IntroductionAs we finish the semester, we will spend some time reflecting on the themes we have covered this semester and the evolving genre of true crime. Your final review will be in a format similar to the reading reviews, but with questions that require you to draw on your knowledge from throughout the semester. This week’s discussion post will be a great opportunity for you to prepare for the final review, so be sure to give it a lot of thought, and read your classmates’ responses carefully.This is your final review for ENGL 2341. Note: this must be completed in one sitting, and it is timed at 90 mins. You will need to use appropriate support from this semester’s readings, including proper in-text citation, so have your book handy. The suggested length is 6-10 sentences per question.
IntroductionAs we finish the semester, we will spend some time reflecting on the themes we have covered this semester and the evolving genre of true crime. Your final review will be in a format simila
Gansberg, Martin. “37 Who Saw Murder Didn’t Call the Police.” The New York Times, 27 March 1964. http://www.nytimes.com/1964/03/27/37-who-saw-murder-didnt-call-the-police.html?_r=0 37 Who Saw Murder Didn’t Call the Police MARTIN GANSBERG MARCH 27, 1964 For more than half an hour 38 respectable, law‐abiding citizens in Queens watched a killer stalk and stab a woman in three separate attacks in Kew Gardens. Twice the sound of their voices and the sudden glow of their bedroom Iights interrupted him and frightened him off. Each time he returned, sought her out and stabbed her again. Not one person telephoned ‐ the police during the assault; one witness called after the woman was dead. That was two weeks ago to day. But Assistant Chief Inspector Frederick M. Lussen, in charge of the borough’s detectives and a veteran of 25 years of homicide investigations, is still shocked. He can give a matter‐of‐fact recitation of many murders. But the Kew Gardens slaying baffles him‐not because it is a murder, but because the “good people” failed to call the police. “As we have reconstructed the crime,” he said, “the assailant had three chances to kill this woman during a 35‐minute period. He returned twice to complete the job. If we had been called when he first attacked, the woman might not be dead now.” This is what the police say happened beginnang at 3:20 A.M. in the staid, middle‐cIass, tree‐lined Austin Street area: Twenty‐eight‐year‐o1d Catherine Genovese, who was called Kitty by almost everyone in the neighborhood, was returning She turned off the lights of her car, locked the door and started to walk the 100 feet to the entrance of her apartment at 82‐70 Austin Street, which is in a Tudor building, with stores on the first floor and apartments on the second. The entrance to the apartment is in the rear of the build- ing because the front is rented to retail stores. At night the quiet neighborhood is shrouded in the slumbering darkness that marks most residential areas. Miss Genovese noticed a man at the far end of the lot, near a seven‐story apartment house at 82‐40 Austin Street. She halted. Then, nervously, she headed up Austin Street toward Lefferts Boulevard, where there is a call box to the 102d police Precinct in nearby Richmond Hill. ‘He Stabbed Me!’ She got as far as a street light in front of a bookstore before the man grabbed her. she screamed. Lights went on in the 10‐story apartment house at 82‐67. Austin Street, which faces the bookstore. Windows slid open and voices punctured the early‐morning stillness. Miss Genovese screamed: oh, my God, he stabbed me! Please help me! Please help me !” From one of the upper windown in the apartment house, a man called down: “Let that girl alone !” The assailant looked up at him, shrugged and walked down Austin Street toward a white sedan parked a short distance away. Miss Genovese struggled to her feet. Lights went out. The killer returned to Miss Genovese, now trying to make her way around the side of the building by the parking lot to get to her apartment. The assailant stabbed her again. “I’m dying!” she shrieked. “I’m dying!” She shrieked. “I’m dying!” A City Bus Passed Windows were opened again, and lights went on in many apartments. The assailant got into his car and drove away. Miss Genovese staggered to her feet. A city bus, Q‐10, the Lefferts Boulevard line to Kennedy International Airport, passed. It was 3:35 A.M. The assailant returned. By then, Miss Genovese had crawled to the back of the building, where the freshly painted brown doors to the apartment house held out hope of safety. The killer tried the first door; she wasn’t there. At the second ‐ door, 82‐62 Austin Street, he saw her slumped on the floor at the foot of the stairs. He stabbed her a third time—fatally. It was 3:50 by the time the police received their first call, from a man who was a neighbor of Miss Genovese. In two minutes they were at the scene. The neighbor, a 70‐year‐old woman and another woman were the only persons on the street. Nobady else came forward. The man explained that he had called the police after much celiberation. He had phoned a friend in Nassau County for advice and then he had crossed the roof of the building to the apartment of the elderly woman to get her to make the call. “I didn’t want to get involved,” he sheepishly told the police. Suspect Is Arrested Six days later, the police arrested Winston Moseley, a 29year‐old business-machine operator, and charged him with the homicide. Moseley had no previous record. He is married, has two children and owns a home at 133‐19 Sutter Avenue, south ozone Park, Queens. On wednesday, a court committed him to Kings County Hospital for psychiatric observation. When questioned by the police, Moseley also said that he had slain Mrs. Annie May Johnson, 24, of 146‐12 133d Avenue, Jamaica, on Feb. 29 and Barbara Kralik, 15, of 174‐17 140th Avenue, Springfield Gardens, last July. In the Kralik case, the police are holding Alvin L.Mitchel1, who is said to have confessed that slaying. The police stressed how sim‐ple it would have been to have gotten in touch with them. “A phone call,” said one of the detectives, “would have done it.” The police may be reached by dialing . “O” for operator or SPring 7-3100. The question of whether the witnesses can be held legally responsible in any way for failure to report the crime was put to the Police Department’s legai bureau. There, a spokesman said : “There is no legal responsibil‐ity with few exceptions, for any citizen to report a crime.” Statutes Explained Under the statutes of the city, he said, a witness to a suspicibus or violent death must report it to the medical examiner. Under state law, a witness cannot withhold information in a kidnapping. Today witnesses from the neighborhood, which is made up one-family homes in the $35,000 to $60,000 range with the exception of the two apartment. houses near the railroad station, find it difficult to explain why they didn’t call the police. Lieut Bernard Jacobs, who handled the investigation by the, detectives, said: “It is one of the better neighborhoods. There are few reports of crimes. You only get Path of Victim: Stabber’s Third Attack Was Fatal The police said most persons had told them they had been afraid to call, but had given meaningless answers when asked what they had feared. “We can understand the reticence of people to become involved in an area of violence,” Lieutenant Jacobs said, “but where they are in their homes, near phones, why should they be afraid to call the police?” He said his men were able to piece together what happened —and capture the suspect‐because the residents furnished all the information when detectives rang doorbells during the days following the slaying. “But why didn’t someone call us that night ?” he asked unbelievingly. Witnesses—some of them unable to believe what they had allowed to happen—told a reporter why. A housewife, knowingly if quite casual, said, “We thought it was a lover’s quarrel.” A husband and wife both said, “Frankly, we were afraid.” They seemed aware of the fact that events might have been One couple, now willing to talk about that night, said they heard the first screams. The husband looked thoughtfully at the bookstore where the killer first grabbed Miss Genovese. “We went to the window to see what was happening,” he said, “but the light from our bedroom made it difficult to see the street.” The wife, still apprehensive, added: “I put out the light and we were able to see better.” Asked why they hadn’t called the police, she shrugged and replied: “I don’t know.” A man peeked out from a slight opening in the doorway to his apartment and rattled off an account of the killer’s second attack. Why hadn’t he called the police at the time? “I was tired,” he said without emotion. “I went back to bed.” It was 4:25 A.M. when the ambulance arrived for the body of Miss Genovese. It drove off. “Then,” a solemn police detective said, “the people came out.” This article can be viewed in its original form. Please send questions and feedback to [email protected] Editors’ Note: October 12, 2016 Later reporting by The Times and others has called into question significant elements of this account. Subsequent Times coverage includes a review of the case on the 40th anniversary; the obituary of the killer; an essay and video on the case; and a Times Insider account.
