tv A Murderous Obsession MSNBC December 11, 2011 10:00am-11:00am PST
the brothers each received three years in prison. that's our report for tonight. thanks for watching. at the center of any criminal investigation is a dark heart and the iron hand of justice. >> we don't know where he is. he is extremely dangerous, and heavily armed. >> he picked me up by my hair. i was screaming all the time, i was like please, somebody help me, please! he's like "shut up, shut up." >> this boyfriend's fit of rage set off one of maryland's largest manhunts and one of the longest standoffs in american history. >> i was like, please don't kill me, please. and he put the shotgun to the back of my neck. >> before he was stopped, joe palczynski murdered four people. most shocking of all, this wasn't his first standoff with police and at least half a dozen women had gone to the cops for
protection against him. how had so many women been victimized? >> it was obvious they didn't mind getting beat. they kept coming back for more. that's next on "dark heart, iron hand." at first, he seemed like the perfect catch. he bought his girlfriends gifts, he was exceptionally polite, and smart, but this boyfriend's need to be in total control and almost ended the same way, with reports of abuse filed with the police, not once, not twice, but over and over again. he would stop at nothing to make an ex's life a living hell, including kidnapping and murder. march 7, 2000, a triple homicide in baltimore, maryland, has triggered the start of a statewide manhunt that will play out on live television. police are desperately looking for 31-year-old joe palczynski, a man gone mad over the break-up with his girlfriend, tracy whitehead. >> we don't know where he is.
we believe, though, he has a pistol-grip shotgun and an ar-15 automatic rifle with 100 rounds of ammunition. he is extremely dangerous and heavily armed. >> that night palczynski's crime spree had just begun. the three murders were only the start of a bizarre, terrifying drama that would unfold publicly over the next two weeks. >> he could be charming. he had this reputation for being successful with young women. but once they were ensnared or entrapped, then there was hell to pay. >> it all started four days earlier, when tracy had joe arrested for assault after he beat her up. >> you know, a lot of times he would scare me, but it wasn't nothing like where i thought he would kill me or hurt anybody or something like that. >> palczynski's mother, pat, had bailed him out of jail, and she could see joe was at the breaking point. >> i knew something bad was
going to happen. i knew -- i thought he was going to kill himself. >> needing a sanctuary from her abusive live-in boyfriend, 22-year-old tracy whitehead had moved in with her friends, gloria and george shenk. they all knew that palczynski had a violent temper, but no one expected murder. four nights after moving in, tracy is watching television with the shenks in their family room. gloria shenk is on the phone talking to her son. >> and all of the sudden, here comes the sliding door. slammed it, because it was unlocked, and i looked back, and he was standing there all in black with two big guns wrapped around him, and he said, "gloria, put the phone down" and he said, "tracy, you are going with me." >> almost immediately palczynski shoots gloria and george shenk. gloria's son calls 911. >> 911. >> yes, ma'am. i was on the phone with my
mother, and i heard some screaming and the phone went dead. i called back and my little brother said that somebody broke in and killed my mother and my stepfather. >> i didn't really see them get shot. i heard it, because when i had turned around and seen him, it just set me in kind of shock, where i just looked at him like, oh, my god! >> joe has killed the shenks with a powerful pistol-gripped shotgun. tracy tries to crawl to the door and escape. >> he just picked me up by my hair. i didn't have any shoes or socks on or nothing. i just had the clothes i had on. and he drug me out of the house, the front door, and i was screaming the whole time, "somebody, please, help me. please!" and he was like, "shut up, shut up." >> outside a neighbor david myers approaches them as joe drags tracy to his car. joe shoots david myers twice in the stomach. >> there's a man lying over >> behind the apartments who's been shot in the stomach. >> ma'am, do you know the person who was shot? is somebody helping him? >> yeah, i think it's his wife or somebody. >> and he was still talking when he was laying there and he was saying, oh, my god, oh, my god while he was laying on the
ground. i thought maybe it was possible he might still -- he might have made it, but he didn't. >> anyone who sees him or knows anything about him should call 911 immediately and let us know. >> palczynski left the scene of the murders with tracy and drove to a spot in the woods to hide out. there, tracy faced the psychotic fury of a spurned lover. >> he was like, just blaming me for everything. "it's all your fault. why did you leave me?" you know, just, he told me to lay on, you know, he told me to lay in the field, lay on my stomach. and i was like, no, you're going to kill me, and, i know you're going to kill me. i'm not doing it. he was like, "tracy, lay on your stomach now." i was like, "please don't kill me. please." i laid on my stomach and he put the shotgun to the back of my neck, and he said, "i should blow your brains out right now,"
