Editor’s Note: Katlyn Sweet is the daughter of Detective Gary Sweet, one of the main investigators whose quest to catch serial child-killer David Penton is the subject of BOGEYMAN: He Was Every Parent’s Nightmare. This post involves her father’s prison interview with Penton and her reaction to reading about it in the book.
Although detectives were 99 percent certain that Penton was the murderer of the young girls, he had no intention of admitting anything. Out of frustration and drive, Detective Sweet changed the direction of his questioning.
Without really knowing why he took the conversation in this direction, unless God was leading him, Sweet asked, “What do you think is going to happen to you after you die?”
Penton’s shrugged. “I’m right with God, so I’m not worried.”
I know my dad, and I know he has a strong walk with God. When I began reading this part of the book, I instantly got chills. I know my dad is great at his job and holds the key to getting a confession out of someone, but this is the first time I’d heard of him using his faith to do so.
He began by talking about how much he loved the biblical story of King David and Bathsheba. How David had lusted after Bathsheba, a married woman, to the point where he sent the woman’s husband into battle knowing he would die. Meanwhile back in Jerusalem, David, now a murderer, and Bathsheba committed adultery. And that God had punished the couple by causing their newborn son to die. But that David had repented and God had forgiven him, and called him a man after God’s own heart, even having committed such serious sins.
I have had many deep conversations with my dad about religion, biblical stories, and what’s right and wrong; in fact he is probably a huge part of the reason that I am the Christian I am today. Before even reading further, I knew he’d have something great to say to this Bogeyman.
As Sweet talked, Penton didn’t move. He just sat still, stared, and listened. Even the other detectives were quiet as Sweet spoke confidently and earnestly. “We know you killed these girls, but God will forgive you, and you can be a man after God’s own heart,” he said.
After I read the book, I went home to talk to my dad about this meeting with Penton. All he had to say about it was that he didn’t know why it came to him, “and quite frankly I am not real sure where the words that so steadily rolled off my tongue came from, I truly believe it was a God thing.”
Although he didn’t really believe it, Sweet told Penton that he believed that he was sincere in his beliefs. It was a hard thing to say because the detective could see right through him, but he wanted the killer to know that God could see through his lies, too.
I sincerely hope that Pentons declaration that he is “a man of God” is true. God forgives everyone if you simply admit, believe and confess that he is God and that you are a sinner. I think that the solution to any evil mind is a steady relationship with God.
Penton responded by declaring his innocence again. “I’m a man of God.”
My dad left knowing that he had done the right thing and taken it as far as he possibly could to get Penton to confess. He knew that he pleased God for sharing the love he has for all living things, no matter what they have done.