Netflix & Crime+Investigation UK’s I Am a Killer: Released: 30 years
After a compelling second season, Netflix series I Am a Killer: Released returns with a 3-part miniseries based on the life, crimes, and ultimate release of convicted murderer Dale Wayne Sigler. Sentenced to death in 1991 for murdering Subway restaurant employer John Zeltner, Sigler is one of only seven convicted killers who left death row for freedom in Texas. Though Sigler insists he has changed, he also says he would have deserved his execution.
Born in 1967 in Danville, Illinois, Dale Wayne Sigler didn’t have the easiest childhood. He says his first mother was pregnant at 15, that his father was physically abusive, and that his parents were separated when Dale was 12. After facing additional problems like being molested, Dale ran away to Texas, where he remained homeless, turning to drugs and crime to survive. This, he insists, is what led him to rob that Subway restaurant where John Zeltner was shot, all for a mere $400.
I Am a Killer: Released asks: Was it overkill?
Homicide Detective Tommy Le Noir feels Sigler’s murder of Zeltner demonstrates overkill, as he was shot more times than necessary to end his life. Of course, any Defense Attorney might dispute what constitutes overkill; Do additional shots really prove that someone took pleasure in the act of murder, or might it merely suggest a killer wanting to make absolutely sure the target was dead.
In any case, Dale Wayne Sigler was arrested six days later, and many have suggested premeditation should have sealed his life sentence. For more details on the case, you can read this.
In 1991, Prosecutor Greg Miller sought the death penalty, feeling 15 years wouldn’t be enough. He adds that Sigler actually knew Zeltner and didn’t like him. That being said, this particular episode doesn’t offer much evidence of a significant prior relationship. (We’ll see what the other 2 I Am a Killer: Released episodes have to say on that!)
I Am a Killer: Released: Another changed man?
I Am a Killer often profiles killers — male or female — who claim they have changed, with many using religious affiliation as supposed strong evidence. Dale Wayne Sigler is no different, as he tells us that God spoke to him while on death row (though, curiously, God never told him to avoid murdering someone in a Subway restaurant).
Sometime either before or after his death sentence was reduced to life (with the possibility of parole), Sigler became an ordained minister. The obvious question: Was it an honest change, or was it an instance of, “Wait ’til the parole board hears about this!”
On that note, the series does interview Carole Whitworth, a 71-year-old penpal of Dale’s in Cade Lake, Texas. After writing to Dale for years, she says he rather sheepishly asked if he could move into her place if he ever gets paroled, and she said, “Yes.” It’s an arrangement that could prove beneficial for him, although his established religious connections probably wouldn’t hurt on the outside, either.
I Am a Killer: Released: Paroled
In 2019, Dale Wayne Sigler learned that he is to be definitively paroled, which is obviously why it’s called I Am a Killer: Released. To assuage the skeptics out there, Sigler says he’s not the lost, disturbed, emotional child he once was. John Zeltner’s half-brothers, Forest and John Zeltner, do not seem to agree.
Referring to the slain Zeltner as “Johnny Bill,” they lament Sigler’s release, noting (in so many words) that they wished the death penalty had been carried out instead. They don’t give the impression of being utterly closed-minded, either. For example, they say their family accepted Johnny Bill as being openly gay. They don’t mince words, saying they believe Dale will kill again.
Not everyone shares that belief, however. Carole’s grandson, Shannon, seems okay with his grandmother’s decision to accept Sigler into her home (though Shannon’s girlfriend, Jenny, doesn’t seem so sure). Carole tries to ease any fears, telling Jenny that Dale is called “the gentle giant” in prison. Then we see her pull up to the prison to greet Dale, which means she’ll find out about him soon enough.
What are your thoughts on I Am a Killer: Released? How often can some killers be changed? Let us know in the comments!