From the files of Scotland Yard’s “Black Museum” (open only to police officers) come true crime stories of some of the most infamous murder cases of the 19th and 20th centuries—the Lambeth Poisoner, “baby farmer” Amelia Elizabeth Dyer, the Gentleman Vampire of Bournemouth, the Brides in the Bath Murders, the Rillington Place murders and many others. Along the way, investigators pass a number of crime-solving milestones, included the first use of fingerprint technology, the early use of photography and the first time “The Yard” enlisted the press to help hunt down a killer.
In 1975, Dr. Richard Charles Haefner had it all—a Ph.D. from Penn State University, a prestigious job offer with UCLA and a thriving family business. Then it all came crashing down. Two boys who worked for Haefner accused him of sexual molestation, but allegations of police brutality, prosecutorial misconduct, bribery and corruption soon overshadowed what seemed like an “open-and-shut-case,” ultimately resulting in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s amending state law.
Drawing on interviews and recently discovered documents, the author revisits the case and explores a number of open questions—including whether Haefner was set up by police as he claimed.
Derek Sherwood is the author of 2011’s Who Killed Betsy? Uncovering Penn State University’s Most Notorious Unsolved Crime, which put forth Haefner as the prime suspect. While writing it, he uncovered many expunged documents and as a result he has spent the past decade researching Haefner’s 1976 molestation trial, which ended with a hung jury. The author lives in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
Already part of a genre known for generating controversy, some true crime and scandal books have wielded a particular power to unsettle readers, provoke authorities and renew interest in a case. The reactions to such literature have been as contentious as the books themselves, clouding the “truth” with myths and inaccuracies.
From high-profile publishing sensations such as Ten Rillington Place, Fatal Vision and Mommie Dearest to the wealth of writing on the JFK assassination, the death of Marilyn Monroe and the Black Dahlia murder, this book delves into that hard copy era when crime and scandal books had a cultural impact beyond the genre’s film and TV documentaries, fueling outcries that sometimes matched the notoriety of the cases they discussed and leaving legacies that still resonate today.
The tragic death of 13-year-old Danny Croteau in 1972 faded from headlines and memories for 20 years until the Boston abuse scandal—a string of assaults taking place within the Catholic Church—exploded in the early 2000s. Despite numerous indications, including 40 claims of sexual misconduct with minors, pointing to him as Croteau’s killer, Reverend Richard R. Lavigne remains “innocent.”
Drawing on more than 10,000 pages of police and court records and interviews with Danny’s friends and family, fellow abuse victims, and church officials, the author uncovers the truth—church complicity in a cover up and masking of priests’ involvement in a ring of abusive clergy—behind Croteau’s death and those who had a hand in it.
“You are about to enter a world of drug smuggling, drug greed, and drug murder.” With those words, the West Palm Beach assistant DA began the 1986 murder trial of Judy “Haas” McNelis. The only woman on the U.S. Federal Marshal’s 15 Most-Wanted List, she gained infamy as head of the “Haas Organization,” a reputed $267 million per year marijuana empire. But before her jet-set lifestyle as a drug “queen-pin,” Haas was simply a divorcée with two young children and a penchant for growing pot.
David McNelis’ candid memoir recounts his life with a brash, free-spirited mother determined to achieve success in the male-dominated world of international narcotics smuggling. A studious kid striving for normalcy, McNelis is thrust into an extraordinary adventure where dealers, smugglers, daredevil pilots, federal agents, hitmen, and even an accused KGB spy all become part of “normal” life.
“Big Bob” Bashara put on a respectable face. To his friends in Detroit’s affluent suburb of Grosse Pointe, he was a married father of two, Rotary Club President, church usher and soccer dad who organized charity events with his wife, Jane. To his “slaves,” he was “Master Bob,” a cocaine-snorting slumlord who operated a sex dungeon and had a submissive girlfriend to do his bidding—and he wanted more slaves to serve him. But Bashara knew he couldn’t rule a household of concubines on his income alone. He eyed his wife’s sizable retirement account and formulated a murderous plan. This meticulous account tells the complete story of the crime, the nationally watched investigation and trials, and the lives affected.
“We never lock our doors.” This is an often-heard remark expressing a commonplace American attitude or belief that, despite whatever danger might prevail in public spaces, life inside our own homes remains (or at least should remain) safe, carefree, normal. This book covers 13 high-profile cases in which evil paid an untimely visit and found the entrance open—when everything was normal, until it wasn’t.
A trunk dripping blood, discovered at a railway station in Stockton in 1906, launched one of the most famous murder investigations in California history—still debated by crime historians. In 1913, the dismembered body of a young pregnant woman, found in the East River, was traced back to her killer and husband, who remains the only priest ever executed for homicide in the U.S. In 1916, a successful dentist, recently married into a prestigious family, poisoned his in-laws—first with deadly bacteria, then with arsenic—claiming the real murderer was an Egyptian incubus who took control of his body.
Drawing on court transcripts, newspaper coverage and other contemporary sources, this collection of historical American true crime stories chronicles five murder cases that became media sensations of their day, making headlines across the country in the decades before radio or television.
Historian Alan G. Gauthreaux chronicles 12 homicide cases from late 1800s and early 1900s Louisiana—where “unwritten law” justified jilted women who killed their paramours, and police took measures to protect defendants from lynch mobs. Stories include the 1907 kidnapping of seven-year-old Walter Lamana by the New Orleans “Black Hand,” the 1912 acquittal of Zea McRee (a woman of “good reputation”) in Opelousas, and the 1934 trial and execution of Shreveport’s infamous “Butterfly Man.”
