They must have been sadly disappointed by what they got.
The simple facts are these: Kenny Richey’s last days as a free man were spent as a booze and drug-addled miscreant with a penchant for petty crime.
The only case I can think of where such a seedy and unsavoury existence has been worth reading about was the case of James Ellroy. Except he was driven to drugs and robbing houses by the murder of his mother while he was still in junior school. And was almost driven insanse by his obsession over the parallels between her death and the celebrated case of the Black Dahlia.
Ellroy also disovered a rare talent for writing which was to prove his salvation while he was in and out of jail. Not to mention that his misdemeanours – and near Damascene conversion – were played out against the backdrop of glamour and broken dreams that is Hollywood and Los Angeles (not the mundane, middle America of Bumf*ck, Ohio).
Kenny Richey, on the other hand, had no such colourful or grisly early life trauma to blame for his casually criminal and anti-social behaviour. Nor did he discover any prodigious -but previously hidden talent – while serving his time.
Indeed, he seems to have been confined to a concrete box not much bigger than a coffin with only his own drearily ordinary thoughts for company for the best part of two decades.
All of which means poor old Kenny is a bit of a dull lad and that the Mail On Sunday’s exclusive (which, rumour has it, cost them the thick end of £15,000), was a bit of a yawn.
No slight intended on the talents of the paper’s stalwart writers Jane Simpson and Patricia Kane, who had the unenviable job of trying to turn this into a riveting middle market read.
This story was all wrong for the Mail on Sunday demographic. It started out with jakeys, junkies and jobless white trash. Richey as the central character is unsympathetic and difficult to warm to. The alleged miscarriage of justice simply isn’t strong enough to light a fire of righteous indignation in anybody’s belly.
Finally, and most tellingly, pretty much nothing of great interest happened in 21 years. Death Row, it would seem, is a pretty dull place. Sure, Richey had his head shaved, ordered his last meal and was an hour away from Ol’ Sparky, but that has been well-documented.
If the Daily Mail hoped the decades of soul-searching meant Richey was going to come up with a searingly poignant account of his time, they were sadly mistaken.
There is also no doubt that Richey has come out the other end of a rigidly institutional existence, cruelly calculated to be as unedifying as possible. In the hands of a Pulitzer writer with the time and access to chronicle Richey coming to terms with his new life, this may one day make a compelling story. It would be helped by the redemptive quality that would come from either a complete exoneration – or a final admission of guilt.
At the moment though it is a pile of old tosh. And the Mail on Sunday wasted their money.
What finally soured the whole story for me though was the news that Richey is now to remarry the wife who left him two years before he was jailed and who he has barely seen since. Bumf*ck, Ohio, indeed.