Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize 2017/18
‘Exhaustive Portrait of Alan Ellis-Thompson, Who Murdered Four Children’
Excerpt from article “Brutal Child Killer’s Day In Court”, in the New York Post, October 12, 2010
parents of Lily Davidson who was only seven years old when she was found brutally stabbed to death in June of last year cut a devastated figure in court today as photographs of their daughter’s horribly mutilated body were shown as part of the compelling evidence against Rhode Island-born Alan Ellis-Thompson, twenty-eight, who stands accused of torturing, raping and murdering Lily Davidson as well as three other young girls, luring the unsuspecting victims to his house with the promise of brand-new smartphones.
Jurors were asked by prosecution to reject the defence’s claim of mental illness caused by Ellis-Thompson’s father’s alleged abuse as a child, claims previously determined to have been extremely exaggerated. Mr. Ellis-Thompson listened to the prosecution’s long list of accusations without any emotion, his callous exterior showing no sign of remorse.
The underwear of all four girls, covered in blood, was found at the home of Mr. Ellis-Thompson who also kept
Interview with Mr & Mrs Ellis-Thompson, Nancy Grace, HLN TV, December 8, 2010 (RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY: Good evening. I’m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us.
Bombshell tonight, we have with us here the parents of the man condemned for the murder of four innocent young girls in New York. Alan Ellis-Thompson, white, twenty-eight, brutally abused and killed four girls aged between six and nine, leaving a community shocked and traumatised in his wake. With us today, for their first appearance since their son’s horrors came to light, Ray Thompson and Janice Ellis-Thompson. To both of you, thank you for being with us.
RAY: Thank you for having us.
NANCY: I know that you have both been through so incredibly much. First, Mrs. Ellis-Thompson, I wanted to ask, with the overwhelming evidence that has come to light, was there no suspicion on your behalf? Could you ever have imagined your son committing such horrible acts?
JANICE: Thank you. I must say, Nancy, that for a mother to hear that a son, that our son would be capable of [unintelligible] is really just the worst thing, the worst thing a mother can hear. I can’t even imagine what those poor mothers are going through at the moment, and to think that I, that we may have failed our son, that we could have been better parents, I… [sobs]
RAY: I mean Alan was always the quiet, polite sort. He liked his alone-time, I guess, but no nothing ever… He would write the most beautiful poetry, he was kind to others, we never thought that there was something wrong with him. Him and his sister both, our beloved Christine, were exemplary children in many ways.
NANCY: When you got the call, the call from the police telling you what had happened, what went through your mind?
RAY: It was actually our lawyer, our family lawyer who called me at work. I kept telling him he must be mistaken, they had to have the wrong guy. I don’t even remember leaving work or driving home to tell Janice, but I do remember thinking it was some sort of prank, a joke, and that I shouldn’t fall for it.
NANCY: And so Janice when Ray told you, did you cry?
JANICE: Yes Nancy, I, I just fell to my knees and started crying, I thought to myself this can’t be happening and I, I prayed to God to guide me out of this darkness, to shine a light on me, to tell me what path to go. I always think to remember the good book telling us to put our trust in the Lord.
NANCY: That’s right.
JANICE: So you know, things may not make sense to us, but they are not ours to make sense of.
Excerpt from Christine Ellis-Thompson, “The Lives He Destroyed: A Sister’s Story”, John Blake, 2011, pp. 72-73:
was just one of those Alan things. As a child he would often fess up to things he had done in just such a way that our parents would at the same time commend him for taking the blame for the act while not believing that he had done them at all, instead deflecting this blame towards me. Often he would do this by mumbling his confession and throwing a glance in my way, a truth parading as a lie. I have never seen someone be honest while making sure the person he’s telling the truth to does not believe him at all. Of course, this made my position impossible, because I could not at this point be angry with him, since he had told the truth, but I was still the one that was blamed. For a seven year-old, he had an ability to manipulate those around him that I often envied and, yes, hated him for. When I was in rehab throughout my late teens, I mostly blamed the deterioration of my relationship with Alan on what happened with the dogs, but looking back on it now, it is clear to me something was wrong between us from the very beginning.
