– Spring/Summer 2003

Young Americans

Irene Tsatsos

The Handsome Family, photo by Mark Owen, 2002. Courtesy of the artists.

The Handsome Family, photo by Mark Owen, 2002. Courtesy of the artists.

Ten years ago, in Forth Worth, Texas, Jeffrey Dillingham was an honour student with no prior criminal record. His friend, Brian Salter, was known as a weakling, the kind of guy everyone else picked on, but not the type to actually hurt anybody. Kristi Koslow, on the other hand, was the wild card, the teenager with the violent temper and, evidently, the capacity to influence her boyfriend Brian and his friend Jeffrey to commit murder.

Kristi hated her wealthy father Jack. She said he no longer loved her. She believed that if Jack died, she would inherit $12 million, and even more if he died before she turned eighteen. Kristi didn't care much for her socialite stepmother Caren either, but it wasn't the point to kill her.

So Kristi promised Jeffrey and Brian $500,000 each if they murdered her father. In the middle of the night Jeffrey and Brian broke into her parents' house and began to beat and stab a sleeping Jack and Caren. Jack lost consciousness. They thought he was dead but he wasn't and later escaped to a neighbour's house. They killed Caren and after she was dead they slit her throat.

Kristi, Jeffrey and Brian confessed to the crime. According to the police there was no indication they were on drugs. They each just said they did it for the money. For Caren's murder Kristi's father, Jack, advocated the death penalty for all three. Brian and Kristi both plea-bargained and each got life sentences. Jeffrey refused. He was sentenced to execution by lethal injection. His death fell on the first of November 2000, and was the 34th execution carried out by