and he just got silent and didn't say anything, and i thought that was it. >> tracy whitehead and joe palczynski were once in love. for two years, they did everything together. tracy's nickname was squirrel and she had a tattoo of his nickname joe b on his back. joe palczynski didn't drink or smoke and was exceedingly polite. joe always addressed adults by prefacing their first name with a miss or mister. >> everyone loved him. he was nice looking. he was a great guy, had a great personality. he was very smart. you know, from a good family and everything. and he treated me good at the beginning. so, it was just like i fell in love, you know. definitely fell in love quick. >> but 18 months into the relationship, tracy desperately wanted out. joe had a dark side, and a violent past that would soon
emerge into full public view. wbal reporter jane miller covered the story from the beginning. >> this is a guy whose pattern was crystal clear. court younger women, get in a relationship with them, try to control them, and then assault them and attack them and stalk them when it didn't go his way. clear pattern. classic domestic violence pattern. >> dr. james mcghee is a forensic psychiatrist at the sheppard pratt hospital in baltimore. he would play a pivotal role as the drama played out. >> joe palczynski was a fellow who could be a lot of things. he was a very bright guy who could be very charming and very manipulative and very, very dangerous, murderously dangerous. >> when we come back, joe palczynski was still out there, a fugitive and now the subject of one of the largest manhunts in maryland law enforcement history. >> they were stopping cars and checking trunks. it was clearly a very tense, frightening situation.
>> my thought is, you know, this is the end, the end. of both of us really. i thought he was going to kill me, too. [ male announcer ] what can you do with plain white rice? when you pour chunky beef with country vegetables soup over it... you can do dinner. four minutes, around four bucks. campbell's chunky. it's amazing what soup can do. so i used my citi thank you card to pick up some accessories.
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already the killer of three, joe palczynski has kidnapped tracy whitehead and is the target of a statewide manhunt and intense media coverage. jane miller is an investigator reporter for wbal television in baltimore. >> there were police officers with guns all through that area, with dogs, with helicopters, with every conceivable means
they could muster to try to find this guy. they were stopping cars and checking trunks. it was clearly a very tense, frightening situation. >> that evening, joe finds a vacant camper in the woods, where he and tracy spend the night. in the morning, they wake up to the sounds of helicopters overhead. tracy thought that any moment might be her last. >> what i thought is, you know, this is the end, the end of both of us really, because i thought he was going to kill me, too. >> as they lay hiding in the woods, in one last desperate romantic effort, joe tries to win back tracy's affections. >> he had put a necklace around my neck, and he was just like, "tracy, i always wanted to ask you to marry me, and i know this is a bad time. of course, it is. but would you marry me? would you have?" and i said, yes, yes, i would.
>> confused and terrified, tracy consummates their mock wedding as police officers search for them nearby. >> he was just kind of like, well, kind of crazy, you know, like he wasn't himself. you know how you can look in somebody's eyes and they kind of got a crazy look on their face like they're sick or something is wrong with them. >> later that day palczynski goes on the run with tracy as a hostage. he makes two attempted carjackings and during them, joe shoots a 2-year-old boy in the face, almost killing him. >> he kills a fourth innocent person as a random shot he fires hits a passing car, killing jennifer mcdonald. >> husband and wife were driving a car. our suspect shoots into the vehicle, hits the lady. the husband is driving. the woman is a passenger. >> joe continues to elude the police as the manhunt
intensifies in the neighborhoods throughout baltimore county. throughout the state of maryland, the calls come in from everywhere. >> tracy and joe drive around baltimore for three days, somehow managing to stay one step ahead of the police. palczynski's threats start to wear tracy down. >> i got to the point where i was just like, just kill me, because i can't take this. i can't take this. and he was talking about pulling all of my teeth out one by one and then, i don't know, maybe i will just shoot your legs off and leave you in a wheelchair. >> joe finally pulls into a motel on the outskirts of baltimore county. >> so the first thing he did was to turn the tv on. he wanted to see the news. >> we're looking for him. we're asking neighbors in this
