Selling to the Serial-Killer Demographic

I should have written this post. I should have! But I was shopping at Home Depot, ……

Selling to the Serial-Killer Demographic.

Savage Son by Corey Mitchell

savagesonFormat: eBook
Pub. Date: 2010
Type: Non-Fiction, True Crime ~ Library Book
Pages: 320
Read: March 18 to 22, 2014
Rating: Liked it ♥

Bart Whitaker had a problem, he had lied to his parents. They thought he was graduating from college, his father had bought him a place to live while he went to classes, his mother bought him a Rolex as a graduation gift. They were celebrating with a dinner at a fancy restaurant, so what was the big lie? Bart wasn’t graduating from college, he had spent his days playing playing video games and hanging out with his friends. He decided that instead of owning up to his parents about what he had done or not done, he would kill them. He enlisted his friends to help with promises of a huge payout when he got the insurance money. He had a perfect plan …..

If Bart had read as many true crime books as I have he would know there is no such thing. As the detectives investigated, things didn’t add up, Bart’s lies began to catch up with him and he fled to Mexico.

This case was unique in that the victims were testifying to not have the death penalty. But the only surviving victim was Bart’s father and fathers can be kind of stupid at times.

“Now you’ve said that you only have one son left, and that’s the reason you want this jury to spare the defendant. You realize you only have one son left because he’s killed everyone else?”

This was a very interesting book, up to a point. The reporting of the crime and the biographical information was good. There were some areas that were lacking, the investigation and trial were sketchy, but the penalty phase was horrible. The author decided he want to make sure the readers knew why Bart got the dealth penalty, and he did this by giving word for word reporting of the testimony in the penalty phase of the trial. For me this ruined an otherwise informative and engaging book.

Corey Mitchell is not a horrible writer, in fact there are a couple of his books that I absolutely love, I just find him to be inconsistent. I keep reading his books because he does have a way with words.

The evil-genius mastermind Bart Whitaker had elected to take the stand in an attempt to humanize himself before the jury of his peers, who had already found him guilty of first-degree murder.”

While I didn’t love this book, I feel it does have some redeeming qualities. Someone who like to read the testimony, so they can decide for themselves, instead of reading a summary would like this book. It just didn’t appeal to me.

On the way home from the bar

0457 DTUT 0326DTUT (Downtown Uptown)
1744 2nd Ave, between 90th and 91st
New York, NY 10128
(212) 410-6449

A funny thing happened on the way home from the bar, I found another bar. This sign caught my eye and so I opened the door and entered DTUT. It doesn’t look like a bar, it looks like a coffee shop. Not one of those “chain” coffee shops, you can probably guess who I’m referring to, their name begins with an ‘S’. Rather it resembles an independent coffee shop with couches and low tables, a bar against the wall with wooden and metal bar stools, mismatched chairs and tables. Pop art posters, posters with kooky sayings “I dream of a world where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned.”, a giant flag and bookshelves with what looks like real books.

DTUT.1At the back is the counter with a couple of smiling 20 somethings ready to brew your coffee drink, pour a glass of wine or pop the cap off a bottle of beer. Pleasant and knowledgeable, a winning combination. Free wifi, 25 craft beers, wine and coffee drinks, they also serve food. I can’t comment on the food since so far I have only had beer. They also have an Edison Chandelier, something I had never heard of. This is not the chandelier that is at DTUT, I couldn’t get a picture of it, this is an image from Google. All other pictures in this post are mine.

The first night I was there the young man behind the counter mentioned they had been there since ‘last summer’, that time I had Dogfish Head Tweason’ale a gluten-free beer with strawberries, sorghum and honey. It was surprisingly good, the last gluten-free beer I tried ended up poured down the sink. Since I didn’t remember how long they had been there, and I wanted to write this blog post, I went back. This time I had Shiner Bohemian Black Lager, very nice, smooth and quite tasty. This trip I found out they have been in this location since June 2013 and before that they were near 84th Street. I don’t know why that location closed, but I hope they are in this new location a long time since it is convenient for me on my way home from work. I also tested out the wifi.

My only problem is, when I serve myself, I never know how much to leave in the tip jar.

0447 DTUT 0326 0448 DTUT 0326 0449 DTUT 0326 ??????????????????????????????? 0454 DTUT 0326 0452 DTUT 0326 0455 DTUT 0326 DTUT.2

Fiend ~ Harold Schechter

The Shocking True Story Of America’s Youngest Serial Killer
FiendFormat: eBook
Pub. Date: 2000
Type: Non-Fiction, True Crime, History ~ Library Book
Pages: 327
Read: 3/17/2014
Rating: Really liked it ♥♡♥

A MONSTER PREYED UPON THE CHILDREN OF NINETEENTH-CENTURY BOSTON. HIS CRIMES WERE APPALLING — AND YET HE WAS LITTLE MORE THAN A CHILD HIMSELF.

