Stephen Simmons reads a lot. He has sped so quickly through the New Jersey jail’s library in the two years he’s been locked up that he’s already done with the biographies, the thrillers, the Jack Chalker and David Eddings fantasies. Last week, he finished Primary Colors. This week, he’s in the middle of Marjorie Morningstar. Every so often he gets to read a letter from the boy he gave a blowjob to three years ago.
That boy, Sam Manzie, had a relationship with the T-shirt maker from Holbrook in 1996 when he was 14 and Simmons was 42. When Sam’s parents found out, the boy participated in a sting operation to catch Simmons. After a week of intense police pressure, Sam snapped. He destroyed the cops’ wiretap on his phone and he wound up raping and killing 11-year-old Eddie Werner, who had come to his house to sell candy and wrapping paper.
Today, the 46-year-old man doing five years and the 17-year-old boy doing 70 still talk. Speaking to the Long Island Voice from a 16-person protective-custody pod dubbed “Snitches, Bitches, Cops and Queers” by others in the Freehold, N.J., jail, Simmons says he and Sam correspond by letter about politics and philosophy. The most recent debate is whether Hitler and Napoleon are alike—Manzie says they’re carbon copies, Simmons thinks they’re vastly different. They talk about writing a book about their relationship and the murder, about what Simmons says are their hopes for the future.
Simmons and Manzie share the same lot in life. They are child molesters, so scummy that even the worst rapists, drug dealers and murderers think they’re scum.
In a matter of weeks, the Suffolk DA will attempt to bring Simmons back to Suffolk to try him on a charge of third-degree sodomy for the oral sex that took place in Simmons’ home. It’s a Class E felony that carries a sentence of up to four years. If convicted, Simmons contends, the sentences will probably run concurrently, making the Suffolk authorities’ move little more than a public-relations stunt to show that they, too, can prosecute him. The only problem is, Simmons says he isn’t going plead guilty.
In the eyes of many people—or at least the likes of Nightline, Dateline and Barbara Walters—monster Steve Simmons created a demon protégé when he met Sam Manzie in an AOL chat room in 1996. According to that view, Simmons sculpted a monster in his image when he took him to a motel, destroying the boy who was Sam Manzie and creating a victim-turned-madman, an über-pedophile. He then sat in the shadows and twirled his mustache when he got the news that his creation had destroyed another boy.
And yet, before this monster was sentenced to two-and-a-half to five years for endangerment of a child, that child got up in front of a packed courthouse, his manacled hands in front of his prison khakis, and read a statement pleading for Simmons’ freedom. “Steve, you got what you wanted, but I also got what I wanted,” Manzie said. “Some say it must have been a manipulative relationship. But how can they say so if they weren’t there?”
Far from being remorseful, Steve Simmons contends that he himself could have saved lives in the tragedy if Suffolk County hadn’t set his bail so high when they originally arrested him, before the Werner murder, for having sex with Sam Manzie.
“If the bail was less,” Simmons says, “Eddie Werner would have been alive today. Sam would have called me that Saturday and Eddie Werner wouldn’t have been killed.”
If anything, Simmons is cocky for a veteran pedophile who sits in a New Jersey jail for one sex crime while awaiting prosecution on Long Island for another episode of sex with the same boy.
“This is the most famous blowjob of the 20th century after Monica Lewinsky,” he says. “I’m not an angel, but I’m being the fall guy for the other crime.”
‘I committed the murder they had the opportunity to prevent.’
After that “other crime,” the rape and murder of Eddie Werner, every character but Eddie has become a fall guy.
Werner’s parents blame a hospital for not keeping Sam Manzie locked up. So do Manzie’s parents—they were so in fear of their child that they tried to get him committed, but the hospital thought he wasn’t dangerous and sent him back home. But the Werners also blame the Manzies for not keeping a better eye on him the day of the murder. In September, the Werners filed a wrongful-death suit against the Manzies and five doctors. The suit has since been dismissed.
The Manzies also blame Simmons for the murder, claiming that he still has their boy under some maniacal, homosexual spell. “He did a good job grooming his prey,” Nicholas Manzie was quoted as saying in the Bergen County Record after Simmons’ sentencing. “He still has control of his mind.” They blame the anti-depressant Paxil, which Sam was on at the time of the murder. They blame the hospital for not taking Sam off their hands.
Sam Manzie blames the system, telling the court before his sentencing, “I’m responsible in some ways, but they share the responsibility. I committed the murder they had the opportunity to prevent.”
The press blames the Internet. Newsweek ran a story titled “Did the Net Kill Eddie?” The New York Post‘s front page read “Cyber Psycho.” While they were at it, the press even pointed a finger at the PTA, criticizing it and other organizations for making kids like Eddie Werner pimp their wares door-to-door to make money for them.
