Inside a Michigan prison, inmate 284797 planned a secret phone call.
For him, prison was "the worst kind of slavery” in this country. Jack Kevorkian was bored. Frustrated. Isolated.
As local professor Bryan Farha recalls, the controversial doctor "was starving to talk to somebody.”
A roomful of Oklahoma college students wound up as that somebody when Kevorkian reached them in January 2004 — without permission from prison officials.
"Dr. Death” engaged the students with a candid, often intense, tone. At one point, he is asked about his eccentric behavior and yells: "You can't do this quietly because it doesn't work!” The students Kevorkian spoke with that day remain some of the only people who heard his voice while he was locked up for a 1999 murder conviction.
He was released in June due to good behavior after serving eight years of a 10- to 25-year sentence. His probation prevents him from promoting or participating in assisted suicide, which adds value to the tape.
"We got the uncut version of the real Jack Kevorkian,” said Farha, a professor of behavioral studies in education at Oklahoma City University.
Kevorkian was convicted of murder after euthanizing a terminally ill man, Thomas Youk, who asked "Dr. Death” to help him die.
The call wasn't publicly disclosed until now.
"We just thought about the educational benefit of making it happen,” said Ruth Holmes, Kevorkian's trial consultant and close friend, who helped arrange the call. Kevorkian had turned down interview requests from journalists such as Mike Wallace and Barbara Walters, electing to speak with the students instead.
The call was made to a class of University of Central Oklahoma students.
was not permitted to make a copy of the recording, but Farha allowed a reporter to listen to it.
Kevorkian said he didn't regret euthanizing Youk or allowing CBS to broadcast video of Youk's death on "60 Minutes,” which ultimately led to his conviction.
The only thing Kevorkian regrets, he said, is the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to hear his case.
"It's a cowardly court who refuses to face this issue,” he said. "I figured that my conviction would force the court into a decision, but I was dead wrong.”
That meant he was stuck in prison, which he bluntly called "boring,” earning laughs from the students.
Kevorkian's eccentric tactics drew the ire of many during his trials in the 1990s.