The Samurai Killer of South St. Louis 

Seth Herter's life was full of delusions. But the murder was all too real

Seth Herter, shown in a 2011 photo, struggled with mental illness for years.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Seth Herter, shown in a 2011 photo, struggled with mental illness for years.

Nearly two months have passed since Seth Herter thought he was the Antichrist.

The realization that he was not — made possible through a combination of anti-psychotic and mood-stabilizing medications — came to him in the St. Louis City Justice Center, where he has been locked up since May after slaughtering another man with a samurai sword.

For years, he had talked of himself in online posts as the "White Rider," a reference to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the Bible's Book of Revelation. He believed he could control all the electricity in the world and that thousands of people were clamoring to see him dance. His delusions had led to a smattering of scrapes and arrests. But in April, his thoughts turned significantly darker.

"I started to feel like it was time to start punishing people," he recalls.

Herter is 29 years old, stands six feet four inches tall and wears a scruffy goatee. In the pale light of a jailhouse visiting booth, a splash of acne reddens his cheeks. He has begun to regain a bit of the weight he lost while fasting during his delusions. He lowers the waistband of his yellow uniform to reveal angry pink patches on both hips — friction burns from a rope he wore cinched around himself for a month, he says. The fasting and the rope were part of a biblically themed penance that Herter believed would increase his powers.

"I got a hairshirt and everything," he says, later adding, "I believed so many crazy things." Convinced the CIA had embedded a chip in his ear, Herter even sat down one day with a mirror and a knife and tried to cut it out. He later went to an urgent care, hoping doctors would find the chip with an X-ray.

He sounds disgusted or embarrassed as he tells these stories, like a person realizing after the fact he has been fooled by an obvious scammer. But in this case, he was tricked by his own mind.

In some ways, it is a relief to return to reality. In others, it is crushing. He knew the man he killed. More than knew — he says they had dated for years. They had recently split up, but Herter says he called his victim on the day of the killing because he thought people were in his walls and furniture, and he needed help clearing them out. His face slowly turns red as he talks, and then he sobs. "I loved him so much," he cries out. "Can you please say that? Please tell people that I'm not a monster."

St. Louis police and a medical examiner's spokeswoman identified the man as 55-year-old Christopher McCarthy. In a probable-cause statement, a detective says McCarthy was stabbed to death. Herter will not discuss "the particulars" of the killing, but he blames his own mental illness.

"It wasn't like I wanted this to happen," he says. "I was in the middle of a psychotic break, and it ended up really bad."

In the anguish of clarity, he says it is a nightmare to learn that so many perceptions he had were wrong and that they cost someone his life. But as the real world and its consequences barrel in, there is one big piece of the puzzle that he can't attribute to delusion or a trick of the mind.

He says he had known the victim for four or five years — a claim supported by others, including a former neighbor — but that the name Christopher McCarthy was new to him.

"I thought his name was Tim," Herter says. "He told me he was Timothy Wilson. When they told me he was Christopher, I was blown away."

Warning: The following page contains a graphic photo of the bloody crime scene. Sensitive readers should proceed with caution.

The blood-smeared bathroom in Herter's apartment was a horror movie come to life.
  • The blood-smeared bathroom in Herter's apartment was a horror movie come to life.

On May 3, a gruesome scene awaited St. Louis police inside Herter's Southampton-neighborhood apartment.

As detectives entered the one-bedroom unit, they were greeted by an array of religious imagery. On a bulletin board, Herter had used thumbtacks to pin renderings of Jesus and the Virgin Mary next to handwritten notes: a two-page list of "Names of God," account numbers for EBT cards and a list of personal debts with dollar amounts. He had saved prayer cards and outlined a series of Lenten sacrifices on lined notebook paper. "No Sex, Porn, or Masturbation," he scrawled above pledges to forgo sugar and soda. Near the bottom, he wrote "Penance: Fast, Abstain, Rope, Cilice."

In the bathroom, police found the center of the crime scene. The killing had been brutal, spilling blood across the tile floor and spattering the walls all the way up to a window ledge above the bathtub, where a yellow rubber duck was flecked with red. Police would later note that Herter's victim had cuts all over his body.

Investigators believe the man was killed on May 2, the day before they found his body, according to court documents. The same report says police also found a "samurai style sword" in the apartment. Herter was already gone.

