William Henry Blackburn was a Cyberian servicemember who had been tried for, convicted of, and executed via firing squad for aggravated sexual assault and three premeditated murders. William himself was enlisted in the Antarctic State Military as an air traffic controller (ATC) at first, and was later transferred to a position as an over-the-horizon radar operator, after which the crimes were committed. The way he was treated while on the job, while incarcerated, and as he was executed all became sources of some publicized controversy on the basis of inhumane suffering.
William Blackburn was born on Halloween, 31 October 2138, to two parents Sammy Blackburn and Maddox Blackburn. He is the oldest sibling of his immediate family by four years, his younger brother being named Jasper Blackburn. William was an average student in school, carrying an average grade of a B throughout. What stood out about him amongst his peers was his quick physical growth in height, which eventually reached 7'1" (216 cm) at its peak. All through high school, William became interested in joining the military because of the emphasis it was given by faculty, specifically by recruiters and influencers.
Enlistment & Military Career
William H. Blackburn enlisted in the Antarctic State Military in 2156 at the age of eighteen, directly after graduating from high school. Following instructions from his recruiter, William signed up for a six-year term. During basic military training, he was known to be quite social and brotherly to his fellow recruits. After graduation from basic training, the newly made Private First Class [E-2] William Blackburn was slotted into specialized training to become an air traffic controller for military airspace.
During his hands-on training, William showed signs of struggling under the continuous stress and expectation of an ATC job, which was completely normal for that line of work. In the latter half of his special job training, William grew more comfortable with his abilities as an air traffic controller. Servicemen who were his superiors at the time mentioned that he showed a better sense of calmness at the end of his training than the majority of his colleagues.
William spent the entirety of his six-year contract with the State Military in the general job position of air traffic controller, being moved around occasionally, being promoted twice, eventually reaching the rank of Junior Sergeant [E-4], and gaining increased responsibility with each step up. At the end of his six-year enlistment, he was at some point offered a reenlistment bonus if he stayed in the State Military at his current position. William accepted the reenlistment terms and signed a second military contract, this one for a four-year term.
William's second military contract was spent much the same as his first, although at a higher rank than before. William also spent the majority of his second contract consistently applying himself towards promotion boards, however he had been denied promotion almost every time. Only at the tail end of his second contract, was he finally promoted to Sergeant [E-5], only a few months before his service time was to be up.
It was within these few months that he was approached by an as of yet undisclosed commissioned officer, who offered him a new military job, of which his newest rank put him on the radar for. The officer had allegedly pitched the new job as one that was much less stressful and much more easy compared to being an ATC; as in they used William's job stress against him to manipulate him into accepting both the job and with it a third military contract. This new job was indeed accepted by William, and later resulted in him being officially designated a new job title as a MEWANDI Over-The-Horizon Radar Operator.
Once his third, four-year contract began, William and three other lower-ranking servicemen he had never met, were flown via helicopter out to an exceptionally desolate part of the Antarctic continent. It was a radio quiet zone, where there are no man-made communication signals being projected, either wired or over-the-air. Much further into the radio quiet zone, the four servicemen were taken to a small building roughly in the middle of a massive array of very large radio astronomy telescopes and other observing equipment.
After they were set down at the building, the four servicemen were finally briefed on their purpose at the location, which was essentially to keep an eye on the observatory equipment and log any information that stands out from the background noise. The equipment already present inside of the radio telescopes, as well as inside of the building itself, was automated to an extent which manual operation was not necessary except in cases of emergency. The three lower-ranking servicemen were given record-keeping and cross-checking responsibilities, while William himself was put in charge of the three, assuming responsibility as team leader.
The mission started relatively affably between all four members, first by exchanging names. The lowest ranking member was LC [E-3] Declan Burke, and the other two were JSgts.[E-4] by the names of Max Henderson and Misael Brady. As the mission went on, soon boredom between the men became a routine complaint. Once every month, a marked military helicopter visited them for the purpose of restocking the men's supplies, including rations and new entertainment, and collecting the data that they had found during the last month. The monthly arrival of the helicopter was always treated like a festivity among the servicemen as well as the pilots and other personnel that may land with them, which consistently rejuvenated morale.
