There are plenty of ways to kill yourself, but Steven Hayes may have come up with the most creative.
But it's more complicated than death by lethal injection. Apparently, Hayes falsely admitted to 17 other murders and a series of date rapes in the hope that police officers would offer him a trade for further information.
Hayes was planning to ask for oysters — not because he's a fan of raw shellfish, but because he's deathly allergic and wanted to die. He'd make up some fake crimes, the police would give him oysters, and he'd be found dead in his cell the next day.
No one entirely believed his story at the time, including trial judge Jon C. Blue. The judge said Hayes' dubious claims would have made him "one of the great serial killers in modern American history."
But Hayes did his best to make the claims sound legitimate, and thereby ensure delivery of the toxic oysters. He wrote a letter in which he provided details about the alleged 17 murders, claiming that he had the girls write goodbye notes to their loved ones.
With most, a second and third note would be written, by the girls themselves, and I would mail these weeks and months later. The notes would be detailed and disarming. This was key because while the girl would be gone within hours, the notes gave the appearance of what I wanted, a runaway or a girl who left her boyfriend or a hooker drug addict who went to greener pastures.
If true, Hayes' version of events would explain why his apparent victims had not been reported missing.
Hayes' previous suicide attempts include slashing his wrists and purposely crashing his mother's car. He once considered putting his head in a prison toilet and doing a backflip to break his neck, but he didn't go through with it.
So why the elaborate oyster plan? If he's already on death row, couldn't Hayes simply stop appealing his execution and let the state kill him?
Of course, but that would violate his pact with public defender Thomas J. Ullmann, who confirms that Hayes has made a commitment to staying alive. Hayes has had a contentious relationship with his lawyers, who fought against him when he pled guilty and tried to keep him off death row. The "no suicide" pact was a compromise for Ullmann not calling Hayes' family members to the witness stand.
While Hayes still longs for death, he accepts his life as punishment for his crime: "I think I've survived because I am meant to live with the thoughts of what I did to that family."