Chris Andoe, a real estate agent who handles rentals in the building, says a maintenance man ran into Herter in the hallway on May 3 just before he left. There had been ongoing complaints from other tenants, says Andoe, who is also editor of Out In STL, a magazine owned by the RFT's parent company.

"He was on the cusp of eviction several times, because of noise and excessive traffic," Andoe says.

Herter was known to sing loudly and smoke compulsively. More than a few neighbors had nervously eyed the sword he sometimes carried while whizzing around on his orange-and-black scooter.

The problem of the day was a window next to the hallway door. It kept getting broken. No one could say for sure who was responsible, but suspicion focused on Herter or possibly his guests.

It had been Andoe who rented the apartment to Herter. Originally, his application was denied, but Herter was able to find a cosigner, and Andoe walked him through the paperwork.

"He's kind of a childlike guy," Andoe recalls. Herter told him, "You're very kind and sexy to be so helpful," an over-the-top compliment that struck Andoe as odd. "I got the impression that was the way he got through the world, by flattering men in position to help him."

In the hallway May 3, confronted by the maintenance man, Herter seemed jittery and brusque, especially when the worker said he needed to inspect the apartment for damage. To let the man in would be to reveal the horror of McCarthy's death.

In Herter's telling, he says he forcefully told the worker "not today," and sent the man on his way. But Andoe says Herter, after initially refusing to allow entry, pretended he left his apartment key in his car and excused himself to get it. The maintenance man waited as Herter instead slipped into McCarthy's 2015 Chevrolet Equinox and drove off. It would be another day before police tracked him to a rundown motel about 70 miles away.

click to enlarge Young Seth was 'a delightful child,' his father says. - COURTESY GREG HERTER
  • COURTESY GREG HERTER
  • Young Seth was 'a delightful child,' his father says.

Seth Herter grew up in upstate New York and Alabama, bouncing around the South after high school. He says he was in Texas in his early twenties when he was first diagnosed with mental illness, including post-traumatic stress disorder and schizoaffective disorder — a mental condition that encompasses symptoms of schizophrenia, such as delusions and hallucinations, as well as aspects of bipolar or other mood disorders.

Herter's mother had similarly shown symptoms of mental illness in her early twenties, says his father, Greg Herter. She abandoned the family when Seth was just three years old and his sisters were two years old and six months. Greg Herter says he scrambled to keep everything together, but it was hard on the kids and him.

"We've had counseling through the years with different places, different people, because we all needed it," he says in a phone interview. Still, he thought they were managing. All the kids were top students, and Herter's sisters have both been successful. While Herter seemed to lack much motivation to work, his father says, he was always bright.

"He was a really delightful child," Greg Herter says. "He never drank or did drugs. He was on the chess club, for Christ's sake."

But things changed as Herter grew older. Raised Catholic, he considered joining the priesthood, and had even hitchhiked after high school to a monastery about 300 miles way, he and his father say. Herter says he was rejected from the order for reasons he still doesn't know. With no other real plans, he began to drift from city to city. "I'd find a friend and move to another place," he says.

Twice his travels brought him to St. Louis: first around 2010 or 2011, and again in mid-2013 after another stint in Texas.

click to enlarge Herter hung religious iconography on his apartment walls.
  • Herter hung religious iconography on his apartment walls.

In St. Louis, his illness caused him to act out in various, sometimes-public ways. He danced on street corners and clashed with neighbors. He amassed religious icons in his apartment and wrote long lists of people to pray for in a green journal. (Miscarried children and Barack Obama made the list. So did Donald Trump and Herter's great-grandmother.) Most of what he did was harmless.

"They saw him as a very comical guy, riding around on his little scooter," Greg Herter says of St. Louis' reaction to his son.

On many mornings, Herter could be found along Hampton Avenue, performing for groggy commuters. He might stop anywhere along the roadway south of Interstate 44, but he seemed to prefer the Chippewa intersection. Kevin Bennett, 37, regularly saw him there as he headed to work.

"It seemed like a very positive thing," he says. "He wasn't yelling at anybody or blaring obnoxious music."

Waiting at a light one morning, Bennett filmed a 55-second video. Herter, well dressed in a camel-hair coat and dark scarf, spins and dips, dancing as if he were in a nightclub instead of across the street from Target, in the shadow of a Walgreens.

"Hampton Dancing Man, getting after it this morning," Bennett says in the video. "Putting out the good vibes for all the commuters."

