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How A Murderer And Rapist Became The Bush Campaign's Most Valuable Player

November 11, 1990|By ROGER SIMON | ROGER SIMON,Roger Simon is a nationally syndicated columnist for The Sun. This excerpt is from his new book, "Road Show," published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Copyright 1990 by Roger Simon. Reprinted with permission.

At 7:20 p.m., Cliff came home from work. His wedding to Angwas two months off. She was spending the evening at a birthday party with friends.

Cliff started unbuttoning his shirt as he walked up the stairs. Hstripped off his tie and went into the bathroom. While there, he heard noises from downstairs and figured Angi might have come home early.

"Angi?" he called out. There was no answer.

Willie Horton kicked in the bathroom door. He was wearing stocking mask. Earlier in the day, he had broken into the house through the basement and had searched the place. He had found Cliff's handgun. Now he hit Cliff across the head with it, while screaming obscenities at him at the top of his lungs.

Horton pushed Cliff to the floor, tied his hands behind his back and went through his pockets. Then he led him to the basement and tied him to a two-by-four support, using telephone cord and Cliff's shirt and necktie. He blindfolded and gagged him.

Then the torture began. Horton told Cliff he was going to han him by his neck in the basement and watch him strangle. Then he jammed the gun barrel into Cliff's eyes hard enough to blacken them. Then he rammed the gun into Cliff's mouth. Then he began slashing Cliff with a knife. He slashed him across the stomach in all directions.

"Do you know how scary it is to have somebody drag a knif across your body and never know when they're going to push it in?" Cliff said later.

Cliff told Horton where his credit cards and bank cards were. H told Horton everything Horton asked. But the torture did not stop.

About 2:30 a.m., Angi came home. She walked up to th bedroom, where she noticed a broken beer bottle and Cliff's eyeglasses. As she walked back out into the hall, Horton jumped her.

He rammed the gun into her face, grabbed her by the throat and dragged her into the bedroom. He tied her hands behind her back and blindfolded her. Then he tore open her shirt and camisole. He cut her jeans open with his knife, dragged the knife over her body and raped her.

"Total disbelief," Angi said later, describing her emotions during the rape. "Then fear. Constant fear. Constant survival mixed with fear. Do anything you can to just get out of it alive. And then if you get a chance to kill them, that's what you want. You just want to get a chance to get ahold of that gun."

After he was done, Angi tried to distract him. She asked him t get her a beer, which he did. She asked him to watch TV, which they did. All the while, Horton held the gun to the back of her neck. Then Horton raped her again, in the living room this time with the stereo turned on. Angi tried to grab the gun, but failed. "He got really violent with me," Angi said.

She did not know if Cliff was dead or alive, but Cliff could hea her screams while she was being raped and beaten. When he heard the second attack starting, Cliff knew he might be able to escape.

"This is really terrible, but if he hadn't attacked her, raped her a second time, I wouldn't have tried to escape because the way he had me blindfolded, I couldn't really tell where he was at," Cliff said.

Cliff managed to get free. Bleeding from his many knife wounds, his clothes hanging from him in shreds, he fled the house and ran for help. He pounded on the doors of four neighbors before one let him in to call the police.

When Horton had finished with Angi, he discovered Cliff haescaped from the basement. Knowing the police would soon be there, he began loading up Cliff's Camaro with booty from the house. While he was doing this, Angi escaped through a bathroom window.

Horton took off in the car and led police on a chase northboundown the southbound lane of a nearby highway. After a shootout with officers in which he was wounded, Horton was captured. It was now about 7 a.m.

Horton was tried and convicted of multiple counts includinrape, kidnapping and attempted murder. Prince George's County Circuit Judge Vincent J. Femia sentenced Horton to two consecutive life terms plus eighty-five years and refused to allow Horton to return to prison in Massachusetts until he was done serving his time in Maryland.

"I'm not going to take the chance you'll be on the streets againbecause you're dangerous," Judge Femia told Horton. "You should never breathe a breath of fresh air again. You should be locked up until you die."

("I never did the rape," Horton indignantly told me. Horton was not the only person feeling sorry for Horton. The Bush campaign's use of Horton would make him into the one thing he was not: a victim. There would be stories sympathetic to him. "During this whole ordeal, nobody has cared about me," Horton said. "I was used. Nobody knows the truth of my innocence. Someday they will." Horton had no shortage of people wishing to tell his story. While he was in prison, he had an aide to help him screen media interview requests.)

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