area to stay inside, lock their doors and windows. don't open the door to anybody, unless somebody -- >> he started getting real paranoid like, "we got to get out of here. let's go, let's go, let's go!" >> while walking out to the parking lot of the motel, tracy spots a police car and finally makes her move to escape. >> i ran and i was screaming. well, he was like, no tracy, no, tracy, no. and he ran the other way. >> tracy found the police officer as joe ran to get into his car. >> so i finally found the cop and i just kept saying, joe palczynski, joe palczynski, you know. >> with only one police officer on-site, there is a brief standoff. word of the news travels fast as police helicopters and live television coverage arrive at the scene almost at the same time. >> i knew when i ran from him that was the last time i was ever going to see him again. i knew that. i did love him. i mean, i loved him with all of my heart and my soul. >> joe palczynski managed to
drive away and escape, again astounding the police and the media, hot on his trail. >> he took pride, we learned later, in being able to outfox them. >> he was a fellow that was cunning. he was a fellow that had a lot of ability to get himself into a very difficult situations, but he also showed a knack for getting himself out of the situations as well. he was a very complicated person. >> we learned later that he had watched the discovery channel, and by watching the discovery channel, he knew that if he hid under a pine tree, the infrared of helicopters that were looking at him couldn't detect him. he took pride in being able to dodge them. >> over 200 police officers were now looking for palczynski. >> we mounted a very large manhunt, and we didn't find him. there is no doubt about it, we had additional officers coming
in from all throughout the region. we had our thermal imaging helicopter that can see a body on the ground or a human -- a body heat. he got away from us. >> joe palczynski was still out there, a fugitive and now the subject of one of the largest manhunts in maryland law enforcement history. when we come back, palczynski's long trail of terror. >> he used to tell her all of the time if she broke up with him, he would set the house on fire with us in it. and...sweat. [ grunting noises ] ahh! this is gold. [ mom ] woo! [ game ] snaps up the ace. i'll never be popular. [ game ] next game decides our winner. [ male announcer ] get low prices on this season's hottest games. like kinect sports season 2 for xbox 360 with kinect. rated e for everyone. backed by our christmas price guarantee. save money. live better. walmart.
expecting it. i don't think too many people realize what he was capable of doing. >> before he dated tracy whitehead, joe palczynski's girlfriend was 16-year-old stacy culotta, the daughter of diane and vince culotta. >> he used to tell her all the time if she broke up with him that he'd set the house on fire with us in it. >> it was a chance encounter at a local gas station that brought stacy culotta and joe palczynski together in july of 1996. early on, joe showered her with gifts and his undivided attention, as he did with most of his girlfriends. >> i am trying to look at it from my daughter's point of view or any 16-year-old's point of view, is that here is a guy, you know, an older guy that is driving around in a sports car, clean-cut, well dressed, flashy and telling you what you want to hear, and buying you what you want to buy. >> despite the protests and suspicions her parents and friends have about joe, stacy
falls in love for the first time and refuses to stop seeing her new boyfriend. >> i kind of feel like i was stupid at first, you know, like i was stupid to not, because i didn't listen to what people were telling me. people were telling me, you know, don't you know that the guy you're dating, he beats on his girlfriends and telling me all of these things, and i wasn't -- i didn't really want to hear it. >> he would stop her friends on the road or see her out or show up at their house and say, i won't break up with stacy. it's not over until i say it's over and don't tell her parents that we are still seeing each other, because i know where you live. >> diane and vince looked into the background of 26-year-old joe palczynski, and found every parents' worst nightmare. their daughter was dating a man with a long history of physical abuse against women. they confronted joe and told him to stop dating stacy, but then things got worse. >> what you find with fellows
like this is that they have a sense of justification. they, in their way of viewing male-female relationships, the woman becomes a possession, and she is -- she belongs to that man just as he owns a 1995 ford escort. that's his property. if he wants to go out to kick the tires on the ford escort, he can do that. if he wants to slam the doors on it, if it doesn't start the way he wants it to, he could do that. >> he'd be standing on the corner watching him go to work and an hour or two later, he would watch me go to work, and he would just be standing on the corner at the end of the development just standing there like, okay, dad's gone, mom's gone. she's by herself now. >> diane and vince mounted a letter-writing campaign to the police, the court system and joe's probation officer. >> i tried to get the police to do something, and they're like, he's standing across the street. he rode by. what do you want us to do?
