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Producer's notes: About Sean Goff

About his polygamy
Sean Goff used to belong to a non-denominational Christian Church in San Diego. He used to be travel abroad to India and Russia to do evangelical missionary work. Sean Goff was never a member of any sects of the Mormon Church that advocate polygamy. When he “married” Joy in 1997, he had to leave his San Diego church and a job he had held in a well-known Christian Ministry.

Sean Goff had three wives, for a time.  He married Sheila legally in 1990. He “married” Joy in 1997. He then “married” a woman named Sharon in 2000.  She lived with the family for less than a year.  Sean and Sheila both say Sharon had mental problems and did not mesh well into the family. Sharon and Joy reportedly did not get along. Sheila testified that she had once heard Sean and Sharon, behind closed doors making very strange sounds. After various defense objections were overruled, Sheila revealed that it sounded to her like an exorcism was being performed. Sheila said she believed that Sharon had multiple personalities.

Sean testified that he had felt pressure from a Christian Polygamist he knew, to take on Sharon, a woman he’d only met and communicated with online. He drove across country to pick her up and on the way back home to San Diego, he realized that it was a mistake. Her mental problems became apparent and were more than he could handle. He said he gave in to the pressure, on the basis of religious duty, to keep this woman as his wife. He said he asked her to leave after eight months.

Technically, as far as the laws of California are concerned, Sean was not a bigamist. He did not apply for a license to legally marry her in California, nor did he do so in any other state. Had he obtained a marriage license in another state and gone through with a legally recognized ceremony, then he would have been in violation of the law.

Why did he surrender?
On October 21, 2003, Sean Goff walked into the San Diego County Jail and surrendered for killing Joy Risker.

Sean Goff told police that he turned himself in because that is what God wanted him to do, but law enforcement had a different idea of why, after four weeks of subterfuge, he surrendered to them.  The day before he went to police on October 21, 2003, Linda Koozin, the missing person's investigative aide, paid a surprise visit to Sean's legal wife, Sheila, at her place of employment. Sheila, reportedly, was stunned. Apparently, she had no idea that Joy's disappearance was anything other than voluntary. Sheila testified at trial that she had some niggling doubts and suspicions about Sean's versions of events that weekend, but didn't believe Sean would have done anything to hurt Joy or the family--even after she had cleaned up some blood drops in the house.

The investigative aide told Sheila that she was planning to visit Sean at home in order to check out the house and see what personal effects Joy had left behind.  After Ms. Koozin left, Sheila testified that she called Sean and asked him why the police were looking into Joy's disappearance.  She testified that she went home and Sean told her something that had her in "hysterical" tears. Because of spousal privilege, a lot of what Sean told Sheila directly was excluded from the trial.  Apparently what he told her on October 21, 2003 was contrary to what he had told her in the weeks since September 19, 2003.

Sheila told Sean to call his mother and that he would have to turn himself in. He drove about seven miles from Kensington, northeast of San Diego to the downtown. First he drove to police headquarters but the building was closed. He then drove to the county jail, walked into the lobby and told the Sheriff on duty that he had killed Joy and wanted to turn himself in.  The Sheriff contacted the San Diego Police and they sent a car to pick up Sean.

In his testimony and in his interview with Dateline, Sean maintains that he turned himself in because it was what God wanted him to do.

--Charmaine Lewis, producer