IntroductionAs we finish the semester, we will spend some time reflecting on the themes we have covered this semester and the evolving genre of true crime. Your final review will be in a format simila
The Pied Piper of Tucson O riginally published in Life M agazine, M arch 4, 1966 D on M oser H ey, c’m on babe, follow m e, I’m the Pied Piper, follow m e, I’m the Pied Piper, And I’ll show you w here it’s at. Popular song Tucson, w inter 1963 A t dusk in Tucson, as the stark, yellow flared m ountains begin to blur against the sky, the golden car slow ly cruises Speedw ay. Sm oothly it rolls dow n the long divided avenue, past the superm arkets, the gas stations and the m otels; past the tw ist joints, the spraw ling drivein restaurants. The car slow s for an intersection, stops, then pulls aw ay again. The exhaust m utters against the pavem ent as the young m an driving takes the m achine sw iftly, expertly through the gears. A car pulls even w ith him ; the teenage girls in the front seat laugh, w ave and call his m ane. The young m an glances tow ard the rearview m irror, turned alw ays so he can look at his ow n reflection, and he appraises him self. The face is his ow n creation; the hair dyed raven black, the skin darkened to a deep tan w ith pancake m akeup, the lips w hitened, the w hole effect heightened by a m ole he has painted on one cheek. B ut the deepset blue eyes are all his ow n. B eautiful eyes, the girls say. A pproaching the H iH o, the teenagers’ nightclub, he backs off on the accelerator, then slow ly cruises on past Johnie’s D rivein. The cars are beginning to orbit and accum ulate in the parking lot— near sharp cars w ith deepthroated m ufflers and M altesecross decals on the w indow s. B ut it’s early yet. N ot m uch going on. The driver shifts up again through the gears, and the golden car slides aw ay along the glitter and gim crack of Speedw ay. Sm itty keeps looking for the action. W hether the juries in the tw o trials decide that C harles H ow ard Schm id Jr. did or did not brutally m urder A lleen R ow e, G retchen Fritz and W endy Fritz has from the beginning seem ed of alm ost secondary im portance to the people of Tucson. They are not indifferent. B ut w hat disturbs them far beyond the question of Sm itty’s guilt or innocence are the revelations about Tucson itself that have follow ed on the disclosure of the crim es. Starting from the bizarre circum stances of the killings and on through the ugly fragm ents of the plot— w hich in turn hint at other m urders as yet undiscovered, at teenage sex, blackm ail, even connections w ith the C osa N ostra— they have had to view their city in a new and unpleasant light. The fact is that C harles Schm id— w ho cannot be dism issed as a freak, an aberrant of no consequence— had for years functioned successfully as a m em ber, even a leader, of the yeastiest stratum of Tucson’s teenage society. A s a high school student Sm itty had been, as classm ates rem em ber, an outsider— but not that far outside. H e w as sm all but he w as a fine athlete, and in his last year— 1960— he w as a state gym nastics cham pion. H is grades w ere poor, but he w as in no trouble to speak of until his senior year, w hen he w as suspended for stealing tools from a w elding class. B ut Sm itty never really left the school. A fter his suspension he hung around w aiting to pick up kids in a succession of sharp cars w hich he drove fast and w ell. H e haunted all the teenage hangouts along Speedw ay, including the bow ling alleys and the public sw im m ing pool— and he put on spectacular driving exhibitions for girls far younger than he. A t the tim e of his arrest last N ovem ber, C harles Schm id w as 23 years old. H e w ore face m akeup and dyed his hair. H e habitually stuffed three or four inches of old rags and tin cans into the bottom s of his hightopped boots to m ake him self taller than his fivefootthree and stum ble about so aw kw ardly w hile w alking that som e people thought he had w ooden feet. H e pursed his lips and let his eyelids droop in order to em ulate his idol, Elvis Presley. H e bragged to girls that he knew 100 w ays to m ake love, and that he ran dope, that he w as a H ell’s A ngel. H e talked about being a rough custom er in a fight (he w as, though he w as rarely in one), and he alw ays carried in his pocket tint bottles of salt and pepper, w hich he said he used to blind his opponents. H e liked to use highfalutin language and had a favorite saying, “I can m anifest m y neurotical em otions, em ancipate an epicureal instinct, and elaborate on m y heterosexual tendencies.” H e occasionally shocked even those w ho thought they knew him w ell. A friend says that he once saw Sm itty tie a string to the tail of his pet cat, sw ing it around his head and beat it bloody against a w all. Then he turned calm ly and asked, “Y ou feel com passion— w hy?” Y et even w hile Sm itty tried to create an exalted, heroic im age of him self, he had w orked on a pitiable one. “H e thrived on feeling sorry for him self,” recalls a friend, “and m aking others feel sorry for him .” A t various tim es Sm itty told inm ates that he had leukem ia and didn’t have long to live. H e claim ed that he w as adopted, that his real nam e w as A ngel R odriguez, that his father w as a “bean” (local slang for M exican, an inferior race in Sm itty’s view ), and that his m other w as a fam ous law yer w ho w ould have nothing to do w ith him . W hat m ade Sm itty a hero to Tucson’s youth? Isn’t Tucson— out there in the G olden W est, in the grand setting w here the skies are not cloudy all day— supposed to be a flow ering of the A m erican D ream ? O ne envisions teenagers w ho drink m ilk, w ear crew cuts, go to bed at half past 9, say “Sir” and “M a’am ,” and like to go fishing w ith D ad. Part of Tucson is like this— but the city is not yet U topia. It is glass and chrom e and w ellw eathered stucco; it is also gim crack, ersatz, and urban spraw l at its w orst. Its suburbs stretch for m ile after m ile— a level sea of bungalow s, broken only by m am m oth shopping centers, that ultim ately peters out am ong the cholla and saguaro. The city has grow n from 85,000 to 300,000 since W orld W ar II. Few w ho live there w ere born there, and a lot are just passing through. Its superb clim ate attracts the old and the infirm , m any of w hom , as one citizen put it, “have com e here to retire from their responsibilities to life.” Jobs are hard to find and there is little industry to stabilize em ploym ent. (“W hat do people do in Tucson?” the visitor asks. A nsw er: “They do each other’s laundry.”) A s for the youngsters, they m ust com pete w ith the arm y of sem iretired w ho are w illing to take on parttim e w ork for the m inim um w age. Schools are beautiful but overcrow ded; and at those w ith split sessions, the kids are on the loose from noon on, or from 6 p.m . till noon the next day. W hen they get into trouble, Tucson teenagers are capable of getting into trouble in style: a couple of years ago they shocked the city fathers by throw ing a series of beerdrinking parties in the desert, attended by scores of kids. The fests w ere called “boondockers” and if they w ere no m ore sinful than any other kid’s drinking parties, they w ere at least on a m agnificent scale. O ne statistic seem s relevant: 50 runaw ays are reported to the Tucson police departm ent each m onth. O f an evening kids have nothing to do w ind up on Speedw ay, looking for action. There is the teenage nightclub (“Pickup Palace,” the kids call it). There are the rock’n’roll beer joints (the ow ners check ages m eticulously, but young girls can enter if they don’t drink; besides, anyone can buy