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Before He Wakes: A True Story of Money, Marriage, Sex and Murder

Narrated by: Kevin Stillwell
Length: 13 hrs and 19 mins
4 out of 5 stars (219 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The true story of Barbara Stager, a devoted mother, loving wife, and dedicated church leader who committed an almost perfect crime.

By all accounts, Stager seemed to lead the perfect life in her community in Durham, North Carolina. After her husband, popular high school coach Russ, died tragically, the police were inclined to believe her story - that she accidentally shot him. Suspicions rose when the police discovered that Stager's previous husband had died similarly 10 years prior. Detective Rick Buchanan searches for the truth and finds a string of compulsive lies, obsessive spending, and sexual promiscuity. Ever shocking new discovery unraveled Barbara Stager's impeccable image more and more.

Russ left a damning piece of evidence behind that reveals the shocking nightmare truth about his wife.

©1994 Jerry Bledsoe (P)2015 ListenUp Production, LLC

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great story & great reader

Story is well written & entertaining. The reader did a great job. I only wish he had more true crime novels. If you like true crime you won't be disappointed.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Wow!

This story had me glued to my headphones. I couldn't wait to hear what was going to happen next. Truly a sad commentary on the power of greed and its devastating results. Excellent narrator as well. Highly recommend this for all of the true crime fans out there.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Jerry Bledsoe is Amazing, as is Kevin Stillwell

Okay, so on the heels of my listen to Bitter Blood, this book wasn't as exceptional as I had hoped. Bitter Blood was phenomenal, so it was a hard act to follow.

Barbara Terry Ford Stager is either: a) unlucky to the 100th power, b) extremely mentally ill or c) a diabolical killer.

Mrs. Ford-Stager has two dead husbands, a penchant for spending FAR beyond her means (which highlighted her check kiting and embezzlement skills), a compulsive lying streak more incredible than Pinocchio, a sexual appetite more impressive than Ginger Lynn and a church lady charade/appearance. She is the ultimate oxymoron.

Her two unfortunate husbands, Larry Ford and Russell Stager had no idea what they were getting their hands on - a black widow in sheep's clothing. Or, was it pure coincidence that both her husbands died in bed thanks to the "business end of a 25 caliber gun"?

You decide.

I think Barbara is where she belongs, serving life in a North Carolina prison.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Church Lady Killer...

In gripping true crime style, Bledsoe tells the tale of Barbara Stager, a church-going, seemingly upright and righteous woman who just had one flaw: she liked to kill husbands... Stager was so convincing as her role as Church Lady that she nearly passed under the wire during investigations. Then a detective with a sharp eye, and enough cynicism to see past Stager's act, began to unravel the threads of her story.

12 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Bst
  • CA USA
  • 05-26-16

Kept Me Listening!

I already knew a bit about this case so I was interested in knowing more. I couldn't have asked for a better listen! The story was well told and the presenter was clear, had a lot of expression, and really gave a picture to the words!! What a great choice this book was!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • inov8v
  • Hampstead, MD, United States
  • 06-25-15

bledsoe/stillwell are the dynamic duo of audible..

bledsoe/stillwell are the benchmark for the audio books i listen to...bledsoe is such a great writer and stillwell is so good at conveying the story without sounding as hokey as so many others...

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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A solid true crime tale

Strong writing and fascinating characters make this a worthwhile read. However, as a resident of the Durham area, where the story takes place, I could not get used to the narrator's overcooked southern accent. Drove me to distraction.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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This is a very interesting story. <br />

Interesting story. Jerry Bledsoe provides details. Narrator does a very good job. I enjoyed because this all happened fairly local to where I grew up.

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  • Kattia
  • Miami, Florida
  • 04-16-18

Intriguing

I will never understand how some people plan somebody else's death to get money and cover their shopping sprees. Heartbreaking cautionary tale. Beware who you marry, get to know them before you tie the knot.

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<br />one of the best

clear and suspenseful story. great narrator.
one of the best in true crime great author great writing.