The Spokane Daily Chronicle published an extraordinary account of James P. “Bluebeard” Watson’s life and mind – written by “Bluebeard” himself.
He wrote it from his Los Angeles jail ward as he awaited sentencing for murder. He portrayed himself as a virtual Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde.
“I have argued with myself for several years trying to master an ungovernable desire to do the things I have done, but something too strong for me to overcome told me to go ahead,” he wrote. “Often I would ponder why I did those things and say I must go and ask to be put in an asylum and see if I could be cured, then something would say do not do that, but go on and on.”
The account is largely self-serving. He portrays himself as “tender-hearted,” citing as evidence the many other woman he could have bilked, yet chose not to.
He described his childhood as grim, but honest.
“My earlier life is void of one act that I know would be regarded as dishonest. In fact, as a boy tramp, with no home, a change of clothes or one dollar in money, say nothing of going hungry many a day, such suffering did not drive me to steal anything to eat.”
He pled for mercy, because he claimed something recently had “changed me both mentally and physically, for naturally, I was anything but bad, either in thought or action.”
“My every act shows that I am to be pitied more than to be blamed for having developed into this strange and uncontrollable condition, for I am anything else but my natural self.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.