Netflix/Crime+Investigation UK’s I Am a Killer: Charles “Billy” Armentrout.
In the last episode of Netflix and Crime+Investigation UK’s I Am a Killer, they looked at the story of Joseph Murphy, whose abusive family no doubt contributed to his violence. Episode 207 looks at Charles “Billy” Armentrout’s journey toward accepting guilt for his most infamous crime.
At first, one might assume that could involve Charles shooting and almost killing his father, Bill (and to clarify, the father is Bill and the son’s nickname is Billy). However, “Billy’s” murderous behavior did not end with the attempt on his father’s life.
Of course, an equally fascinating aspect of true crime is assessing where such behavior began. It’s often not very mysterious, and there is typically some form of abuse involved. In this case, “Billy” was born in St. Louis, Missouri.
His parents separated when he was young, which can cause problems already. Armentrout indicates that, even though he wasn’t physically abused, his stepdad verbally abused him on a regular basis. This prompted him to move in with his father when he was 18.
I Am a Killer and Billy’s family life
I Am a Killer also interviews Charles Billy Armentrout’s stepmother, Mary Eberhardt, and his stepsister, Wendy, who both now live in Las Vegas, Nevada. They suggest that Bill was abusive toward everyone, which most certainly includes Billy. Mary left him in 1974.
They detail their own negative experiences with Billy, too, saying he once broke into their place and threatened Wendy with a gun. This is what first inspired them to move, and who would blame them?
Still, if you look at Mr. Armentrout’s crimes, even before the successful murder, you’ll see he mostly reserved his violent behavior toward his own family. Sure, he robbed gas stations and wrote bad checks on his father’s account.
However, he apparently didn’t attempt murdering anybody until he repeatedly shot his father in the chest 6 times at a close range. Incredibly, Bill survived and didn’t even prosecute his son. I Am a Killer suggests Bill felt like he brought it on himself, apparently killing himself 4 months after being shot by his son. Billy was ultimately arrested for gas station robberies, serving about 10 years.
It wasn’t until 1995 that Armentrout murdered someone. Not only was it a family member but it was his 81-year-old grandmother, Inez Notter. If that’s not enough, Inez apparently wasn’t abusive at all, even forgiving Charles for shooting her son. What was the context of this crime? Billy paints it as a classic case of “falling in with the wrong crowd.”
He says he started around with people like Rick Lacey, developing a $300 dollars a day cocaine habit. Much like he did with his father, Armentrout started writing bad checks on her account, prompting her to refuse to give him any more money. He beat her to death with a bat, stole money and left, returning later to clean up the scene. Unsurprisingly, the family immediately suspected him.
Charles Billy Armentrout was found at Ricky Lacey’s house. According to former Police Officer Rubin Haman, Charles was so addicted that he asked for one more hit of crack before he would confess! He also tried to pin the crime on Ricky Lacey even though, to this day, there is zero evidence linking him to the crime. Billy was charged with 1st-degree murder in 1995. One of Armentrout’s friends at the time, Roger Brannon, considers Charles Billy Armentrout sick. Has he been successfully treated?
Charles was sentenced to death in 1998. However, due to technicality, his sentence was reduced to life without parole at the Potosi Correctional Center. There is one question that lingers: Has Billy changed at all? The answer seems to be “somewhat.” Fellow inmate Randy Knese tells “I Am a Killer that Armentrout had a big moment during a meeting of the prison’s Impact of Crime on Victims (ICVC) program — a program where inmates discuss their crimes.
This is where Charles Billy Armentrout finally admitted that he murdered his grandmother alone. Listening to the audio, Roger Brannon says he believes he has somewhat changed, but that Charles still deserves to be punished.
Billy calls his violence a culmination of things, adding that he was in denial. He says there were times when he convinced himself that Rick did it. That sounds far-fetched, but the human mind is full of tricks. Armentrout regrets that Rick died before he admitted to being the sole killer.
With a tear in his eye, he reflects that visiting his dad and sister were the best moments of his life. He fully admits his wrongdoing, saying he wants to be honorable in every action he does now. Although he says “When you ring a bell the bell doesn’t un-ring,” he has sent Christmas cards to his stepsister, Wendy.
What are your thoughts on I Am a Killer? Let us know in the comments!