Richey reveals his suicidal thoughts after death row

Kenny Richey, who was released last week after spending 21 years on death row in the US, has said he has considered suicide more often since returning home to Edinburgh than he did during his time in jail.

The 43-year-old, who once came within an hour of execution by electric chair, has spoken movingly of how he feels "left behind" by a world which has "moved on" since he was convicted for the death of a two-year-old girl in an arson attack in Ohio in 1986.

Mr Richey, who was freed on 7 January after a plea deal in which he was not required to admit guilt, told BBC Scotland of the difficulty in fitting into his home country after his ordeal. "So much has changed," he said. "Even the scenery."

Asked about his future, he added: "It's going to be hard for me to adjust back into society. This is a society that has grown up without me... I was left behind, essentially, and it feels like I'm still stuck in 1986."

Mr Richey, who was born in 1964 in the Netherlands to an American father and Scottish mother, grew up in Edinburgh. In 1982 his parents divorced and, aged 18, he moved to Columbus Grove, Ohio, to live with his father. After a stint in the marines and a brief marriage in Minnesota, he returned to Ohio. A few days before he was due to return to Scotland he was arrested over the house fire in which Cynthia Collins died.

Prosecutors claimed Mr Richey, who has always protested his innocence, had started the fire as a jealous attack on his former girlfriend and her lover, who lived in the flat below. He refused a plea bargain which would have led to an 11-year sentence for arson and manslaughter.

Mr Richey said his darkest period had come in the past few days. "It's like I don't belong in this time period – everything has changed, people have changed, everyone has moved on," he said.

Asked if he felt bitter, he said: "They took twenty-one-and-a-half years of my life for something I didn't do, of course I'm bitter. Who wouldn't be?"

Dr Cecilia d'Felice, a leading clinical psychologist and Independent on Sunday columnist, said Mr Richey's state of mind was unsurprising given his ordeal.

"He needs to give himself time," she said. "Every new thing he encounters at home will act as a terrible reminder of all that he has missed out on, and therefore his negative response is understandable...

"He has stepped into what must feel like a circus. He needs time to adjust; it is not surprising he feels more suicidal now... It is like putting a toddler into a school."

Dr d'Felice said "the fact that he was incarcerated and had so little freedom" will have "presented a kind of routine". "Then, to step out of that into the world will be overwhelming and the feeling he won't be able to keep up will make him feel he lacks skills... He must feel like he is freefalling into 2008 from 1986."

However, the psychologist praised Mr Richey for being "very honest" over his admission, and sounded an optimistic note. "In time, he will be able to reconcile those changes and find hope," she said.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
James Hewitt has firmly denied being Harry’s father
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Engineer - Python / Node / C / Go

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: *Flexible working in a relaxed ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Bookkeeper

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This accountancy firm have an e...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Developer / Mobile Apps / Java / C# / HTML 5 / JS

£17000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Junior Mobile Application Devel...

Recruitment Genius: LGV Driver - Category C or C+E

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This national Company that manu...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?