Although every other finger points at him, Steve Simmons blames the world for painting him the scapegoat, the wicked adult who destroyed the lives of two innocent children. He says the world has to put him in jail for the maximum just to feel better that an evil force was involved.
But if they’re gonna take three years of his life away for being a scapegoat, he’s willing to play the scapegoat all the way to Oprah.
“People may hate me, but they’ll buy,” Simmons says slyly. “The Manzies and the Werners are going to make me rich.”
‘Sometimes you run into a kid who just wants, and you give.’
“Most pedophiles are bad,” Steve Simmons explains. But that’s not to say there aren’t “good” pedophiles, he adds.
The way Simmons sees it, “bad” pedophiles are the guys in NAMBLA—the North American Man/Boy Love Association. “If I could, I would destroy it,” Simmons says forcefully. “I’ll never buy the fact that a 6- or 7-year-old has sexuality—until that child understands what sexuality is, and that’s 12, 13, 14 years old.”
Simmons claims to be a “good” pedophile. “People who are pedophiles can’t change, anymore than an alcoholic can change or a drug addict can change,” says Simmons. “There are some who truly care about children. There are pedophiles in this world who never have sex. The man who enjoys coaching, Boy Scout leaders. They’re pedophiles to a certain extent. Sometimes you run into a kid who just wants, and you give.”
He claims to know a lot more about children than their parents know. He says he’s written a book in jail on how parents can communicate with their kids. It tells parents that they must talk to their children early in life or else they will never talk to them later. He admits he has no publisher yet; clearly, it’s too early for publishers to see Steve Simmons as a child-rearing expert.
The son of a printer, Simmons was born in London on November 25, 1953. The family moved to America in 1959 and settled in Brooklyn. Steve says he didn’t even have sex until his early 20s. He married a woman in 1976. She was 22, he was 23. They broke up, he says, because she wouldn’t get a job.
He spent time in Florida and New York, making T-shirts for a living and spending some of his spare time working in community theater. And he came out of the sexual closet. He claims he was a good-standing member of Long Island’s gay community—a regular at the annual CERF-PAC picnics, a member of the now-defunct Gays and Lesbians of Brookhaven. He made the T-shirts for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays and the Long Island Pride Parade.
In July 1991, he married a man also named Steve in the backyard of the home they shared on Windermere Drive in Holbrook. The man, “Big Steve,” was more than 15 years older than Simmons.
Age differences apparently haven’t always mattered to Simmons—or they’ve mattered too much. When asked how many sexual relationships he has had with young men or youths, Simmons pauses and then says, “Can I really answer that question? The law says there’s been four. That’s as far as I can go.”
He’s referring to the four boys he had sex with in incidents that resulted in prosecution. In 1978 in Daytona Beach, Fla., Simmons was put on probation for three years for attempted lewd and lascivious behavior in the presence of a child. In 1984, he was arrested in Brooklyn after another incident. Two years later he pled guilty to second-degree sodomy and spent two years in Dannemora.
“You’re going back into the ’80s,” Simmons complains. “Back then, I was a different me. I was doing it more for self-gratification. But some of them came out very well. When you meet them—11, 12, 13—they’re already smoking pot, cutting school. Six or seven years later, they’re a sophomore in college.”
The way Simmons tells it, the Brooklyn case reads like a dark little novel: He met a 13-year-old boy and had a sexual relationship with him for three years. When the boy turned 16, he told Simmons he was going to run away from home. “I was very suicidal in the ’80s,” Simmons recalls. “I was telling people I was going to Texas. But I would never see Texas. I was going to kill myself in Pennsylvania. We leave. We got to Texas and everything that could go wrong, went wrong.”
The kid, he says, was picked up by the police for possession of marijuana and he was forced to turn in Simmons. “I did my time,” says Simmons. “I’m not still in touch with him.” But, as if to say that sometimes his touch is golden, Simmons says he’s heard that the boy, now in his early 30s, “is leading a gay life and happy doing so.”
He claims to not have had any sexual contact with a minor for 10 years before he met Sam. Some of that was not his choice. “I was like a magnet when I was young,” he says. “Where I was, kids followed.” When he got older, they stopped following.
Then the Internet came along.
‘You stroke kids online.’
From a creaky computer in his home on Windermere, Simmons went out into cyberspace. He says he spoke to just as many adults online as he did children. He would attempt to meet men on the Long Island Men’s Forum, he says, but stopped “because after five minutes, it was ‘Do you want to go out?’ ‘Hey, can’t I get to know you first?’ ”
He became a regular in what he says was a “boys” chat room on AOL. There he played the game, talking to kids, developing relationships, but, he says, never meeting anyone in the flesh.
