David Holthouse confronts killer inside him on This American Life: Read shocking story here

Categories: Media

david holthouse age seven.jpg
David Holthouse, 7.
Listeners to the latest edition of This American Life, a National Public Radio staple hosted by Ira Glass, heard a startling story -- one Westword readers first discovered back in 2004.

The subject? Then-staff writer David Holthouse's plan to murder the man who'd raped him at age seven.

Use the player below to listen to the episode featuring Holthouse, who now lives in Alaska; his is the second segment, just over eight minutes into the broadcast. Then read the entire terrifying yet redemptive tale in Holthouse's original feature, headlined "Stalking the Bogeyman."

More from our Media archive: "Jacob Christenson arson case: Denver Post backpedals on story, confused about kid stuff."

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6 comments
Jonathan Balcombe
Jonathan Balcombe

Brilliant, gripping and disturbing account from Holthouse. I fear his abuser is lying. The smoking gun is the poor cat he tortured with a fire-cracker. This says two things: 1) Holthouse was NOT his only victim, and 2) the abuser (in case anyone needs further evidence) is seriously psychopathic. I'm not aware that psychopathology is a little hobby one can discard at will.

szeigler13
szeigler13

@Jonathan Balcombe Do you think there is even sliver of truth to his claim?  Could his torture on the animals be the replacement or the release of his feelings, so that he didn't act on other humans?  

Robert
Robert

It is an interesting and provocative story. Can we reduce the statistic Holthouse cites (the average number of children pedophiles molest before being arrested) better by imposing unconstitutional sentences on those few convicted, or is there another way? Holthouse did not deliberately forgo prosecuting his rapist, but the resolution of his embarassment, expressed as concern for his parents, could not take place until they had read the diary he had left in their house, by which time the statute of limitations had run out on the offense. His hyperconcern for his parents kept him from shame, but forgetting the presence of a diary written three years after the attack served to communicate the truth to them. His confrontation of his rapist is what is most remarkable about the story, up until this point a description first of why and how he was psychologically constrained not to tell of his rape and then of how he was driven to murderousness. Holthouse retains the objectivity to be able to find his attacker's remorse genuine, and even to consider that his claim of not having molested others might be true. The denouement of this affair could not be satisfactory to any of the parties involved, but is perhaps better than the imposition of a draconian prison sentence on the malefactor (not an option for a fifteen-year-old, in 1978 anyway). We would be better off if we knew each other well enough to prevent such offenses in the first place, or to detect them after the fact even somewhat more effectively, than to crucify some miniscule fraction of those committing them. I interpret much of our law regarding sexual offenses as expressing the impotent rage of societal incompetence.

szeigler13
szeigler13

@Robert Thank you for this commentary.  Its truly insightful.  "Impotent rage of societal incompetence"  That describes a lot of policy and rules that we have in place.  I don't think however, that the confrontation and David's belief in his attackers words is the relief to the act of molestation.  The confrontation does possibly serve as a release from the self imposed prison that he had kept himself in all of those years("psychologically constrained").  Communication and discussion still seems to be the best medicine, if such a medicine even exists.

Robert
Robert

This American Life has featured any number of good stories. The quality does range, but the excellent ones certainly outweigh the mediocre. If you've never heard David Sedaris' Santaland Diaries, you should -- it's hilarious: http://www.thisamericanlife.or... (~4 min. in).

P.S. Michael, not to niggle, but This American Life is not actually an NPR show (although it is played on NPR stations).

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Robert, thanks for clarifying. Appreciate your help.

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