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Publisher's Summary

Early on a May morning in 1988, Laurie Dann, a 30-year-old, profoundly unhappy product of the wealthy North Shore suburb of Chicago, loaded her father's car with a cache of handguns, incendiary chemicals, and arsenic-laced food. Driven by fear and hate, she was going to make something terrible happen.

Before the end of the day, Dann had blazed a murderous trail of poison, fire, and bullets through the unsuspecting town of Winnetka, Illinois, and other North Shore suburbs. She murdered an eight-year-old boy and critically wounded five other children inside an elementary school. It finally took a massed force of armed police to end the killing.

The shocking story of innocence destroyed by a rich young babysitter inexplicably gone mad made headlines all across the nation and inspired at least two psychotic killers to follow her example. What lead her to do it? Could she have been stopped? The case raised a host of agonizing questions that have remained unanswered - until now. In this book, three Chicago Tribune reporters who covered the Laurie Dann tragedy have pulled together all the available police evidence, unearthed valuable psychiatric information, and interviewed at length scores of people who knew Dann, many of whom had never before spoken to the media about this case. Despite clear and ominous warning signs, a young woman of beauty and privilege was allowed to deteriorate and go slowly berserk - and no one stopped her. Her parents, her doctors, and the police officers who knew her pathological behavior all failed her at critical times. By its passivity and silence, a community comfortable and quiet on the surface, yet reluctant to admit its underlying flaws, became an unwitting accomplice to the final rampage of Laurie Dann. Murder of Innocence is a searing portrayal of a family - and a society - unable to cope, and of a young woman who wanted all too desperately only to be loved.

©1990 Joel Kaplan, George Papajohn, & Eric Zorn (P)2017 David N. Wilson

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Applicable to Las Vegas Shooter

This thoroughly-researched detailed history explains why people do such things as what just happened in Las Vegas where 58 people at a concert were killed. How can a human being get to such a mental state to perform such an atrocity? Even though the back stories and the targets were different with these two killers, this book explains the "why." In short, it's extreme mental illness, but that doesn't make it understandable until you hear such in-depth descriptions as contained in this book. Plus, it's just a good book to listen to.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Well Written and Narrated, Illuminating, Highlights Critical Need for More Effective MH Services

The declining, spiral of Laure Wasserman Dann, into madness is tragic. Statistics show that people with mental illnesses are more likely to experience rather than commit violent crime. This case is a horrifying outlier. Dann's spree shooting of children was earlier than the more well known school shootings. Also, more frequently these incidents of violence are committed by men.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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great true crime

I listen to audiobooks while driving, and this made me anxious to get in my car to drive to work in the morning! great narrator, and the book itself is so full of details. I enjoyed the way they did not end it right after the tragedy, but went on to discuss what happened in the aftermath. very sad story, and an absolutely intriguing look into just how a person who is mentally ill can spiral out of control when no one takes responsibility. Laurie Dann's parents may well have been able to help her, or at least to have protected others from her, if they had not been so anxious to sweep her problems under the rug and to leave her entirely to her own devices while funding her existence completely without awareness.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Don't Miss This One

Can't wait to see what other reviewers say. I found zero flaws with the book or the narration.

But I would take great personal pleasure in strangling Laurie's parents. Had they admitted their daughter was dangerously ill, many lives could have been saved.

If you are an avid follower of True Crime, you won't want to miss this one. Oh, and you might want to have a Xanax handy.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Good book!

true story of a young woman on the edge. If only those around her had taken her symptoms more seriously. I enjoyed listening to this book very much.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Speechless

Utterly left speechless. A well told tragedy I highly recommend to fellow true crime buffs!

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Great Book, Tragic Story

If you could sum up Murder of Innocence in three words, what would they be?

A well-written, thorough, and very sad story - expertly narrated.

What other book might you compare Murder of Innocence to and why?

This is my first true crime book.

Which character – as performed by Gary Tiedemann – was your favorite?