When Jesse Pomeroy was arrested in 1874, he was fourteen years old. When he was twelve he had abducted and tortured young boys, this lead to him being sent to reform school. He fooled people into believing he had changed, and was released. Returning to Boston, he went to work in his mother’s store, eventually killing two young children. He was dubbed “The Boston Boy Fiend”.

This book covers the life of Jesse Pomeroy, as much as is known, the crimes, the details of the investigation, trial and Pomeroy’s eventual sentence. It is also a history lesson, detailing how life was at that time, how ‘the good old days’ were not always so good. And how juveniles committing crime is not a modern day phenomenon. I know some will take exception to Pomeroy being labeled a serial killer, because he only killed two people, however, if he hadn’t been caught he would surely have killed more. He fits all the other criteria.

When reading Schechter, I have learned to carry a notebook with me, he has so much other interesting information in his books. This is another well written book that I have no problem recommending.

Notes on a Killing ~ Kevin Flynn

Love, Lies, and Murder in a Small New Hampshire Town
NotesKillingFormat: eBook
Pub. Date: 2013
Type: Non-Fiction, True Crime ~ Library Book
Pages: 432
Read: 3/14/2014
Rating: Really liked it ♥♡♥

It was an odd phone call that Sandy Merritt received from her friend, weaver and fiber artist Edith “Pen” Meyer on February 23, 2005. One for the time, Pen never called when Sandy was feeding the dogs, and for the content. Pen wanted Sandy to drop the restraining order against Ken Carpenter and move in with him. It was a bombshell, Sandy wanted to call Pen back at a better time and discuss her change of heart. She wasn’t able to contact her. No one was able to, Pen had vanished.

This was a really bizarre case. Normally when a stalker kills, its the person he was stalking. That didn’t happen here. Not trying to give anything away here but it’s difficult to write a review without mentioning some details not included in the synopsis.

Let me just say, Kevin Flynn does not disappoint. Well written and thoroughly researched, with interviews of Pen’s friends, her family declined to be interviewed, which happens. Still we get all the facts, the relationship that started all this, the actions of Ken Carpenter that were simply mind boggling, showing his truly unstable personality and unsound thinking. Also how at times he was able to manipulate people and how sometimes when he thought he was running the show, people did the exact opposite of what he wanted. I highly recommend this book.

Children of Armenia ~ Michael Bobelian

A Forgotten Genocide and the Century-long Struggle for Justice
ChildrenArmeniaFormat: eBook
Pub. Date: 2009
Type: Non-Fiction ~ Library Book
Pages: 242
Read: 3/9/2014
Rating: Liked it ♥♡

Around the time of the first World War, the Armenians were expelled from their homeland, whole families and villages were massacred. It was the Ottoman Empire’s attempt to erase the Armenian people. They were only partially successful, while there is no longer an Armenian homeland, a place they can call their own, there are groups of Armenian people still living in the world.

April 24 has been designated as the day Armenians commemorate the genocide. I don’t remember the exact term for the celebration, I am using the word celebration with the meaning “the public performance of a sacrament or solemn ceremony with all appropriate ritual”. In this account Mr. Bobelian starts with this celebration then goes on to tell how he knows about it (he’s Armenian) and how the world forgot that the Turks tried to exterminate the Armenians and the reasons for it. The Turkish people deny it ever happened, many countries, including my own, refuse to call what happened a genocide. That hasn’t stopped the Armenian people from looking for recognition. And this article by Stephen Zunes explains why it is important to remember and acknowledge the event by its proper name. In a nutshell he says, “Those who forget history are doomed to forget it.” The proof of that is in what happened to the Jews in WWII, the Chinese at Nanking and the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994.

This book doesn’t tell of the genocide in great detail, but does explain what happened after, explaining the injustice committed against the Armenian people and the efforts being made to right this great wrong. There was a lot of political discussion in this book, and while I feel it was necessary it was a little boring to me. If I could skim I would probably have given the book a better rating. That being said I do recommend this book.

Fatal by Harold Schechter

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The Poisonous Life of a Female Serial Killer
Fatal
Format: eBook
Pub. Date: 2003
Type: Non-Fiction, True Crime ~ Library Book
Pages: 352
Read: 2/25/2014
Rating: Really liked it ♥♡♥

In an era that produced some of the most vicious female sociopaths in American history, Jane Toppan would become the most notorious of them all.

Harold Schechter starts off his book discussing Aileen Wuornos who in 1989 killed 7 men, she claimed self-defense, prosecutors saw it differently. This led to Wuornos being given the distinction “America’s First Female Serial Killer”, which as Schechter goes on to show, is completely wrong.

