Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Father of convicted murderer writes of his family's pain; Potholes

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Feb 19, 2014 3:31 PM

What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, February 20, 2014:

Refuse to drown cover 300 x 260.jpg

On May 12, 2007, 16-year-old Kevin Haines and his parents, Tom and Lisa were stabbed to death in their Manheim Township, Lancaster County home. 

A month later one of Kevin's best friends, 16-year-old Alec Kreider confessed to his parents that he had killed the Haines.  Alec Kreider's father Tim made what he described as the most difficult decision of his life and contacted police to turn his son in.

Alec Kreider was sentenced to three consecutive life in prison terms without the possibility of parole.

In his new book, Refuse to Drown - A Father's Unthinkable Choice, Tim Kreider writes of Alec's undiagnosed mental illness and how his actions not only destroyed the Haines family but also devastated his own.

Tim Kreider and co-author Shawn Smucker appear on Thursday's Smart Talk.

On March 1st from 2-4, Tim and Shawn are appearing at Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg for a book signing.

To learn more visit


From left to right: Shawn Smucker, Co-Author and Tim Kreider, Author of "Refuse to Drown - A Father's Unthinkable Choice"

Also, the harsh winter is taking its toll on Pennsylvania's roads and highways in the form of potholes.  They're popping up everywhere and it seems like there are more of them in just the last week or so.

Amid stories of constant snow removal busting winter maintenance budgets, will there be money to fix the potholes?

Penndot spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick fills us in.

If motorists come across potholes, they are asked to call 1-800-FIX-ROAD.  These calls are fielded to the county maintenance department. 

Motorists are asked to provide as many details as possible, including roads, highways, and municipalities.  PennDot will be working diligently to get them repaired as quickly as possible.

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-02-20 09:13

    Sarah from Lancaster emails:

    Thank you for this program, and for Tim's strength. My daughter was in high school with Alek, and we live in Tim's neighborhood. I want Tim to know that we immediately prayed for Alek, Tim and Alek's mother. Our hearts went out to you because the ripple effect naturally capsized your lives as well as your son's.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-02-20 09:53

    Marie emails:

    I was a police reporter for the Sunday News in Lancaster when the Haines family was murdered.

    I was the first reporter in the neighborhood on Saturday, interviewing neighbors for an article.

    It was surreal being in such a bucolic setting, a neighborhood that was somewhat like being in parkland, and thinking of what a horrendous crime had occurred. It was eerie.

    The neighbors were quite shaken and afraid. One older woman was terrified. I gave her my pepper spray that I always carried when I was out alone working.

    It was a baffling case for everyone. It was obvious the police had no leads. Had Alec not confessed, it would most likely never have been solved.

    When Alec was to be arraigned, I was stationed at the district judge's office. A car rolled into the parking lot. I rushed into the building after the police and Alec. I was the only other person aside from the officials in the small court room during the proceeding and sat about 2 feet away from Alec.

    This was one of the more dramatic and strange stories I worked on as a reporter.

    I am wondering what was it about Alec that made Mr. Kreider think even briefly that it could have been his son who committed the crime?

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-02-20 10:38

    One of the questions I should have asked Tim Kreider on the air is why Alec killed the Haines. He writes about it in the book but after the show, I just wanted to follow up to see if Alec has ever really answered the question. Tim told me that Alec hasn't really explained why he did it in any rational way.

    At one time, Alec told Tim that Kevin was annoying him just before the murders, but Tim says his observation is that Alec was in a dark, angry place in his life and made a horrible decision. Again, he said it wasn't a rational decision.

    • Maria img 2014-02-20 12:16

      With all due respect to Mr. Kreider, I believe it would be important to get a good diagnosis on Alec. This is a mental health illness issue, and it goes way deeper than Alec having been annoyed by Kevin. Alec's anger is a key, I believe.

      Also, I believe it is telling that in the intervening years since the murders, Alec has worked on legal issues, but he has not dealt with what he did. At least that is what I took from something Mr. Kreider said on Smart Talk today.

      Mental illness is implicated in so many murders and mass murders, yet we continue to try to ignore it. The stigma is still so great that people will do anything to not have to admit to mental illness in a family. I am saying this as a general comment, not trying to make a judgment about Mr. Kreider and his family.

      Thanks for making this a topic of today's show.