Dear Marian

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Dear Marian,

Like you, I hesistate to address you on my blog, likely for different reasons that you hestitated addressing me. I’m sensing that you likely considered how inappropriate it would be for you to come to my “home” here, and say the things you did. My hesitation, though, is more about giving you more attention than what you are seeking for yourself. So, let me be clear. I am using you as an example. I am addressing you for the sole purpose of allowing my other readers to see what the aftermath of the death penalty is really about for families of victims. So,  your contribution is valuable.

For those who missed it, Marian made a comment on the blog here, related to a post I shared about the True Conviction show airing. In fact, on that particular post, I wrote specifically, about how the show was so healing for me to participate in, which it was. The very act of making me go through photographs and memories, opened some doors in my heart that I had been afraid of knocking on for some time. The way I was treated by the entire production team, including Anna Sigga Niccolazzi, was so respectful. And I guess on some level, after all this time, it just feels good to know people still care about Cindy. I don’t know if you even read the post you replied to Marian, but that makes your comment even more bizarre.

Here is Marian’s comment to me:

MARIAN VEENKER
Kathy, I am not sure if I should leave a reply here, but the case is near to my heart as I have been writing with Michael for 2 years now. I don’t know if he did the crime or not. All I know that he wholly believes in his innocence and that he has been treated very badly in the American prisons. Even Amnesty has made a report about it. He has been in solitariy confinement for over 25 years. If he was ever guilty he has had his punishment. Each person deserves forgiveness.
Of course I cannot or ever will be able to understand your pain and anger. All I know is that forgivess is the best healer. I wish you strength and courage and above all healing.
Marian

And this was my reply back to her, yesterday:

Marian, I do understand that there is a culture of people (usually women) who feel the need to write murderers in prison and feel sympathy for them. Some even marry sociopaths like Michael Apelt (one already did then divorced him as I understand). I do understand this phenomenon and like you cannot understand my pain, I certainly cannot understand your motivation for this attempt to save a murderer. Yet I would not ever take it upon myself to attempt to “school” you on how you, a stranger, chooses to live their life.

Michael Apelt, wearing the same European -made, size 15 Reebok tennis shoe (you do know he’s 6 foot 7 , so has an unusually large foot), stood on my sister’s face while she was still alive, leaving his foot print behind as a bruise. I guess you might think there would be another man, who purchased a unique European Reebok tennis shoe with this exact same print, who would have had a motive to kill her and lie like Michael did about “ever wearing tennis shoes because they made his feet stink”, who committed this murder. Guess that didn’t work out too well, when a photograph was discovered still in my sister’s camera, of him posing wearing those exact European made Reebok tennis shoes, of the same large size. Maybe you saw this photo on True Conviction. It was real. The jury who convicted him saw it blown up as poster sized in the courtroom. Of course he disposed of the bloody shoes, as he did his clothing, according to his other accomplice Anke Dorn.

Or a man who commandeered the car Michael was known to be driving out there in the desert that night, destroy the tires, then have those destroyed tires recovered which matched the tire tracks at the scene. I could go on and on but perhaps you would like to purchase and read the book I’m writing on the case when it comes out.

In the meantime, maybe you’d like to contact his appellate lawyers who have already admitted he committed the murder (and conspiracy) yet claim he was “mentally retarded” at the time.
Or you could choose to believe this con artist, because it seems you get something out of it.
But surely, we can both agree, that I’m not going to join you in your confusion. Keep reading, hopefully, you will learn something.

Now, this morning, I realized I have a few more things to say.

Marian, you are not the first person to barge in to my life with this kind of inappropriate and disrespectful intrusion. Several years ago, during the lengthy, expensive (ten million plus AMERICAN TAX PAYER dollars) appeal hearing to determine whether your boyfriend is mentally retarded or not, I got a knock on my door in early December. It was unusually cold for an Arizona day, so I looked at the shivering, friendly faced female standing on my doorstep holding an official looking lawyerly business card, asking about our case and invited her in. Surely, she had shown up on my doorstep uninvited and unannounced (just like you did Marian), with some kind of need to talk to me about my involvement in our case, from our side.

Shortly after this woman took a seat in my living room–my living room strewn with boxes of Christmas decorations I had just pulled out in my yearly agonizing set of decisions of whether to decorate for Christmas or not (you do remember Michael Apelt slaughtered my sister in the desert two days before Christmas, I’m sure)–I realized something was amiss. She was talking to me about sympathy for this man who had conned and destroyed the most important person in my life. Sympathy. Right around the anniversary of her murder. Kind of like you Marian. But you decided to confront me like that during another vulnerable time–right at the time the show aired displaying my grief for the world to see. Even to people like you, all the way across the globe. You saw my agony and grief and chose that to be your moment to strike, didn’t you? Just like that woman who showed up in my home. Your strategic timing, like hers, speaks volumes.

