What’s a pretty 18-year-old girl to do when her mother, 42-year-old Dixie Hollier, is an incessant nag and “bitch?” Blue-eyed and blonde-haired Amber was dating a good-looking boy named Jeffrey Ayers., a high school drop-out who lived with his mother. Jeff whiled away his time by indulging in “Dungeons and Dragons“, a board game involving fantasy, murder and role play. Players invent their own character, including ability scores that consist of Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. The game may have held a negative influence over Jeffrey: D&D can be such an intensely psychological game, that it is known for many controversies, some of which have been bizarre:
- Patricia Pulling was an anti-occult campaigner from Richmond, Virginia, and was the founder of Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons (BADD). Pulling founded BADD in 1982 after her son Irving committed suicide; she continued her advocacy until her death in 1997. As her son had played Dungeons & Dragons, she filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her son’s high school principal, holding him responsible for what she claimed was a Dungeons & Dragons curse placed upon her son shortly before his death. I don’t know what’s weirder: committing suicide over D&D or believing your kid’s school principal practiced a little voodoo on you.
- Dungeons & Dragons has been criticized as a tool for New Age Satanic groups to introduce concepts and behaviors that are seen as contrary to Christian teaching, and morality in general. Mind you, that perspective came from a man who admits he used to be a Wiccan Priest as well as a Satanic Priest. Perhaps D&D was his part-time hobby when he wasn’t slaughtering rabbits and praising Beelzebub.
- In 1985, a segment of 60 Minutes was devoted to the game, including interviews with Gary Gygax (a creator of D&D) and his lawyer, as well as parents of players of the game who had allegedly committed murders and suicides connected to the game.
Whatever the controversies over D&D, Jeffrey Ayers was not a mentally healthy candidate to be playing the violent board game. Nor was he a healthy choice for Amber and this would play itself out disastrously.
Back to Dixie Hollier and her non-Pagan lifestyle. Dixie had two teenage daughters including Amber, 16-year-old Amy, and a 5–year-old son, Benjamin Hollier. They lived in a two-bedroom apartment in Burbank, California, on Oak Street. In spite of her attractiveness and devoted boyfriend, life wasn’t good for Amber. She and Dixie had a strained relationship. Dixie was a divorced, single mother and the manager of special projects at Warner Brothers. She was involved with the management of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a reasonably successful working class woman.
The trouble between mother and daughter began when Amber and Dixie began fighting about typical teenage issues: curfews, household chores, and Amber’s penchant for skipping school. Amber was eventually transferred to Monterey Continuation High School, a school that focused on the needs and academics of behavioural children. Occasionally, Dixie and Amber became involved in shoving matches. Fights over Amber’s friends and schoolwork continued. In court, Amy would claim,“(Amber) used to complain that she had a really bad life and that my mom made her do everything.”
Jeff was Amber’s confidante and he soon became convinced that Dixie was abusing his girlfriend. It is possible that Amber exaggerated her injuries and mental duress. She certainly worked a number on Jeff. Amber offered him marriage and a share in her supposed $300,000.00 inheritance after he killed her mother. How Amber had access to that ambiguous information was never revealed. At first, Jeff was resistant to the idea but over time, Amber’s pleas, sexuality and bribe became effective and he agreed to the nasty deed.
On January 16, 1996, at 5:00a.m. Jeff arrived at Dixie’s home and was greeted by Amber, who let him in. Jeff prepared to murder Amber’s mother by arming himself with 3 knives from Dixie’s kitchen and a gun he brought himself. The brutal murder consisted of Jeff shooting Dixie twice with the gun, pistol-whipping her about the head, then stabbing her 24 times. Talk about getting into your work. During the murder little sis Amy emerged from her room, witnessed the terrifying scene and attempted to call police. Amber pulled the telephone cord out of the wall and ordered her sister to look after their brother. Eventually Amber barricaded herself, her sister and her brother into a back room while Jeffrey killed Dixie.
Happily for her sister Jeff didn’t carry out Amber’s original plan to arrange for both her mother and sister’s murderwhile she and Jeff took her brother to the movies. Jeff’s reply was “your mother and sister will trouble you no more.” So devoted to Amber was Jeffrey, that in court he would claim it was he alone who planned the murder. During a police interrogation, he broke down in tears and begged them to charge only him with the murder and to spare Amber. Perhaps Jeff’s misguided loyalty was foreshadowed by his devotion to Amber and interest in the fantasy-based D&D: a fine example of extreme suggestibility.
