On July 14th, 1966, Richard Franklin Speck swept through a quiet Chicago townhouse like a summer tornado and stabbed, strangled, and killed eight young nurses in a violent sexual rampage. By morning, only one nurse, Corazon Amurao, had miraculously survived, and her scream of terror was heard around the world.
As the eight bodies were carried out of the small building, the coroner, who had seen the carnage up close, told a gathering crowd: "It is the crime of the century!"
Now, the prosecutor who put Speck in prison for life (William J. Martin) and the author and journalist who won an award for his coverage of the crime (Dennis L. Breo) have teamed up to recreate the blood-soaked night that opened a new chapter in the history of American crime: mass murder.
Corazon Amurao, the nurse the killer left behind, confronted Speck at trial and told jurors, "This is the man!" Richard Speck was spared execution by Supreme Court rulings and here is the inside story of how he confessed to the murders in a sordid prison video made three years before his death of a heart attack in 1991. And here is the life today of the nurse who survived the crime that murdered American innocence.
©2016 Dennis L. Breo and William J. Martin (P)2017 Tantor
"Former prosecutor Martin and Chicago journalist Breo present a fast-paced, solid reconstruction of Martin's biggest case: the fatal stabbing, strangling, and sexual assault of eight young nurses by drifter Richard Speck in Chicago in 1966." (Publishers Weekly)
The first eleven chapters had me frozen in terror as I listened in vivid detail what it was like to actually BE there that night, when one by one the girls were slaughtered in the very next room. The events of this horrific evening are related by the ONLY survivor out of 9 nursing students who were brutally stabbed and raped - while she hid underneath the bed in an attempt to escape Richard Speck's wrath! The girls all knew what was awaiting them, but it was too late, and they were powerless to do anything about it. Made ME want to get under the bed. That scary.
If you were ever curious about what really goes on behind the scenes in a VERY high profile murder case like this, well then here you go! Complete A-Z. Seriously. Everything concerning this case from the manhunt, arrest, preparation, prosecution and defense strategies, juror selection, witness protection for the survivor (quite a surprising story in itself), dealing with the media/press, etc...to the shady book and movie deals (yes - they did that back then)!! In fact, I didn't even realize myself that this particular case set the precedent for many new laws regarding the handling of sensational trials and their procedures. You would think this was a current event...yet it took place about 50 years ago! Don't think because this is an older case that it will be lacking in that area. Far from it! This surely is THE definitive book on Richard Speck's crime.
The author does a *great* job setting the mood and scene of the mid 1960's, so you can truly get a sense of the times back then. I loved that. I also liked the narration - it was smooth, yet quite serious and somber as it should be, and the occasional "dialogue" of the killer was a nice added touch for me.
Fascinating story of horrible crime and trial sensitively told. The story captures the innocence that preceded an unimaginable crime and the aftermath of the crime. Be warned, Speck brutally raped and murdered 8 nurses in their home and the description of that crime is horrific. But this is more than a true crime story. The book provides an inside look at the trial preparation and the conduct of the trial and provides a great explanation of how lawyers handle a high profile, high stakes hard-fought criminal trial. You get a master class in trial strategy and handling of witnesses provided by a top notch attorney. The story is told with great compassion for the victims and their families and with the colorful flavor of a bygone time. My only complaint is that the narrator, who did a great job with Speck's Texas drawl, lacked a Chicago accent. The city is very much a part of the story but I didn't hear Chicago's distinctive voice. Otherwise it was terrific.
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