Bennett was already gone from the neighborhood for a few years when he posted his video on YouTube and a Reddit forum dedicated to St. Louis. He got a handful of comments, nothing overwhelming, but a Fox 2 producer took notice, typed up six sentences and posted the video on the TV station's website.

"We can't tell if it was the great deal he found at Target, the Big Mac he just ate or the Walgreen's drug store that got him shaking," the story said.

Everyone may be entitled to their fifteen minutes of fame, but this was only about 30 seconds' worth. Still, in Herter's mind, it provided support for the bizarre theories slowly taking hold. Of his dancing on Hampton, he says now, "That was me going out in public and demonstrating to people that I was the Antichrist."

The performances were a test. If others took notice, it meant they saw his powers, and that meant his powers must be real. It did not occur to him that anyone dancing on the corner of busy road would draw some attention.

Online, he blogged about his "public dance ministry," linking to the Fox 2 story. "It has been very successful in the local area, and has caused quite a stir in the local community," he wrote.

Herter's name was not in the news story or in the posts on Reddit or YouTube. Bennett says he never actually met him and knew nothing about his background, much less his subsequent involvement in a murder, until being contacted by the RFT.

"It's shocking," he says. "I was actually wondering what he did all day besides stand on the corner and dance."

Seth Herter, shown in a 2015 Facebook photo.
  • Seth Herter, shown in a 2015 Facebook photo.

In 2016, Seth Herter moved into an apartment on Nottingham Avenue in the placid St. Louis Hills neighborhood.

Technically, a 73-year-old man named Richard Krechel rented the place, but a neighbor says Herter was a roommate. A third man was there so much he practically lived with them, too, the neighbor says. The other tenants in the building didn't know any of their names at first, so they gave the men nicknames. Krechel was "Humpty Dumpty" for his grouchy demeanor. They called Herter "Pony," after spotting the image of a horse affixed to his scooter. The third man was just "Numero Tres," a sort of featureless nickname because they knew little about him.

Herter had a hard time keeping apartments. "People hate me," he explains. "I've always been a very polarizing person for some reason." He notes multiple times a neighbor or a landlord "took a disliking" to him, including one building owner who spotted him practicing with his sword in the backyard. Inevitably, Herter and Krechel would have to leave. (Krechel refused to speak to the RFT, saying he had been summoned by the grand jury and was prohibited from speaking about the case.)

In typical fashion, the four-unit flats on Nottingham soon saw tension.

The neighbor says she reported Herter for smoking in the non-smoking building, and he grew angry. It turned pretty nasty. The woman eventually got a restraining order, including in her application an audio recording of Herter singing outside her door that he hoped she died of cancer. (She asked for her name not to be used, because she still fears Herter.)

Ugly as it got, something about Herter struck her as sad. "There was part of me that felt really bad for him," she says. "He seemed lost to me."

Sometimes, she would see him behind the building, dancing with his sword or just dancing alone. "Almost like he was in a trance. Like a trance — that's what it looked like to me."

The neighbor did not like Krechel, either. Of the three men, only Numero Tres seemed like a decent guy, she says. She eventually learned his name was Tim, but that was about it. She assumed he worked on a road crew or something, because he would come home wearing a reflective vest.

The trio moved out over the holidays, leaving behind a cache of religious items that management left on the curb. The neighbor would see Herter cruise past on his scooter from time to time, but she did not know about the murder until being contacted by the RFT.

Even then, the name of the victim, Christopher McCarthy, did not ring a bell. News stories about the killing did not include a photo or hardly any details about him. But as soon as a reporter forwards a photo, she instantly recognizes him. He was Numero Tres. Tim.

After the killing, Herter fled to High Hill, Missouri. - DOYLE MURPHY
  • DOYLE MURPHY
  • After the killing, Herter fled to High Hill, Missouri.

It was after fleeing his apartment's maintenance man that Seth Herter pulled his victim's SUV into the parking lot of the Colonial Inn, located in the tiny town of High Hill, Missouri, population 195.

Two motels sit along its entrance to Interstate 70, which is about 80 minutes west of St. Louis. The Colonial is the more beat up of the pair. The dominant sound is that of trucks roaring past less than 100 yards away. A rusty snack machine sits unplugged out front, and the office is protected by bulletproof glass.

The motel's beleaguered manager, Yasir Imran, says Herter arrived in the late afternoon. He does not remember the date, but it was almost certainly May 3.