it's not against the law. >> it even got to the point where otr neighbors in the area saw him drive up and park his car, you know, a half a block away and he'd walk up to the house and looking in the windows and the side doors things like that with us not even knowing it. >> diane kept records of the hell that palczynski put stacy and their family through. >> luckily, so people wouldn't think i was crazy, i wrote down everything that happened. how many times -- >> it's all of the stuff he did to me. >> how many times he rode past the house and five or six or seven, eight times a day, and letters that daddy wrote trying to get a restraining order. court papers. victim notification papers. >> and then this -- >> it was the day that joe had tracked them down at a crowded local amusement park. >> i will never forget that day, that was crazy. >> i don't know how he found us. >> it's like a needle in a haystack. >> and look at the picture, it's crazy. you're on a roller coaster and everybody is scared to death and he's looking at you carrying on a conversation. just like normal. he doesn't realize he's on a roller coaster. i don't think anything rattled
him. >> fortunately for the culottas, joe was about to go to prison for a conviction of assault against a former girlfriend, michele osborne. she lived only two blocks away from the culottas. but even while he was in jail, palczynski found a way to keep up the campaign of control and intimidation. >> the whole time he was in there, it was all kind of little games and threats and people still following you. i mean, it was on a daily basis. she would call me every day and say, this green car is following me again. she would go to work, go to college, there's the car. she'd look out front, there's the car. we never knew who it was, but it was somebody he was manipulating from the jail. >> joe told stacy to never forget the number 22, the date they met. >> he always had a thing about numbers. >> there was a note on her car one day that just said "22" and he was in jail. that's all it was. it was on her windshield. it just said "22."
>> diane kept track of when joe might be released from prison and continued to write to many different law enforcement agencies about their ordeal. several times, they even contacted joe's mother, pat. >> she's in denial. >> she has continually enabled him to do what he was doing. knowing full -- fully aware of who he was dating, younger girls, abusing them. i mean, he had a sports car from his mom. he had the apartment, from his mom. >> joe was the third born of pat's four children. they had an intensely close relationship. we asked her if she felt responsible in any way for some of the things that he did. >> no. no. if i were to turn my back on joseph, he would have had no one to look up to. i think he would have been dead long ago. >> so you gave him unconditional love? >> yes, i did 100%, and i don't regret it.
i loved him with all of my heart and i will love him until the day i die. he was good, and he had a lot of good ways. he just couldn't help -- there was something wrong with his head. >> several times joe roughed up stacy. his mother, pat, would sometimes mediate his arguments with his girlfriends. >> how many times do these girls have to bang their heads against the wall to say, ouch, it hurts. it's obvious, they didn't mind getting beat. they kept coming back for more. you can point at both of them. you can't just point all at joe. remember, it takes two to tango, bottom line. that's how i feel about it. >> carol alexander runs a shelter for battered women in baltimore called the house of ruth. she says that joe's mother played a role in enabling his dangerous behavior. >> he had a mother who minimized and pretty much bailed him out of every situation, further sending him the message, this is not so bad, joe. >> after being harassed by joe
palczynski for over two years, the culottas were seriously thinking of moving away from the area. joe would soon be released from prison after serving 1 1/2 years of a three-year sentence. he got out early for good behavior. >> we were wondering when it was going to happen. we were positive he would show up. and he just -- he found another girl. he found tracy. >> still ahead, the manhunt turns into a potentially deadly standoff. [ coughs ]
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holding thousands of gallons of fuel in melbourne, australia during a delivery to a gas station. the driver is hospitalized in critical condition. we'll see you after the next show. at the center of any criminal investigation is a dark heart and the iron hand of justice. >> after taking his girlfriend hostage and killing four other people, joe palczynski became the subject of one of the largest manhunts in maryland's history. many of his ex-girlfriends and their families locked their doors and went into hiding, thinking any one of them could be his next target. as it turned out, they had reason to be afraid. palczynski's reign of terror was far from over. joe palczynski remained at large
for ten days. one step ahead of a statewide manhunt for the killer of four. in fact, he had escaped to virginia, but his obsession and anger with ex-girlfriend tracy whitehead would get the best of him. despite law enforcement predictions to the contrary, he came back to baltimore in the into the teeth of the manhunt in a brazen attempt to get tracy whitehead. >> on march 17th, 2000, a frantic 911 call comes into the baltimore county police department. >> guy is here with a gun. it might be palczynski. hurry up. hurry up. it's joby. he's breaking down my door. >> palczynski was at the home of tracy's mother, lynn whitehead, for a final confrontation. >> i remember having a sick feeling in my stomach and all of us walked back in the bedroom with the telephone. >> palczynski pretends to be the police. after banging on the door, he
then shoots his way inside. >> he's shooting! >> he gets on the line with the 911 operator. >> hello, hi this is joe, i want to talk to tracy whitehead right now or i'm going to start killing people. >> joe holds lynn whitehead hostage along with her son and boyfriend. >> he found me behind the door and put his arm around my neck and put the gun to my head. >> i think he actually didn't know what he was doing or where to go or what -- you know, he thought tracy was here. >> forensic psychiatrist james mcghee is one of the first to speak with joe palczynski as police surround lynn whitehead's home at 7520 lang street.
