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[00:00:00]

Hi, this is Skip Hollandsworth. If you've enjoyed Tom Brown's body, check out Wonderings New True Crime podcast, The Apology Line. It begins with Allan Bridge posting flyers around New York City asking people to anonymously apologize for their crimes, not to God, not to the police, but to his answering machine. Within hours, calls started coming in. People apologize for stealing, infidelity, lying. Allen got dozens of calls from people claiming to be murderers, but a man named Richie stood out.

[00:00:35]

He was deliberate, measured, and his cause left thousands wondering if he really was the serial killer that he claimed to be. Then Richie offered to provide proof of his crimes. Here's a preview of the apology line. Subscribe on Apple podcast or listen early and ad free by joining wondering plus in the Wonder app.

[00:00:56]

The following contains descriptions of violence, including sexual violence, and may not be suitable for all listeners. Please be advised. It was early 1981 and I was with a group of friends at a loft in New York City.

[00:01:14]

It was a dinner party with I think about six, maybe eight of us around the big table.

[00:01:21]

Doug Welch was there, too. Through the huge windows, we could see the lights of the Empire State Building. Rosary candles flickered on a curved bookcase that separated the living room from the bedroom. These gatherings always went late. We were all artists, so we talked about our work politics and how we were surviving in the city. The host was a man named Alan toward the end of the dinner as it was wrapping up.

[00:01:47]

Alan just sort of casually said, would anyone like to hear the latest that came in today from apology?

[00:01:56]

Apology was Alan's newest project. Doug's girlfriend, Carrie vaguely remembered it had something to do with people calling a phone line. Alan held up a cassette tape.

[00:02:07]

Alan was standing in sort of gesticulating. And, yeah, he was excited.

[00:02:13]

And we all kind of said, oh, sure. Alan walked over to his cassette player, popped in the tape and turned out the lights. First we listen to it. Every person who called Alan's phone line would hear an outgoing message and Alan's deadpan voice.

[00:02:30]

This is apology. Apology's not associated with the police or any other organization, but rather as a way for you to tell people what you've done wrong and how you feel about it. Statements received. My apology will be played back to the public. So please do not identify yourself. Talk for as long as you want.

[00:02:48]

Then we heard the voices of callers who'd left messages. I witnessed the crime, I did not report it down in the men's room at Penn Station, someone being forced in the booth and being robbed. I feel very bad with that reporting. I'm really sorry because I'm white, female and rich. I would like to stop feeling the way I do about the blacks and the Puerto Ricans and the Chinese of the job. I just want to say I'm sorry to all those poor souls out there that wake up black and blue the next day and try to beat the shit out of them.

[00:03:22]

I've got not really an apology to make except to one person who is my lover. Was listening an extension, and I'm sorry to have made his life difficult to him. I love you, Max. I apologize. Around the dinner table, no one moved, everything became quiet except the tapes, the calls kept coming and became more disturbing.

[00:04:00]

I guess, you know, the 15 or 20 people that I've stolen money from and mugged and robbed this fight. And I'm sorry I'm sorry I had to say it 15 times to this last caller wasn't like the others.

[00:04:24]

Let's say that Henry killed Henry. He was a neighbor. He was a he was a classmate of mine.

[00:04:35]

Around the table, the mood suddenly changed.

[00:04:38]

The atmosphere in the room just shifted from this convivial, you know, post dinner contentment to abject horror as this almost this incubus sort of entered the room through the speaker and was actually in the room with us. This is a fantastic service that you are doing. It was a very tortured yet dangerous sounding person. The world is full of people like me that we just know that we had to deal with this. I am sorry about this because I like hearing that voice and watching that light just blinking, blinking, blinking red and kind of wanting it to stop.

[00:05:25]

Allen got up and turned the lights back on. He looked around waiting for a response. I just remember us all looking over our empty wine glass to see each other with our jaws hanging open. No one could say a thing. I think we all just silently put on our coats and we just sort of piled out quietly and said, thank you very much.

[00:05:51]

Doug and Carrie were quiet on the walk to the subway. Once we were on the train, I just remember looking at every all these faces and wondering, is that that sicko who was just, you know, just confessing everything to us? You know, it wasn't something you listen to and then just move on. I couldn't move on either. Alan's art project was starting to take on a life of its own and it would eventually take over his life and mine.