Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Howard Appledorf

Why was Howard murdered?

Bown and Everson changed their pleas to guilty in July 1983 in exchange for the prosecution's agreement not to seek the death penalty.

Everson's father told a Boston Globe reporter, "There's no sense locking him up, not in a jail. The kid is sick, he needs help." However, Everson and Bown were both sentenced to life in prison, with eligibility to apply for parole after 25 years. The Boston Globe wrote that Everson told the court "that at the time of the killing he was under the influence of alcohol and LSD."

It is likely that there was more to it. The middle-aged Appledorf may have seemed like a father figure to Bown, Everson and Kennedy. Kennedy's feelings are relevant even if he took no part in the murder as he did invade and help trash the professor's home.

Bown's biological father had abandoned him. A stepfather had been emotionally rejecting and physically violent to him. Everson felt deprived of affection from his father and their relationship was reportedly violent as was that of Kennedy and his father. One of Everson's neighbors told Rein, "I look at this professor's picture and I wonder if it wasn't his own father Paul was thinking of."

Additionally, Bown, Everson and Kennedy came from financially struggling backgrounds and may have envied the affluent Appledorf.

Furthermore, the three were generally perceived as demonstrating the effeminate qualities marking "obviously" gay men. They may have resented Appledorf's more closeted status, feeling that he unfairly enjoyed the pleasures of gay sex while avoiding the stigma of being known as a homosexual.

Finally, prostitutes of both sexes often have a love-hate relationship with their customers. Prostitutes want their clients' money and may enjoy being desired by them. A male prostitute told Rein, "I know I've got something you want and when I get your money that's a real high." However, prostitutes often feel demeaned and exploited by their customers who may be contemptuous of them. Steve Bernstein, Paul Everson's attorney, says, "I think [Paul] may have been abused by his customers. I think that was pretty rampant in that kind of circumstance."

If Appledorf had misled Bown into thinking he was going to get a job when the professor had no such plans, Bown could have felt betrayed and enraged. Bown might even have indulged an enraged sense of betrayal even if he had been misled only by his own wishful thinking.

Bernstein opined, "My recollection is that Paul and Gary thought that the professor had been abusive to Shane. The other two were angry about it."

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