Once I figured out her motive–to try and glean my assistance for this ridiculous mental retardation hearing, I kicked her out of my home. Not before she was reduced to tears though. Maybe she had a brief moment of clarity when she saw a true victim.

Now Marian, unlike you, she was not questioning his guilt. She realized that he did commit the murder. That he did take my sister Cindy out to the desert that cold, dark night with promises of a new home “surprise” he was showing her. Instead, his brother laid in wait with a knife. That woman knew he did it, unlike you. But she thought he might be “mentally retarded”, so should be given leniency.

Let me ask you this. You think Michael Apelt has been treated poorly in our system. What do you think of the millions of dollars in legal assistance he has received at American taxpayer expense? Let me say it again: MILLIONS OF AMERICAN DOLLARS to defend him. I’m not talking about housing and food and medical care — I’m strictly talking about defense. Do you find that unfair?

Now, let me do a small amount of education for you about the man you seem so interested in believing, in terms of his “belief” in his own innocence.

Maybe you’d like to do some more digging in to his past and his lengthy rap sheet from Germany. The one that includes burglary, theft, insurance fraud, and prostitution. There is more but you get the drift. Let’s not forget, he was 25 when he slaughtered my sister in the desert, so his German crimes were committed from his teens to his early 20’s.

Do you know that, oh, about 7 other women came forward who he was conning and stealing from at the same time he married and was plotting to murder my sister? He stole money and checks from their purses and in one scheme, convinced one of them that he was dead so his brother could get money from her for his funeral. Yeah, he even sent a telegram to his brother, from the grave. I think they got a couple thousand from that lady. Then there were the Rolex dealers, all of the luxury car dealers in Phoenix and a custom home builder who came to court telling tales of these tall German brothers who had convinced them they were anything from professional athletes to pilots. Everyone believed them, they were that good. They were pre-spending the life insurance on Cindy, while she was alive and making the money they were stealing.

Then, finally, you might be interested in the copycat murder plot Michael Apelt cooked up in the jail before he was convicted. Yeah, that other inmate brought notes Michael had made, including maps, detailing how he should murder his own wife and make it look identical to how he had killed my sister, so it could throw off the trial thinking there was a copycat serial killer out there. I’ve seen those notes he wrote. He wanted another woman to be viciously taken from her loved ones to help free him–he promised his brother in another note I’ve seen that they would be out of jail soon because of his plot. He still thought he would be receiving that $400K of life insurance from Cindy and would pay this man from that.

Those are just a very few details that will be covered in the book I”m writing. You see, unlike you, I’ve read every single word about our case from police reports (including old ones from Germany), interviews (including with your boyfriend), testimony (including Michael’s which I sat through) and autopsy reports. I have all of the information which I will be sharing, including my sister’s own diary so you can understand better how she was conned by this man you so want to champion.

So, thank you for allowing me to educate people further on the aftermath of the death penalty for families. There are people, like you, laying in wait to torture us with your own twisted agendas, even nearly 30 years after the fact. 

I will end with a few pictures of my sister for you. The one your penpal stepped on the face of while his brother cut her throat. This is who she was in life. She was my everything, and the only victim here. Don’t get it twisted.

The facts

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If you are so inclined to familiarize yourself with the facts of my sister Cindy’s murder, before viewing the True Conviction show about it on Tuesday 2/13, this link lays out the sequence of facts pretty succinctly. It is from the 9th circuit’s decision that denied Michael Apelt’s ineffective counsel appeal that was getting him a new trial (denied Dec. 2017).

When you read this and the details of these sophisticated con men, remember that over 10 million tax payer dollars went to try and prove they are both “mentally retarded”. That appeal was successful for one of them. That is you and my tax payer dollars going to these Germans who never paid a dime to US taxes, and who murdered an American citizen who did.

The details start on page 5 of this link under “Facts”.

http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2017/12/28/15-99013.pdf

True Conviction trailer

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Well, the episode of True Conviction on Cindy’s case is coming up next week. They are now airing the trailer for it throughout the day on Investigation Discovery. I’m really glad Cathy Hughes’ voice and face are included because, as far as I’m concerned, this show is a long overdue honoring of her (as well as the Detectives).

I just recorded this with my phone, so please excuse the poor quality. Now let’s see if i can get it to post.

Remember, it airs next Tuesday, Feb 13 at 10pm EST on Investigation Discovery.

True Conviction — Investigation Discovery

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Investigation Discovery Network is premiering a new show this month called True Conviction. The host is a former Brooklyn prosecutor named Anna Sigga Nicolazzi who had a 100% conviction rate. Her emphasis is going around the country, finding prosecutors’ most challenging cases and detailing all involved in obtaining a successful conviction.