At the end of the first year, when the monthly helicopter arrived, the lowest ranked of the servicemen, Declan Burke, was told that he must board the flight back to civilization under higher orders. The separation was bittersweet, because leaving was regarded as better than staying, however the friendship would have to come to an end. When the second year was over, this separation happened again when Misael Brandy was ordered to return with the helicopter. By the end of the third year, Max Henderson was the last to leave before William was reluctantly left alone at the observatory facility.
William adhered to the mission, even though he was now isolated from the rest of society for 29 out of every 30 days. William was ensured to have slightly more than enough supplies for his stay at the facility every time he was visited by helicopter. Though, it has now been disclosed that William was documented showing signs of increasingly enigmatic and desperate behavior towards the helicopter crews. Furthermore, the crews acknowledged a marked degradation in William's handwriting and a detachment from a professional demeanor in that writing, on the logs that he was expected to keep. Several months later, a heli crew and the aircraft they flew on was internally declared missing by the State Military. Its flight plan dictated that it would have flown into the radio quiet zone, offloaded cargo, and flown back to base within a maximum of twelve hours. Once fifteen hours had passed since the original takeoff, a second helicopter was sent out for a search & rescue operation, with a two armed Security Forces accompanying the pilot.
Upon arrival to the center of the radio quiet zone, and before landing, the search & rescue team found the original helicopter that was supposed to return to base, intact and situated properly on the helipad outside. The search team was forced to land on a somewhat-nearby patch of flat land instead, and was not greeted by anyone, despite a warm welcome having been commonplace at that point in the observatory mission. When the team entered the main building, there was no sign of William either manning his post or otherwise wandering the facility. One of the armed crewmen split off to investigate William's designated post, the other checked the perimeter, and the search team pilot stayed inside to keep away from the freezing climate outside. The pilot had at some point checked the central server room of the facility and happened upon three corpses of unknown time-since-death, who were later confirmed to be those of the previous helicopter crew. The search team had regrouped at the site of the bodies, but their investigation was cut short when they heard a helicopter preparing for takeoff outside.
The search team went back outside only to find that William had seized the second helicopter and managed to take off with it despite very minimal special aircraft training. The search team was then left with the only option of using the original helicopter to vacate the area immediately. The original was subsequently commandeered and flown back in the direction of the nearest base. The search crew broke radio silence and quickly contacted the base with all the details that they could at the time, and during their flight back to base, they spotted a recently wrecked aircraft along their route. The wreck was identified as that of the second helicopter that was sent to search the observatory, and through thermal imaging, a man fleeing from the scene was spotted. The man was assumed to be William and was intercepted by confrontation with the close landing of the commandeered helicopter.
William quickly surrendered when he was flagged with firearms, was arrested by the armed crewmen, and was flown straight to the base that he was originally deployed from. There, he was detained while an investigation was carried out at the observatory and the vicinity of it. William Blackburn's status as an active duty serviceman was ultimately involuntarily terminated by issuance of a dishonorable discharge; and furthermore, his citizenship was revoked.
At the observatory facility he was assigned to, a thorough criminal investigation took place, in which all three bodies were recovered and all remaining documents were too, especially those of William's. What was publicly released of the crime scene investigation highlighted several oddities of interest, listed in order of discovery as follows:
- The outdoor diesel generator had been tampered with and was missing its oil filter.
- Exactly six fired 9×19mm round casings were present inside of the building.
- Exactly one fired .45 ACP round casing was present inside of the operator room.
- Bloody paper towels hidden underneath miscellaneous trash in the kitchen trash can.
- Residual blood splatters and trails that were left over by body dragging and paper towels.
- Residual engine oil present in the kitchen sink and drain.
- The emergency MP-443 pistol and all of its magazines were missing from the building entirely.
- Exactly two bullet impacts; one in the floor and one in a wall.
