But Glen Wolsieffer found time to snicker once or twice when we spoke recently about that day in 1986 when he killed his wife, Betty.
Time to publicly explain what happened, I said as we talked on the phone. Time for remorse, I said. Time to tell us why you strangled Betty, 32, and then blamed her cold and terrible death on an “intruder” you claimed came out of nowhere and knocked you unconscious.
His case languished for more than three years before his arrest in 1989. A year later, he went to trial in Luzerne County Court, and in June 1992 he reported to state prison to begin serving his sentence. The story attracted national attention and became the subject of a book, “Murder at 75 Birch,” that was developed into a TV movie of the same name that aired in 1999.
Back in 2005, after sticking to his “I’m an innocent man” story and spending almost 13 years behind bars after a jury convicted him of third-degree murder, the former dentist told members of the state parole board that he “took responsibility” for his crime.
That admission secured his release.
But now I have to wonder if Glen, 60, has taken responsibility for anything.
“I told them I did it so I could get out,” Glen said.
“So you lied?” I asked.
“I didn’t want to do seven more years,” he said.
Glen said he told the parole board a lot over the years that resulted in his bid for parole being rejected five times out of six.
“Survival of the dumbest,” he said.
“So now you’re saying you didn’t kill Betty?” I asked.
Glen didn’t answer the question.
“I could tell you right now I didn’t do it and you wouldn’t believe me,”
“Why can’t you just tell me why you killed Betty?” I asked.
“You want to know something that nobody else does,” he said.
“Why did you do it?” I asked. “Why did you kill Betty?”
“There’s no reason why I killed Betty,” Glen said.
Glen seemed flustered, scattered and talking in circles. His voice was soft, not weak but not strong, his words interrupted a few time by nervous laughter at inappropriate times.
“Are you telling me now, today that you didn’t kill Betty?” I asked.
Glen said nothing.
“That’s over,” he said of the eight-to-20-year sentence a judge handed down after jurors convicted him of third-degree murder, missing a first-degree conviction that would have imprisoned him for life, by one vote.
The maximum is up, Glen said.
“That sentence is over,” he said.
“Your sentence is never over,” I said.
“Why are you bringing up that when you called to talk about Denise Thomas?” Glen asked.
Elected in November, Thomas is a Greater Wilkes-Barre Area School District school board member who has exchanged recent Facebook comments with Glen on her page. A listener I have known for years sent me page shots of those comments. In one exchange, Glen responded to Thomas about her anger over comments made about the school district by a WILK News Radio host who filled in for me when I was on vacation.
“A wannabe Corbett. LOL,” Glen wrote. “That is dangerous.”
Glen “laughing out loud” at me deserved a response.
So I called him recently.
“After everything that happened, you want to taunt me? “ I asked.
“You do a lot that isn’t correct and isn’t right,” I said.
“Everybody does,” he said.
“Not as bad as you,” I said.
This was the second time Glen and I had talked in a little more than a year.
On Aug. 30, 2012, the anniversary of Betty’s death, I had gone looking for him on Magnolia Avenue in Wilkes-Barre where I understood he lived with his mother. Glen wasn’t home but a neighbor told me about him sitting on a lawn chair in the driveway, day after day, chain-smoking cigarettes and looking gaunt.
“He told me he’s seeing a counselor,” the neighbor said.
I found out later that day that city police had responded months before to a report of a man sitting alone in his car smoking cigarettes at the end of Birch Street, where Glen, Betty and 5-year-old Danielle lived when daddy killed mommy. Glen was the man in the car. Police shooed him away without a charge and filed a formal report on the incident. The police report says officers found Glen alone in his car near Birch Street more than once.
Glen, who listed his phone number on a federal court document when he filed for bankruptcy in 2011, answered the phone when I called the following day. At that point we hadn’t spoken to each other in about 23 years.
I told Glen that I had stopped by his house to see him, that maybe it was time for us to talk.
Glen softly said he didn’t want to talk about Betty’s murder
I told him that I heard he wasn’t feeling well. I told him that talking might help. I told him that telling the truth always helps.
I told Glen that we would talk another time. I said I would call him again.
“Okay, bud,” he said.
On my most recent call a few weeks ago, I reminded Glen that I was polite and respectful when we spoke last year.
“I was being fair and didn’t want to push you into a corner,” I said. “Some people were worried that you might kill yourself,” I said.
Glen said nothing.
But the Facebook “laugh out loud” was too much, I said.
Glen said he understood.
“You and I need to sit down and talk about this,” I said.