An estimated 800,000 children are reported missing each year in the United States. Only one in 10,000 are found dead. Yet unsolved child murders are almost a daily occurrence—of nearly 52,000 juvenile homicides between 1980 and 2008, more than 20 percent remain open. Drawing on FBI reports, police and court records, and interviews with victims’ families, this book provides details and evidence for 18 unsolved cases from 1956 to 1998.
On a September night in 1958, three New Orleans college students went looking for a gay man to assault. They chose Fernando Rios, who died from the beating he received. In perhaps the earliest example of the “gay panic” defense, the three defendants argued that they had no choice but to beat Rios because he had made an “improper advance.” When the jury acquitted the three, the courtroom cheered. The author offers a detailed examination of the murder and the trial.
Clayton Delery’s Out for Queer Blood: The Murder of Fernando Rios and the Failure of New Orleans Justice is on its way to the printer. Sarah Schulman, award-winning writer and gays rights activist, called it “a riveting and important work of grassroots LGBT history that reveals the connections and fissures between homophobia and anti–Latino prejudices in U.S. history.” Schulman added that “Delery unmasks the origins of one of the most sinister legal and cultural foundations of anti-gay oppression: the false accusation of desire and how it has been used to excuse injustice.”
There have been two new manuscript deliveries today, and both are ready to go into editing. Kevin Sullivan delivered his manuscript about the crime of murder occurring in the homes of those who, through a matter of conscious decision or simply not paying attention, failed to secure their homes and to lock their doors, and because of this, were easily slaughtered. EJ Fleming has previously written for McFarland about Hollywood Death and Scandal Sites. Details about his new manuscript about the murder of Danny Croteau will be released soon.
The end of April was a banner week for Exposit Books, with our authors delivering three manuscripts. Alan G. Gauthreaux, who co-authored Dark Bayou with D.G. Hippensteel, has written a new work about crimes in Louisiana in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Dean Scoville recounts his long career in law enforcement with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in his new memoir, touching upon events such as the Night Stalker Richard Ramirez. Lastly, Phil Zimbardo and Rose Sword (who broke new ground in transforming the lives of people suffering from PTSD) have written Living and Loving Better with Time Perspective Therapy.
On the night that 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was abducted by a masked gunman while riding his bike with friends in St. Joseph, Minn., Daniel Rassier was home alone, organizing his record collection. It was Oct. 22, 1989. Rassier, an elementary school music teacher, heard his dog, Smokey, bark as two different cars pulled into his driveway, turned around and drove away. Later that night, he learned a child had been taken from a site near the end of the driveway of the farm home Rassier shared with his parents. He would spend hours helping authorities search the area and would soon become a key witness…
Mark Grossman’s collection of historical American true crime stories has landed in editing. Grossman draws on court transcripts, newspaper coverage and other contemporary sources to chronicle murder cases that became media sensations of their day, making headlines across the country in the decades before radio or television.
A trunk dripping blood, discovered at a railway station in Stockton in 1906, launches one of the most incredible murder cases in California history—still debated by crime historians.
The dismembered body of a young pregnant woman, found in the East River in 1913, is traced back to her killer and husband, who remains the only priest ever executed for homicide in the U.S.
In 1916, a successful dentist, recently married into a prestigious family, poisons his in-laws—first with deadly bacteria, then with arsenic—claiming the real murderer was an Egyptian incubus who took control of his body.
The book is slated for release fall 2017, and we’ll post the final title and other details once they’ve been set…
Clayton Delery, the author of The Up Stairs Lounge Arson, has delivered his latest manuscript. One evening in New Orleans, three Tulane undergrads wanted to beat up a stranger just because he was gay. Fernando Rios fit that bill. He was beaten and robbed in an alleyway, left unconscious on the sidewalk, and died later that day. During January of 1959, his assailants were charged but acquitted under the “gay panic” defense, and the courtroom cheered. Out for Queer Blood: The Murder of Fernando Rios and the Failure of New Orleans Justice, to be released Fall 2017, delves into the connections between anti-Latino prejudices, homophobia, and societal norms in 1950s America.
Big thanks to Volume One of Eau Claire for hosting the first book talk for Finding Jacob Wetterling. Author Robert M. Dudley reports, “There were about twenty or so people in the audience…lots of great questions!”
On December 12 at 7:00 P.M., Eau Claire true-crime author Robert M. Dudley will discuss the story behind his research and books about the Jacob Wetterling kidnapping investigation. Dudley will detail how long-forgotten information from the beginning of the case was resurrected and how it led to resolution of the most notorious crime in the history of the State of Minnesota. The free admission event is hosted by Volume One located at 205 N Dewey Street, Eau Claire, WI 54703.
Shopping cart maintenance on November 2: The option to pay by credit card or PayPal is temporarily down for maintenance on the Exposit site. Check/Money Order can be selected on the Exposit site. For credit card orders, go to the McFarland website or call McFarland toll-free 800-253-2187 (Mon-Fri 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Eastern Standard Time) .
JEFFERSON, North Carolina – November 1, 2016 – Scholarly publisher McFarland has announced the launch in November of Exposit Books, a new imprint combining serious nonfiction with a bookstore-first approach. Exposit’s initial offering is Finding Jacob Wetterling by Robert M. Dudley. The book covers in detail the 1989 kidnapping in St. Joseph, Minnesota, of 11-year-old Wetterling, the remarkable response from the community and local and state authorities, the 27-year investigation and its heartbreaking conclusion. The first full group of titles, set for a fall 2017 release, will likewise feature true crime topics.
“We’re releasing six titles the first season, and true crime authors Kevin M. Sullivan and Clayton Delery are both signed on and contributing books for the rollout,” said Executive Editor Lisa Camp. “We will be publishing a wide range of titles, eventually including books about entertainment, psychology, sex, health and history. Our plan is to bring Exposit to 24 to 30 books annually.”