a phony I.D . card for $2.50 around the high schools) w here they can Jerk, Sw im , and Frug aw ay the evening to the room shaking electronic blare of H ang on Sloopy, The Pied Piper and a num ber called The Bo D iddley Rock. A t the drivein ham burger and pizza stands their cars circle endlessly, m ufflers rum bling, as they check each other over. H ere on Speedw ay you find R itchie and R onny, out of w ork and bored and w ith nothing to do. H ere you find D ebby and Jabron, from the w rong side of the tracks, aim lessly cruising in their battered old car looking for som ething— anything – to relieve the tedium of their lives, looking for som ebody neat. (“W ell if the boys look bitchin’ you pull up next to them in your car and you roll dow n the w indow and say ‘H ey, how about a dollar for gas?” and if they give you the dollar then m aybe you let them take you to Johnie’s for a coke.”) H ere you find G retchen, pretty and rich and w ith problem s, bad problem s. O f a Saturday night, all of them cruising the long, bright street that seem s endlessly in m otion w ith the young. Sm itty’s people. H e had a nice car. H e had plenty of m oney from his parents, w ho ran a nursing hom e, and he w as alw ays glad to spend it on anyone w ho’d listen to him . H e had a pad of his ow n w here he threw parties and he had im peccable m anners. H e w as alw ays w illing to help a friend and he w ould send flow ers to girls w ho w ere ill. H e w as older and m ore m ature than m ost of his friends. H e knew w here the action w as, and if he w ore m akeup— w ell, at least he w as different. Som e of the older kids— those w ho w orked, w ho had som ething else to do— thought Sm itty w as a creep. B ut to the youngsters— to the bored and the lonely, to the dropout and the delinquent, to the young girls w ith beehive hairdos and tight pants they didn’t quite fill out, and to the boys w ith acne and no jobs— to these people, Sm itty w as a kind of folk hero. N utty m aybe, but at least m ore dram atic, m ore theatrical, m ore interesting than anyone else in their lives: a sem iludicrous, sexyeyed pied piper w ho, stum bling along in his ragstuffed boots, led them up and dow n Speedw ay. O n the evening of M ay 31, 1964, A lleen R ow e prepared to go to bad early. She had to be in class by 6 a.m ., and she had an exam ination the next day. A lleen w as a pretty girl of 15, a betterthanaverage student w ho talked about going to college and becom ing an oceanographer. She w as also a sensitive child— given to reading rom antic novels and taking long w alks in the desert at night. R ecently she had been going through a period of adolescent m elancholia, often talking w ith her m other, a nurse, about death. She w ould, she hoped, be som e day reincarnated as a cat. O n this evening, dressed in a black bathing suit and thongs, her usual costum e around the house, she had w atched the B eatles on TV and had tried to teach her m other to dance the Frug. Then she took her bath, w ashed her hair and cam e out to kiss her m other good night. N orm a R ow e, an attractive, w om anly divorcee, w as som ehow m oved by the girl’s clean fragrance and said, “Y ou sm ell so good— are you w earing perfum e?” “N o, M om ,” the girl answ ered, laughing, “it’s just m e.” A little later M rs. R ow e looked in on her daughter, found her apparently sleeping peacefully, and then left for her job as a night nurse in a Tucson hospital. She had no prem onition of danger, but she had lately been concerned about A lleen’s friendship w ith a neighbor girl nam ed M ary French. M ary and A lleen had been spending a good deal of tim e together, sm oking and giggling and talking girl talk in the R ow e backyard. N orm a R ow e did not approve. She particularly did not approve of M ary French’s friends, a tall, gangling boy of 19 nam ed John Saunders and another nam ed C harles Schm id. She had seen Sm itty racing up and dow n the street in his car and once, w hen he cam e to call on A lleen and found her not at hom e, he had looked at N orm a so m enacingly w ith his “pinpoint eyes” that she had been frightened. H er daughter, on the other hand, seem ed to have m ixed feelings about Sm itty. “H e’s creepy,” she once told her m other, “he just m akes m e craw l. B ut he can be nice w hen he w ants to.” A t any rate, later that night— according to M ary French’s sw orn testim ony— three friends arrived at A lleen R ow e’s house: Sm itty, M ary French and Saunders. Sm itty had frequently talked w ith M ary French about killing the R ow e girl by hitting her over the head w ith a rock. M ary French tapped on A lleen’s w indow and asked her to com e out and drink beer w ith them . W earing a shift over her bathing suit, she cam e w illingly enough. Schm id’s accom plices w ere strange and pitiable creatures. Each of them w as afraid of Sm itty, yet each w as draw n to him . A s a baby, John Saunders had been so afflicted w ith allergies that scabs encrusted his entire body. To keep him from scratching him self his parents had tied his hands and feet to the crib each night, and w hen eventually he w as cured he w as so conditioned that he could not go to sleep w ithout being bound hand and foot. Later, a scraw ny boy w ith poor eyesight (“Just a skinny little body w ith a big head on it”), he w as taunted and bullied by larger children; in turn he bullied those w ho w ere sm aller. H e also suffered badly from asthm a and he had few friends. In high school he w as a poor student and constantly in m inor trouble. M ary French, 19, w as— to put it straight— a frum p. H er face, w hich m ight have been pretty, seem ed som ehow lum py, her body shapeless. She w as not dull but she w as alw ays a poor student, and she finally had sim ply stopped going to high school. She w as, a friend rem em bers, “fantastically in love w ith Sm itty. She just sat hom e and w aited w hile he w ent out w ith other girls.” N ow , w ith Sm itty at the w heel, the four teenagers headed for the desert, w hich begins out G olf Links R oad. It is spooky country, dry and em pty, the yellow sand clotted w ith cholla and m esquite and stunted, strangely green palo verde trees, and the great hum anoid saguaro that hulk against the sky. O ut there at night you can hear the yip and kiyi of coyotes, the piercing scream s of w ild creatures— cats, perhaps. A ccording to M ary French, they got out of the car and w alked dow n into a w ash, w here they sat on the sand and talked for a w hile, the four of them . Schm id and M ary then started back to the car. B efore they got there, they heard a cry and Schm id turned back tow ard the w ash. M ary w ent on to the car and sat in it alone. A fter 45 m inutes, Saunders appeared and said Sm itty w anted her to com e back dow n. She refused, and Saunders w ent aw ay. Five or 10 m inutes later, Sm itty show ed up. “H e got into the car,” says M ary, “and he said ‘W e killed her. I love you very m uch.’ H e kissed m e. H e w as breathing real hard and seem ed excited.” Then Schm id got a shovel from the trunk of the car and they returned to the w ash. “She w as lying on her back and there w as blood on her face and head,” M ary French testified. Then the three of them dug a shallow grave and put the body in it and covered it up. A fterw ards, they w iped Schm id’s car clean of A lleen’s fingerprints. M ore than a year passed. N orm a R ow e had reported her daughter m issing and the police searched for her— after a fashion. A t M rs. R ow e’s insistence they picked up Schm id, but they had no reason to hold him . The police, in fact, assum ed that A lleen w as just one m ore of Tucson’s runaw ays. N orm a R ow e, how ever, had becom e convinced that A lleen had been killed by Schm id, although she left her kitchen light on every night just in case A lleen did com e hom e. She badgered the police and she badgered the sheriff until the authorities began to dism iss her as a crank. She began to im agine a highlevel conspiracy against her. She w rote the state attorney general, the FB I, the U .S. D epartm ent of health, Education and W elfare. She even contacted a N ew Jersey m ystic, w ho said she could see A lleen’s body out in the desert under a big tree. U ltim ately N orm a R ow e started her ow n investigation, questioning A lleen’s friends, poking around, dictating her findings to a tape recorder; she even tailed Sm itty at night, follow ing him in her car, scared stiff that he m ight spot her. Schm id, during this tim e, acquired a little house of his ow n. There he held frequent parties, w here people sat around am id his stacks of Playboy m agazines, playing Elvis Presley records and drinking beer. H e read Jules Feiffer’s novel, H arry, the Rat w ith W om en, and said that his am bition w as to be like H arry and have a girl com m it suicide over him . O nce, according to a friend, he w ent to see a m inister, w ho gave him a B ible and told him to read the first three chapters of John. Instead Schm id tore the pages out and burned them in the street. “R eligion is a farce,” he announced. H e started an upholstery business w ith som e friends, called him self “founder and president,” but then failed to put up the m oney he’d prom ised and the venture w as shortlived. H e decided he liked blondes best, and took to dyeing the hair of various teenage girls he w ent around w ith. H e w ent out and bought tw o im itation diam ond rings for about $13 apiece and then engaged him self, on the sam e day, both to M ary French and to a 15yearold girl nam ed K athy M orath. H is plan, he confided to a friend, w as to put each of the girls to w ork and have them deposit their salaries in a bank account held jointly w ith him . M ary French did indeed go to w ork in the convalescent hom e Sm itty’s parents operated. W hen their bank account w as fat enough, Sm itty w ithdrew the m oney and bought a tape recorder. B y this tim e Sm itty also had a girl from a higher social stratum than he usually w as involved w ith. She w as G retchen Fritz, daughter of a prom inent Tucson heart surgeon. G retchen w as a pretty, thin, nervous girl of 17 w ith a knack for trouble. A teacher described her as “erratic, subversive, a psychopathic liar.” A t the horsy private school she attended for a tim e she w as a m isfit. She not only didn’t care about horses, but she shocked her classm ates by telling them they w ere foolish for going out w ith boys w ithout getting paid for it. O nce she even com m itted the unpardonable social sin of turning up at a form al dance accom panied by boys w earing w hat w as described as beatnik dress. She cut classes, she w as suspected of stealing and w hen, in the sum m er before her senior year, she got into trouble w ith juvenile authorities for her role in an attem pted theft at a liquor store, the headm aster suggested she not return and then recom m ended she get psychiatric treatm ent. C harles Schm id saw G retchen for the first tim e at a public sw im m ing pool in the sum m er of 1964. H e m et her by the sim ple expedient of follow ing her hom e, knocking on the door and, w hen she answ ered, saying, “D on’t I know you?” They talked for an hour. Thus began a fierce and storm y relationship. A good deal of w hat authorities know of the developm ent of this relationship com es from the statem ents of a spindly scarecrow of a young m an w ho w ears pipestem trousers and B eatle boot: R ichard B runs. A t the tim e Sm itty w as becom ing involved w ith G retchen, B runs w as 18 years old. H e had served tw o term s in the reform atory at Fort G rant. H e had been in and out of trouble his w hole life, had never fit in anyw here. Y et, although he never w ent beyond the tenth grade in school and his credibility on m any counts is suspect, he is clearly intelligent and even sensitive. H e w as, for a tim e, Sm itty’s closest friend and confidant, and he is today one of the m ainstays of the state’s case against Sm itty. H is story: “H e and G retchen w ere alw ays fighting,” says B runs. “She didn’t w ant him to drink or go out w ith the guys or go out w ith other girls. She w anted him to stay hom e, call her on the phone, be punctual. First she w ould get suspicious of him , then he’d get suspicious of her. They w ere m ade for each other.” Their m utual jealousy led to sharp and continual argum ents. O nce she infuriated him by throw ing a bottle of shoe polish on his car. A nother tim e she w as driving past Sm itty’s house and saw him there w ith som e other girls. She jum ped out of her car and began scream ing. Sm itty took off into the house, out the back and clim bed a tree in his backyard. H is feelings for her w ere an odd m ixture of hate and adoration. H e said he w as m adly in love w ith her, but he called her a w hore. She w ould let Sm itty in her bedroom w indow at night. Y et he w rote an anonym ous letter to the Tucson H ealth D epartm ent accusing her of having venereal disease and spreading it about tow n. B ut Sm itty also w ent to enorm ous lengths to im press G retchen, once shooting holes through the w indow s of his car and telling her that thugs, from w hom he w as protecting her, had fired at him . So B runs described the relationship. O n the evening of A ug. 16, 1965, G retchen Fritz left the house w ith her little sister W endy, a friendly, lively 13yearold, to go to a drivein m ovie. N either girl ever cam e hom e again. G retchen’s father, like A lleen R ow e’s m other, felt sure that C harles Schm id had som ething to do w ith his daughters’ disappearance, and eventually he hired B ill H eilig, a private detective, to handle the case. O ne of H eilig’s m en soon found G retchen’s red com pact car parked behind a m otel, but the police continued to assum e that the girls had joined the ranks of Tucson’s runaw ays. A bout a w eek after G retchen disappeared, B runs w as at Sm itty’s house. “W e w ere sitting in the living room ,” B runs recalls. “H e w as sitting on the sofa and I w as in the chair by the w indow and w e got on the subject of G retchen. H e said, ‘Y ou know I killed her?’ I said I didn’t, and he said ‘Y ou know w here?’ I said no. H e said, ‘I did it here in the living room . First I killed G retchen, then W endy w as still going “huh, huh, huh,” so I … [H ere B runs show ed how Sm itty m ade a garroting gesture.] Then I took the bodies and I put them in the trunk of the car. I put the bodies in the m ost obvious place I could think of because I just didn’t care anym ore. Then I ditched the car and w iped it clean.’” B runs w as not particularly upset by Sm itty’s story. M onths before, Sm itty had told him of the m urder of A lleen R ow e, and nothing had com e of that. So he w as not certain Sm itty w as telling the truth about the Fritz girls. B esides, B runs detested G retchen him self. B ut w hat happened next, still according to B runs’s story, did shake him up. O ne night not long after, a couple of toughlooking characters, w earing sharp suits and sm oking cigars, cam e by w ith Sm itty and picked up B runs. Sm itty said they w ere M afia, and that som eone had hired them to look for G retchen. Sm itty and B runs w ere taken to an apartm ent w here several m en w ere present w hom Sm itty later claim ed to have recognized as local C osa N ostra figures. They w anted to know w hat had happened to the girls. They m ade no threats, but the m essage, B runs rem em bers, cam e across