Convincing a death-row murderer not to die  JAN 14 2010

I was drawn into Longo's life through the most improbable of circumstances -- after the murders, while on the lam in Mexico, he took on my identity, even though we'd never met. Starting from this bizarre connection, using charm and guile and a steady stoking of my journalist's natural curiosity (he was innocent, he was framed, he had proof, he would show me), he soon became deeply enmeshed in my own life. In the first year, we exchanged more than a thousand pages of handwritten letters. I wrote a book about him.

After I started a family of my own, I didn't communicate with Longo anymore. But I was not disentangled from him. I remained haunted by Longo, by what he'd done; nearly every day, as I held my own kids, images of his crime -- a child locked in a suitcase, or falling from a bridge, or fighting for air -- would flit through my mind and I'd flinch, as if I'd brushed against a hot burner on the stove.

This a brutal read, fascinating in places (especially the economics of death row part) but I have a hard time wrapping my head around what this guy did and how he feels about it.

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