Arthur F. Goode III, a social misfit with a nine-year record of molesting children, always "cased" his victims before attacking them. He would pretend to be lost and ask for directions - testing how smart they were, how courteous toward adults, how vulnerable.
Then, when they started to cry, he would lure them to nearby woods where on two occasions he sexually assaulted and strangled little boys.
Goode, now sentenced to die in the electric chair for murdering a 9-year-old Florida boy, has no remorse for any of the crimes he boastfully recounts. "I don't care about any kid," he said in an interview last week. "If you let me out on the street now I would catch the first kid I could get my hands on."
He has written what he describes as "terrible letters" to the heartbroken parents of the two dead boys in which he tells how he assaulted and killed their children. He says he writes the victims' parents "basically because I want them to understand why I did the crime I did and what they did wrong to cause it to happen . . . I don't want people to forget me, of course."
Goode blames the victims' parents for what happened. He says they did not sufficiently frighten their sons about sexaul assault. Goode's parents blame what happened on Maryland officials, who they said allowed their son to leave a state mental institution. And the victim's parents blame a combination of Goode and laws that allow men like him to go free.
Goode left Spring Grove State Hospital in Catonsville, Md. without permission on Feb. 10 a year ago. Admitted to Spring Grove for his conviction on sexual assault charges involving two 11-year-old boys, Goodie walked away and took a bus to visit his parents in Pine Island, Fla.
There, he kidnaped and a killed a 9-year-old Florida boy who was waiting for his morning school bus, came back to Maryland where he says he kidnaped a 10-year-old Towson boy who had been folding newspapers on a street corner, and killed an 11-year-old falls Church boy who was waiting for a bus at a shopping center.
The lives of the families of Goode victims have been devastated.
Billy Arthes, the 10-year-old Towson, Md. boy whom Goode is accused of kidnaping and forcing to watch the murder of 11-year-old Kenny Dawson, has twice had to recount the events in court. In Florida Billy was cross-examined by Goode, who conducted his own defense. The experience was so traumatic that the Arthes family has agreed to drop kidnaping charges against Goode in Baltimore because "there is no point in making Billy go through this again," his mother said.
Michael and Betty Dawson, the parents of Kenny Dawson, are unable to forget. After the crime neither could work, eat or sleep. Michael Dawson spent three months in Fairfax Hospital receiving psychiatric treatment.
The mother of Jason S. VerDow, the Florida boy who was killed, "has to be kept busy to keep her from going to pieces," a friend said.
Goode is one of 36 men on death row in the Florida State Prison in Starke, Fla., 50 miles southwest of Jackonsville.
Dressed in blue pants, a green shirt and dark boots, Goode sat at a desk in a prison office and bragged about how he had committed the crimes, how he had no remorse, how he wishes he could experiment with other boys and how he doesn't think anyone can help him.
Goode can't decide if he wants to die. "It could go either way. It depends. I would rather not (die). I would rather continue what I was doing in the streets. You might say, well, that's impossible, but I also would like to be cured. I would like to be a normal person."
". . . In Maryland," Goode said later, "doctors there didn't go into me deep enough. I wasn't cooperating as well as I should because I wanted to avoid prosecution and attend to my sexual acts. I told them certain things that I could get away with, but I should break down and tell them the truth about some things and I would if there were some way that I could guarantee that I could be helped or cured . . . I don't think man can do anything to help me."
Goode's father said that instead of electrouting his son, he thinks psychiatrists should study him to determine how to rehabilitate sex offenders.
In the interview, the younger Goode said he could teach children how to avoid people like him. "People tell them (kids) don't talk to strangers, harmed the Florida boy if the youth. You got to tell them why."
Goode claims he would not have had said the right thing. "I asked him (VerDow) at the bus stop to take me to his mother (because) I wanted to ask her a question," Goode said. "He (VerDow) took me the next road over. Then, I said instead of bothering your mother - can you tell me where a certain road is? He said right over here. He told me I had to drive down there. I told him I was walking. . . . I made him think I was lost. Then I said it won't take but a minute to run through here, why don't you show me. He said sure. So he takes off."
"All he (VerDow) had to tell me was I can't cross the road (or) I got to wait for a school bus (or) I'm not allowed to go in the woods. That's all he had to say and I would have left him alone," Goode said.
Goode's parents said Goode had a record of molesting younger children since the age of 14. They said they have sought help for their son, but to not avail. "We tried getting help from the beginning." Goode's mother said.
Goode's father is hostile toward the Virginia and Florida criminal justice systems. He said his son should have been found insane, like he said he is.
"This thing is far from over," the elder Goode vowed in a telephone interview.