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Engel says he was driven to kill

Breaking into tears on the witness stand during the sanity phase of his trial Wednesday, convicted attempted murderer Fred Engel, 26, described how he planned to kill his older brother with an ax after he attacked Susan Wallace and burned down her Nevada City home.

Engel explained to jurors that his plot to kill Wallace and his brother was the product of elaborate delusions from paranoid schizophrenia he had begun to suffer three years before he was arrested for Wallace’s attempted murder.

He now takes medication for his mental illness, and he says he no longer has delusions.

“I started to believe I was the Antichrist and Adam, as in Adam and Eve,” he said. “I was pedigree and I outranked the planet. There was a conspiracy to amend the United States Constitution using me as a pedigree to cause a civil war.”

He relayed this bizarre information with an eerily calm, matter-of-fact demeanor.

Engel said he believed he was king of the German “Illuminati,” a secret society of powerful men with warring covenants, one of which wanted to start the civil war that would lead to world domination. The same covenant, “Alco,” also wanted Engel to breed with their daughters because of his genetic superiority.

When he went from house to house cleaning carpets for Chem Dry of the Gold Country, he said, he believed the customers – many who were part of the Illuminati – would talk to him in a second language only he could understand.

When he met Susan Wallace the day he cleaned her carpets, he said, he believed she was his real mother who had undergone plastic surgery to escape the impending civil war, and he talked to her in that second language.

His mother, Lois Engel, he said, had been replaced by an alien shapeshifter.

“I had been blackmailed out of $4 billion by the United States Marine Corps,” he said, explaining how he perceived Wallace’s part in his delusional world. “She had transferred $3 million into an account for the purchase of methamphetamine for me to distribute. I had been granted diplomatic immunity, and I was to work toward getting the money back.”

He said when Wallace called Engel’s employer, Chem Dry of the Gold Country, to complain that he forgot to bring her area rugs to the ChemDry office to be cleaned, he assumed she would not mind if he waited to pick them up.

“She was my mom,” Engel said. “She would understand. I would see her again and again.”

The day before he tried to kill Wallace, he said, he had more delusions he classified as “serious.”

“Mrs. Wallace was in cahoots with Andy (Engel’s older brother Andrew Goodrich),” he said. “They had kidnapped my first girlfriend and locked her in the house across the street for years, and I was supposed to find her.”

But, he said, the “mercenaries” blamed Engel for the girl’s imprisonment because he had failed to rescue her.

“The mercenaries were very angry with me,” he said.

And, he said, because prostitution is legal in some parts of Nevada and Wallace lived on Nevada Street, he believed Wallace was also running a prostitution ring.

“I had no forgiveness for what Ms. Wallace had done,” he said. “She was trading underaged girls as sexual toys.”

The morning of May 7, 2005, he said, he stopped behind the Northridge Restaurant and changed into black clothing. He then entered Wallace’s house with a can of gas, two flares and a butcher block full of knives.

He said he went upstairs to see if there were any young girls being held for prostitution in a small bedroom. Finding no one, he said, he walked down the stairs, pouring gasoline as he went to look for Susan Wallace.

“She was my target at the time,” he said. He said he ran into Wallace, who had been awakened by her dogs. He had intended to knock her out as she slept, he said, then kill her.

“She found me,” he said, as Wallace, sitting in the back of the courtroom for part of Engel’s testimony, shook her head and rolled her eyes. “I panicked but I was here to do a job, so I struck her with the block of knives.”

He said there was no turning back.

“What she had done was unforgivable,” he said. “I had to go ahead and act in a violent manner.”

After he hit her, he said, she turned around screaming. He took her by the hair and “took the knife across her throat” to stop her screaming. He said he used the biggest knife he could find from the butcher block for efficiency.

He said he doesn’t remember stabbing her in the flank, but that he must have.

As she struggled, he said, he began to read her dog’s mind.

“The dog’s mind told me ‘That’s enough’,” he said. “I believed I was reading his thoughts at the time.”

As Wallace ran through the doorway to her office, he shut the door behind her, lit one of his road flares and threw it on the gasoline.

He stripped off his clothes and threw them in the fire along with the knives.

Wearing nothing but his underwear, he got into his car on Nevada Street and checked the voice-mail messages on his phone, where he received what he thought was a message from his boss, Karl Ragsdale. He said he often received orders in his head in Ragsdale’s voice.

“Next time you try and kill somebody, park your car where no one can see it,” he thought the message had said.

Earlier he told prosecutor Ron Wolfson he had brought an ax and a hatchet to carry out his plan to kill his brother Andrew Goodrich, who lives in Granite Bay.

“Once I was finished with Ms. Wallace,” he testified, “I was going to kill my brother Andrew for participating in such things.”

Instead, he drove onto Highway 174 to Colfax, where he stopped at a campground, changed his clothes and set fire to his cell phone, the ax and the hatchet.

He said voices from his car radio told him Goodrich would have airline tickets to Salt Lake City waiting for him.

He arrived at his brother’s house before dawn and asked him if he would swap cars. Goodrich refused and asked him what was going on.

“I was surprised he wasn’t ready for me,” Engel said. “I thought I’d go on my way.”

Engel said he went to Auburn Airport, drove his car onto the runway, got out and lay down.

He said he was there for nearly two hours, during which he saw a person in a plane taxiing on the runway. He went to the plane and opened the door, he said, and the person asked him if he had just killed somebody.

Then he said a voice told him everything would be OK and to go back to work.

As he headed back toward Nevada County, he said, he picked up a hitchhiker and gave him a ride to Brown’s Valley. He then continued on to Beale Air force Base to “warn them of the civil war” and to try and get help in retrieving the $4 billion he thought he had been blackmailed out of.

Engel was taken into custody by law enforcement at the base.

A psychologist and psychiatrist who evaluated Engel after his arrest are expected to testify at 9 a.m. today in Nevada County Superior Court.

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To contact staff writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm@theunion.com or call 477-4236.