Great performance: he gave the narration and dialogue enough life to make it a great listen.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

That we've learned nothing about getting people the help they need and keeping guns out of the hands of violent and disturbed people.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Interesting

Amazing what people can get by with. True story. Held my interest and I finished it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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EXCEPTIONAL

This is one great true crime story which gives vivid detail into a mind that slipping into madness and obsession. Once started it was hard to stop listening to this gripping tale. Narration was superb.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Tragic yet true rampage story

“Murder of Innocence: The Tragic Life and Final Rampage of Laurie Dann” is a true crime novel documenting her life, the events that made her infamous, along with her ultimate death. The book is co-authored by Joel Kaplan, George Papajohn, and Eric Zorn. The Audiobook edition is performed by Gary Tiedemann. Laurie Dunn, if you were unaware, was one of the first people to attack an elementary school of children and adults in 1988. It is a powerfully tragic story involving mental illness, psychotic behavior, failures of law enforcement, and parents who remained in denial. If you are a person who enjoys crime documentaries or likes TV shows such as Forensic Files, I believe you will find this story and the audiobooks narration fascinating. At just over ten hours of audio, the book covers a large amount of information on this woman’s life.

I want to say up front that this is a rather dark and grim story, but remember is it retelling the actual events from her life. It amazes me how irrational Laurie Dunn appeared to be due to her mental illness and very deep bouts of depression. You see the effects through her senseless OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) behavior and senseless fears including superstitions and her continuous fear of people abandoning her; often they left because of her actions. We are given a view into how the medical industry tried to address her pain by prescribing medications and therapy; similar to what it does today. After this, she was left to work things out on her own which failed her and those she impacted. I found myself over and over shaking my head in disbelief at the number of lies, deception, and vindictive action of this one individual. You can see how her activity continued to spiral downward at an ever-increasing speed.

I found myself at times feeling sorry for her struggles and at other times despising her for the actions she took including the easy way out of her mess by taking her own life. The book can be quite emotional at times, and there is little or no humor. I found it fascinating the number of errors leading up to the final day. The lack of police involvement, the lack of effort from her doctors, and the ignorance of her parents. I know it is always easier to look back in hindsight, but this seems to have been so evident that I was amazed how long she got away with things she did. The detailed research that went into producing this work must have taken quite some time, and I’m happy the authors did it. The story was well laid out in a chronological order of events covering: her parents, her birth, her younger years, her teens, her marriage, her work, and the final events leading up to the tragedy which she is sadly remembered for.

For younger readers or parents, be aware that because this is a documentary including actual quotes or events, the book contains some strong language, sexual subject matter, and some quite graphic scenes of violence involving shootings, poisonings, and the taking of revenge upon her supposed enemies. There are also a few sections that would be considered to be anti-religion in nature directed toward both Christian and Jewish faiths; again, these are not included by the authors to be offensive but simply providing the facts to help the reader understand.

Let me turn to the audiobook’s narration performed by Gary Tiedemann. Because this is a piece of non-fiction narrative, there is no voicing of multiple characters or dramatization in his narration. Mr. Tiedemann expertly reads the story as if you were reading it yourself. His voice is clear and well-paced. I will say his voice is a bit deep and mellow which adds to the emotional parts of the book quite well. The audio itself was very clean and clear of any issues or artifacts. Not a very easy book to narrate, but he did a very good job with it.

In summary, if you at all like true crime or biography books, I think you will find this one quite captivating. Again, it is not for everyone due to its inclusion of strong language, sexual topics, and actual events containing graphic violence. However, if you are able to put these aside while learning of an actual historic event, I would recommend you pick up the book and learn more about this tragedy. The book is not intended to bring attention to Laurie herself, but more focused on the event leading to the event. The authors include a prologue section that does a good job of closing up all the unanswered events such as the victims lives afterwards and even some similar events that took place a few years later. I liked that they included this extra detail in the book.

Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful