Macky Alston's documentary The Killer Within is an unflinching exploration into the nature of guilt, told from the perspective of one man who must reveal a terrible secret to family, friends and colleagues in hopes of exonerating himself once and for all in the eyes of the world.
Bob and Bev Bechtel couldn't look more ordinary if they tried. Bob is a psychology professor at the University of Arizona and Bev is his wife. They've been happily married for many years and seem the picture of a contented and fulfilled partnership.
But Bob has a secret. And he's about to let the cat out of the bag.
In front of family and close friends (and Alston's camera), Bob reveals to his adoring family that, in 1955, he murdered a college classmate as a result of constant bullying. What follows is an honest, even-handed document of Bechtel's journey, most movingly through the eyes of his two adult daughters as they attempt to come to terms with their father's revelation.
Alston also gives screen time to the brother of the deceased classmate, John Strozier, who feels that Bechtel got off too easily in 1955 and wants him to answer for his actions on that fateful night in the Swarthmore College dorms. Bechtel leans heavily on Strozier's supposed bullying as the primary cause for his murderous action, blaming the deceased for stirring up a hornet's nest and absolving himself of any personal responsibility for what he ultimately did.
Alston refuses to make any judgments, preferring instead to let his camera tell Bechtel's story. In so doing, he creates a stark portrait of a man who may or may not have gotten away with murder, as well as the families who are left to pick up the pieces so many years after the act.