The Locked Door

Twenty-six years ago today, a man named Aaron Nierling was arrested in his home in Oregon.

Most people knew Nierling as an upstanding citizen. He held a steady job and was a dedicated husband and father—a family man. He had never even received a parking ticket in his lifetime. He had certainly never been in trouble with the law.

However, after an anonymous tip, the police discovered the remains of twenty-five-year-old Mandy Johansson behind the locked door of Aaron Nierling’s basement workshop.

Preserved bones from seventeen other victims who had been reported missing over the last decade were also found in a trunk in the basement. Over the course of the police investigation, Nierling was implicated in at least ten other murders going back over twenty years, but no forensic evidence was found to confirm this.

Nierling plea-bargained to escape the death penalty and is currently serving eighteen consecutive life sentences in a maximum-security penitentiary. His wife was also charged with accessory to murder, but she killed herself in prison, prior to standing trial.

News articles proclaimed Aaron Nierling to be a genius, who successfully evaded the police and the FBI for over two decades before his eventual capture. He is exceptionally charismatic and charming—at least, when he wants to be. He is a narcissist and a psychopath, who likely killed at least thirty women without a trace of remorse. He is insane. He is a monster.

He is also my father.

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