There’s a certain familiarity with the sociopath one encounters after writing 30-plus books about one-off murderers and serial killers. Interviewing scores of these people, one tends to develop an almost inherent, instinctive sense for how they go about manufacturing and inventing lies, carefully orchestrating each one, and then inserting those lies into public discourse.
Patricia “Pat” Olsen—the subject of “Murder in Massachusetts,” the second story in Murderers’ Row, my first collection of true-crime for WildBlue Press—is one of those people.
Let me explain.
The sociopath (which I classify Pat as), if he or she tells a lie long enough, believes the lie. We’ve certainly heard this clichéd argument before. And yet when I say this about someone like Pat Olsen, I mean it literally, not in a general sense. Moreover, in Pat’s case, she takes the deception a step further: projecting the idea that certain incidents, conversations and entire scenarios either did or did not take place—and, at the risk of using sarcasm to make a point, because she’s shouted those lies from the rooftop of her prison cell for over a decade, well, we should believe them. You know, drop everything and run to Pat’s side, begging for forgiveness, admitting we’ve been wrong about her all along.
“Murder in Massachusetts” is a story I wrote almost a decade ago, updated and polished for Murderers’ Row. Since I first wrote the story, I have commented on a few Investigation Discovery and Oxygen Network shows about the case. Within the context of those shows, proudly (I might add), I chastised Pat Olsen pretty damn hard. Why? For one, she deserves it. Two, she’s a cold-blooded murderer. Worst, she cowardly employed her children to carry out her evil plans and then cried the proverbial “poor me, poor me” line of defense many others claiming to have been wrongly accused bark after having been caught.
For years now, Pat has been promoting this argument to anyone who will listen that she has been erroneously convicted of this murder you will read about in Murderers’ Row. That her two “broken,” drug-addled children committed the deed themselves and then conspired to brand her (during her trial) a cunning, devious, manipulative, malicious mother and wife, bent on hiding her own financial collapse, subsequently wanting to see her husband dead so she could live happily ever after off of her hubby’s lifelong hard work, which had amounted to about $180,000 in total death benefits.
It is all bullshit, of course. Absolute nonsense. A totally invented narrative by a woman who thought she was smarter than everyone else—which leads me back to the lies.
In May 2016, I received a letter from Pat, who is now 52 years old. She wrote to me from the Massachusetts Correctional Institution (for women), in Framingham, Massachusetts, her home since being incarcerated in 2006. This letter is, I’m told, one in a long line of missives she has been sending to lawyers and others in search of pro bono representation to mount a final appeal. I am including scanned images of the letter in its entirety, but wanted to briefly clear up a few of Pat’s foolish comments.
Note the opening of Pat’s letter: “I have read about what you’ve written about me and heard about the two shows you have done and I feel there are some issues that need to be addressed.”
I love the “read about” and “heard about” source material Pat is basing her comments on. It tells me what she is willing to accept as truth.
Anyway, Pat goes on to spout another (among many) categorical falsehood: “I don’t understand why you haven’t come here and spoken to me.”
I reached out to Pat and her mother several times before writing the story. Both told me (repeatedly) that Pat did not want to talk. I only approach convicted murderers a few times and then I’m done. Most who don’t talk—and many do—routinely come back later when they realize they should have spoken up, and claim I never contacted them. In Pat’s case, it’s a ridiculous accusation disproven by letters I’ve sent to her and conversations with Pat’s mother I have on tape.
What about Pat’s “blame the horse” argument?
Total bunk. Absolute BS. Early on, the idea that a horse Pat and her husband owned could have trampled her spouse to death came up only because her husband’s killer tried staging the scene to make it appear as such. But, as you read in her letter, she was in such a “state of shock and disbelief” when cops came to the house she could not have possibly been thinking about how her husband died and thus could have never speculated about the horse.
She remembered specific times and what she did the previous night, however.
All I can say to that is: LOL.
Then she goes on to “correct” me by saying Neil Olsen, her husband, the victim in this case, was “not a farmer.” As if to imply that I have called Neil a farmer and not portrayed him on the shows I’ve commented on and in my story as the person he was. Let me just say: Every time I have spoken about this case, I have made it clear Neil Olsen was both a small business owner (sign maker) and exceptional human being.
There’s no reason to go tit for tat with every accusation in the letter. My story and my expert analysis of this case on television and radio are backed by facts. Please read this letter again after you’ve read my journalistic account of the case in Murderers’ Row and you’ll see how convicted murderers love to play with the facts of a case, manipulate and shape them, and try to blind the public from seeing the true sociopaths they are.
“Patricia Olsen was the murderer; [her son] was her weapon,” Berkshire (Massachusetts) District Attorney David F. Capeless, the lead prosecutor in Pat’s case, told The Berkshire Eagle as recently as 2013.
That’s who Patricia Olsen is—then and now.
M. William Phelps is the New York Times bestselling author of 33 nonfiction books. His latest, Murderers’ Row, is available from WildBlue Press. In early 2017, look for Phelps’s next release, Don’t Tell a Soul; and, in August 2017, comes a project five years in the making, a true-crime memoir, Dangerous Ground: My Friendship with a Serial Killer.