Saturday, February 13, 2010


I've only read five books so far this month (which puts me nearly two books behind my self-imposed schedule, if you'll recall), but all of them have been non-fiction. I've read four true crime books and a memoir written by a man who took in a severely emotionally disturbed foster child. Here are the details.


This is the account of a woman who killed seven of her nine children, all before they turned two years of age. (Of the other two, one was stillborn and one died in the hospital shortly after birth). The woman, Marie Noe, lucked out because about the time that her babies were being murdered, SIDS was making headlines, and doctors wanted to use her as a case study. Unfortunately for them, and tragically for these beautiful children, the cause of death was having Marie for a mother.

HOUSE OF SECRETS--Lowell Cauffiel

This book gave me the creeps, because the father was so depraved, committing incest, abuse, assault, fraud, and pretty much every other crime you can think of. The father got his children to kill his son-in-law (their sister's husband) and grandson, and took them on the road in a small camper to escape authorities who wanted to investigate charges of child abuse. The photos in this book are very graphic, particularly two of the infant corpse.

THE THINGS I WANT MOST--Richard F. Miniter

This book comes endorsed by David Pelzer, of "A Child Called It" fame. It's a much milder story, mostly because the assault against young Mike happens before the book begins, as it were, and is fairly clinically described in brief by the author. It was a very compelling read, especially for people who have to deal with children with emotional disorders, because it details how gruelling it can be to try to break through the defenses such children erect to protect themselves from the disappointments of life.


This is the story of the murder of Debra Evans by her so-called friend, who wanted to have a light-skinned biracial baby for her boyfriend, despite the fact that she'd had her tubes tied years before. The woman and two male accomplices (one the boyfriend who wanted the light-skinned baby) shot Evans, cut the baby out of her womb, killed her two oldest children so they couldn't identify them, and left Evans' young son alone with his mother's corpse in an apartment soaked with the blood of his family members. This was a truly heinous crime.


Betty Lou Beets was executed in 2000 for the murders of two of her husbands, whom she buried in her own backyard, one under a storage shed and the other under a wishing well. The horrific thing about her case is that she coerced two of her children into helping her cover up her crimes. She seems to have been a cold-blooded killer, and has the distinction of having been on death row with Karla Faye Tucker, whose execution caused so much controversy because she'd become a born-again Christian while on death row but had a stay of execution refused by future President George W. Bush. The sad thing about this case is that her final victim's son tried to get help investigating his father's disappearance from multiple sources, all of whom dismissed his concerns.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to turn to lighter material for at least part of the month.

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