Imran says Herter seemed twitchy, agitated.

"You see people who are on meth?" the manager asks. "It was like that."

Police say Herter was covered in blood, but Imran says he doesn't remember that. He thinks he was wearing brown pants and a baseball cap.

Initially, Herter was $10 short of the $36 fee and tried to bargain the price down, pleading (falsely) that he had driven all night from Texas. Imran refused and says Herter left but returned about two hours later with the money. He rented him Room 116.

"You see people who are on meth?" asks Yasir Imran, manager of the hotel where Herter stayed just after the murder. "It was like that." - DOYLE MURPHY
  • DOYLE MURPHY
  • "You see people who are on meth?" asks Yasir Imran, manager of the hotel where Herter stayed just after the murder. "It was like that."

That evening, he saw Herter pacing at the edge of the parking lot, seemingly talking on the phone, before disappearing inside the room. The next morning, the young man came to the office and said the battery of the SUV was dead. He needed a jump. Imran said he would be out.

The police moved in just moments later. Imran remembers two patrol cars swooping into the lot, the officers bolting out and ordering Herter to the ground.

More police arrived. After a while, one of the officers told Imran that Herter was wanted for murder.

"I was shocked," Imran says. "I thought he was on some drugs or something."

Herter, shown in his booking photo, was charged with first-degree murder. - COURTESY OF ST. LOUIS POLICE
  • COURTESY OF ST. LOUIS POLICE
  • Herter, shown in his booking photo, was charged with first-degree murder.

His son had been in jail a week before Greg Herter learned about the killing.

A family friend had come across a news story about the case, recognized the last name and forwarded it along.

A mix of horror and anger hit Greg Herter as he read the news story. "It could have been prevented and should have been prevented," he says.

The father, who lives in Virginia and spends most of his days on the road as a long-haul trucker, says after his son left home they had limited contact. Until a recent visit at the St. Louis jail, he had not seen him in person since 2010. But they exchanged flurries of emails and sometimes calls. Often, Herter was angry and asking for money, says his father, who suspected he was on drugs.

On April 16, two weeks prior to the killing, the father dialed the number to the Behavioral Health Response crisis hotline in St. Louis.

He has had countless bizarre exchanges with his son over the years, but their most recent conversations had frightened him.

"It was getting dark," he says. "It was getting darker."

The younger Herter was convinced Jesus wanted him to start punishing people. Greg Herter says he tried to reason with his son. He talked about the mathematical improbability that of all the billions of people in the world, he alone was the chosen one. He tried explaining Jesus would never want him to hurt anyone. Nothing seemed to get through.

Greg Herter hoped Behavioral Health, a private nonprofit that provides services in St. Louis, would send counselors to speak with his son and have him involuntarily committed. The organization declined to confirm the call when contacted by the RFT, citing privacy laws, but phone records provided by Greg Herter show his call on April 16 lasted 55 minutes.

He says the woman he spoke to asked if his son was suicidal or homicidal.

"I said, 'No — he's just homicidal.' That's exactly what I said," Greg Herter says.

That alone should have set off a red alert, says the father. Instead, he claims he was told the best they could do was ask police for a welfare check — which sounded like a disaster in the making. The elder Herter told the counselor that his son had grown paranoid, recently cutting open his own ear in search of a chip implanted by the CIA.

"Seth was not in a state of mind to see uniformed officers at his door," Greg Herter says.

After the helpline phone call, Greg Herter was stymied. The news story he read about the killing was the realization of a nightmare.

Parts of it still don't make sense to him. Police said his son had claimed to be on his way to Mexico, but he says the young man barely knew how to drive and wonders how he managed to make it beyond St. Louis County. There was no way, he insists, his son was actually trying to flee across the border with no money or resources.

"As soon as I read the headline, I knew it was absolutely false," he says.

Greg Herter suspects police wanted to make his son appear cogent. He has been trying to investigate what he can and pull together relevant legal documents, hoping to show otherwise. He has been able to get his son's bank records, including a handwritten withdrawal for the last $92 in his account. The transaction was posted about 8:30 a.m. on May 4, the day of the arrest. Maybe it will turn out to be significant, maybe not.

Greg Herter wants the courts to see what he sees: a seriously ill young man, who could have been prevented from doing something terrible and who would not be a threat again if his mental illness was addressed.

"He took someone's life," the father says, "but his life is still worth saving."