>> i made the call in, ring, ring, ring, and he answers the phone, hello. and i said, hello, mr. palczynski, i'm dr. james mcghee and i'm from sheppard pratt hospital. and he says, "what is the pdr?" and i said, "physicians desk reference." and he said, "what is dsm-iv." i said, "the diagnostic and statistical manual of the american psychiatric association." and he said, "okay, you're a real doc, i'll talk to you." >> joe palczynski was not your garden variety criminal. the lang street hostage standoff would be the culmination of a 13-year history of domestic abuse and violent behavior. only now did he have the full attention of police, prosecutor and court system, but what he really wanted was tracy. >> i want to talk to tracy. i got three, four hostages here, and i want to talk to tracy. now, if you can bring tracy over here so i can talk to her face to face, i will let these three, four people go. >> okay. so you want to talk to tracy.
>> she had done the worst thing of all. she had become empowered when he wanted her to be powerless and he wanted to be in told control. he had lost total control. so he was going to regain control by doing the worst thing that he could imagine doing to her, namely murdering her mother in her presence and simultaneously blaming her for it. here, tracy, listen to this while i blow your mother's brains out. >> tracy was in protective police custody, and wasn't even told that her ex-boyfriend, joe, had kidnapped her mother, her youngest brother bradley and her mother's boyfriend andy mccord. but almost everybody else in the city of baltimore watched the hostage drama unfold on live television. joe palczynski's long-time attorney dave henninger was at the scene immediately. >> you're live on the air, go ahead. >> joe, joe, this is dave. joe, look, i am here for you. joe, i am here to get you some help. i need you to come out, joe. i need you to come out, and i
need you to release the hostages and come out as soon as you can. i need to you come out right now. i'm here for you. >> bill toohey is the spokesman for the baltimore county police department and was immediately on-site for the standoff. >> joseph palczynski and television had this -- were obsessed with one another. joe palczynski wanted television. television wanted joseph palczynski. when he started taking people hostage, the first thing he did when he went into that house was turn on the television. >> the palczynski murders, kidnappings, two-week manhunt and hostage standoff had become a media circus. >> when he was on the run, he had with him a portable two-inch television set and a stack of batteries. when he went into the motel the second night out with tracy whitehead, the first thing he did was to turn on the television and saw his picture on the 11:00 news. the television, conversely, just descended on us, and television from everywhere. at the news conference after this happened, we had i think 20 some camera crews there. >> and wbal reporter jane miller was one of the first to look
into palczynski's background. >> this was obviously a very dangerous individual. this was a guy who was willing to stop at nothing. and from that moment on, this became a paramount story in this region. >> joe palczynski had been in the custody of the baltimore county court system only several weeks earlier, after tracy whitehead had him arrested for beating her up. but despite his clear pattern and 13-year record of domestic violence, he was released on bail. carol alexander says the legal system should have seen it coming earlier. >> i think it would not have taken anything but good common sense to look at this guy's history and say, we have a big problem. this is victim number six. we need to act. >> she faults the police and court system for the way they handled joe's last arrest and bail. >> they took a look and said, in
essence, no connect, not a problem here. let's treat each of these instances like they were disparate and separate events with no history before, and i think that was a huge, huge mistake. >> if joe was found guilty of the assault charges against tracy, he would have had to go to prison for ten years, because he was already on probation for aggravated assault of another former girlfriend. tracy had reached out to the legal system to protect her from joe palczynski. but ironically, it may have triggered the rampage of violence that followed. >> the rock and the hard place for battered women, and i think we see it all through the palczynski story of the girlfriends -- is that they fear that if they do come forward, if they do testify, that the system will not respond, and that they will be in far greater danger as
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for four days in march of 2000, joe palczynski, who had already killed four, held his ex-girlfriend's mother and family hostage in their home. in a tense siege, police surrounded the perimeter of 7520 lange street. >> they're bringing people out. >> during the standoff, palczynski was considered so dangerous that a remote-controlled robot brought meals to the barricaded home. he made lynn whitehead retrieve the meals from the front window. the hostage negotiations with palczynski would exhaust the patience of seasoned officers and were complex enough to end up in fbi textbooks afterwards. >> we were able to negotiate our way through deadlines. repeatedly he would set deadlines -- if you don't produce tracy in 15 minutes, i will shoot somebody.