loud and clear. These w ere no streetcorner punks: these w ere the real boys. In spite of the intim idating com pany, Schm id lost none of his insouciance. H e said he didn’t know w here G retchen w as, but if she turned up hurt he w anted these m en to help him get w hoever w as responsible. H e added that she m ight have gone to C alifornia. B y the tim e Sm itty and B runs got back to Sm itty’s house, they w ere both a little shaky. Later that night, says B runs, Sm itty did the m ost unlikely thing im aginable: he called the FB I. First he tried the Tucson office and couldn’t raise anyone. Then he called Phoenix and couldn’t get an agent there either. Finally he put in a persontoperson call to J. Edgar H oover in W ashington. H e didn’t get H oover, of course, but he got som eone and told him that the M afia w as harassing him over the disappearance of a girl. The FB I prom ised to have som eone in touch w ith him soon. B runs w as scared and said so. It occurred to him now that if Sm itty really had killed the Fritz girls and left their bodies in an obvious place, they w ere in very bad trouble indeed— w ith the M afia on one hand and the FB I on the other. “Let’s go bury them ,” B runs said. “Sm itty stole the keys to his old m an’s station w agon,” says B runs, “and then w e got a flat shovel— the only one w e could find. W e w ent to Johnie’s and got a ham burger, and then w e drove out to the old drinking spot [in the desert]— that’s w hat Sm itty m eant w hen he said the m ost obvious place. It’s w here w e used to drink beer and m ake out w ith girls. “So w e parked the car and got the shovel and w alked dow n there, and w e couldn’t find anything. Then Sm itty said, ‘W ait, I sm ell som ething.’ W e w ent in opposite directions looking, and then I heard Sm itty say, ‘C om e here.’ I found him kneeling over G retchen. There w as a w hite rag tied around her legs. H er blouse w as pulled up and she w as w earing a w hite bra and C apris. “Then he said, ‘W endy’s up this w ay.’ I sat there for a m inute. Then I follow ed Sm itty to w here W endy w as. H e’d had the decency to cover her— except for one leg, w hich w as sticking up out of the ground. “W e tried to dig w ith the flat shovel. W e each took turns. H e’d dig for a w hile and then I’d dig for a w hile, but the ground w as hard and w e couldn’t get anyw here w ith that flat shovel. W e dug for tw enty m inutes and finally Sm itty said w e’d better do som ething because it’s going to get light. So he grabbed the rag that w as around G retchen’s legs and dragged her dow n in the w ash. It m ade a noise like dragging a hollow shell. It stunk like hell. Then Sm itty said w ipe off her shoes, there m ight be fingerprints, so I w iped them off w ith m y handkerchief and threw it aw ay. “W e w ent back to W endy. H er leg w as sticking up w ith a shoe on it. H e said take off her tennis shoe and throw it over there. I did, I threw it. Then he said, ‘N ow you’re in this as deep as I am .’” B y then, the sisters had been m issing for about tw o w eeks. Early next m orning Sm itty did see the FB I. N evertheless— here B runs’s story grow s even w ilder— that sam e day Sm itty left for C alifornia, accom panied by a couple of M afia types, to look for G retchen Fritz. W hile there, he w as picked up by the San D iego police on a com plaint the he w as im personating an FB I officer. H e w as detained briefly, released and returned to Tucson. B ut now , it seem ed to R ichard B runs, Sm itty began acting very strangely. H e startled B runs by saying, “I’ve killed— not three tim es, but four. N ow it’s your turn, R itchie.” H e w ent berserk in his little house, sm ashing his fist through a w all, slam m ing doors, then rushing out into the backyard in nothing but his undershorts, w here he ran through the night scream ing, “G od is going to punish m e!” H e also decided, suddenly, to get m arried— to a 15yearold girl w ho w as a stranger to m ost of his friends. If Sm itty seem ed to B runs to be losing his grip, R itchie B runs him self w as not in m uch better shape. H is particular quirk revolved around K athy M orath, the thin, pretty, 16yearold daughter of a Tucson postm an. K athy had once been attracted to Sm itty. H e had given her one of his tw o cutglass engagem ent rings. B ut Sm itty never really took her seriously, and one day, in a fit of pique and jealousy, she threw the ring back in his face. R itchie B runs com forted her and then started dating her him self. H e w as soon utterly and irrevocably sm itten w ith goofy adoration. K athy accepted B runs as a suitor, but halfheartedly. She thought him w eird (oddly enough, she did not think Sm itty in the least w eird) and their rom ance w as shortlived. A fter she broke up w ith him last July, B runs w ent into a blue funk, a nosedive into rom antic m elancholy, and then, like som e lovesw acked Elizabethan poet, he started pouring out his heart to her on paper. H e sent her poem s, short stories, letters 24 pages long. (“M y G od, you should have read the stuff,” says her perplexed father. “H is letters w ere so rom antic it w as like ‘N ext w eek, East Lynne.’” B runs even began w riting a novel dedicated to “M y D arling K athy.” If B runs had confined him self to literary catharsis, the m urders of the R ow e and Fritz girls m ight never have been disclosed. B ut R itchie w ent a little bit around the bend. H e becam e obsessed w ith the notion that K athy M orath w as the next victim on Sm itty’s list. Som eone had cut the M oraths’ screen door, there had been a prow ler around her house, and B runs w as sure that it w as Sm itty. (K athy and her father, m eantim e, w ere sure it w as B runs.) “I started having this dream ,” B runs says. “It w as the sam e dream every night. Sm itty w ould have K athy out in the desert and he’d be doing all those things to her, and strangling her, and I’d be running across the desert w ith a gun in m y hand, but I could never get there.” If B runs couldn’t save K athy in his dream s, he could, he figured, stop a w alking, breathing Sm itty. H is schem e for doing so w as so w ild and so sim ple that it put the w hole M orath fam ily into a state of panic and very nearly landed B runs in jail. B runs undertook to stand guard over K athy M orath. H e kept w atch in front of her house, in the alley, and in the street. H e patrolled the sidew alk from early in the m orning till late at night, seven days a w eek. If K athy w as hom e he w ould be there. If she w ent out, he w ould follow her. K athy’s father called the police, and w hen they told B runs he couldn’t loiter around like that, B runs fetched his dog and w alked the anim al up and dow n the block, hour after hour. B runs by now w as w allow ing in feelings of sacrifice and nobility— all of it unappreciated by K athy M orath and her parents. A t the end of O ctober, he w as finally arrested for harassing the M orath fam ily. The judge, facing the obviously w oebegone and sm itten young m an, told B runs that he w ouldn’t be jailed if he’d agree to get out of tow n until he got over his infatuation. B runs agreed and a few days later w ent to O hio to stay w ith his grandm other and try to get a job. It w as hopeless. H e couldn’t sleep at night, and if he did doze off he had his old nightm are again. O ne night he blurted out the w hole story to his grandm other in their kitchen. She thought he had had too m any beers and didn’t believe him . “I hear beer does strange things to a person,” she said com fortingly. A t her w ords B runs exploded, knocked over a chair and shouted, “The one tim e in m y life w hen I need advice and w hat do I get?” A few m inutes later he w as on the phone