The main subject of this book is Jane Toppan, before we get to her we are introduced to Lydia Struck who after her husband and 6 children died of “natural causes” aka arsenic poisoning, married a farmer in Stratford CT named Dennis Hurlburt, after he died of “cholera morbus” aka arsenic poisoning, she married Horatio N. Sherman who also died. This time the doctor recognized the symptoms of arsenic poisoning and became suspicious.

Then we travel to Boston and meet Sarah Jane Robinson a skilled seamstress who had some nursing experience, a lot of her patients died, her landlord, her husband, 3 of her 8 children, well you know how medicine was at that time, she says with a roll of her eyes. She had amazing accurate premonitions, usually involving someone dying. She was arrested in August 1886 for the murder of her son and eventually convicted and sentenced to hang. These two accounts set the stage for Jane Toppan’s life story.

Jane Toppan was born Honora Kelley, how she came to be Jane Toppan is a factor in why she began to murder, the full number of her victims may never be known, her reasons are classic serial killer, killing gave her a high, a sexual thrill. All of this is covered in this book, “Harold Schechter is a true crime writer who specializes in serial killers.” Therefore he knows a lot about them and it shows. This is a fascinating story told wonderfully by Mr. Schechter. A friend, when recommending the book to me said: “My least favorite of all the books I’ve read of this author but still good!” I haven’t read any others by him, it looks like my reading experience is about to improve since I have more of his books on my list.

Everything is covered here, Jane Toppan’s childhood, as much as is known of it, including some speculation on how she was mistreated by her father, her treatment by her adoptive family resulting in much resentment on her part. Her efforts to become a nurse, how she manipulated people around her. The suspicious deaths at the hospitals where she worked, the private nursing deaths and the deaths that were her final undoing. A fantastic tale that proves the truth of the saying, “truth is stranger than fiction”. I highly recommend this book.

The Girl in the Leaves by Robert Scott

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girlinleavesFormat: eBook
Pub. Date: 2012
Type: Non-Fiction, True Crime ~ Library Book
Pages: 224
Read: 2/24/2014
Rating: Was O.K.

Stephanie Sprang, Tina Maynard and her two children, Sarah and Kody disappeared one November day. Stephanie, Tina and Kody were never seen again. Sarah was rescued from the basement of a house where Matthew Hoffman was living. Oh and the house was filled with leaves.

For being described at ‘one of the most bizarre mass murders ever recorded’, this was a very dull and dry book. It seemed to be taken from transcripts of interviews and testimony. It was not so boring that I didn’t want to finish it, but there was no life to the book.

The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel

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Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History
MonumentsMenFormat: eBook
Pub. Date: 2009
Type: Non-Fiction, War Crime ~ Library Book
Pages: 445
Read: 2/20/2014
Rating: Really liked it ♥♡♥

It is a well know fact that the Nazis stole artwork, until I read this book I didn’t realize how big their haul was. Hitler also ordered the destruction of what he considered ‘degenerate’ works. I also didn’t know about a group of men and women dedicated to recovering the stolen artwork.

This book explains in great detail the scope of their work, which was much more than just recovering stolen paintings. They were tasked with helping to prevent destruction of cultural buildings, such as the great cathedrals and churches of Europe. The background of each man featured is explored, their qualifications for the task at hand and trials and triumphs experienced in the war zone.

They were in a race against time, they had to move quickly or thousands of years of culture would be destroyed. While not a thriller, you feel the urgency and experience their frustration when things seem to be moving like molasses in February and plans fall through. All in all another fascinating account of a little known military operation in WWII.

Evil Eyes by Corey Mitchell

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evileyesFormat: Paperback
Pub. Date: 2006
Type: Non-Fiction, True Crime
Pages: 426
Read: 2/9/2014
Rating: Really liked it ♥♡♥

This is the true account of Carl “Coral” Eugene Watts, a serial killer in Michigan, when Michigan got too ‘hot’ for him, in the sense that a local detective had him pegged for several murders, he moved to Texas. He didn’t stop killing though, by the time he was arrested he had killed 13 more women. Watts killed in a variety of ways and left little evidence behind. He confessed but plea bargained to burglary with a 60 year sentence. Due to a legal flaw in the Texas criminal justice system, Watts was supposed to be released from prison in 2006. Through the ceaseless efforts of investigators and the mother of one of the victims, Watts was finally tried and convicted to life in prison for a murder he’d committed in Michigan in 1979.

This book has it all, the life of Watts, his life of crime, a brief biography of his victims, mainly because there were so many (I counted 40 women linked to or suspected to be linked to him), the trial and then the briefs and motions he filed to reduce his sentence and the efforts made to keep him in prison. A fascinating well written account of a horrible person.