Passion, Betrayal, and Murder in Southern California
From a New York Times–bestselling author and former Los Angeles Times reporter, two teens kill their friend, then befriend the girl’s family to avoid suspicion.
On a beautiful October day in the San Fernando Valley, teenager Missy Avila was lured into the woods, beaten, tortured, and drowned. Missy’s best friend, Karen Severson, publicly vowed to find the killer and even moved in with Missy’s family to help. Three years later, a surprise witness exposed the murderers as Missy’s two best friends—one of whom was Karen.
New York Times–bestselling author Karen Kingsbury delivers a story full of twists, turns, betrayals, and confessions. Missy’s Murder is a shocking tale of one of the most notorious murder trials of the eighties, and a startling debut novel from Kingsbury, who now has over twenty-five million books in print.
The bare facts surrounding the 1985 murder of 17-year-old Michele (Missy) Yvette Avila and the bizarre behavior of Karen Severson (one of her two killers) are chilling. Karen and Laura Doyle led Missy, their best friend, to a remote hiking area, cut off chunks of her hair, struck her and drowned her in a stream. But the only analysis offered by Kingsbury, who covered the story for the L.A. Daily News , is that beautiful, vivacious Missy was ``the envy of nearly everyone,'' including the unattractive Laura and Karen. Indeed, the two were especially jealous of her popularity with their own boyfriends. After the murder Karen moved in with Missy's mother, held conversations with the dead girl and for three years helped keep the murder investigation alive by openly accusing Missy's other friends. Unfortunately, Kingsbury offers a poor example of true-crime writing. Based on official reports and personal recollections, this superficial account makes such a bald attempt to idealize the Avila family, even when this is clearly at odds with the facts, that the result is unreliable as well as sensationalistic.