to the Tucson police. Things happened sw iftly. A t B runs’s frantic insistence, the police picked up K athy M orath and put her in protective custody. They w ent into the desert and discovered— precisely as B runs had described them — the grisly, skeletal rem ains of G retchen and W endy Fritz. They started the m achinery that resulted in the arrest a w eek later of John Saunders and M ary French. They found C harles Schm id w orking in the yard of his little house, his face layered w ith m akeup, his nose covered by a patch of adhesive plaster w hich he had w orn for five m onths, boasting that his nose w as broken in a fight, and his boots packed full of old rags and tin cans. H e put up no resistance. John Saunders and M ary French confessed im m ediately to their roles in the slaying of A lleen R ow e and w ere quickly sentenced, M ary French to four to five years, Saunders to life. W hen Sm itty goes on trial for this crim e, on M arch 15, they w ill be principal w itnesses against him . M eanw hile R itchie B runs, the perpetual m isfit, w aits apprehensively for the end of the Fritz trial, desperately afraid that Schm id w ill go free. “If he does,” B runs says glum ly, “I’ll be the first one he’ll kill.” A s for C harles Schm id, he has adjusted w ell to his period of w aiting. H e is polite and agreeable w ith all, though at the prelim inary hearings he glared m enacingly at R itchie B runs. D ressed tastefully, tie neatly knotted, hair carefully com bed, his face scrubbed clean of m akeup, he is a short, com pact, darkly handsom e young m an w ith a w ide, engaging sm ile and those deepset eyes. The people of Tucson w ait uneasily for w hat fresh scandal the tw o trials m ay develop. C ivic leaders publicly cry that a slur has been cast on their com m unity by an isolated crim e. H igh school students have held rallies and w ritten vehem ent editorials in the school papers, protesting that they all are being judged by the actions of a few oddballs and m isfits. B ut the city reverberates w ith stories of organized teenage crim e and vice, in w hich Sm itty is cast in the role of a m inorleague underw orld boss. N one of these later stories has been substantiated. O ne disclosure, how ever, has m ost disturbing im plications: Sm itty’s boasts m ay have been heard not just by B runs and his other intim ates, but by other teenagers as w ell. H ow m any— and precisely how m uch they knew — it rem ains im possible to say. O ne authoritative source, how ever, having listened to the adm issions of six high school students, says they unquestionably knew enough so that they should have gone to the police— but w ere either afraid to talk, or didn’t w ant to rock the boat. A s for Sm itty’s friends, the thought of telling the police never entered their m inds. “I didn’t know he killed her,” said one, “and even if I had, I w ouldn’t have said anything. I w ouldn’t w ant to be a fink.” O ut in the respectable Tucson suburbs parents have started to crack dow n on the youngsters and have declared Speedw ay hangouts off lim its. “I thought m y folks w ere bad before,” lam ents one grounded 16yearold, “but now they’re just im possible.” A s for the others— Sm itty’s people— m ost don’t care very m uch. Things are duller w ithout Sm itty around, but things have alw ays been dull. “There’s nothing to do in this tow n,” says one of his girls, shaking her dyed blond hair. “The only other tow n I know is Las V egas and there’s nothing to do there either.” For her, and for her friends, there’s nothing to do in any tow n. They are dow n on Speedw ay again tonight, cruising, orbiting the driveins, stopping by the joints, w here the w ords of The Bo D iddley Rock cut through the sm oke and the electronic dissonance like som e m acabre rem inder of their fallen hero: All you w om en stand in line, And I’ll love you all in an hour’s tim e… . I got a cobra snake for a necktie, I got a brandnew house on the roadside C overed w ith rattlesnake hide, I got a brandnew chim ney m ade on top, M ade out of hum an skulls. C om e on baby, take a w alk w ith m e, And tell m e, w ho do you love? W ho do you love? W ho do you love? W ho do you love? The Pied Piper of Tucson— Life M agazine M arch 4, 1966 http://books.google.com /books
IntroductionAs we finish the semester, we will spend some time reflecting on the themes we have covered this semester and the evolving genre of true crime. Your final review will be in a format simila
Garrett, George. “Then and Now: In Cold Blood Revisited.” The Virginia Quarterly Review 72 (Summer 1996): 467-474. Rpt. in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Thomas J. Schoenberg and Lawrence J. Trudeau. Vol. 164. Detroit: Gale, 2005. Literature Resource Center. Web. 8 Sept. 2016. URLhttp://ezp.tccd.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=LitRC&sw=w&u=txshracd2560&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CH1100002735&it=r Then and Now: In Cold Blood Revisited George Garrett The Virginia Quarterly Review 72 (Summer 1996): p467-474. Rpt. in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Thomas J. Schoenberg and Lawrence J. Trudeau. Vol. 164. Detroit: Gale, 2005. From Literature Resource Center. Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale, COPYRIGHT 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning Full Text: [(essay date Summer 1996) In the essay below, Garrett discusses Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and its impact on the true-crime genre.] Now it is a matter of memory, but then it was an experience. Not simply a memorable event, but an experience lived in and through and worth remembering, one of those rare occurrences which, even after all is said and done, modified and revised by time, can be said to have changed things. In my house, which is, among other things, a hopeless clutter and chaos of books, placed in no known or discernible order, I can go directly to it, no groping and searching, and lift Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, hardcover, first printing, off the shelf. Partly this is because of the unusual book jacket (slightly torn and frayed since 1965) consisting of nothing but words: title and author on front and spine; on the back, “Books by Truman Capote,” a list of his nine published titles at that time, including this one. No blurbs, no photograph, fore or aft. On the end flap, “About the Author,” we learn Capote’s date of birth—September 30, 1924; that his first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms, “was an international literary success and established the author in the first rank of contemporary writers—a position he has since sustained with additional novels and short stories, as well as his widely praised experiments in the field of reportage.” The copy goes on to claim that this new book “represents the culmination of his long-standing desire to make a contribution toward the establishment of a serious new literary form: the Nonfiction Novel.” In an essay review written at the time, I quibbled with that claim, reminding other readers and myself of e. e. cummings ‘ The Enormous Room, of Hemingway’s Green Hills of Africa, Death in the Afternoon, and A Moveable Feast, of the whole line of books descending from Walter Lord’s A Night to Remember. And at that moment I had ignored, and will not again, the major contribution to the form, Shelby Foote ‘s magnificent achievement, The Civil War: A Narrative, which, by 1963, was two-thirds done, with the first two volumes in print. All of which only suggests that other writers had thought and were thinking at the same time in the same way—that, somehow, the traditional novel, as it came to them and was practiced, did not