My sister, Cindy’s case, is one they are highlighting in this six part series. They are doing a full one hour show on it. I was contacted out of the blue last Fall by a producer, who had stumbled upon our case in some Newspaper site. Kind of impeccable timing as I’ve been diving back in to it for the last three years, working on my book about it. I had so much information that they needed at my fingertips–records, photos, etc.

Yet, rummaging through all my stuff, allowed me to find more photos and even an audiotape from Cindy that I had not seen in decades. It was a bittersweet, but mostly healing  journey for me, and I’m glad I did it. The producers, show runner, crew and Anna Sigga herself treated me with such delicate respect. They also flew my husband John, out to AZ to be with me the entire time (and boy did I need him, even just for logistical things but mainly the moral support).

I was filmed in my car with Go-pro’s all installed and on top of a mountain in an outdoor set they created just for my interview. There were hugs and tears throughout the small crowd.

I also got to reconnect with some of the Detectives involved. The timing of that was perfect as well, because they got to see the end of the story with me--finally having found love and a stable, healthy marriage after all this time. It was so heartwarming all the way around.

Cindy’s killers, while on Death Row, have received so much attention (and financial support) all of these years. The spotlight definitely turned on to them as “victims”, vs. my sister. It’s been a nauseating and frustrating process to have to be involved with, say the least. How refreshing to be involved in a show that is 100% focused on the prosecution, giving them zero platform. And, most importantly, our amazing, never to be forgotten, prosecutor, Cathy Hughes who is the HERO of this entire story. It really is about her, a story long overdue. I cannot ever, EVER say enough good things about Cathy Hughes, one of the best, most amazing humans I have ever known.

I recently got a confirmation on the date the show will be aired: Tues. February 13 at 10pm EST. Investigation Discovery channel. Again, the name is True Conviction.

Here is a blurb I found:

https://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwtv/article/Investigation-Discovery-Presents-Sneak-Peek-at-New-Series-TRUE-CONVICTION-11-20171229

“Deception in the Desert” premieres Tuesday, February 13 at 10/9c
An unidentified young woman is found murdered in the Arizona desert on Christmas Eve, 1988. Detectives soon learned her name, Cindy Monkman Apelt, who was reported missing by her husband the night prior. As investigators painstakingly piece together an account of Cindy’s final hours, they move closer and closer to revealing her killer. Prosecutor Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi revisits the shocking crime with the detectives and state attorney who solved the case and ultimately won justice for Cindy’s family

I plan on doing some kind of Live Facebook Q & A after the show sometime. Not immediately after, but maybe the next day. I know there will be many unanswered questions, so I will do that in that format if you want to participate. I’ll let you know more details closer to the time.

Thanks for the support guys.

gold watch me

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When you retire from twenty six years of loyal and dedicated service to your employer, and when your employer is you, there are many things you don’t get.
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You don’t get the big tribute dinner, where your coworkers, friends and bosses celebrate your work history with you, while telling poignant and funny anecdotes from a podium, over a mediocre meal. You don’t get flowers or balloons at your desk on your last day, with random cute notes poking fun of your quirky habits like “the break room will miss the aroma of your mud-thick coffee” or “sorry I hid in the next stall and listened to your conversations with your boyfriend over the last year–haha!” (making you wonder if that’s true or not). You don’t get the plaque engraved for some special wall in your home (or random drawer), with your name, date of retirement and a big “26” right in the middle. You don’t get the gold watch. You don’t even get a pen. You might not even get one person saying to your face, on your last day, the words “thank you for all you’ve done”.

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What you do get, however, is something no one else can give you, or tell you.
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You get the deep vein of gold at the core of your being, carefully cultivated over years of pressure, waiting for this day to be mined. By you. You get the knowledge that you once had a dream and didn’t stop to talk yourself out of it, but stepped right in to it fearlessly. All by yourself. You get the self-respect that you made it all happen, on your own terms for over a quarter century, the bulk of your adult working life. You get the flexibility that allows you to reach with both arms and pat yourself on your back on both sides, knowing that you gave yourself utter freedom in your life, by making the sacrifices you did. You paid that price for no paid time off by paying it forward yourself, and crafting the work/play life you wanted with no one else’s permission but your own. You gave yourself the gift of looking back with your own, deeper voice, telling you “JOB WELL DONE” remembering that when the going got tough, you just got creative.
When 9/11 hit, and you went from a booked practice over a month out, to every single phone call in a three week period being people canceling but not rescheduling–to a good week being three clients in the whole week vs the six a day you had become used to. When your bills increased but your income dropped by 2/3 that year; you never gave up. You stayed the course. And you sent out that tri-fold stapled flyer on the cloud paper, offering a steep discount for your clients to come back. But more importantly, you crafted that flyer with two words opposite the address side, blazing in bold, 50 point font visible to every postman and every recipient: HAVE FAITH. Of course you knew, those hundreds of mantras sent out in to the world were for yourself. And you did have faith, and they did come back.
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That deep vein of gold is something that will never be tucked away for your kids to find later tucked away in that drawer and not know what to do with. It’s not something that will run out of ink or ever stop working. In fact, it is something that has, and will, continue to make you stronger.
The stories others may have told at a podium are written in your heart and engraved in to your soul. Because you wrote them yourself, year by year.

