From the author of Crossed Over, another masterful account of a horrible crime: the murder of four girls, countless other ruined lives, and the evolving complications of the justice system that frustrated the massive attempts--for twenty-five years now--to find and punish those who committed it.
The facts are brutally straightforward. On December 6, 1991, the naked, bound-and-gagged bodies of the four girls--each one shot in the head--were found in an I Can't Believe It's Yogurt! shop in Austin, Texas. Grief, shock, and horror spread out from their families and friends to overtake the city itself. Though all branches of law enforcement were brought to bear, the investigation was often misdirected and after eight years only two men (then teenagers) were tried; moreover, their subsequent convictions were eventually overturned, and Austin PD detectives are still working on what is now a very cold case. Over the decades, the story has grown to include DNA technology, false confessions, and other developments facing crime and punishment in contemporary life. But this story belongs to the scores of people involved, and from them Lowry has fashioned a riveting saga that reads like a Russian novel, comprehensive and thoroughly engrossing.
In this taut true-crime account, Texas-based author Lowry (Harriet Tubman: Imagining a Life) explores the 1991 murder of four teenage girls in an Austin frozen yogurt shop and the botched investigation of four suspects railroaded into giving false confessions. After recounting the terrible details of the murders, she enumerates the errors of the investigators at the crime scene, the grasping at false leads, and the unethical interrogation practices, including marathon stretches of grilling and threats to two of the suspects. She provides interesting information on how the brain creates memories, "adding, subtracting, removing, revising," and about the creation of "false or illusory" memory that can lead to a false confession. Nearly a third of the book deals with the defendants' trials and these sections are meticulous to a fault, providing irrelevant material such as descriptions of testimonies that were ultimately not given and even, ironically, the contents of an attorney's statement that had "gone on too long." However, the flaws of the state's case are well articulated. One of the more compelling parts of the book is the end, where Lowry explores an alternate theory of the crime originally presented by Jordan Smith in the Austin Chronicle on the 20th anniversary of the murders in 2011. The case itself is fascinating, and Lowry covers every angle diligently with first-person interviews and other research, yet the story never takes hold of the reader.
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Who Killed These Girls
Excellent book, showing how truly important details and careful examination of details are in addition to strict and careful investigative protocols.