have the ways and means to deal honestly and artistically with large events of the past or with the mad reality of our own times, with what Capote described in an interview as “desperate, savage, violent America in collision with sane, safe, insular even smug America—people who have every chance against people who have none.” The real world was, they thought, too wild for fiction, but the hard facts of it could be tamed and arranged in a narrative form, what Tom Wolfe would later call “the New Journalism.” The front flap of the jacket is equally spare and unusual, then or now. Title and subtitle, “A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences.” The text, a little over 100 words, deserves to be quoted in full: On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime and there were almost no clues. Five years, four months and twenty-nine days later, on April 14, 1965, Richard Eugene Hitchcock, aged thirty-three, and Perry Edward Smith, aged thirty-six, were hanged on a gallows in a warehouse in the Kansas State Penitentiary in Lansing, Kansas. In Cold Blood is the story of the lives and deaths of these six people. It has already been hailed as a masterpiece. All but the final sentence is made up of bare facts and numbers, might as well be a newspaper account, surprising in its flat tone (only the word “savagely” is an adverbial judgment call) and perhaps surprising in that it might seem to eliminate some of the suspense of the story. We are told what happened to the six principals before opening the book or reading a page. But we knew that anyway. The last statement on the jacket is factual also. This book had been serialized in The New Yorker with great success. In his “Acknowledgements” Capote thanks “Mr. William Shawn of The New Yorker, who encouraged me to undertake this project, and whose judgment stood me in good stead from first to last.” I remember that, remember, after the first chunk of it appeared, waiting eagerly for the next issue of The New Yorker. People talked about it with excitement in the way that people only talk about good new movies nowadays. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the book. Didn’t wait too long, either, to have acquired an expensive ($5.95) hardcover of the first printing. Waiting around for it we read all about Capote and the new book in all the magazines. I’ll never forget the big spread in Life magazine where Capote, calm and matter-of-fact, allowed: “The book will be a classic.” And in any case it was a huge and instantaneous success, a bestseller, a Book-of-the-Month Club selection (more important then than now); paperback rights were sold for an enormous sum; movie rights were promptly purchased. It’s true, Capote had enjoyed a good measure of literary fame and success ever since the appearance of Other Voices, Other Rooms; but this was a great leap, a grande jete into popular success. Fame became celebrity. Then that celebrity was at once confirmed and flaunted in 1967 by a party at the Plaza Hotel—“The Party,” Gloria Steinem named it in Vogue magazine, “a great masked ball that would bring guests from Europe and Asia, not to mention Kansas, California, and Harlem“—to which Capote invited 540 people, enough of them celebrities to be called (again by Gloria Steinem) “a new Four Hundred of the World.” What else about the book itself? It is a very handsomely made and designed book, beautifully printed on the best paper and with a rare and elegant full-cloth binding. Made to last. Made to be kept and appreciated. Made to tell the world: This is real class. Open it up and you are soon greeted on the title page by a chilling illustration, the only one in the book or jacket—two pairs of eyes, an extreme close shot in black and white, the eyes of the killers, here brooding over the story to follow. To say the eyes of these two dead young men are haunting would be an understatement. That it is, finally, their book, their story, is underscored by the epigraph, four lines asking for pity and God’s mercy, from Francois Villon’s ”Ballade des pendus.” One thing more. We soon discover that one of the people to whom the book is dedicated is Capote’s old childhood friend Harper Lee , author of To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the best-loved stories of our time. From all the advance publicity about the making of the book, we already knew that Harper Lee had helped him in various ways in the research and socially in winning over reticent people in Kansas. The advance publicity, unusual for the time, and the carefully designed jacket copy for the book served a powerful technical purpose as well. Since we knew, more or less, what was coming to pass before reading the first words on the first page, knew that what was coming was horrific—“blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces,” to be followed in due course by a double hanging, Capote was free to do what he did, building his story quietly and inexorably. Building it around a classical four-part structure, he could, paradoxically, keep suspense at a high level throughout. The first three sections move along quickly and easily, intercutting back and forth between the murderers and their unsuspecting victims, then the hunters and the hunted. In the final section, “The Corner,” dealing with the trial and punishment, Capote demonstrated a virtuoso magician’s sleight of hand. By now all the original suspense has been dissipated, and the announced conclusion, the hanging of the killers, was obligatory. Yet he managed to get there without any diminishment of intensity or interest. The hanging scene is one of the finest of its kind, right up there with Melville’s Billy Budd and the hanging of Popeye in William Faulkner ‘s Sanctuary. With one great difference. Melville and Faulkner scrupulously avoided the dramatic cliches, working against the grain of the material. Capote pulled out all the stops: “The hangman coughed—impatiently lifted his cowboy hat and settled it again, a gesture somehow reminiscent of a turkey buzzard huffing, then smoothing its neck feathers—and Hickcock, nudged by an attendant, mounted the scaffold steps.” That others present at the scene recalled the details, including the condemned men’s last words, differently is not strictly relevant. It’s a hell of a hanging. Before In Cold Blood Capote had written—in Other Voices, Other Rooms, The Grass Harp, even in the lighthearted Breakfast at Tiffany’s—romantic fables, well-removed from the world of “realistic” fiction. Even though each of these works is different from the others, all have a clear and consistent moral frame, an inversion of conventional, middle-class values. Even the lovable Holly Golightly of Breakfast at Tiffany’s has a hard and independent core: “Good? Honest is more what I mean. Not low-type honest—I’d rob a grave, I’d steal two-bits off a dead man’s eyes if I thought it would contribute to the day’s enjoyment—but unto-thyself-type honest. Be anything but a coward, a pretender, an emotional crook, a whore: I’d rather have cancer than a dishonest heart.” In each of these books, and most of the short stories, it is the outsiders and the outcasts who reject conventional morality and are examples of another kind of virtue. Those who manage to prosper or get along in the duplicitous world of practical matters are usually exposed as being at heart deceitful and/or self-deceived, hypocrites at best. It is these, too, who make real mischief and cause real trouble. In the end, thanks to a kind of whimsical Providence or poetic justice they get what is coming to them. In In Cold Blood it is the all-American Clutter family—Herbert William Clutter, 48, the father; Bonnie, his wife; Kenyon, 15, the