In 1986, the two 16-year-olds were rooming together on a summer camp trip to the Grand Canyon when Jacob fatally — and inexplicably — stabbed Eric.
That night, Jacob went on the run, absconding with the camp’s rented Oldsmobile and thousands of dollars in traveler’s checks. Before long, he turned himself in and eventually confessed to the killing — although he couldn’t explain what drove him to do it.
It would take years of therapy and medical treatment behind bars before Jacob could begin to understand what was going through his mind that night. It would take even longer to try to explain it to his family, to his victim’s family and to parole board members, who would decide whether he deserved to be free ever again.
This debut episode of “Violation,” a podcast from WBUR and The Marshall Project, introduces the story of the crime that has bound two families together for decades.
Jacob’s father, John Edgar Wideman, is an acclaimed author of many books on race, violence and criminal justice. He spoke with Violation host Beth Schwartzapfel in a rare, in-depth interview about his son’s case that listeners will hear throughout the series, including this premiere.