The wrecked helicopter just outside of the radio quiet zone had also been examined before being cleared, which reached the conclusion that it had been accidentally crashed by someone with very little pilot skill beyond knowing how to start the engine. A cursory inspection of the wreckage resulted in the finding of the missing MP-443 pistol, with the missing oil filter crudely and forcefully screwed onto the otherwise incompatible muzzle thread of the pistol. After inspection of its barrel, the crudely modified pistol was found to have been relatively recently fired several times, including the fact that its magazine was not full and its chamber was loaded.
When he was arrested by the SF, reports stated that William was crying during and likely before his surrender, and that he had a dried up nosebleed, a logbook, a Pardini PC/GT45, and three loaded MP-443 magazines on his person.
The three recovered bodies were identified on-site and later confirmed to be Junior Sergeant [E-4] Timothy Killinger, Junior Sergeant [E-4] Marcello Sifuentes, and First Lieutenant [O-2] and pilot Jessa Kalinka. Autopsies performed on the three bodies confirmed that all three had succumbed to gunshot wounds within the span of one hour, in the following order; Sifuentes dying instantly from a 9mm round to the back of the brainstem, Killinger suffering five 9mm rounds to the torso and later dying, and Kalinka dying from a .45 caliber round fired against the back of her throat. Forensic pathologists especially reported that Kalinka's body showed signs of a struggle that were not present on the other two, including bruises, bites, and seminal fluid.
The logs that William wrote down since the start of his given mission from 2166 to 2170 showed professional and dutiful poise and handwriting, which later became more relaxed in the span of three years, then relatively suddenly and drastically deviated from the norm and the mission entirely in 2170. Specifically some time after the point in which he became the only person working at the facility, beyond logging information, William used an extra logbook as a diary of sorts, detailing his thoughts, feelings, and future plans. Expert consensus agrees that William was experiencing consistent and worsening hallucinations, sexual frustration, and desperation when he used the logbook as a diary.
Court-Martial and Sentencing
William Blackburn was officially indicted on Christmas day 2170, with one charge of aggravated sexual assault, and three charges of premeditated murder. William was shipped to Castle Lemarchand, where he was brought before a court-martial.
Evidence brought against William by the investigations and autopsies heavily suggested that William 1) personally killed JSgt.[E-4] Sifuentes while the latter's back was turned, 2) personally killed JSgt.[E-4] Killinger while facing them, 3) forcibly raped 1stLt.[O-2] Kalinka at gunpoint, and used her own sidearm to execute her during the act or afterwards.
Evidence from the recovered written logbooks, and testimony from helicopter crews who were previously involved with William suggest that his state of mind began to deteriorate at a steady pace ever since he had been deprived of social contact for upwards of one month at a time for nearly a year. The recovered logbook that was specifically used as William's personal diary also outlined the fact that he had planned to kill imaginary stalkers as well as at least one other flesh and blood person, that being his original recruiter, whose name and rank are as of yet undisclosed.
A defense for William that utilized this evidence posited that William's culpability for the charges brought against him should be reconsidered, due to the fact that he seemed to be suffering heavily from the effects of prolonged solitary isolation. The defense also implied that William's superiors in the ASC Department of Defense had some responsibility in his actions, for he was allegedly isolated on purpose.
William's trial lasted for about two months from indictment to sentencing, all the while he was jailed when not attending the court-martial. Various military resources were used in the exhaustion of all options that could have reasonably suggested doubt in the accusation that he committed the charged brought against him. William was ultimately found guilty on all four charges and sentenced to death by firing squad, which included the revocation of his Cyberian citizenship. After he was sentenced, William was promptly transferred to Storozh Military Prison (SMP), where he lived incarcerated for a number of years while his family consistently insisted on challenging the death sentence.
