Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Gary Krist: The Einstein of Crime

Getting Out

Gary Krist, Older
Gary Krist, Older

A prison shrink who evaluated Krist in 1969 called him "borderline schizophrenic."

In one revealing anecdote, Krist refused to acknowledge that his kidnapping plan was anything short of brilliant.

After an hour of combative answers to questions about all the details that had gone wrong, he finally allowed that "my only mistake was a minor miscalculation" about the number of lawmen pursuing him on Hog Island.

"He seems to have an obsession for others to think of him as a superior individual," the psychiatrist wrote. "He talked of his crime being part of a grand design which he had."

Once in prison, Krist's grand design centered on finding a way out.

First he tried groveling. In 1971, he wrote a letter to his victim: "Of course my crime was evil, immoral, and cruel and I cannot excuse it. I don't deserve forgiveness but it would make me happy to receive it. The crime is past and I can learn from it but I cannot change it."

He then tried propaganda. In 1972, he published a memoir, "Life," an odd, 370-page account of his life that was equal parts egomaniacal jeremiad and heavy-breathing account of his sexual achievementsall written in a haughty, academic tone.

"I'm reconciled to pay my social bill," he wrote. "And then maybe ... I can go out and live, if not in perfect amity, then perhaps within a square-shooting truce that will lead to my repudiation of the hostile spirit down to its last vestige." 

He next tried escape, concealing himself inside a garbage truck. But he was caught and his privileges revoked.

Finally, he tried the perfect-prisoner con, and he found the perfect sucker.

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