I first heard about Mike aka Mykhaylo from my wife. We had only started dating, she and I, and I’m not gonna lie, this juicy tidbit of information added to her allure. Don’t judge me. There’s a reason why the true crime genre is probably second only to those who don tights and capes. Hell, if I’m being perfectly honest with you, I used to buy both comic and serial killer cards. Mike’s would read, ‘Former monk in training, body count 1, prison sentence 25 years.’ I wonder what it would sell for…
I first reached out to Mike a few years before the over 5 million downloaded, iHeart Media produced podcast, Sacred Scandal, was put together about his life and his crime. Something long in the making by my wife and her friend. See, my wife and Mike were friends. Had been. Since Holy Cross high school in Kendall. Since the day he stabbed a nun 92 times to her death. He was sharing with my wife the short stories he’d write. And as an amateur writer myself, that was my in with him. Reading his stories and writing him in prison about them. Little by little, I spoke to him about my life.
I first straight up spoke to Mike when he called one of the many times he has to get a hold of my wife. I’d chickened out before. Sitting quietly next to her, I’d heard his voice before. It was kind. He laughed a lot. She would put him on speaker, and each time, I had to swallow my heart which was stuck in my throat from being so nervous. And interestingly or pervertedly enough, this time, my mouth started moving, and love was all I could express. I was concerned about him. I wanted to make him laugh. This. A killer. A savage, brutal killer.
I first visited Mike in prison almost a year ago. I hate to describe something like this in cinematic terms, but there’s no way to get around it. Maybe the most unsettling part of this visit was the quiet that enveloped the woods around the prison. You’d expect birds to be chirping. Maybe a rogue bark from some stray dog. Nothing. Nothing, until those big prison doors open and shut. It’s jarring. And so was the image of seeing Mike walk out into the visitor area, greeted by my wife. And then, it was time for us to hug, and I gave it all I got. I’m hugging the body of a man who is seldom touched. These little things would pop up from time to time.
I first tried to sneak a look at Mike’s hands when I came back from the commissary with honey buns and coca colas. Mike has never shied away from answering questions about what happened. But there was something in me that felt it inappropriate. And that feeling stuck with me. Yes insert knife pun here. But in there, sitting across from him for a good two hours, I don’t remember there being a lull of any kind. He laughed a lot. Spoke of prison life. Touched on allegedly being touched by priests. Plans for when he’s released. Our time was up, so another round of hugs. It was when he was being lead back into his unit and I was watching him through the small window of a waiting station, that I gave him a thumbs up and he smiled.
I first saw the crime scene photos maybe only a couple weeks ago. It’s a tough thing to reconcile. The man sitting there, still a boy, really. Trapped in a body that took another’s life. But I think everyone deserves a friend. That’s what I’ve gotten out of this the most, I think. The world is an unkind place. Full of evil. Unfair to us all. Sure we have choices. But usually those choices are fairly illusory. And 9 times out of 10, we have no idea the consequences we’re causing until it’s too late. Unfortunately for Mike, he’s that 1 out of 10. The reasons, I’ll leave to the experts. So to me, he’s not the photos. He’s not the crime. He’s Mike. And we sign our correspondences, “All the love”.