In the justice center awaiting trial for murder, Seth Herter has a mostly nocturnal routine. He says he wakes about 2:30 p.m., giving him an hour before his unit has a two-hour recreation period. After that, he returns to his cell, lays down on his bunk and eventually drifts off about 5 a.m.

"I don't talk to anyone," he says.

He would like a judge to find that mental illness rendered him not responsible for his actions. He thinks, with a little help, he could live a productive life.

"I'm not a dangerous person," he says. "This was just a big mistake. I've never hurt anyone else. I don't want to hurt anyone."

Herter's criminal record includes at least seven arrests in Texas and Missouri. The charges vary, but there are patterns in the police reports: erratic behavior, suspected and sometimes confirmed drug abuse and chaotic clashes when cornered by arresting officers. He was arrested three times during one three-month stretch in Austin.

In a case from March 2013, a man who met Herter on a dating app and let him move in told Austin cops he had become afraid of his young lover's unpredictable fits of rage. When officers arrived, Herter was at first calm but suddenly tried to bolt over the side of a second-story balcony. He was shocked twice with a Taser before officers dragged him to a patrol car, according to the incident report.

"This always happens with older guys," Herter reportedly shouted as he was hauled away. "They give you a place to stay, and when you don't give them enough dick, they get mad."

None of Herter's charges were major. Austin police charged him with resisting arrest, evading arrest and criminal mischief. His lone assault case is from a 2015 incident in the St. Louis suburb of Breckenridge Hills. Police say he smashed out the window of a methadone clinic and then kicked the police officer who tried to restrain him in a patrol car, according to court records.

Dr. Meredith Throop says it is extremely rare for someone with Herter's diagnosis to become violent. In such cases, it is usually only one of many contributing factors and often not the driving one.

Throop is a psychiatrist and the medical director of Places for People, a St. Louis-based mental-health provider. She has not treated Herter but says the symptoms he described to the RFT are right in line with those of psychotic disorders. Even so, the vast majority of people dealing with even severe psychosis never hurt anyone.

In Herter's case, he says he also had PTSD, which Throop says can make people hyper-vigilant. And he had a deep interest in weapons. He says he always thought an ability to use weapons was practical knowledge, so he set about training himself. On the day of the killing, Herter says, he believed he was under attack. He thought the people in the walls and furniture planned to kill him. Throop says those kind of delusions feel entirely real to the people experiencing them.

Herter claims the final trigger was McCarthy himself. He claims his former lover tried to sexually assault him, and that he defended himself with the sword. Whether McCarthy did in fact attack him is probably unknowable. It is not uncommon for people in the midst of psychosis to misunderstand the actions of others.

"When you misperceive someone's actions, and you see it as a threat, you're willing to do about anything, because you're protecting yourself," Throop says.

Combine delusions of schizoaffective disorder with hyper vigilance, a long history with weapons and the perception of a life-or-death threat, and you begin to get a broader picture, Throop says. "It sounds almost like this was a perfect storm."

Herter hopes he will be free again one day, but he is pessimistic. He says when he needed help in the past, it was nowhere to be found: "Everyone abandoned me. My family walked away. My friends walked away." By the end, he lived alone, pinning mass times to his bulletin board and wearing a hairshirt around his apartment.

The legal battle will not be easy. Herter will be evaluated to see if he is competent to help with his defense, and also to try to determine his mental state at the time of the crime. To be considered not guilty for reasons of mental disease or defect, he would have to prove he did not know what he was doing was wrong, which will depend on a psychiatric examination and expert testimony, says Susan McGraugh, director of Saint Louis University's legal clinic. It is very difficult to earn acquittal.

"Even if every psychiatrist who sees him says he had a mental illness, a severe mental illness, that's not enough to win at trial," McGraugh says.

Prosecutors will likely point out every step he took after the killing — blocking the maintenance man's entry, leaving town — and suggest they show attempts to conceal the crime or get away, which would mean he knew the killing was wrong. Even if he never actually planned to go to Mexico, they will still be able to show he stole McCarthy's SUV and drove off. "That's how everyone loses," says McGraugh, who has defended mentally ill clients throughout her career.

Herter, though, says he had no plan when he got in the SUV: "I was still freaking out." He holds out some hope that a judge will understand, but not much. "I think about, I'm going to lose my life over this. One person has already lost their life over this. Do two people have to lose their lives?"

