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True Crime Stories


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If you are interested in stories that have baffled the police, the public, and other higher officials, here is just a sample of those true crime stories that you might enjoy reading. These titles are spotlighted by Reader Advisor Carol Mathews.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.
In the 1980s, New Yorker Berendt began visiting Savannah, Georgia. Enchanted by the city and its inhabitants, he spent more and more time there. He introduces Savannah and the hodgepodge of friends he made, especially Jim Williams, an antique dealer active in the restoration of Savannah. He also discusses the murder on May 2, 1981, for which Williams went to trial four times. Strong language. RC 38077, BR 11463.

Bitter Blood: A True Story of Southern Family Pride, Madness, and Multiple Murder by Jerry Bledsoe.
Marriage connected three wealthy Southern families until multiple murders severed their ties. The police were convinced at first that the killings were professional, but suspicion settled on the family members as a total of nine murders took its deadly toll. This true story is based on newspaper articles written by Bledsoe. RC 29055.

Perfect Murder, Perfect Town by Lawrence Schiller.
Describes the murder investigation of six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, who was killed at home on Christmas Day 1996. Portrays the role of the FBI and the antagonism between the Boulder, Colorado, police department and the district attorney's office. Examines newspaper articles, interviews with suspects, and the role of tabloids. Strong language and violence. RC 48109.

Murder along the Way: True Crime in America 's Suburbs by Kenneth Gribetz.
District attorney of suburban Rockland County, New York, describes some of the cases he has prosecuted since the 1970s including: a daughter's arrangement to have her parents robbed turns into a double murder; a sadomasochistic date ends in murder; and a man who will not divorce for religious reasons murders his wife instead. Some strong language, violence, and some descriptions of sex. RC 36676.

Son: A Psychopath and His Victims by Jack Olsen.
Portrait of a sexual psychopath who terrorized the city of Spokane for more than two years by committing dozens of rapes. When he received a heavy sentence and was imprisoned, his mother tried to hire an assassin to kill the judge and the prosecutor. His mother was also tried and sentenced. Strong language and descriptions of sex. RC 20149.

Judgment Day by Bob Lancaster and B.C. Hall.
On July 10, 1981, 47-year-old Ken Rex McElroy was shot dead on the streets of the little Missouri community of Skidmore. He was shot in his pickup truck, in broad daylight, with several citizens present. Possible witnesses left the scene of the crime without notifying authorities. If anyone knows who pulled the trigger, they will not talk. Was the death a vigilante killing? Strong language. RC 20431.

Reasonable Doubt by Steve Vogel.
An account of the November 1983 murder of Susan Hendricks and her three children. David Hendricks, husband and father of the victims, was subsequently convicted of the murders. However, the author, a broadcast and print journalist, presents a plausible argument for "reasonable doubt." RC 32215.

Charmer: A Ladies' Man and His Victims by Jack Olsen.
Stylish and articulate George Russell Jr. is considered a "charmer" by young women on the Seattle nightclub scene. But beneath his charm lies a pathological hatred of women and a penchant for brutal murder. Strong language, violence, and descriptions of sex. RC 43572.

And Never Let Her Go: Thomas Capano: The Deadly Seducer by Ann Rule.
Describes the 1996 disappearance of Anne Marie Fahey, the thirty-year-old scheduling secretary for the governor of Delaware. When her former married lover, attorney Thomas Capano, was accused of murdering her and disposing of the body, he tried to blame his other longtime mistress. Details the two relationships and the trial. RC 49178.

The Burning Bed by Faith McNulty.
Describes the life of Francine Hughes from her early years through her trial for murder in a small town in Michigan in 1977. Married to Mickey Hughes in 1963 when she was sixteen and he was eighteen, Francine had four children whom she struggled to feed while enduring physical torture at the hands of her husband. Despairing of her life she one day set fire to the room where he slept and then reported it to the police, but it was too late to save her husband. RC 16443, BR 4716.

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi, with Curt Gentry.
Bugliosi prosecuted the 1969 murder case against cult leader Charles Manson and his followers. Among the brutal deaths attributed to the group is the mass murder of actress Sharon Tate and her house guests. Bugliosi gives detailed descriptions of the crime scenes, the frustrating investigation, the arrest and trial, and the retaliation murders. Strong language and violence. RC 36994.

Fatal Vision by Joe McGinniss.
Account of a true crime. According to Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, four drug-crazed hippies murdered his wife and two young daughters and injured him at his Fort Bragg, North Carolina, home in 1970. Despite suspicion, he was cleared by the army. Ten years later, however, he was convicted of the crimes, based on analyses of crime scene evidence. Strong language. RC 19243.

Echoes in the Darkness by Joseph Wambaugh.
The policeman-turned-novelist describes the bizarre " Main Line " murder case of 1979. Susan Reinert, a teacher at Main Line High School in Upper Marion, Pennsylvania, is found murdered, and her two young children are missing. The skein of the murder is highly complex, focusing on Bill Bradfield, an amorous teacher and self-styled expert in Greek, and Dr. Jay Smith, Main Line 's principal. Some strong language and some descriptions of sex. RC 25990.

