Piers Morgan, for all of his bravado, isn’t afraid to cut the crap. His latest show, Killer Women with Piers Morgan, sees him go into high security American prisons and interview convicted female murderers. Many would expect Morgan to sell the series off of the fact that he really grilled the women; that getting the criminals to tell him exactly what happened was an easy day at the office. But in actual fact, he was more than happy to admit to being unsettled by the whole thing.
And when I pointed out that a popular, if not very flattering, response to the show’s title online was, ‘Here’s hoping they thought one more won’t hurt…’ Morgan roared with laughter.
“I think it’s quite funny,” Morgan told RadioTimes.com. “I’ve got two things out this month: Killer Women – where I go into prisons – and another is a movie with Kevin Costner, The Criminal, where I have a cameo. People are putting it all together: this works, Morgan in prison…”
But, goofing around aside, Morgan freely admits that meeting some of the prisoners unnerved him.
“You go into a high security prison in America – they don’t f*** around,” he said. “They had prison officers in there, who were armed, but it was unsettling. It’s intimidating: it’s designed to be.
“You get taken in, you get sat down and then in come these women, one of whom [as you’ll see in the first episode] planned the annihilation of her family. She’s 4ft 11, looks like an angel and sings Amazing Grace. You’re quietly thinking, ‘She planned the shooting and machete-ing of her younger brothers, her mum and her dad who survived…’”
Morgan spent a number of weeks in rural Texas and Florida, interviewing and collecting information from various people involved in the crimes – from prosecutors to family members – before putting his questions to the accused.
“To actually look people in the eye and say, ‘Did you kill your daughter?’ or ‘Did you plan the annihilation of your entire family?’. Having those moments was not a normal Life Stories interview where you’re going, ‘Tell me about your movie.’ That was a really compelling prospect.”
“We were drawn by the Making a Murderer series on Netflix to try and do a real journalistic number on these cases, try and get inside the mind of murderers,” he continued. “What’s fascinating is you couldn’t really predict any of these three people would have done what they did. You think, ‘What does cause this sort of thing?’”
Morgan claims pre-meditated, planned murder by women is “very unusual”. “They’re normally crimes of passion involving women; lashing out in the moment and then regretting it for the rest of their lives. Two of the three cases were planned for a long period of time. That’s what makes these really unusual and evil.”
Despite the nature of the crimes, Morgan admitted some of the women had likeable qualities, which will leave viewers wondering ‘Did she? Didn’t she?’. Take Erin Caffey, who is the sole focus of the first episode. She is serving two life sentences for orchestrating the murder of her family aged just 16. Despite Morgan dubbing her “the most evil woman I’ve ever met in my life”, he admits she was “not a dislikable person to meet”.
“She’s so disarmingly nice, yet everyone I’ve spoken to about her said she’s the most manipulative lying monster we’ve ever come across. Once you hear that from prosecutors of 30 years and councillors who’ve dealt with loads of people, you think, ‘Wow, what is she capable of?’ Anything. She looks so small and innocent, yet you know she’s capable of extreme depravity and violence. So you’re slightly on edge.
“She’s very sweet, she’s very softly spoken, she smiles a lot, she talks a lot about learning from her mistakes,” Morgan added of the prisoner, now 24 years old. “That’s some mistake isn’t it? She talks about her rehabilitation – how she’s learned to cope with prison life etc. So yeah, you can be slightly sucked into her world and feel empathy for her.
“Then you remind yourself what she did and you see the crime pictures, which we got after I did the interview with her. You look at those crime pictures for ten minutes and you’re like, ‘Jesus Christ.’”
Killer Women with Piers Morgan airs Wednesday 11 May at 9pm on ITV