“A lot of kids online would have a crush on me,” he confides. “I would let them have their crush. I would say, ‘I love you.’ But I would try to find someone for them closer to their own age.”
He apparently knew the teen banter.
“You stroke kids online,” he says. “You always tell them they’re smart, they’re cute. One time, I was with a kid and I said he was the cutest kid on this side of the Mississippi. And [another kid] went, ‘How dare you!? You told me I was the cutest.’ ”
One day in the summer of ’96, he walked across a cyber room and struck up a conversation with a 14-year-old from New Jersey.
According to later accounts, Sam Manzie was not very popular at his all-boys Catholic school. Some reports say the kids called him “Manzie the Pansy.” He was awkward and tall for his age—over six feet tall—but weighed only 143 pounds. He didn’t like to play outside. He liked to play on his computer.
Simmons describes a boy who would be called the perfect victim by experts on child predators. “He was insecure,” Simmons recalls. “He needed to be reinforced constantly. He was always asking, ‘Why don’t you like me?” So most of the adults spent a lot of time stroking him. You had to tell him he was cute. But you didn’t need to tell him he’s smart. That he knew.”
It was Sam who took the next step, says Simmons. He gave the older man his phone number. Simmons says they talked about life and dreams and hopes.
Then, Simmons claims, Sam again was the one who took the next step: He asked to meet Simmons in person.
Simmons claims he objected repeatedly, but finally gave in.
“Like a fool,” he says, “I said yes. This wasn’t for the purpose of having sex.”
Simmons took the two-hour trip from Holbrook. He met Sam at the Freehold Raceway Mall—the boy had been dropped off by his unwitting father. Simmons says they walked around the stores, got something to eat, then went to see the movie Phenomenon. Inside the theater, Simmons fondled the boy for the first time. Sam reciprocated.
Simmons’ braggadocio fades quickly as he recounts this episode. He’s reluctant to discuss details that he didn’t later confess to. As always, though, and as pedophiles often do, he puts the boy in the role of aggressor.
After the movie, they went behind the theater and they fondled each other some more. Then Sam’s beeper went off. It was his parents, wondering where he was. He ignored the message, Simmons claims, and asked the man to take him to his house on Long Island.
“Ever since he was 12 and a half, he wanted to go to bed with an older man,” says Simmons. “Well, I was the older man. I was the fantasy. I was the stupid one who let him talk me into it.”
Simmons drove Sam to Holbrook, where he performed oral sex on the boy.
In a matter-of-fact way, Simmons describes the aftermath: “I’m not an easy person to make smile. I’m not a cuddler. I like my own space. He just cuddled up in my arms, and I fell asleep. I never fell asleep in someone’s arms before.”
Simmons drove the boy back to New Jersey.
The law says Simmons and Manzie met three more times, once at a New Jersey motel, where they contend that Simmons gave Sam the drug ketamine, or Special K, to seduce Sam. Although he doesn’t deny drugs were used, Simmons says no drugs were needed for seduction. “Do you know about Special K? It gets you zoned,” he says. “You couldn’t have sex on Special K if you tried.”
According to Simmons, Sam was a jealous lover. He would badmouth other kids online to try to get more of the man’s attention.
And then, says Simmons, there were the fantasies. Manzie, whose appeal is in process, wouldn’t agree to an interview, so Simmons is the only source for what follows: an account of Sam’s violent fantasies that hasn’t previously surfaced.
“It wasn’t until October or so when he started telling me the fantasies,” says Simmons. “He would say, ‘Next time you come, could you bring a 10-year-old kid?’ He fantasized about raping 10-, 11-, 12-year-olds. Basically what he did to Eddie Werner—minus the murder. When he first told me that, I said, ‘Sam, you gotta get help.’ He didn’t need a lover. He needed a daddy.”
Did Simmons ever think to make an phone call, even if he had to do it anonymously, to get Sam help? “I really didn’t think he was going to act on it,” Simmons says. “He told me stuff in confidence. What difference would it make? I can’t call a shrink. His parents apparently didn’t want him to get therapy.”
‘I’ve got a personality like Bobby Valentine’s.’
When Nick Manzie, a manager with a long-distance trucking company, took a look at his phone bill in the fall of 1996, he was puzzled by $200 worth of phone calls directed to a number with a 516 area code. He called the number and Simmons answered. Simmons told the father that he was giving Sam computer advice. Nick Manzie, ignorant of his son’s relationship with Simmons, asked him to have no further contact with his son. Simmons now claims he finally had the excuse he needed to end the relationship.
