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Troublesome Pastimes 

One local busybody collects letters from serial killers. Another attacks environmentalists. Guess which one's misguided.

Wednesday, Sep 27 2006
Fremont warehouse worker and aspiring author Thomas Loudamy, 27, has the most killer hobby. Or, rather, his hobby involves the most killers.

Loudamy has drawers full of missives from live-child buriers, torture-murderers, spree-shooters, and even an accused killer who allegedly ground his victims with pork.

Since 2001 Loudamy has devoted himself to writing letters to famed North American prison inmates, and he often receives letters back. By writing around 11 letters a day, Loudamy has amassed a collection of 400 letters from criminals ranging from Robert Pickton, the British Columbia pig farmer accused of killing two dozen prostitutes and blending their remains with pig meat, to incarcerated celebrities, such as Richard Hatch, the Survivor contestant convicted of tax evasion.

"I have some fairly historic cases, like Frederick Woods, who I guess in the early '70s buried a busfull of school children; Charles Ng; Richard Ramirez; Andy Williams — it's kind of all over the board," Loudamy tells me during an interview, referring to the Chowchilla kidnapper, the sex-slave murderer, the necrophiliac "Night Stalker" serial killer, and the fellow who went on a San Diego County high school shooting spree in 2001.

"Charles Ng complains more than anyone else I've ever written to, and sent me a visitor's form to fill out in hopes of a face-to-face visit. Richard Ramirez mostly talks about his favorites movies, music, and books. He also wants to be sent photos of (Asian) women in various bondage poses. I got him to open up a little about his childhood-teen years while he was still living in Texas, and about him first coming to California," Loudamy wrote me in a follow-up e-mail. Andy Williams "spends most of his time trying out various college courses and says he has one of the best jobs in the prison ... Probably the most bizarre of all my pen pals is Robert Bardo. Sentenced for the stalking/killing of actress Rebecca Schaefer, he is obsessed with celebrities. He sends me page after page of names and city/states in an attempt to gain ways to contact celebrities. His biggest project at the moment is trying to contact Lindsay Lohan."

Ordinarily, I'm one to cast a pox upon creepy memorabilia collectors, the types who hoard Nazi helmets or buy Charles Manson Zippo lighters.

But If I'm to take Loudamy at his word, he's up to something different than mere ghoulish obsession. He's probing, then publicizing, the banal musings of the very worst criminal minds. Besides, anyone who's able to prove the link between Lindsay Lohan fandom and criminal pathology has my avid support.

Loudamy got his start writing letters to prisoners after reading news stories about the wrongfully convicted, and began writing to death row prisoners. He expanded to lifers, and to the merely notorious, receiving so many letters back that he began to think he had the material for a different kind of study of the North American criminal mind.

"Ultimately, with a book that's going to come out, I wanted to kind of take true-crime books in sort of a new direction and take the guesswork out of it," Loudamy told me. "True crime is usually done in a sort of clinical way about people: 'Here's why we think these people are the way they are.' What I wanted to present to people are those people's letters in their own words."

If book publishing is all about publicity, Loudamy is an accomplished author already.

Earlier this month readers in Canada became fascinated with letters Loudamy said he received from the British Columbia pig farmer on trial charged with killing 27 women and grinding up several of them along with pork.

Responding to letters Loudamy wrote under the pseudonym Mya, accused killer Robert Pickton wrote that he was innocent, and paraphrased Acts 14:22 saying it was necessary to "suffer many hard things to get into the holy nation of God."

Loudamy cites a battery of forensic tests done by Canadian journalists, including handwriting analysis, and examination of the prison-originated postal stamp on the envelopes, to assert the letter's authenticity. He couldn't tell me, however, the names of anyone connected with the actual inmates who might verify that the letters were real.

Given Loudamy's success in drawing out the thoughts of the wicked, I'd like to see him follow his exploration of the inner lives of leading wicked people in jail, with a similar voyage through the minds of flawed leaders in politics and business. While I wouldn't associate any of our local pols' shortfallings with those of a Robert Pickton, I wouldn't put it past our mayor, say, or perhaps Treasure Island development mastermind Ron Burkle, to respond to letters from a Mya Barnett, Loudamy's alter ego, who led a troubled if fictitious life, but was determined to survive.

"Some people send, like, artwork. Some people have sent me CDs and DVDs. There are all sorts of weird quirks that go along with receiving letters from notorious prisoners," Loudamy says.

I'd love to get a peek of marginalia emanating from our own politicos' inner space, even if it were merely a few pages of Lindsay Lohan-themed poems.

Some bizarre avocations, such as Loudamy's, deserve praise.

Others, such as the one practiced by attorney Mary Ann Miles, need to be discouraged at every opportunity.

Miles' chosen endeavor seems to involve plaguing environmental groups by turning the fine print of their own process rules against them.

Somebody, please, teach this woman to crochet, collect stamps, or send letters to convicts.

San Francisco barrister Miles has led reporters from vaunted journals such as the San Francisco Chronicle and the Christian Science Monitor to believe that a recent lawsuit she filed to halt the striping of bike lanes around the city was the tip of an anti-cyclist backlash that's roiling San Francisco.

Miles' suit claims the city's plan to create a network of bike lanes didn't undergo sufficient environmental review. A judge halted the city from painting more lanes until he decides during coming weeks whether bureaucrats should first conduct further studies on the issue.

About The Author

Matt Smith


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