Finally, after nearly 11 years, there is some justice for the senseless murder of our founder, Dr. Eugene Mallove.
In 2012, Chad Schaffer, the first man on trial for Gene’s murder, plea bargained to 16 years in a Connecticut state prison. He plead guilty to first-degree manslaughter and accessory to third-degree robbery. That man’s cousin, Mozelle Brown, went to trial last fall and in October was found guilty of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. He was sentenced on January 6, 2015 to 58 years in prison.
The woman who came forward to police in 2010, Candace Foster, was Schaffer’s girlfriend at the time of the murder in May 2004. She was forced to return to the scene of the crime and participate in and witness the final blows that killed Gene. She was imprisoned until December 2014, but was released and must appear in court in February.
Gene’s two children, Kimberlyn (Mallove) Woodard and Ethan Mallove, read Victim Impact Statements to the court on January 5. They have both kindly shared their statements with us.
Victim Impact Statement — Kimberlyn Woodard
It is impossible to express in words what it is like to know someone you love was beaten to death. I’ve been wondering what I can say to the court today that might make a difference in how this man is sentenced. I’m not even sure how to convey how important my dad was to me and my family so that the court will really feel the pain we’ve experienced and understand how our lives were changed forever on May 14, 2004. Unless something this horrific has happened to someone you love, it’s really impossible to fully understand.
My phone rang at 5 am on May 15, 2004. I will never forget the sound of my mom’s voice on the other end. She was barely able to speak about what had happened. How do you tell your child that their father has been murdered? I sobbed for days until I didn’t have anything left in me. They say that crying makes you feel better. Not these cries. These cries were nothing I’d ever experienced. It was such agonizing pain. I felt like I was being turned inside out with each cry. All I could think of was how could my life go on without my dad in it? I really felt like life wasn’t worth living. This man didn’t care about my dad’s life nor did he care about the impact his death would have on his family. I live with a broken heart because of the life he took on May 14, 2004.
I lie in bed awake most nights imagining what my dad’s final hours/moments were like. I truly feel haunted by these images. Before I knew details of what happened, I comforted myself by thinking, “Maybe my dad didn’t suffer?” Only years ago I found out that it was quite the opposite. The images of his murder are like a reoccurring nightmare that I can’t escape. Only it’s not a nightmare. It’s real. I will never wake up and find myself in a world my dad lives and breathes in. Every day I wake up and have to tell myself it wasn’t just a bad dream. It’s my life.
My dad was full of life. He was zany, loved to joke around and act absurd. He was the life of every party. He talked excitedly at every social event about his passion for science and potential new energies for the future. He was brilliant, and not just because he went to both MIT and Harvard, but because he was a voracious reader. He was curious about anything and everything. Stacks of books always piled high on his bedside table and you could always find him reading when he had a quiet moment. As a little girl, I knew I could always ask my dad anything and he’d have an educated answer. My dad was also the most sentimental person I’ve ever known. He wouldn’t throw many things away because he loved to share artifacts which represented precious memories of his life. He never sold the Norwich home he grew up in because it was so special to him. And this fact only adds to the horror of his murder which happened in a place he loved, where he grew up with adoring parents and played in the yard with his many loving cousins. It was a place I had wonderful memories of as a young child visiting my grandparents, going to Ocean Beach in the summers. My dad loved his family and would do anything for them. He wouldn’t miss family gatherings for anything. When my dad was killed, I felt like there was no one left in the world. My dad was such a big presence in our family that his absence has left a huge void.
When my dad was murdered, I had just become a mom for the first time. Matthew is my dad’s first grandchild, but he only got to meet him once, when he was 1 week old. He was such a proud grandpa, taking videos of Matthew doing nothing but sleeping and just beaming with pride. The birth of Matthew was the happiest time in my life but when he turned 11 weeks old, it immediately turned into the worst. I was robbed of this joyous time in most women’s lives. Instead of snuggling my new baby, I was walking around in a fog of sadness, picking out a casket, writing and reading a eulogy, standing in a cemetery, choosing a gravestone.
Now that I have 3 children old enough to understand what happened to their grandfather, I try to share who their grandfather was, but I can’t really. I wish my dad could see Matthew today. He’s about to turn 11 years old. And now he has a granddaughter named Brynne, just turned 9, and Adam, age 4. All I can do now is tell my kids what their grandpa was like. I show them pictures and videos but they don’t understand who he is. It’s like he didn’t even exist because they never knew him. They don’t know what they’ve lost, but I do. Holidays without my dad are quiet. No more Father’s Day gifts. On his birthday—do I celebrate his life or mourn the loss of it? What about the funny things that happen each day that I want to call my dad about? Every happy moment in my life has a black cloud hanging over it because my dad isn’t part of it.
It is so deeply painful to lose someone you love and it adds a new dimension of hurt when it happens so violently; to know that this man didn’t care one ounce about my dad’s life; thought he was so worthless that even when he begged for help, he showed no mercy. The day my dad was murdered, so was my family. The memories I have of my dad are from the first part of my life. Long gone are the days my dad would smile at me across the dinner table, compliment me when we all got dressed up to go out, share how proud he was of my accomplishments in college and becoming a teacher like his mom, smelling his aftershave when he’d hug me at the airport at the start of a visit, seeing his black cowboy hat he loved so much with a huge grin on his face, video-taping everything so it would be documented and remembered.