But Sam’s life wasn’t taken up entirely by the older man. The boy always had his computer. According to published accounts and the remnants of his former Web page, Sam got heavily into the laser-tag game Q-Zar. He started up a Smashing Pumpkins site on the Web, with a comprehensive list of the band’s bootlegs, B-sides and imports. He listed his favorite songs, accompanied by snatches of lyrics. From the band’s first hit, “Siva”: “Way down deep within my heart lies a soul that’s torn apart.” From a live version of “Silverfuck”: “I don’t trust anyone.” From the epic “Mayonnaise”: “Can anybody hear me, I just want to be me.” He detailed the dress code at his school, Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft. He presented an essay titled “Who would win in a fight—Beavis or Butthead?”
Laser tag, dramatic devotion to a rock ‘n’ roll band, Beavis and Butthead—all of these would have been blamed as a cause for Eddie Werner’s death if not for one thing: Steve Simmons.
To this day, Manzie claims he wanted the relationship. But is a 14-year-old mature enough to make his own decisions about sex?
Being a gay teenager in suburbia has been talked about so much that the issue is practically a cliché, though not to the kids who are alienated, confused and scared to death that their straight-arrow parents would never understand, afraid of the crucifixion awaiting them at school. And even if they do have the courage to come out of the closet, how do you find anyone to date?
“In most of the world, this isn’t even a crime, because they know 14-year-olds know what they want,” says Simmons. “Sixteen should be the national legal age. Fourteen and 15 should be on a case-by-case basis. Especially about gay teenagers.”
That’s echoed even in gay literature. Of 180 gay and bisexual men interviewed by Ritch Savin Williams, a psychology professor at Cornell University, for his book “…And Then I Became Gay,“ half of the first sexual experiences of boys aged 15, 16 and 17 were with men at least four years their elder. One of the interviewees remembers as a 15-year-old meeting a 45-year-old man in a theater, having oral sex and thinking afterwards, “Finally I did it! I did it!”
The first tale in My First Time Volume 2, a true-story gay erotic compilation edited by Jack Hart, is about a 16-year-old and a local TV newsman in a shopping mall parking lot. Another chapter deals with a 12-year-old swapping blowjobs with an adult in a K-mart bathroom.
But no matter what those and other stories suggest, Long Island gay activists aren’t exactly running to Steve Simmons’ defense. “The stereotype is overblown,” says Jeff Reynolds, chief operating officer of Bias Help Long Island, a gay-rights group. “It shouldn’t be used as a rationalization for predators.”
What about Simmons’ connections to Long Island gay activities? He made T-shirts for the Long Island Pride Parade, didn’t he?
“He did a horrible job and we never used him again,” says Jimmy Pizzo, co-executive director of the LI Pride Parade. “Other than that, we don’t know him from a hole in the wall.”
Simmons explains the lack of support from Long Island’s gay community this way: “I’ve got a personality like Bobby Valentine’s. There’s no gray area. You either hate me or you like me.”
Reynolds, for one, is among the former. “I think typically there’s a reluctance to jump out there in cases like these,” he says. “It’s too bad the DA can’t find some legitimate charge to get this guy for. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the offender.”
Or is it always an offense for adults to have sex with youngsters? In about 1140 A.D., the jurist Gratian broached the subject of the age of consent, placing the number at 7 years old if both parties were willing, according to research prepared for federal prosecutors. In medieval England, other sources say, the age of consent to marry was generally 12 for girls and 14 for boys, with laws concerning sexual intercourse following these guidelines. In 1861, England pushed the age back to 16. The U.S. followed and began defining guidelines concerning statutory rape.
Today, the age of consent in the U.S. depends on the state. Most set the age at 16. In Colorado, it’s 15. In Hawaii, it’s 14.
There have been efforts to try to set a national standard. “In the mid-’90s,” says one researcher, South Carolina law professor Charles Phipps, “Congress was trying to say the states need to more aggressively prosecute statutory rape and raise the age of consent so we don’t have more unwed teens having babies.” It was both a money issue and a family-values issue. “The issue really ought to be protecting children. We need to draw a bright line to say anything under that is a crime. The easiest bright line would be 18.”
But if Steve Simmons had met Sam Manzie on a sandy beach in, say, Honolulu, there would have been no crime. So why didn’t Simmons go live in a place that lets you have sex with boys? “I had my life here,” Simmons says. “I had not been involved with anyone else. I had gone through a year of depression. My business was getting ready to fold. That’s when Sam came along.”
The picture Simmons paints is that both he and Sam were vulnerable. And Simmons argues that he should be off the hook in any case because Sam has voiced no regrets about what happened between them.
