Security Institution staff to perform their legal obligations is a sign of the profound degeneration of our political order. A regime that cannot bring itself to punish serial killers is a regime in crisis. 

The particular failure in this case—the sympathy for the killer on the part of those charged by the state with punishing him—is especially concerning. There is a whole cottage industry blathering about the importance of the “rule of law” in American life. Stories like this show how hollow those claims really are. 

There is no rule of law in America today. Instead, we have the rule of lawyers. The system of legal “experts” prevails over the will of the people and the consent of the governed. The state of Idaho has spent four decades failing to carry out the sentence to which Thomas Creech was sentenced.

Whole battalions of defense lawyers have worked hard to prevent the law from being carried out in Idaho—to the point of absurdity. Living for decades on death row is a joke. It shows that our law is a punchline. 

The American “justice” system has plenty of resources to prosecute the nation’s leading opposition presidential candidate but can’t bring itself to put down a human being with the soul of a rabid dog. Everything in our regime is upside down. The rule of law in modern America is, in truth, the rule of the unaccountable will of unelected bureaucrats. What “true conservatives” and liberals call the rule of law is really the inverse. It is a vicious parody and an inversion of the real thing. 

The purpose of punishment in a civilized regime is reparation and restraint. A decent society punishes criminals not to get revenge or to bring closure to the victim or the family but to repair the wrong (to the extent it can be) and to restrain the criminal (and others!) from performing wicked and dissolute deeds.

Laws, in a republic, are made by the people through their representatives. The law reflects a common understanding of justice as held by the people as a whole. In our present declining regime, however, the law and punishment no longer hold to their older republican tradition.

Law today is a tool for members of the legal system (lawyers) to make money and to carve out policies that the “expert” class desires. The point of a modern law degree is not to learn how to carry out the will of the people but to get around it. 

That is why Creech’s defenders spent so many years trying to prevent his sentence from being carried out, and it is why the prosecutors and judges allowed this foot-dragging to go on. It is this contempt for the law and its sources that animates the willingness of prison staff to openly favor a vile murderer and, perhaps, to allow “glitches” to prevail in the execution process.

If the American regime wanted to punish serial killers, they could do so. Our government has no problem killing the people it really hates—there is no shortage of willingness among our rulers to send weapons to go kill Russians in Ukraine. The massive investigation into protestors who trespassed in the People’s House on January 6 is a sign of what the American regime is capable of when it wants to punish the people it really hates. 

The Thomas Creech case is a stunning indictment of the American legal system. The death penalty is, it turns out, a very effective deterrent to crime. Death has a very clarifying effect, even on the minds of the wicked and stupid. But for that deterrent to work, the connection between the crime and its punishment must be clear. Dragging out the punishment for decades, as was done in Thomas Creech’s case, breaks that connection. The same could be said broadly of prison sentences. The public does not see the punishment inflicted in prison, and for many criminals, prison is hardly punishment at all. The life of the prison has structure and order—the criminal gets three square meals a day, a roof over his head, and the time to hang out with his fellow miscreants. 

Punishment in a decent regime should be public, strictly carried out, and painful enough to serve as a real deterrent. Dragging out the legal process denudes the law of its very purpose. It would be better to quickly bring criminals to trial and risk not getting a conviction before a jury than to drag out the process in the name of “justice.”

As it stands now, our legal system is facing a serious crisis of legitimacy. We cannot go on like this. We desperately need a return to the rule of law in its true sense. If this is not done, there will be a great cost to pay—a cost far greater than the emotional turmoil faced by a few prison guards at the prospect that their favorite serial killer will be put to death. 

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About Josiah Lippincott

Josiah Lippincott is a Ph.D. student and a former U.S. Marine Corps officer. You can find him on Telegram at https://t.me/josiah_lippincott or subscribe to his Substack here.

Photo: Thomas Creech | Photo Courtesy Idaho Department of Corrections

Notable Replies

  1. …The very definition of a sociopath. If the prison staff, lawyers, bureaucrats, and elected officials are so fond of him, one of them must have a spare bedroom…Or better yet: how about dropping him off in a sanctuary city?

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