Editor's note: This was written before Jerry Buck Inman pleaded guilty Tuesday to robbery, kidnapping, rape and murder.
By all accounts, 20-year-old Tiffany Marie Souers of Ladue, Mo., was a bright, sweet kid. Two years ago, the St. Louis coed had enrolled for summer classes at Clemson University in South Carolina to advance toward her engineering degree. She lived in an off-campus apartment near the Clemson campus.
Jerry Buck Inman -- by contrast -- was a 37-year-old sex offender who had never managed to make a positive move in his entire life. In fact, Inman had spent exactly half his entire life in prison. He had been paroled just nine months in the summer of 2006, when he crossed paths with Tiffany Marie Souers.
Inman later told police he had been "cruising" through the south -- primarily Tennessee and Alabama -- looking for attractive women as possible rape victims. He did not even realize he had ventured into South Carolina when he spotted Tiffany.
Since all involved are under a severe gag order, we know few details of that fateful encounter. We do know that police found Tiffany strangled and raped inside her apartment. Her wrists had been bound. And we do know that Inman's DNA was found throughout the apartment.
In less than two weeks, police found Inman. He has apparently filled in the details for police on what happened. His attorney says Inman is anxious to "acknowledge his guilt."
Just so we all know what we're talking about, let's look at a brief rundown on Inman's activities.
When Inman was a teenager, he raped a young girl in North Carolina. He then raped a second young girl in Florida. For those two crimes, Inman spent 18 years in prison and is a registered sex offender in both states.
In the days before killing Tiffany Marie Souers, Inman raped a 28-year-old woman in Sevierville, Tenn. He also attempted to rape a 24-year-old woman in Rainsville, Ala. And then he traveled to South Carolina where on a hot summer day just two years ago, he crossed paths with Tiffany.
So there you have the life of Jerry Buck Inman and the destruction he has caused in just 37 short years. In truth, there's probably much more we don't know about Jerry Buck Inman, but the known facts alone are surely enough.
So now Inman is headed to court this week. Prosecutors are going to ask for the death penalty. Inman's lawyers are going to fight that attempt.
Inman is apparently willing to tell police all of the gory details in exchange for a life sentence. After all, he's spent more of this life behind bars than free so the prospects of life in prison are viewed differently for Inman than they would be for most of us.
Every detail of this sickening case bothers me. But what bothers me the most is that Inman's lawyers don't want the court to hear any of the past criminal history of their defendant. That's right. They want to withhold from the courts the past rapes, assaults, kidnappings and prison sentences. They are concerned that these facts might "prejudice" a judge against Inman.
The judge has yet to rule on this request. We can only hope he laughs at these idiots and lets the full story of Jerry Buck Inman come to the attention of the judge or jury.
With or without his criminal background, Inman will never see another day as a free man. If justice is truly served however, Inman should soon be able to count his remaining days on this earth. We can only hope his countdown is brief.
Michael Jensen is a Southeast Missourian columnist and publisher of the Standard Democrat in Sikeston.