>> joe was always demanding to speak with tracy, a request the police repeatedly denied. >> we didn't put tracy on the phone because we really believed it would be a death sentence for lynn, that what he wanted to do -- we knew he was furious with tracy. he blamed her for everything. he had sexually assaulted her twice after he had murdered the first three people. he was furious with her that she had split up with him in the first place, that she had filed charges against him and was absolutely -- we naturally concluded that he was enraged that she had escaped from him. >> police tried to use his mother and lawyer to help convince him to surrender. >> release the hostages and come out as soon as you can. you need to come out right now. >> you can't talk to tracy. he says, i'll kill somebody. oh, god, here we go again. it went this way for hours. i was on the phone three days with him. and after the third day, he was exhausted. and he wanted to talk to mom. >> at the time joe's mother, pat, did not want her face shown on television.
>> nothing is going to happen to you, joseph. i promise. i promise you. i will get you help. we have doctors here and i have a good doctor for you. i promise you, nothing is going to happen. >> the negotiators and forensic profilers were trying to calculate what he would do based on his criminal history. there was a lot for the investigators to look at. over a span of 13 years, seven women had filed assault charges against joseph palczynski. he served time in jail only twice and was in and out of mental health facilities. incredibly, there was even a prior case eerily reminiscent of the hostage standoff. this is footage of palczynski surrendering in 1992, after a confrontation over a girl led to a 15-hour standoff with police in gooding, idaho. he had fled there as a fugitive after escaping from a maryland state mental hospital. joe was eventually brought back
to the east coast on federal weapons charges, but the charges in idaho were dismissed after a psychologist declared him insane and not criminally responsible. >> i am not at all convinced that any of those diagnoses were appropriate. what he would do is, when he was incarcerated, he would, in my opinion, feign mental disorder. >> his lawyer then argued successfully that pending assault charges in baltimore be dropped because joe's right to a speedy trial had be denied. >> oh, he absolutely played the system. there's no doubt about that. he played the system to his advantage, and as i said earlier, he had a mental disorder, but never, in my opinion, rose to the level of legal insanity. this guy knew exactly what he was doing. he was responsible for his behavior. he did a lot of things that were very premeditated. >> as the baltimore hostage
standoff in march of 2000 reached its fourth day, it became the second longest of its kind in u.s. history, but it looked like palczynski had finally run out of options. joe talked for a final time with his lawyer. >> he told me he loved me and he loved his mother. he said that he was sorry for what he had done, and he wished it hadn't happened, and he would just like to get it over with. he wanted to turn himself in and just bring it all to an end. but he didn't want to go back to prison for the rest of his life or even be in a mental hospital for the rest of his life. >> he wasn't angry. he was scared. wasn't angry at all anymore. he was scared. he had done the worst that he could ever do. couldn't get out of this one. mom couldn't help him this time. >> he had still not talked to tracy.
on the fourth night, palczynski made a final threat to kill tracy's mother, lynn whitehead. police moved in after lynn and her boyfriend, andy, escaped out of the front window. lynn had slipped several sleeping pills into joe's drink. after being on the run for two weeks and then not sleeping for three days while holding three people hostage, palczynski was finally out cold. television would be there to record the end of joe palczynski's life. >> he was rising up with his arms extended, and within reach were three firearms and the officers shot and killed mr. palczynski. >> police rescued lynn whitehead's 12-year-old son, bradley, from another room in the house. >> he did say he was going to die by the bullet. he told me a lot of times, i will die by the bullet. i will die by the bullet.
