In May of 2017, former FBI director Robert Mueller was appointed as Special Counsel to oversee the investigation of Russia’s alleged meddling in the U.S. 2016 elections. Mueller was chosen, in part, because of his reputation for being “a man of great integrity.” 

It was a phrase you heard often in the early days of the investigation. I’m sure it’s true, in a connotative sense; integrity is a sword that cuts both ways. 

Stephen Hugueley is an inmate at the Riverbend Correctional Facility in Nashville, Tennessee. When he was 18, Hugueley shot his mother to death and threw her body in a river. While in prison, he killed two of his fellow inmates. His fourth and final victim was a prison counselor.

Stephen Hugueley is currently on Tennessee’s death row

In a documentary about the Riverbend facility, Hugueley was asked whether he had remorse for any of his crimes

He answered, “Anyone who commits premeditated, first-degree murder and tells you they have remorse, they are a liar. How can you say you have remorse for something you intended to do.” 

If integrity is defined as acting in accordance with one’s values, Stephen Huguely has integrity. So does a mass shooter. For that matter, so did Carl Panzram

Carl Panzram was born in 1892, in East Grand Forks, Minnesota. At age 11, he burglarized a neighbor’s home and was sent to the Minnesota State Training School

In 1907, Carl enlisted in the army. The same year, he was also convicted of larceny. Sentenced to Fort Leavenworth’s Disciplinary Barracks, Panzram’s two-year term was approved by Secretary of War William Howard Taft

Once he was released, Panzram burglarized Taft’s home. He stole a large amount of jewelry, some bonds, and a handgun. With the proceeds of this crime, Panzram bought a yacht. He befriended men in various New York City bars and lured them back to the boat, where he raped them, shot them with Taft’s pistol, then dumped them overboard. 

Panzram claimed to have killed ten men before the yacht ran aground and sank. 

The reign of murder and mayhem continued until 1928, when Carl was arrested for burglary in Washington D.C. While in custody he confessed to killing two young boys and was given a sentence of 25 years to life, to be served at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary

At Leavenworth, Panzram killed a man in the prison’s laundry room. He was sentenced to death in 1929. 

Panzram was befriended by a prison guard who provided him with writing materials. Before his death sentence was carried out, Panzram penned his thoughts. His opening statement read, “In my lifetime I have murdered 21 human beings, I have committed thousands of burglaries, robberies, larcenies, arsons, and last but not least, I have committed sodomy on more than 1,000 male human beings. For all these things, I am not in the least bit sorry.” 

Stephen Hugueley's death sentence has yet to be carried out. But it will be.  And for that, there's a part of me that is also not in the least bit sorry. A part that takes his words to heart. A part they mystify.

Carl Panzram, I am certain, would understand what Hugueley meant, intuitively; when death penalty opponents offered to intervene on his behalf, Panzram responded, “I wish you all had one neck and I had my hands on it."

Panzram was sent to The Minnesota State Training School when he was eleven years old. He was repeatedly beaten, tortured and raped by staff members. The school was known as “The Painting House”, for the number of children who left there “painted” in blood

Stephen Hugueley was roughly the same age when his father committed suicide. His mother refused to attend the service; at twelve, Stephen Hugueley went to his father’s funeral by himself. 

Carl Panzram was executed on September 5, 1930, and as I write these words there’s been another mass shooting. This time at a school in Parkland, Florida. On the news they are interviewing two baby-faced young men. Both of them have the hollow look that comes from seeing too much, much too soon. 

So did Carl Panzram. So did Stephen Hugueley. 

There are too many guns in this country available too easily, and too many people armed with an idea of what someone else deserves. 

People like Stephen Hugueley. Men like Carl Panzram. And the young man who has now re-set the bar for would-be school killers.

Each one acted in accordance with his values. Each one left a trail painted in blood.

Integrity, they say, is what you are in the dark, and fortune smiles on those who live up to the light. 

The road to hell is paved with hostages to fortune; the perimeter’s indefensible when the enemy is within.

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