In the year of 2179, William Blackburn personally requested to be brought to the Storozh interrogation room, where he gave a confession on the events at the observatory ten years ago. William was recorded on audio and video recalling the events from his own perspective in the order that they transpired. He first stated that he very much enjoyed having three servicemen accompany him at the facility, but the yearly removal of them one at a time gave him slight dread. He went on to confirm that, after the last team member left, his mental state was indeed deteriorating as he lived day in and day out with no contact to the outside world, let alone to any single person.
William began experiencing occasional auditory hallucinations as early as two weeks into his isolation, which put him more and more on edge as time went on. Around the second month, William started to experience visual hallucinations along with the usual auditory ones. He explained that he sometimes saw a person in a black hat and trench coat outside the windows, and that it felt like he was being stalked by someone who could do anything to him when he wasn't looking, which led to him sleeping with the emergency MP-443 handgun close at-hand in his bunk. Over time, William began losing sleep due to becoming jumpy at night, eventually worsening to sleep deprivation when he began to consume large amounts of coffee to stay awake for longer.
Around the third month, William's auditory hallucinations had gotten so invasive that they began to resemble his own voice. He explained that the voices were mostly trying to convince him that the military is trying to use him as bait for something, that he deserved better, and that he was going to be killed by one of the helicopter crews one day if his usefulness as bait comes to an end. When asked if he became convinced by the voices at any point, William agreed with little hesitation. He likened it to having a devil on his shoulder and no angel on the other. William mentioned that he started to write in an extra logbook to drain his mind of extraneous thoughts that were interfering with his job at the time. However, as he became tricked by the voices he was hearing, he later used said logbook to start planning escape routes, planning killings of imaginary and real people, complaining about the supplies he gets, complaining about his sexual frustrations, and attempting to appease his supposed stalker.
When it was time for the monthly helicopter visit from base, William's paranoia had skyrocketed when he realized what day it was, expressing that he figured it was the day they were going to kill him. With this in mind, William began to put some of his plans into action, starting with running outside and taking the oil filter out of the diesel generator outside. He had taken it to the kitchen sink and washed it out with tap water, before attempting to screw it onto the MP-443, whose muzzle threads were slightly too wide for the filter's threads. William forced the two to screw together, leaving them permanently affixed to each other. He waited for the supply helicopter to arrive, and when it did, he concealed the modified handgun on his person as he reluctantly greeted the crew of three total. William managed to separate Marcello Sifuentes from the other two, and distracted Sifuentes prior to quietly drawing the MP-443 and executing Sifuentes with a single suppressed shot to the exposed back of the neck. Timothy Killinger must have heard the brief snap and commotion, because Killinger rushed over to see what happened, which triggered William to hastily fire several more shots into Killinger's torso until Killinger fell to the floor and was motionless.
Jessa Kalinka, who was on the roof all the while, later came downstairs and was subsequently ambushed by William, who wrapped an arm around her neck and pressed the modified MP-443 to her head. Kalinka at some point reached for her own Pardini PC/GT45 sidearm, which William suddenly blocked and took for himself, tossing the MP-443 far away immediately after. The two struggled for moment, which resulted in William getting elbowed in the face and getting a nosebleed. William then began to explain in very vivid detail what he did to Kalinka at gunpoint, saying overall that his own mind wasn't calling the shots anymore. William continued that at the peak of the moment, he fired a single round into Kalinka's throat, killing her instantly, but also snapping himself back to reality with ringing ears.
Now with a relatively clear mind, William realized what he had did and soon began to gather the bodies and drag them into the server room. He took both handguns and kept them on his person while he spent a number of hours cleaning up blood as much as he could. Eventually, he heard another helicopter coming by the rotor blades. They circled the building slowly, before landing on flat ground some distance away. William took to hiding and locking himself in the bathroom at this time, later opening the window and absconding into the snow. He ran hurriedly out to some distance before he caught a glimpse of the second helicopter that landed. William decided that he would use it to escape from the military, and entered the helicopter's cockpit. William recalled the startup procedure for helicopters of that type, from viewing numerous online videos in the past, and so he got it running just in time for the search team to exit the building and begin running towards him. He pulled up on the collective before the search team could get to him, rose rapidly into the air, and quickly flew away from the area.