Truth be told, I had forgotten all about his subtle tricks until one day Rachida turned up at my door step, her mascara running down her cheeks and a tangled broken skeleton of an umbrella in her hand. I liked Rachida, of my brother’s girlfriends it was clear this was the one most suited for him, we were all very good friends and I had never seen Alan as happy as that first year they were together. On this rainy April day, however, it was clear that something bad had happened.
Rachida brushed aside one of her dark locks of hair that were plastered across her beautiful golden brown skin and told me that she had nobody else to talk to, nobody else who understood. Ever since I had gotten out of rehab, Alan had been the one person in my family to accept me back no questions asked - who had respected my newfound fear of God and not mocked my faith - and during this time Alan and I were very close while never quite seeing eye-to-eye with each other. It was this closeness that made Rachida feel that she could reach out to me. Apparently Alan had a tendency to avoid arguments by pointing out everything that he had done wrong, pre-empting any criticism you could have of him. Rachida cried on my shoulder telling me how she was so angry with him without feeling she had a reason to be. It was as if he made sure that to be angry at him was to make yourself feel absolutely hysterical.
Of course Rachida could not have known it at the time, but all my childhood memories of Alan standing by broken things saying in his fake-honest voice that he did it and he was sorry came rushing back to me. We talked all night about Alan, about how he manipulated people into submission, and the next day we called him up to confront him. He began crying and said that he had no idea that this was how we saw him. He promised us he had never done anything like that on purpose. Of course, this only served to make me and Rachida feel bad about ourselves. Whether Alan was telling the truth then or if this, too, was manipulation, we would never know.
However, this was the first indication to me that
Interview with Tracee Atalay, neighbour, CBS-2, July 8, 2010
He was just a quiet sort, you know? Kept to himself. I mean, nobody knows their neighbours anymore, not in New York, but we um we passed each other in the hallway and he seemed nice, you know? I never thought we had a monster next door, you know, I have kids and I never thought he would be a monster, but I guess you just never know do you now do you?
Class photo inscription by Daniel Lechoslav, ca. 1994
Hey dude! Best year ever or what! This year would not have been the same without you! The look on Mrs. Andersen’s face that time you farted!
Have a good summer buddy, let’s make next year even better!
Amount available in checking account on November 22, 2008, established as the date of the first murder:
Excerpt from “Critical Intersectional Analysis of the Erotomaniac Tendencies in the Ellis-Thompson Case” by Terrence Laver (Ph.D.), Conrad V. Graham (Ph.D.), Laurene William-Procter (M.D.), Hussein Rahman (Ph.D.) published in American Journal of Psychoanalysis Vol.77, Number 4, 2015, p. 83:
than acts of erotomania (mélancholie érotique, cf. Jaques Ferrand) which cannot by itself elucidate the acts. If we make the plausibility assessment that the prisoner indeed has no memory of the acts, this can instead be due to lowered metacognitive remembrance brought on by crimes with moderate to high arousal for the prisoner (Price et al, 2014), which leads to significantly impaired recall accuracy, in turn creating an organic amnesia (Laver et al, 2011). Such a state can potentially manifest the erotomaniac tendencies described above, however the nature of the murders hint at a superego trying to assert itself, a projection on a previous self’s trauma - here as an introspectionistic corollary we can point to the systematic parental violence the prisoner referred to in his testimony, violence committed during the phallic phase of the prisoner’s psychosexual development thus creating the castration motifs and birthing an unconscious desire for sex rituals committed by the superego in an act of correction, by destroying the children while asserting itself.