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I walk out of my Heart Space tomorrow, for the last time as its owner and creator. My baby is being handed in to capable and grateful hands and I couldn’t be more pleased.
I won’t be carrying a bouquet of flowers or a handful of “enjoy retirement!”cards. I won’t be feeling the weight and tangible gratitude of a time keeper on my wrist to reflect on.
I have become my own gold watch. And world, I’m still ticking.
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(as an addendum, I wrote this piece before I realized that my husband and I had purchased FIRST CLASS round trip tickets to return from this trip, the day after my last day of work, before we knew this transition was going to take place. The person I’m selling the practice to, bumped up the date to months before I anticipated. The reason we purchased FIRST CLASS tickets for this specific trip was because we both wanted to achieve….drumroll….GOLD status on American Airlines before the end of the year. Divine choreography indeed)

swerve

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“Hi Kathy, nice to meet you, but that’s not what I need,” he said.

I was so lost in thought while pushing my cart out of Costco yesterday, that I handed the checker at the door my Costco CARD vs. my receipt.

Two incidents occurred there, both sort of connected, that sort of took me over and I’m still thinking about it.

It was a busy day and there was a lot of competition for space with those humongous carts scurrying around. I was there looking for nutrition shakes for my Dad, a urinal (they don’t carry those), paper towels, chicken soup and of course, coffee.

Where are those dang paper towels? I said to myself, after getting as far away from them in the warehouse as possible. I pivoted my cart and found an opening in the cart-crowd and began my mad dash to the very back of the store.

That’s where the first thing happened.

You know how you can see someone coming toward you in an aisle sometimes and you don’t know which way to swerve to avoid them and at the same time, they don’t know which way to swerve, so you both are semi-swerving with these micro-swerves that seem like a little Dancing with the Stars opening to a number, until you either stop, laugh and/or wait for the other person to complete their swerve and move past you?

Yeah, it was one of those. But something struck me as different this time.

The man I was swervecart-dancing with, apologized.

I replied with a laugh “I was just trying to read your swerve”.

But his apology somehow struck me to the core.

You see, this was a young, bright smiled black man, in very, very white Gilbert, AZ.

Why did he apologize? I wondered.

And why was I feeling so bad about that?

Neither of us did anything wrong.

Later, after I checked out, I ran in to a hot mess of Costco stuff, and people blocking the post check-out area turning it in to one-lane traffic only. I began to push out with my cart and another man, who was actually ahead of me, stopped in his tracks to let me out.

I thanked him, moving forward, still haunted by this feeling, now, exacerbated. You see the gentleman who just let me out, was also black (and very very tall).

My mind was flooded with recent memories of travel, and the norm I’ve been experiencing lately of these rushing Caucasian men, who can’t seem to bear to let me out of my airplane row, unless I have a foot firmly planted in the aisle, as we deboard the plane. Even if they are in a row behind me. I have actually said out loud to their backs before “I guess chivalry is dead”.

I am sounding like I am making generalizations, aren’t I? In fact, I am just describing my own, personal experiences. Glad I have a gallant, polite man who lets most everyone out before him, but always me. He is, in my experience, the exception, sadly.

Back to the young man who apologized, because that seems the one mostly stuck in my craw.

I have experienced this many times. If there is a little kerfuffle or something like that, it seems the black person is sort of trained, by ALL OF US, to give deference. Like I, with all my privilege, should naturally go first. Should naturally be deferred to. Like he had something to apologize for, for being in my path, when I was equally in his path!

I have to say, this broke my heart in a way yesterday.

That this exists at all. This vestigial tail of what our black brothers and sisters were required to do–take the hit for the white man, apologize if anything went wrong or didn’t go wrong. But the consequences in our not so distant past were far more devastating.

I am heartbroken also, thinking of ways I may have contributed to this, even unknowingly.

I wish I could go back in time to yesterday and say directly “you have nothing to apologize for!”. Or something. I feel unfinished about it.

I know I’m supposed to hand the checker at the door my receipt leaving Costco, but I was consumed in sadness, flanked at the back with chivalrous generosity, and it was all a bit too much.

I need to be better. I need to be more aware, more sensitive, more something.

But first of all, I just needed to write this to get it out of my head.

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