‘I Am A Killer: Released’: Meet Dale Sigler’s pen pal Carole Whitworth who opened her house to convicted killer
Netflix’s ‘I Am A Killer: Released’ follows the same lines as ‘I Am A Killer’, featuring interviews of convicted murderers. However, unlike the latter, this docuseries follows the story of Dale Wayne Sigler, who was convicted of capital murder in 1991 and sentenced to death. Sigler was on death row for three years before his lawyers successfully got his sentencing changed to life imprisonment after Texas changed its death penalty laws that year. The change is sentencing also meant that Sigler would be up for parole within 30 years.
Sigler was sentenced to death row in 1991 on the killing of John William Zeltner Jr, a sandwich shop clerk. According to court documents, Sigler shot Zeltner multiple times, emptying the gun a friend provided him with, and then stealing approximately $450 from the cash register at the Subway shop. Sigler had confessed to the robbery and murder when he was arrested six days later. Sigler reportedly boasted after committing the murder to his friends, one of whom tipped off the police. It was also known that Sigler and Zeltner had known each other. Sigler was 21 years old at the time, Zeltner was a few weeks shy of turning 31 years old.
During his incarceration, Sigler says he turned his life around when he heard a guard refer to him as a “dead man walking.” He then devoted much of his time to religion, spending three to four hours “studying the word of God.” He later became an ordained minister. While in prison, he also met Carole Whitworth, a woman roughly 20 years his senior. Whitworth was visiting her own stepson when she met Sigler, and on her stepson’s request began exchanging letters with Sigler, with whom she had exchanged over 200 letters.
When Sigler was up for parole, he requested Whitworth — whom he calls Mama Carole — whether he could put her address down as his permanent address while on parole, which required him to be within the state of Texas. Sigler’s own mother was in California and stopped visiting in 1997 when her failing health prevented her from doing so. Whitworth agreed to Sigler’s request and we even see her speaking of her faith in Sigler to her grandson and his girlfriend. In a conversation that the grandson and his girlfriend have later outside Whitworth’s home, while the grandson says, “People change,” his girlfriend replies, “Not really.”
Later, when Sigler tells the camera that the robbery was not the actual crime and was done to cover up the murder, Whitworth seems to be supportive of him, inviting her family around to meet him. The docuseries also shows Sigler looking through Whitworth’s high school yearbook and joking that if he were 19 years old at the time (the yearbook was dated 1967, the year Sigler was born), he would have pursued her. Today, Sigler is still leaving with Whitworth but hopes to move into a home of his own.
‘I Am A Killer: Released’ is now streaming on Netflix.