It was a neighbour who finally called police. When police arrived Jeff was covered in Dixie Hollier’s blood. He was arrested without incident and confessed to the murder three hours later. It wasn’t long before police found letters written between Jeff and Amber discussing Dixie’s forthcoming murder. Fortunately for Jeff and Amber prosecutors opted not to seek the death penalty for either teenager since they had no prior convictions. How ethical of the two teenagers. Jeffrey and Amber were tried for first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Ultimately Jeff and Amber received life with no parole. 16 years later, one wonders how devoted Jeffrey Ayers is to Amber Bray now.
A scale exists created by Dr. Michael Stone, to measure acts of evil people who commit violent crime, usually those resulting in murder. I’m no expert by any means, but after watching the video, my amateur guess would be to place Amber Merrie Bray and jeff Ayers in this category. However since Amber is the more dominant of the two she would likely be placed at a higher level on the scale than Jeff. Typically one partner is dominant and the other is highly suggestible. Amber appeared to seek out a partner in crime in order to do away with Dixie Hollier. This prevented her from committing the act herself. There were two possible reasons for this:(1) to avoid blame and; (2) to avoid committing the heinous act herself. Perhaps the actual killing of her mother, who provided well for Amber, was impossible for her. I can’t place either murderer at a specific level on the scale, since most of the cases Dr. Stone discusses in the video involve sadistic torture, rape and multiple victims, including children. It would be interesting to see where Dr. Stone would place Amber and Jeffrey.
Amber seems to be holding up quite well in prison. She is still attractive and young-looking. She is a member of Write-a-Prisoner. I began writing to Amber approximately 4 months ago out of interest in her teenaged crime and current sentence. Prison communication is very slow. It takes approximately 2 months for our letters to reach each other. In 4 months I have received 2 letters, neither of which have centered around Amber’s crime and conviction. It may be a little early in our penpal relationship for that. I will keep you posted (pun).
**update** Amber stopped corresponding with me after my 2nd letter to her. For 3 months I heard nothing from her. Finally, she sent me a letter explaining, but not apologizing, for her tardiness. She had been in heart surgery, then needed time to recuperate. Afterward she didn’t write me because she was quite offended by the questions I asked her, two of which were why did she plot to killer her mother with her boyfriend and what was her childhood like? These questions (and others) upset her. She stated emphatically she doesn’t want to discuss “the details of my case.” She also won’t discuss her childhood. She wrote me a long letter and finished with “the ball is in your court,” meaning if I still wanted to write to her she would reply but because of the long delay in her answering me she didn’t expect me to write back. I will, of course. In fact, I wondered at the wisdom of asking her such personal questions before I mailed the letter. It would seem to me that asking her about “her case” (as she calls it), was to be expected since that’s why she’s in prison.
However, she was very hurt by my curiosity. I shall reply with an apology and shall “bounce the ball” back into Amber’s court. Otherwise, there wasn’t a lot more communication in her letter. I await her answer with interest.
**update** Amber and I are penpals again. She accepted my apology about asking about her case and has written me a 6-page letter about all kinds of things. She and her sister have heart conditions that are too difficult to spell let alone say out loud. She drowns out the noise of her cellmates with television or her ear buds (that kills me)! She had a fiancée outside of prison until a few months ago. This man wrote letters to her every few weeks. He wanted to write more often but she didn’t. Eventually it fell apart for what must have been many reasons. Amber wonders why it is that people begin writing inmates then suddenly stop after 1 or 2 letters. My answer (which she hasn’t received yet) is that there are many factors but probably the most likely is laziness: we are an internet society and we prefer email. Snail mail takes effort and very few people are interested in it anymore. Well that’s my take on it. She asked about my fat fluffy cat James Potter who, sadly, died in July. However I have a new cat named Charm and we are corresponding about him. He’s a fur ball 🙂 I sent Amber a Glamour magazine. She loves fashion and makeup etc and I doubt she gets her hands on magazines very often. Overall, writing to Amber is like writing to anyone else. She doesn’t write about her case and she doesn’t talk about her cellmates and their crimes.