The weather had decreased visibility significantly, which ultimately resulted in William hearing altitude warnings, and then seeing the ground appear before him. He hastily corrected his course, however he still caused the tail of the helicopter to contact the ground, damaging it and the tail rotor. William also accidentally caused the helicopter to tilt to the side, forcing the main rotor blades to hit the ground, severely damaging them as well and rendering the craft inoperable. He got out of the rolled heli, leaving the MP-443 inside and staying at the wreckage for a small amount of time, figuring he was now stranded. William later heard yet another helicopter coming for him, which prompted him to run off in a random direction from the wreckage. William was quickly stopped by the helicopter landing in his path and producing two armed Security Forces aiming their weapons at him. This is where he surrendered and was promptly arrested and relieved of his immediate possessions.
In the early morning, on the 29th of February, 2180, William Blackburn was brought out of SMP's cell blocks for his scheduled execution. When asked what he would like for his last meal, William requested white pizza and a large mug of hot chocolate. In the evening, while the sun was still above the horizon, William was brought to the firing grounds and tied to a wooden post. Six fully uniformed Riot Controlmen appeared before William, five enlists carrying the traditional, unmodified M91/30 Mosin-Nagant, and one Chief Warrant Officer [WO-3] carrying a .50 caliber handgun. The Chief Warrant Officer instructed the five subordinates to aim straight at the bottom of William's sternum.
When the order was given at 22:20, all five enlists fired their rifles into William's chest in unison, and William immediately fell to the floor; however, William was very clearly not dead. William was said to have been writhing and screaming in agony for a moment, before the leader of the firing squad intervened and fired the last shot into William's skull, ending his life instantly.
As with all capital punishment sentences in the Antarctic State, there came some controversy in the sentencing and subsequent killing of William Blackburn; though, William is an interesting case for multiple reasons.
A significant group of citizens contend that William's responsibility for his actions is not entirely his own, due to the fact that his state of mind was so far gone at the time the crimes were committed. The fact of the matter is that William was isolated from contact with any kind of society for a month at a time, and only given personal contact with another person once per month. Prolonged isolation has in the past been observed to cause a number of of mental issues in a person, including but not limited to hallucinations and severe paranoia. Supporters of the dubious culpability argument generally agree that William should have been given a sentence lesser than death.
William's execution itself was recorded from start to finish, and is available for public viewing. Many anti-execution activist organizations use this recording to highlight how executions can go wrong, also citing that regardless of when they go right, the firing squad still causes inhumane suffering to the convicted, as well as mental suffering to the other death row inmates who have to hear and/or witness the act. Many people who watch the recording even agree that the execution was intentionally mishandled. Anti-execution activists condemn the participants in William's botched execution, going so far as to call its organizer at the time, Chief Warrant Officer [WO-3] Rikharthu Tavash, heartless and power hungry.
Abuse While Incarcerated
Some time after William's execution, a small number of Storozh Military Prison inmates came forth to a public media outlet to say that they heard William fall victim to severe sexual abuse by prison staff members on multiple occasions. The inmates maintained that they heard the staff use phrases such as "This is what you get," and heard the staff ask William how Jessa felt when he killed her. A petition was signed by some civilians, requesting that the ASC Department of Defense release video footage of the inside of William's cell during the alleged abuse; however, the petition was ultimately ignored.
It has been pointed out on multiple occasions that William should have been supported in some way other than simply delivering him supplies once every month. People who hold this line of thinking often assert that William's superiors must have known the fact that his behavior was getting worse and worse, and that if they did, they are also partly responsible for the deaths of the four servicemembers because they likely would have known they would happen.
Yet more controversy has arisen in the form of the belief that William's confession was scripted or otherwise artificial in whole or in part. Those who believe that William's confession was fake cite the fact that he seemed to remember a lot of detail for something that happened a decade ago at that time. Believers in the false confession argument posit that he was forced to practice a scripted confession and later was recorded reciting it.