The textual analysis of this case (Hudson, 2012) refrains from delving deeper into an intersectional interpretation, especially with regard to the racial element of the crimes. As a caucasian male growing up in a racially homogenous and wealthy suburb who had only ever had sexual intercourse with African-American women, the Prisoner must have acted on severe inner conflicts during his amnesiac periods that may well have been fugue states, in selecting four blonde, white children to sexually abuse and murder in a ritualistic fashion, one white girl for each African-American woman he had dated. The acts themselves were dynamogenic, yet in the aftermath of the delirium the Prisoner needed to reinstate order through introjection, to quash the id with actions autodefined as rational. Hence the decision to keep the victims’ underwear, teeth and nail clippings: an attempt to de-racialise the victims, to unwhiten the girls by keeping items that would remain the same regardless of race. In the earlier survey conducted by Helmholz (“Infanticide in the Province of Canterbury during the Fifteenth Century”) the relevant
Facebook Wall July 2-3, 2010
Bill Nystrom: You ducking SCUM you deserve to ROT in HELL four what youve done!!!
Maximilien Lobb: … i can’t believe this to be true we had you over to our home my daughter brought you girlscout cookies you goddamn monster
Rebekah Young: Guys, I think before making these accusations maybe wait for the verdict to come through. He *is* innocent until proven guilty. #justsayin
John Park shared a link: 40 Funniest Autocorrects (boredpanda.com)
Chad Dennis: Alan you are fucking filth, filth you are. I hope you get raped in prison by cocks so big they come out of your mouth. The death penalty is not nearly enough for you. You deserve to suffer like you made each and every one of those girls suffer.
Robert Nelson: sicko
Christine Ellis-Thompson: Guys, this is his sister. Can someone tell me what’s going on?
2006 Semi-Annual Performance Evaluation by Bill Kelley, Lead Genius
Please find attached below Thompson’s SAPE for perusal at your convenience. Though Thompson is well-informed of the necessary Product documentation, he does not have thorough knowledge of bleeding-edge tech he would gain from regularly updating himself on tech blogs e.g. Ars Technica, Engadget etc. It is somewhat obvious that Thompson does not have a true passion for his job as a Mac Genius, and this lack of passion is reflected in his subpar customer experience profile. Though it may be outside the scope of this SAPE, it may be worth mentioning that Thompson’s out of work behaviour has been deemed erratic - a social call to his cell phone once was answered with strange animalistic sounds, sounds that Thompson claimed the next day he had no recollection of.
He is generally punctual, hygienic and possesses adequate communication skills to assist the customers. He seems to have no compunctions in going the extra mile but sadly does not exhibit any excitement in doing so. As our employee he must be seen to be enjoying himself, and often this cannot be adequately ascertained.
Also, even though he has been reminded of this, he often forgets to refer to the Products as magical.
In conclusion, I recommend actioning the TWV warning protocol so as to assess progress in six month’s time.
Appreciate advising the progress on the subject at your earliest.
This e-mail is intended for the addressee shown. It contains information that is confidential and protected from disclosure. Any review, dissemination or use of this transmission or its contents by persons or unauthorized employees of the intended organisations is strictly prohibited.
Excerpt from James Wood’s review of “He Kept the Teeth” by Joyce Carol Oates in the July 23, 2012 issue of the New Yorker
not the first time Oates reimagines real murders: her 2008 novel “My Sister, My Love” famously expanded upon the JonBenét Ramsey murder, to a moderate degree of success. Then, as here, Oates effortlessly accomplishes the considerable feat of displaying the aftermath of a tragedy with formidable empathy. The novel is at its most powerful when its sharp focus lies with the Echolls family – stand-ins for the real-life Ellis-Thompsons – and observes them attempting to reëstablish a tentative daily routine, from grocery shopping to changing sheets. Oates excels at portraying such mundane acts as positively alien for characters emerging from a state of shock.
“He Kept the Teeth” wisely steps away from describing the murders themselves, the girls only ever appearing in the narrative once they are already dead, in a manner similar to the Greek ekkyklêma, making sure that the full effect of these violent acts is not lost on the reader while denying any possibility for titillation. The whole novel in fact follows a form of Sophoclean geometry in ensuring that the downfall of various characters are purely hamartia-driven events, but for all of Oates’ diligent research and ex cathedra narration, the murderer himself, here called “Bill”, remains curiously absent. Don DeLillo demonstrated how to depict a perfect embodiment in his brilliant reënvisioning of Lee Harvey Oswald in “Libra”, Oates leaves us instead with a gaping hole where a murderer should have been.