He thinks about this as he lays in his cell, and he thinks about Tim. He still calls him Tim, because that's the name he knew. "I loved him."

And yet, he wonders if he ever really knew him. He thought "Tim" was in his 30s. He is fairly certain Tim worked as a truck driver for a small St. Charles-based company called M Aubuchon Hauling. He would call sometimes from the job, and Herter could hear background noise as if he was in the cab of a truck. But the rest is hazy. They rarely went out anywhere or hung out with anyone other than Krechel. "I think he was friends with me because he expected sex," Herter posits.

The only thing Tim ever really told him about his background was a story about being adopted by a family of gospel-singing evangelists who took him into their band and family only to cut ties later in life when they discovered he was gay and had been contacting men online.

Herter accepted the story at the time, but as he tells it now, he realizes how far-fetched it seems.

"I'm a gullible person," he says. "I believe what I'm told so much, a voice told me to kill someone and I did it."

The website for Steve Wilson and the Wilsons still features Christopher McCarthy, far right, prominently. - SCREENGRAB VIA STEVEWILSONANDTHEWILSONS.COM
  • SCREENGRAB VIA STEVEWILSONANDTHEWILSONS.COM
  • The website for Steve Wilson and the Wilsons still features Christopher McCarthy, far right, prominently.

Christopher McCarthy is a puzzle.

No obituary appeared in the local papers after his death, and a search of public records reveals little. A medical examiner's spokeswoman confirms someone has claimed his body from the morgue, but she declines to say who. Contacted by the RFT, M Aubuchon Hauling makes it clear they want absolutely nothing to do with the story. "Please do not contact us," says the emailed reply to a reporter's calls and messages. "Where [sic] not interested."

Even so, a picture slowly emerges. A man who let an unemployed McCarthy live with him several years ago says he was funny and entertaining. He had worked on and off in construction but had trouble keeping jobs. And, yes, he performed with a family of gospel singers.

"He was funny," says the man, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "Obviously, I liked him. Otherwise, I wouldn't have tried to help him."

The only problem with McCarthy, says the man, was that he lied compulsively. It was never clear why. He was not a thief, and he did not seem to be trying to make himself look better. "He has nothing to cover up. He was not into drugs. He would lie about the stupidest things." The man suspects some of his stories stemmed from his role in the gospel group, whose members would not have accepted his sexuality. "They're crazy. So maybe that's why he was making up names."

He believes McCarthy's real first name is Rich, which he says he confirmed by looking at his driver's license.

Lisa Tegart, 41, also knew McCarthy as Rich — Rich Wilson, then Rich McCarthy and later Rich McCarthy Wilson. He was part of a Ballwin-based gospel group called the Wilsons. The story she heard as a kid was that the Wilson family had spotted him walking along the road and took him in.

"He could sing," she says. "He played bass, so they stuck with him."

Her family had its own Southern gospel band, the Prices, out of Rolla. The two groups were close, and Tegart's mother was later hired by the Wilsons as a singer. She remembers touring together on weekends, often not returning home until 3 or 4 a.m. "Many nights we slept on a bus. There were nights we slept at their house."

McCarthy was in his twenties then and seemed even younger. "He was always talking to people, laughing, telling jokes at the table."

The Wilson parents eventually retired, but the band regrouped under their son as Steve Wilson and the Wilsons, a trio that featured McCarthy. He appears on multiple album covers, and his photo remains on the homepage of the group's website.

Tegart says she had lost touch with McCarthy in recent years. She heard he had been fired from the band but never got the full story of why — something to do with his "lifestyle" and playing music in bars, which wouldn't be allowed. (The Wilsons did not respond to phone messages, an email and a letter from the RFT.)

"I was under the impression that it was a pretty rough fallout with the family," Tegart says.

Only later, through a friend whose brother had worked with McCarthy, did she hear about his murder. Even then, it was difficult to find information, in part because the papers said his name was Christopher and she had always known him as Rich. She does not know what to make of all the names or how he came to be killed in the grimy bathroom of a delusional twentysomething.

"I really had been curious about where his life had gone for this to happen," she says. "The Rich I knew was the least likely to be killed by someone with a samurai sword."

Whatever he called himself, Tegart says McCarthy was her friend. She wishes she knew if he had a funeral service or where he was buried.

"He had a rough, complicated life," she concludes. "He really did, but he was so fun. I always said he was a big kid."

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