It was the 1970’s, before awareness of the effects of bullying, I.E.P programs, and integration into regular classrooms. Because Mike was higher functioning he attended regular classes and as you can imagine, the kids were merciless in their teasing. Nothing was easy for Mike, but with our mom’s help and tutoring after school, he managed to graduate from high school. He grew to understand he was different, that life would be harder for him, and that people could be cruel. At 20 years old, Mike was probably closer to a 15 year old mentally.
In 1980, my mom found a place where Mike could finally live on his own in an apartment building for adults with disabilities. He had a job and we talked to him every day. He was so proud. In mid-1980, David Weidert asked him to be a lookout while he burglarized a doctor’s office. Mike knew this was wrong, but really wanted David to like him. Mike confessed immediately and agreed to testify against Weidert. It is important to note that Weidert was 17 at the time and he would have only gotten probation for the burglary where he stole about $700.
Weidert was enraged that this “retard” was willing to testify against him. He first tried to run Mike over with his car and Mike ended up in an emergency room. Then he tried to hire someone to kill him, but couldn’t come up with the money. Mike was so scared they were going to hurt him. So Mike’s attorney said he would tell Weidert’s attorney that Mike wasn’t going to testify against him. Weidert either didn’t get the message, or didn’t care.
On November 21, 1980, Weidert called his buddy, John Arbogast, and they lured Mike outside his apartment, kidnapped him, and drove him to a remote, wooded area outside of Fresno. They forced Mike to dig his own grave for hours, stabbed him in the back multiple times, beat him with fists and a baseball bat, smashed his head in with a shovel, then when he still wasn’t dead they strangled him with a telephone wire that they had to tighten together to get it tight enough, then they buried him alive. Mike reached up from the shallow grave and grabbed Weidert’s leg as he walked away. Weidert took the shovel and stabbed Mike in the stomach and yelled, “Die you Son of a Bitch!” Then he covered him completely with dirt and logs to camouflage the grave. Mike did not die from his wounds or strangulation. He suffocated in the dirt.
This entire event took hours. Weidert’s accomplice, Arbogast, testified that Mike, at 6’5” tall with a thin frame, never tried to fight back. He only begged for his life and told them he wouldn’t testify against them.
Mike was missing for over a month. They found his body just before Christmas 1980. My mom was a mess. She cried all the time and was so distant. Then they found Mike and we cried more as the details emerged about what they did to him. Weidert did not just murder my brother in the most gruesome manner imaginable, he took my mom’s happiness and my childhood. The holidays are always a sad reminder for us.
In 1981, a jury found Weidert guilty of 1st degree, premeditated murder and sentenced him to Life with No Chance of Parole. In 1985, the California State Supreme Court ordered his sentence commuted to 20 years to life, WITH a chance of parole, because the murder occurred to prevent Mike from testifying at what would have been a juvenile hearing. Although Weidert was 18 at the time of the murder, this crime was viewed as an extension of the burglary and juveniles could not be sentenced to life without parole. My mom testified at a Senate hearing about this loophole and it has since been closed.
So began our new nightmare – attending parole hearings where we sit six feet away from Mike’s murderer as he recounts his version of his crime. Since 1995, there have been six hearings. On January 28, 2015, the unthinkable happened - Weidert was granted parole.
What we’ve learned… the further you get from the crime, the Parole Board must base parole on factors such as prison progress, staying out of trouble, etc. All they have to show is insight about why they did what they did. After 34 years, Weidert’s insight? “My family moved a lot and I had no control. I was treated like a piece of furniture and my feelings didn’t matter. Mike represented my lack of control of my life and that enraged me.” I am not making this up, that is what he said.
Weidert’s self-named triggers are: stress, frustration, disappointment, rejection, complacency. Who doesn’t experience most of these daily? Weidert has never told anyone how he is NOT going to kill someone when he faces these triggers in the outside world.
Currently, Weidert is still in jail. Sometime before May 28, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown will decide whether to grant or reverse Weidert’s parole decision. Our only hope is that if enough people write letters asking Governor Brown to overturn the parole decision, he will. Then my family will go back to parole hearings every few years. We hold fast in our belief that Weidert still has no insight to the murder and continues to pose a danger to society.
Please write a letter to Governor Brown asking him to overturn the parole decision and forward this letter to your family and friends, asking them to do the same.
All letters must reach Governor Brown by May 1, 2015. So please won't you write a letter now? You will never know how much we appreciate your support.