Predator: Rape, Madness, and Injustice in Seattle by Jack Olsen.
Olsen describes the dysfunctional upbringing of a young man, "Mac Smith," who committed over fifty rapes before his conviction. Prior to Smith's arrest, Steve Titus was falsely convicted of his crimes and freed only after a reporter's dogged investigation. Distraught, Titus soon died from a massive heart attack. Violence, strong language, and explicit descriptions of sex. RC 34866.

Mockery of Justice: The True Story of the Sheppard Murder Case by Cynthia L. Cooper and Sam Reese Sheppard.
In 1954, someone murdered pregnant Marilyn Sheppard in her bed. The testimony of her husband, Dr. Sam Sheppard, was disregarded, and he was found guilty. In 1966, due to attorney F. Lee Bailey, Dr. Sheppard was set free. The Sheppards' son has coauthored this account of the events surrounding the crime and points to four possible culprits. Some violence. RC 42024.

The Death of Innocents by Richard Firstman and Jamie Talan.
One at a time, five siblings died in their New York state home over the course of six years. The deaths were considered accidental and attributed to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) until twenty years later when a dogged district attorney revisited the matter and convicted the mother of murdering her children. Strong language. RC 45751.

Blind Faith by Joe McGinniss.
In 1984, Rob Marshall, a respected New Jersey businessman, was knocked unconscious near his car at a picnic area, and his wife, Maria, was killed. As the result of the police investigation, Marshall was placed on trial, and his sons made the anguishing discovery that their father was the killer. McGinniss depicts the effects of murder within a family. Strong language. RC 28894.

The Killing of Karen Silkwood: The Story behind the Kerr-McGee Plutonium Case by Richard Rashke.
An account of the mysterious death of a young female employee from the Kerr-McGee Nuclear Corporation who was killed in a car crash on her way to a meeting with a New York Times reporter and union officials. She had promised them important documents that would prove that her employer was making defective plutonium fuel rods. Rashke focuses on the possibility of a conspiracy in which the AEC, FBI, and CIA are implicated, to cover up the truth about Silkwood's death. RC 17155.

In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences by Truman Capote.
The author coined the term "nonfiction novel" for this account of the murder of a Kansas family. He reconstructs the crime and the backgrounds and personalities of all the principals, drawing his information from observation, interviews, and official records. RC 22726.

Tears of Rage from Grieving Father to Crusader for Justice: The Untold Story of the Adam Walsh Case by John Walsh, with Susan Schindehette.
The host of television's America's Most Wanted reveals the ghastly killing that devastated his family and inspired his crusade against crime. He recounts the discovery of his young son's severed head, the flawed police investigation, and his unrelenting struggle for justice. Strong language and violence. RC 45026.

Blood and Money by Thomas Thompson.
True story of murder, passion, and power. Joan Robinson Hill, the only child of a Texas millionaire oilman, dies suddenly, though apparently in good health. Her husband is indicted for murder, freed by a mistrial, and later slain by a contract killer. Strong language. RC 11140.

Poisoned Blood: A True Story of Murder, Passion, and an Astonishing Hoax by Philip E. Ginsburg.
It looked as though Marie Hilley killed her husband and began to poison her daughter. After her arrest, Marie disappeared, only to surface in a small New England town with a new identity and eventually a new husband. When she staged her own death and reappeared as her twin sister, coworkers became suspicious and the bizarre masquerade began to crumble. Some strong language. RC 27251.

The Search for the Green River Killer by Carlton Smith and Tomas Guillen.
In the early 1980s, the Strip in Washington had become an outdoor sex market. Suddenly women were disappearing and their bodies turning up in the Green River. By the time the third body was found in August 1982, the Green River police department knew a serial killer was responsible. By the end of the 1980s, 49 bodies had been found and the police still had no suspects. Violence. RC 35562, BR 9122.

Engaged to Murder: The Inside Story of the Main Line Murders by Loretta Schwartz-Nobel.
On the night of June 22, 1979, high school English teacher Susan Reinert and her two children hurriedly leave home. Two days later, her body is found but the children are still missing. Her fellow teacher, William Bradfield, and her principal, Jay Smith, are charged with triple murder and convicted. This strange story explores the personalities of the two men. Some strong language and some descriptions of sex. RC 25564.

Bad Blood: A Family Murder in Marin County by Richard M. Levine.
Chilling true story of the 1975 grisly murder of Jim and Naomi Olive by their sixteen-year-old daughter Marlene and her boyfriend Chuck Riley. The author probes deeply into the backgrounds of both the murdered couple and Chuck's parents. He also relates that, while Chuck serves a life term for the crime, Marlene is on the streets, an addict and a prostitute. Some strong language and some violence. RC 18963.

In Broad Daylight by Harry N. MacLean.
When Ken McElroy was gunned down on the streets of Skidmore, Missouri, in 1981, in front of almost fifty people, a reign of terror that had lasted for over ten years was finally ended. MacLean recounts the events that led up to McElroy's murder and explains why the townspeople may have protected the killer. Some strong language and some descriptions of sex. RC 30076.

Son of Sam: Based on the Authorized Transcription of the Tapes, Official Documents and Diaries of David Berkowitz by Lawrence D. Klausner.
The story of the man who terrorized New York City for a year and of one of the biggest, most political manhunts in the history of the New York City Police Department. RC 16827, BR 4865.

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