“There are two people in there and one of them is kind. But once a person commits a crime, the world doesn’t want to give them a chance.”
That’s what Victoria Zubcic, a bail bondswoman from Missouri, told an Associated Press reporter about the serial killers she has known.
Oh, please. Tell Katy Harris’ family about the kind side of Tommy Lynn Sells (above left), the man who slit their 14-year-old daughter’s throat. Tell the parents of 10-year-old Jack Blake that they should give Arthur Shawcross (pictured right) another chance.
Victoria is promoting her self-published book, 13½, about serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells. She says that she and Sells are friends but she hides her true identity behind the pseudonym Tori Rivers. But I know Victoria’s secret—the fact she neglects to mention during interviews.
On November 3, 2006, Victoria walked into the courthouse in Polk County, Texas and purchased a marriage license naming Tommy Lynn Sells, Death Row resident, as her future husband. (At left, the happy couple have their first barrier-free visit at the Val Verde County Jail in February 2006.)
Although Victoria wrote a couple of chapters in this short book, most of it is a prolonged rant from Tommy Lynn Sells. She corrected his grammar and spelling but she let his potty mouth run free across every page. She allowed him to rewrite history in a disgusting manner that is inconsistent with crime-scene reports, witness statements, and forensic analysis.
She enabled Sells to spout self-serving lies that vilify his victims and blame them for his crimes. He distorted facts and twisted the truth. He used the book as a forum for petty revenge. When not imprisoned, he killed to get even for perceived slights. Now that he can’t physically attack those who angered him, he fights with the only weapon he has—lies.
He related an incident where he lost his temper with an FBI agent. He changed the story, though, making the agent an ignorant jailer who made less money than “a kid flipping burgers.” In his version, Sells battered the man until he “screamed like a bitch.” In reality, Sells was brought up short before he could do much more than bluster.
He also insulted the woman who fought back when he attacked her. She put him in the hospital for two weeks before he went to jail for five years. He claimed that the rape was consensual sex. He made derogatory remarks about her personal hygiene. He insisted he was being a nice guy when she attacked him as he emerged sparkling clean from the shower. He then said he fought for his life, slamming her head into the wall before he ran away. He doesn’t bother to mention the bloodied piano stool he broke in two when he bashed her in the head or the stab wounds he inflicted on her body.
He often bragged about having sex with women, painting himself as quite the cocksman. He claimed that even when he was sexually assaulting victims, he was giving them pleasure. Experts, however, feel that Sells had problems with performance—that he was often sexually incompetent—explaining why he often brutally raped women with objects like baseball bats and tools.
But, according to him, most of his victims enjoyed his attentions and had no moral character at all. Since they are dead, they cannot contradict him. How convenient for Tommy.
He also used this opportunity to attack the justice system, claiming that although he did murder his last victim, he did not sexually assault her and, therefore, should not have gotten the death penalty. He argued, too, that he is mentally retarded and it is illegal to execute him. He repeated many of his silly, oft-told lies about people in law enforcement, the courts, the legal profession, writers, television producers—anyone he’d encountered who didn’t present his story the way he wanted it told.
Victoria said she changed the names of the victims to protect them from further pain. She did that in all but one case—the murder of Katy Harris. Oddly, it was the only homicide story she told that actually bore a resemblance to reality. And in that case, she used everyone’s real name. I don’t think she was trying to protect victims. I think she was trying to hide the lies. Did Sells manipulate her into believing his version of reality? Or was she a willing accomplice in perpetuating his falsehoods? We may never know.
We may also never know anything about the financial arrangements between Vicki and Tommy. But what are the odds that every book sold puts money into Sells’ prison bank account?
In fact, I hesitated to write this blog because I was concerned that the publicity might encourage some people to buy the book. But then I realized, there are more of you out there who would not make a purchase if you knew of this special relationship between the brutal killer and the author.