Edgar Award Finalist: A true-crime account of a vicious massacre and the legal battles that followed. It was not a clever killing. On May 5, 1973, three men escaped from a Maryland prison and disappeared. Joined by a fifteen-year-old brother, they surfaced in Georgia, where they were spotted joyriding in a stolen car. Within a week, the four young men were arrested on suspicion of committing one of the most horrific murders in American history. Jerry Alday and his family were eating Sunday dinner when death burst through the door of their cozy little trailer. Their six bodies are only the beginning of Thomas H. Cook’s retelling of this gruesome story; the horrors continued in the courtroom. Based on court documents, police records, and interviews with the surviving family members, this is a chilling look at the evil that can lurk just around the corner.
Probably the most famous crime in Georgia history was the 1973 cold-blooded slaughter of six members of the religious, law-abiding Alday farm family by four drifters from Baltimore: brothers Billy and Carl Isaacs, their half-brother Wayne Coleman and friend George Dungee. Forensic evidence and confessions left no doubt of the killers' guilt; the youngest, Billy Isaacs, turned state's evidence and the other three were sentenced to death. Then the appeals process took over and, after 12 years, the death penalty convictions were overturned. In later trials Carl was resentenced to die and is now on death row awaiting further appeals. In the meantime the surviving Alday women (five of the victims were men) were unable to carry on the work of the farm, and the land passed to outsiders. The trials, hearings and appeals have cost an impoverished rural county and the state hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of dollars. Psychologically the survivors have never recovered. With this scorching indictment of the legal and court systems, Cook ( Early Graves ) portrays a case in which justice was both delayed and denied. He is most persuasive.