Experts in child sexual abuse, especially those on the prosecution side, have heard that line before. After all, many battered wives wind up refusing to press charges against their murderous husbands. “If we were never going to prosecute because victims don’t want to pursue it, we wouldn’t be prosecuting many cases,” says Victor Vieth, director for the National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse.
“With adolescent victims,” Phipps chimes in, “it’s very common, especially with boys. Embarrassment. They might have legitimate affection for the person, but they don’t want all their friends to know, don’t want to have their names in the papers.”
Most states don’t differentiate between homosexual and heterosexual statutory-rape. “The states at this point are gender-neutral. The crime is adult versus child,” says Phipps. But public perception isn’t. Would Jerry Seinfeld still have been called the nation’s most eligible bachelor if he had gone out with a 16-year-old peach-fuzzed boy instead of the 16-year-old Shoshanna Lonstein? What if Elvis had struck up a relationship with a 14-year-old boy instead of a girl named Priscilla? Would he have wound up on a stamp?
Adding to the further demonization of Simmons is that Suffolk County is charging him with sodomy. But that turns out to be just a matter of semantics. A state anti-sodomy law, referring to anal sex, was overturned by the New York State Court of Appeals in 1980. In the law under which Simmons is being prosecuted, “sodomy” means any sexual contact with anyone incapacitated or under the age of 17.
By that definition, Simmons was secretly breaking the law with Sam Manzie back in the fall of 1996. Out in the open, the rest of young Sam’s life was deteriorating.
‘He’s meant to be afraid of me, not his parents or the police.’
Sam’s grades began to slip at school and, during one five-week period in early ’97, he retreated to his bed, apparently in a deep depression. The Christian Brothers Academy told the Manzies that Sam had to have therapy if they wanted him to continue there in the fall of ’97.
A psychiatrist told Nick and Dolores that their son needed intensive help. He underwent counseling—five days a week, five-and-a-half hours a day—at the Shoreline Behavioral Health Center in Toms River. According to several accounts of this period, Sam’s sexual activities weren’t known—until, during one of his sessions, he told a counselor about the sexual relationship with Simmons. The counselor, under New Jersey law, reported it to state social-service authorities.
Of course, Sam’s parents found out from the authorities. Then the cops came in, like gangbusters, with recording equipment and elaborate plans to catch Simmons in the act. Cops and prosecutors contend that Sam, at that stage, wanted to “get” Simmons. Detective Nobel, the lead investigator in the case, won’t talk, but Assistant District Attorney Marc Fleidner calls the process “a standard investigation.”
“He came to us with his parents and said we were fully on board to cooperate—that’s the fact,” Fleidner says. “Our policy is to never force a sexual-assault victim. There was obviously a change of heart.”
The use of victims to catch perpetrators is hotly debated outside law-enforcement circles, but even the system’s own advocates of the strategy acknowledge that there’s no way to ensure that the victims are up to the task. “I don’t think there’s a bright-line rule: ‘How mature is this kid? Are we confident this kid will do it?’ ” says Vieth. “Every human being is different.”
By all published accounts, the Manzies were immediately convinced that Simmons had poisoned the soul of their child during the on-again, off-again contact during the previous year. Psychologist Charles McCaghy, though not writing specifically about Sam Manzie’s case, is one of some experts in the field who see things in not quite so knee-jerk a fashion. In his dissertation Child Molesters, McCaghy wrote that “a great step will be made toward peace of mind and proper handling of the situation when parents also recognize that an incident of molesting is not likely to be traumatic for a child unless the parents themselves make it so.”
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.”
This is Simmons’ jailhouse daydream: When he walks out of jail, he’ll go on a book tour. He will do the talk-show circuit. He says he has job offers to work in computers. He’ll go down to Florida and spend the holidays with his mom. Oh, he’ll still have to file his civil suits against the New Jersey and Suffolk authorities for things like allegedly not reading him his Miranda rights and prescribing sleeping pills that allegedly made him impotent. But when all that money comes in, he plans to relax.
“After my lawsuits, I’ll probably go to the Caribbean,” he says. “I like it down there.”
The way Steve Simmons sees it, he’s got his whole life ahead of him.
He says he thinks Sam does, too. Well, part of his life. The boy will be eligible for parole after 59 years—when he’s 76 years old. Simmons claims that Sam is “taking it very well for someone who’s doing life.” Sam plans to get his GED, says Simmons, and he wants to take college courses and maybe teach.
“He didn’t think anyone could love him no matter what he did,” says Simmons. “I stayed with him from the beginning to the end.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 14, 1999