Arthur Gary Bishop the monster. Arthur Gary Bishop a gentle, repentant man.
Kathy Luck has seen both sides of the man executed early Friday morning for the heinous murders of five Salt Lake County boys."He's a paradox," she said. "At times, he's sorry for the things he's done. Other times, he tries to feel but doesn't know how. He wants that quality so desperately."
Luck, who is working on a book about Bishop and his crimes, has corresponded with Bishop for more than a year, spoken with him many times by telephone and had at least four face-to-face, detailed interviews with the man who may be Utah's worst serial killer.
Besides prison psychologists and Bishop's LDS bishop, she knew the child killer perhaps better than anyone.
But even she remains puzzled and disturbed by the two sides of Arthur Gary Bishop - the side that could remorselessly murder children ("even Art was scared of Art Bishop") and the side with deep religious convictions.
"He's a troubled, suffering, ill person," Luck said. "It's like he came from another planet, but could never be like everybody else. He was totally deficit in his feelings."
As honest and open as Bishop has been in revealing his thought processes to her, Luck doesn't understand everything that motivated Bishop to do the things he did. Neither does Bishop, she said.
But she believes Bishop sincerely wants to make things as right as he can with those he has victimized. He wrote the Utah Supreme Court, "If there is any redemptive value at all yet to be gained through my execution, then I am ready and anxious to die."
He also sees it as his only option from a religious perspective. Bishop has spent the last years of his life studying LDS doctrine, seeking spiritual hope.
He hopes his unconditional confession and repentance, as well as his limited mental and emotional abilities at the time of the crimes, will qualify him for salvation in a lesser kingdom of God.
"I have seen a peace come over him I have never seen before," Luck said. "He believes God approves of his decision to die. He has a fear of being punished in the life hereafter. But he believes only God can judge the intent of his heart, and maybe he never had the light and knowledge required to be held accountable to the higher law."
It was a twisted set of circumstances that led Kathy Luck to Arthur Bishop. In 1979, the Luck family became acquainted with 2-year-old Troy Ward and his mother, Cheryl, through a Santa's helper program.
Luck felt a deepening affection for the child and a need to help him and his mother. Kathy would sew clothes for Troy and Troy, in turn, would visit the Luck family in their Sandy home.
"We tried to rescue Troy from the poverty he was in," Luck said.
On June 22, 1983, Troy, wearing clothes Kathy Luck had made for him, was standing on a street corner waiting for a motorcycle ride promised him. It was Troy's sixth birthday.
Instead, Troy Ward became the fourth victim of Arthur Gary Bishop, a killer who had preyed on little boys since 1979.
"I started out writing a book from a victim's perspective," Luck said. "But I found it wasn't enough. I wrote (Bishop) a letter, and he wrote back and said `no.' But he kept corresponding."
As Bishop's confidence in Luck grew, so did the detail in his letters. When he invited her to visit him in prison, she balked. "I wondered if I really wanted to meet him," she said. "But I had to get a feel for who he was."
She found a man with a different side to him than a monster she had heard about who had brutally murdered five little boys. She even learned to develop a compassion for him, "though I never lost the focus of what he has done or would have kept on doing if he hadn't been caught."
Luck was invited by Bishop to witness his execution; she broke into tears at the sight of him dying on the execution gurney. She looked away most of the time, stealing only occasional glances at the man she both likes and loathes.
Luck will remember Bishop through a stack of letters and writings by the killer, some revealing his most private thoughts and fears. In one, Bishop highlighted parts of a clinical definition of a psychopath.
"We are not dealing here with a complete man at all," the doctor writes, "but with something that suggests a subtly constructed reflex machine which can mimic the human personality perfectly."
"I believe that is how he saw himself," Luck said.