A Man Among Boys

In any case, the cops set up recording equipment next to Sam's phone to record conversations with Simmons. The first recorded call was on Sept. 17, 1997, and then two days later. (Later, the cops accidentally erased one of the conversations.)

Sam's rage was apparently growing. Simmons says the last time the two spoke by phone, on Sept. 21, the boy told him with delight what he did to the cops' recording equipment. "He took a hammer to it," says Simmons. "He pulled wires out from the phone. He struck the lock until it came off. He bashed it with a hammer. Then he poured cleaning fluid all over it and was getting ready to light it on fire when his parents pulled up." Sam left a note on the equipment that, as Simmons recalls, said: "Sometimes in our life we're faced with difficult decisions. We must do what is right deep down in our hearts, even if we know we can get in trouble for it and even if others tell us it's wrong."

Simmons again portrays himself as a sort of counselor to the boy. "He said he was terrified of the cops and what they would do with him and his parents would beat on him," says Simmons. "He's meant to be afraid of me, not his parents or the police."

Simmons says that he told Sam it was all going to be OK and that Sam decided to face the music and not run away from the cops. The next day, Sam told a counselor about breaking the equipment. The counselor, once again, told Manzie's parents.

Dolores Manzie freaked, according to later accounts, and told counselors that Sam was out of control. Later, on ABC's 20/20, she insisted to Barbara Walters that, before the murder, she had told a judge in the case: "You do what you have to do. I'm not taking him home."

Sam was driven by Shoreline personnel to a hospital crisis center to determine whether he was a danger to himself or others. After much debate, the hospital agreed to keep him for 24 hours. Sam woke up in the hospital the next morning. His parents feared him. Like a hot potato, he was tossed to a counselor from Ocean County Superior Court's family-crisis intake unit who placed him in a shelter for one night. The next morning, he and his parents went before Judge James Citta.

"We're afraid of Sam," Nicolas Manzie told the judge, as was later reported in an account of the case in American Lawyer. "He calls me names with the F-words in them, just like, you know, total disrespect."

The judge told the Manzies to take their son home. That same day on Long Island, Suffolk County police slapped handcuffs on Steve Simmons. He was charged with a class "E" felony of sodomy and held on $50,000 bail.

Things seemed to have settled down that day and the next. Then, inexplicably, the Manzies decided to leave their son so they could lead a bus charter to a Connecticut casino. Bored stiff, Sam didn't even have his computer; it was sitting at the police station as evidence.

It was Sept. 27, 1997. He was home alone.

'I knew i was gonna get screwed.'

Eddie Werner walked down Iowa Court in Jackson with a mission. He was going to earn those walkie-talkies. If he had to hit every house in the neighborhood, he would get enough people to buy enough wrapping paper and candy to push him over the top.

When he knocked on the Manzies' door, Sam opened it. As the story later unfolded, the older boy told Eddie to come inside. The boy hesitated, but followed when Sam said he had to get his glasses.

The door closed, and Manzie locked it. Eddie began to cry. Werner carried him up the stairs. It's unclear exactly what happened between the boys. Most reports have characterized it as a rape and murder, but Sam confessed only to the murder; he didn't address prosecutor's allegations that he first had sex with the boy. He strangled Eddie with an alarm-clock cord, then took a photograph of the lifeless body, half naked with the cord and a man's necktie around its neck.

Sam stuffed the body into a suitcase and dragged it across the street, leaving it in the woods behind a neighbor's house. Twenty-four hours later, Sam confessed to the crime.

One hundred and fifteen miles away, in Suffolk County Jail in Riverhead, an inmate awakened Steve Simmons and told him he was on TV. "Right away," Simmons recalls, "I knew I was gonna get screwed."

'People are going to buy it 'cause they hate Sam and they hate me.'

Sam Manzie got 70 years for killing Eddie Werner. Steve Simmons will get out much earlier. He's waiting for Suffolk County to bring him back to Long Island to try him on the sodomy charge. But even if he's convicted, the maximum sentence is only four years.

Simmons says he thinks he'll be out of jail sometime next year. By then, he says, the book he swears he and Sam plan to write will be finished. "It will sell because people in this country are stupid," says Simmons. "They're gonna read it to find out how he killed Eddie Werner. I don't want to read the details. It turns my stomach. But people are going to buy it 'cause they hate Sam and they hate me."

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