E! Entertainment Interview with Scarlett Johansson for her role as Christine Ellis-Thompson in “The Lives Destroyed”, December 21, 2016:
SJ: Well, I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of these giant blockbuster movies as part of the Marvel Universe of course, which are all great fun, so they allow me to choose smaller independent films and so recently I’ve been enjoying these smaller quieter movies. It’s like my version of a SPA holiday! (laughs)
SJ: Well yes, um, I did specifically seek out the role because I’d read the book and of course I knew about the case and kind of would, like, felt like this would challenge me, that I could kind of embody this woman who is trying to emerge from her brother’s shadow and the effects of his murders.
SJ: Sure: Christine is in a transient phase in her life when we find her, she is figuring out who she is after spending time in rehab and of course the only person who she is close to is her brother who turns out to be this monster … so, I loved exploring the mindset of a person who has lost it all but still finds within her the power to go on, I found that struggle was something I really could relate to.
SJ: Well, um, so me and Joe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays Alan, the murderer in this, we only ever get to see him in flashbacks and then a few scenes when Christine visits him in prison. And me and Joe had hung out before the shoot, we get along really well, but then the day we were shooting his prison scenes, he was so terrifying, he had embodied this complete monster. I mean I honestly did not know who he was for a second.
SJ: (laughs) Maybe in the sequel.
Psychiatric evaluation at age 19, by Dr. K. Rosenthal (redacted at the behest of the defence):
Although results on the Stanford-Binet Scale are higher than average (106), his results on the MMPI-2 (which include high BIZ, CYN and FAM) indicate a high risk for [REDACTED], as evidenced by his low score on the [REDACTED] scale, answers to the Psychasthenia-related questions and the conclusions presented by the narrative report.
Recommend continuing to observe patient and [REDACTED]
Excerpt from the diary of Rachida Rhodes, September 20, 2003 (presented as evidence by the defence)
Ah man, the boy just went and got cuter. So he rings my doorbell and, considering how disasterous the previous date was, I wasn’t expecting much, but he shows up, all puppy-dog eyes, holding this bouqet of irises and says he’s got something special in mind. So I’m thinking right, we’re going to go do something lame like that 90210 episode where Dylan takes Brenda to donate blood (which, lamest date ever Luke Perry, for real) but no he goes and takes me to a screening of Koyanisqatsi (sp?) where Philip Glass and a whole f-ing ORCHESTRA was performing the score! No joke! It was SO awesome. How he knew that was my favorite movie, I have no idea. Then afterwards, we go to this cute little restaurant & he pretends he can order the wine in french which he really can’t. Then this couple next to us, the man keeps swiping his credit card and it keeps getting rejected, so he goes out to call his bank, this guy does, and so the boy says excuse me for a minute, and goes out to lend him the money for the meal! Who even does that? He was so cute afterwards, he told me that he’d been in a similar situation once and he’d wished someone had helped him out. So the guy comes back and pays for the meal and his date is none the wiser to what had happened. I must admit that was a baller move, right there.
Then we go back to mine (I know, I know, I’m a total slut) & we start making out but he got super emotional I dunno maybe the alcohol but he just breaks down in tears & asks me if we can like take it slow & he tells me some weird shit about his childhood so I’m like obviously sure so then we spend all night just talking instead and he’s just the sweetest soul, I had no idea. I may well be crushing on him just a little. Like what I thought were doormat tendencies are actually just him being thoughtful, I really feel he opened up his soul to me even if that sounds corny it was like he was not afraid he showed me who he really is underneith all that BS. I dunno maybe I deserve a nice guy for once. Also he woke me up by like going down on me for I swear to god almost an hour.