>> when i heard he was shot, i not only was relieved, but i kind of said to myself, you met your match. it's over. you are not going to hurt anybody else again. >> still ahead -- >> i have a lot of anger because my family is not the same. it was very damaging what he did. left a lot of scars. >> was it because i carried him angry? was it because my dad and my husband had the abuse in them and it was in joseph's genes? great prices. i just wish you could guarantee me they won't be beat. oh, actually... then i'd be like, you rule! and my kids would be like, you rule! i'd be like, yes, i do rule!
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joseph palczynski is no longer a threat. >> joe palczynski's life as the boyfriend from hell was finally over. >> anyone who is at all familiar with violence risk assessment could have seen this coming years ago. >> with a 13-year rap sheet many people think joe palczynski got away with too much for too long. >> the warning signals were everywhere in his record. they were crying out, and no
single person was able to -- either thought they had the capacity or the will or the whe wherewithakd wherewithal to deal with him. >> the culottas say the fear palczynski brought to their family may never go away. >> i have a lot of anger, because my family is not the same. it was very, very damaging what he did, left a lot of scars. it's just sad that he's done that to a lot of girls. i would imagine that all of them don't sleep well at night. stacy doesn't sleep well, and sometimes she doesn't sleep at all. >> it wasn't enough that he may cause physical harm to someone. what he was -- what was so much more important to him was causing lasting harm and controlling forever their lives. >> domestic violence is a notoriously difficult crime to prosecute. the victims sometimes have mixed feelings or are afraid to testify against former loved
ones and there are often no witnesses. >> joe was a nice guy. he didn't attract all these girls by being nasty and mean all the time. he attracted all of the girls because he was nice and he did fun things and because he treated them well. >> dave henninger represented joe palczynski in six cases over the course of 13 years. a year after palczynski's trail of terror that started with four murders and ended with his death, henninger is still defending his client. >> a lot of times people do things they don't think are all that bad, but to the victim is terrible, and they afternoon -- often don't understand what they're putting the victim through. i think joe many times didn't realize what he was putting these people through in terms of being terrified or scared. he didn't necessarily intend all of that. >> ultimately the consequences were not that severe for joe palczynski. he had an attorney throughout most of this that was, you know,
a significant advocate for -- and being paid to be obviously -- but a significant advocate for joe. >> palczynski's lawyer, dave henninger, said he did nothing wrong representing a man with a 13-year history of domestic violence. >> yeah, i have a very clear conscience. i mean if anybody's failed in this case and many other cases it's the people who have the ability to get this person some real help and nothing is ever done. >> but even joe's mother doubts that professional help could have made a difference. >> he couldn't change it. it hadn't changed. medicine wasn't going to do it. he was who he was. >> the consequences of palczynski's actions were cause for heavy scrutiny of the legal system in the days and months that followed the murders and hostage standoff. >> the issue of palczynski's background and how he was handled by both the courts and the mental health system was the subject of very intense debate. >> steven bailey is the chief prosecutor in the domestic
violence unit at the baltimore county state's attorney's office. he has said on the record about joe palczynski that the scary thing is the system worked quite well. >> i would argue that if that's as good as the system works, then we should not be surprised that joe palczynski was able to abuse six women, to kidnap tracy whitehead, to torture various family members, and to getaway with it. if that's the system working well, then the outcome should have been predicted and expected. >> msnbc had an interview scheduled with steven bailey, but then his boss, the elected state attorney, sandra a. o'connor, cancelled it, citing a concern of further publicity for the victims' families. bailey was the last attorney to prosecute palczynski and says that over the years he was prosecuted on a number o to pri
several times, and served time in mental health facilities. >> was it because i carried him angry? was it because my dad and my husband had the abuse in them and it was in joseph's genes? >> perhaps, in the end, only his mother knew the real joe palczynski. >> he said, "mom, one day the whole world will know of me." i said, "oh, stop it, joseph." sometimes we talk goofy, you know. i just ignored him, but that's the last thing he ever said to me. >> on mother's day, 2001, pat long returned to lynn whitehead's home, the scene of the hostage standoff, that cost joe palczynski his life. she wanted to commemorate her son's death by placing tokens of affection on the front lawn. angry neighbors tore it apart. that's our report for tonight. thanks for watching. i'm john seigenthaler.