SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Apologizing for the murders of four women, confessed Yosemite killer Cary Stayner has apparently written a letter from jail to a Fresno newspaper, explaining that he wants to sell his story so he could pay "as much restitution to my victims' families as possible."
But one expert on Friday suggested the letter might be a cynical ploy by a killer bent on softening his image or stoking his fame."Anything a serial killer says is suspect," said criminologist Mike Rustigan. "A guy that has the capacity to behead a victim, to ruthlessly abduct them and mislead the police . . . I don't think that he's now suddenly struck with pangs of remorse."
Whatever the motivation, the letter printed Friday by the Fresno Bee is now a potential piece of evidence, according to the FBI.
"If indeed the letter came from Stayner, it could be an important piece of evidence in any subsequent case against him," said special agent Nick Rossi.
Officials at the Fresno County jail said they couldn't verify whether Stayner wrote the letter, but they said inmates are generally free to write and send letters as they wish. Jody Murray, the Bee's city editor, said the newspaper is confident the letter isn't a hoax.
"We took extensive steps to verify it," he said, declining to elaborate. He also wouldn't say whether the paper would share the letter with authorities.
Though he's admitted to four killings, Stayner has only been charged with last month's beheading death of Yosemite naturalist Joie Ruth Armstrong. He's also been named as the chief suspect in the February slayings of tourists Carole Sund, Juli Sund and Silvina Pelosso. While authorities say they're not ready to file charges in that case, a law enforcement source said investigators haven't found any signs anyone else was involved.
Stayner, who could potentially face the death penalty, apparently sent the one-page, handwritten note after the Bee published an earlier letter to the editor from a reader who complained that Stayner had garnered too much notoriety since his arrest last month.