Excerpt from Florian Fabre-Rousseau, The Deconstructed Theatricality of Murder-Rituals- the Debordian Performativity of the Ellis-Thompson Killings, Transl. by Jonathan Meyers, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016, pp. 380-381.
to how the hermeneutic attacks of 9/11 were more akin to antirealist performance art than traditional acts of war, the Ellis-Thompson murders thusly elide an Artaud-esque theatre of cruelty where the performativity of each ritual heightens the act until it is transformed. The arrangement of the bodies represent here a modified encultured symbol of the phallicism indicative of the dialectics of penetration that popular culture is inundated with, a Lacanian rearticulation of the dominant normative discourse. It is important that the determinant male gaze of the perpetrator is aimed at pre-pubescent girls, shattering possibilities to link the phenomenologically irreducible dyad of man and woman. Ellis-Thompson in his didascalic deconstructions of the female body repeats this performativity until it transcends the performance and becomes the theatrical: the spectacle presented by Ellis-Thompson is a reframing of Althusserian theory whereby the murders and the rearticulation of sexual power is made pornographic in the manner that it unfolds a gesture intended for two participants outward for a spectator, now as distorted and deformed as a map projection and just as often mistaken for verisimilitude, a simulacrum confused with its original.
Files > 100 MB on Home Computer Confiscated Upon Arrest
Poème Non Épique N° III, Concerto Alpin En 3 Mouvements Et Un Tombé.mp3
Excerpt from the diary of Rachida Rhodes, April 3 2007 (presented as evidence by the prosecution)
I’ve had it I’ve f-ing HAD IT with him! So yesterday we’re going for dinner to his batshit racist sister’s (who we saw like 5 days ago, like do we REALLY need to listen to her crazy born again rants EVERY F-ING DAY???) & so on our way back obv I’m in a mood because I didn’t really want to go to begin with so I’m complaining as we walk home, then he just starts SHOUTING at me in the middle of the street like we’re f-ing trailer trash!! Like telling me this and that & I should stop moaning all the time & I was like you best not go down that road cause you’re about to make a big mistake and he goes “you have no idea what I’m capable of” like he’s some goddamn comic book vilain. So I say if you EVER shout at me again & then left him there - I have NOT got time for that shit. He’s been calling me and texting ever since but like srsly FUCK HIM who does he think he is? That’s the f-ing last he sees of me, creepy little shit wanting me to dress up in schoolgirl uniform like some old pervert. Srsly enough of this shit. E-N-O-U-G-H
Last Tweet Prior To Arrest
Ellis-Tompson, Alan (@Alelth) “If I hear that Taylor Swift song ONE MORE TIME, I swear to God…”
Netflix Recommended Movies on Laptop Confiscated Upon Arrest:
Wall-E, Police Academy 4, Watchmen, Kalifornia, Falling Down, Coming to America, Hot Tub Time Machine
OKCupid Profile, Last Edited August 28, 2008:
I recently graduated from college and now adjusting to "real life" which I am sure is going to begin any day now. Work hours are long, but that is to be expected when you are just starting your career and also this allows me to get killer high scores on Doodle Jump. When not at work I cook overly elaborate meals of far too many courses that I take pictures of to upload on Facebook. Yes I am that guy. I have been engaged in a decade-spanning war with my cat Fluffy over the disputed territory known as “the Couch”. I am adamant by the time you come to my apartment (I apologise in advance for the neighbors, that sound you will hear is - believe it or not - not that of a hundred pigs being slaughtered in inventive and painful ways but the sweet sweet lovemaking of Robben and Tracee, who are in their 50s and who seem to really dig eachother something awful) I will have been victorious.
I have a good bunch of friends, an ok job, a close family and I live in Brooklyn. I am a genius, so I can help you sync your kitten pictures to the cloud. You won’t need to make an appointment or anything. I don’t take life too seriously, neither should you. The greatest joy in my life is the Rocky IV montage scene, followed closely by the final fight in Rocky IV where the Russians begin chanting U-S-A! U-S-A!, followed by the first fight in Rocky IV where Apollo is wearing the Uncle Sam outfit. I really like Rocky IV.
I also like kids. And cats. And kid cats. These are traditionally called kittens. Give me a teacup kitten and I will be your devoted servant. Seriously, I’ll bake shit for you.