I always thought that if a jury found someone guilty of killing my dad, I’d feel so relieved and overjoyed. And while I was happy to know that this man will not get away with murdering my dad, those sobs I experienced the morning of May 15th returned upon hearing the news. Like I was back at that horrifying time in my life when I wasn’t sure how I’d pick myself up and move forward. We just celebrated another new year, but every new year’s eve is just another reminder that time marches on without my dad. No sentence can change what happened, but this man needs to pay for taking my dad’s life and ruining mine. For taking a husband from my mom, a grandfather from my kids, a father-in-law from my husband, a loving cousin, devoted friend, and scientist. It doesn’t matter that it has been 10 years, 8 months since this vicious crime occurred. I’m 40 years old now. If I’m still alive 40 years from now, it will still be painful to know that this man took my dad’s life and it will be even more painful if he is allowed to walk out of jail for even one day as a free man.
Victim Impact Statement — Ethan Mallove
The word victim comes from the Latin word victima, which is defined as a creature killed as a religious sacrifice. However, this crime wasn’t a ritual, any more than a venomous snake offers its kill to God. The terms predator and prey are more suitable than perpetrator and victim.
The recommendations for authoring a Victim Impact statement were to describe the impact on one’s own life, but this is impossible. No amount of explanation could convey a much less complex experience, e.g. like seeing the color yellow, much less the profound effects this murder has had on my life. One analogy I would use is tinnitus (or eardrum rupture). Such a condition causes a constant ringing sound, which drives one to madness. This event too is an unsilenceable ringing sound. A constant distraction. Focusing on my personal experience also ignores the bigger picture. My dad was a good man, but don’t take my word for it: read the condolences and eulogies left by hundreds of folks who wrote to my family after the murder. Readers of the publication he began (Infinite Energy Magazine) and colleagues of Eugene’s in the field of new energy research reached out from all over the United States, Italy, Japan, China, India, Russia, and elsewhere. This wasn’t a local event. My family were not the only ones grieving. Homicides are often between people who are close, because passions can run in both directions, but when a near-stranger acts in such a sadistic way, it creates a sense of chaos. Good people in the community reading about this crime can grow cynical (or worse - become nihilists), biases will be formed, and the social contract is shattered.
Eugene was a man of kindness, generosity, and knowledge. The impact of removing kindness, generosity, and knowledge from society is an increase in the opposite: we have a little more cruelty, selfishness, and ignorance. To use a chemistry analogy, if you have something of value, it’s a delicate balance to maintain it. Disturb the balance of particles in gold, and you have lead. Matter full of wonder becomes dull. Eugene Mallove can’t be replaced easily. His good character was cultivated throughout his short life, and also through the lives of his parents, grandparents, and the good friends he kept. He was a rarity. Far more common are ignorant monsters of the sort that committed this unthinkable crime.
We have to use our imagination to get a sense of what my dad went through that night. What does it feel like to die of blunt force trauma? The so called hard problem of consciousness prevents us from gaining any real understanding, but it’s something I’ve imagined for years. Many would opt to die peacefully amongst loved ones, so we consider murder disgusting. With a range of 25-60 years for murder, the question is raised: where does this particular murder fall in the Depravity Scale? The Depravity Scale (depravityscale.org) began in 1998, when psychiatrist Michael Welner reviewed over 100 appellate court decisions where jury findings of “heinous” or “depraved” were challenged and upheld and reversed. It aims to provide a standardized definition of dramatic words that courts use, to minimize the arbitrariness of how courts determine the worst of crimes, and to eliminate bias in sentencing. Some of the criteria in determining depravity as applied to this particular crime include:
- Targeting a victim who is helpless (e.g., my dad’s last words “please help me” as he was struck repeatedly with a pipe)
- Influencing criminality in others to avoid prosecution (e.g., causing Foster’s involvement)
- Carrying out the crime in order to gain social acceptance (e.g., bragging about how “he” FUBAR’d his victim)
- Excessive response to trivial irritant (apparently opportunistic and unprovoked nature of the attack)
- Unusual and extreme quality of suffering of the victim, including terror and helplessness
It’s clear the manner in which this crime was carried out rises to the level of extreme depravity.
Gary McAvoy and Joseph Reilly went through the torment of a wrongful arrest. Their mug shots are still search-indexed to the murder. The State spent millions of dollars investigating and prosecuting the perpetrators of this crime, which means other victims will never have their day in court. Too many murderers, not enough detectives.
The State acknowledges the impact of murder by assigning a minimum punishment of 25 years. Where did the number 25 come from? In the incapacitation model of punishment, is that the time it takes for a violent criminal to lose their aggression? Or in the deterrent model, is that the sentence that might make a would-be murderer think twice about killing? At what age does he go into the correctional nursing facility? Or do they send him home? These are questions we’ll waste precious time chasing down.
Quote by Pauline O’Flynn (Irish philosopher and schoolteacher): It may not be possible to compel the aggressor to understand or repent his crimes against humanity: it may not be possible to ‘balance’ wrongs; all punishment may be a failure – but nevertheless the human cry for meaning demands that the degradation of humanity can never be ignored: “Their crimes have struck at our own hearts. It is our values, our reasons to live that are affirmed by their punishment.” (Quote from Simone de Beauvoir’s Philosophical Writings)