only son; and Nancy, 16, “the town darling“—whom destiny has selected to represent, in Capote’s telling, “sane, safe, insular, even smug America—people who have every chance against people who have none.” Anyone at all familiar with the world of Capote’s earlier fiction knew two things, why he had chosen this subject and not another and what doom was coming to the Clutters, from the moment he first introduced Herbert Clutter. “Always certain of what he wanted in the world, Mr. Clutter had in large measure obtained it.” Poor Clutter is even physically emblematic of the doom-deserving, vulnerable losers (outward and visible winners) of Capote’s universe: “Though he wore rimless glasses and was of but average height, standing just under five feet ten, Mr. Clutter cut a man’s-man figure. His shoulders were broad, his hair had held its dark color, his square-jawed confident face retained a healthy-hued youthfulness, and his teeth, unstained and strong enough to shatter walnuts, were still intact.” People who happened to have read Capote would read that passage and others with an awareness of his irony. People who had never read a word until the arrival of In Cold Blood, the huge majority of the audience that made the book a bestseller, were at once invited and allowed to take things straight, at face value. The subtext, however, is slightly camouflaged and complicated because there are some good “straights” in the story, the most important of whom, “a lean and handsome fourth-generation Kansan of forty-seven,” is Alvin Adams Dewey, an agent of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the closest facsimile of a conventional “hero” in the book. Alvin Dewey and his family became friends of Capote in real life and was noted by Gloria Steinem in her account of “The Party” in 1967. “Alvin Dewey answered questions about problems of the Clutter case, just as dignified and direct in the Paley dining room as he had been in Kansas during the murder investigation in In Cold Blood.” Subtext: There are some real people out there beyond the Hudson, Dorothy. Even in a place like Kansas. But Dewey, as a figure in the book, is treated with a respect and consideration that, otherwise, only the killers receive. Capote is adroitly clever here, too. He inverts the old good-cop-bad-cop convention and uses it on the murderers. One, Dick Hickcock, is from the outset the most blameworthy and the least attractive, basically a bad influence on the other, Perry Smith, who is presented with deeply dimensional sympathy. Hickcock is the heavy. There is an archetypal malevolence about him with his head “halved like an apple, then put together a fraction off center,” with his “left eye being truly serpentine, with a venomous, sickly-blue squint that, although it was involuntarily acquired, seemed nevertheless to warn of bitter sediment at the bottom of his nature.” That’s our first impression. Not too pretty, huh? You bring a serpent and an apple together in the same paragraph and you’re talking Original Sin and suchlike. Perry Smith, though he suffers from a physical deformity as the result of an accident, has an interesting look about him: “It was a changeling’s face, and mirror-guided experiments had taught him how to ring the changes, how to look now ominous, now impish, now soulful; a tilt of the head, a twist of the lips, and the corrupt gypsy became the gentle romantic.” Perry Smith becomes in almost every detail we are given a spooky embodiment of Capote’s early fiction. What could be more perfect for a Capote protagonist than to be the child of “a lean Cherokee girl (who) rode a wild horse, a ‘bucking bronco,’ and her loosened hair whipped back and forth, flew about like a flamenco dancer’s”? Capote gives us an empathetic and fascinating look at a murderer’s psyche through his portrait of Perry Smith. There are a number of problems, more evident in hindsight than at the time. For one thing there is the complex matter of fact and judgment. When pictures of the people involved appeared in the magazines, it was clear how much of Capote’s descriptions and judgments was subjective, literary. The people did not look much like the people he described. Later it turned out that they did not do or say all the things he attributed to them; and some things neither he nor anyone else could have known. Still, it was wonderful reporting and charged writing. And we have become used to the other flaws in our post-Capote non-fiction narratives. There is also the slightly more disturbing fact that neither the Clutters nor the killers were fictional constructs. They were real people. The brains and blood and hair that splatter walls of the house at River Valley Farm were real. There remains the often asked and always unanswered question, then: were the lives and deaths of these people exploited for the sake of our titillation and the author’s profit? Maybe so, but by now both titillation and profit from the real sufferings of others have become so commonplace as to leave us unfit to ask that question about a book from 31 years ago. Maybe Capote lent to the “true crime” story a patina of literary respectability; but now it seems that this was coming anyway, part of the spirit of the 1960’s, as was our gradual change over from concern for victims to fascination with perpetrators. Capote’s book had something to do with that change of heart and values and certainly spawned a multitude of literary imitations in both fiction and non-fiction. For that reason alone In Cold Blood is an important book, an historical landmark. And, finally, there is another, maybe stronger claim the book makes. The “real” world of America as revealed in this story, of which Capote said at the time “It’s what I really think about America,” has come to pass, is far more a matter of public fact than private vision. Who today would deny that we live in a “desperate, savage, violent America (that is) in collision with sane, safe, insular, even smug America”? In that sense In Cold Blood can qualify as prophecy. What was beyond prophecy, even predictability, was that this book would be the last “big” book by Truman Capote. There would be five more books in his lifetime, none without style and merit, but none of them more than minor exercises. When he died in 1984, he had been working for many years on the novel Answered Prayers, dealing with his rich and powerful acquaintances, the folks who came to The Party. When something was cobbled together by Random House from published excerpts and leftover bits and pieces, it was described on the jacket as “perhaps the most famous unpublished novel in contemporary American letters.” The publication of Answered Prayers in 1987 did little or nothing to change that judgment call. Meantime, no question about it, Truman Capote’s continuing claim on our attention derives from and rests in a single extraordinary volume—In Cold Blood. Source Citation (MLA 7th Edition) Garrett, George. “Then and Now: In Cold Blood Revisited.” The Virginia Quarterly Review 72 (Summer 1996): 467-474. Rpt. in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Thomas J. Schoenberg and Lawrence J. Trudeau. Vol. 164. Detroit: Gale, 2005. Literature Resource Center. Web. 8 Sept. 2016. URLhttp://ezp.tccd.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=LitRC&sw=w&u=txshracd2560&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CH1100002735&it=r Gale Document Number: GALE|H1100002735
IntroductionAs we finish the semester, we will spend some time reflecting on the themes we have covered this semester and the evolving genre of true crime. Your final review will be in a format simila
Week 2 Other reading: Friedman, Lawrence. “Notes on the Nature of True Crime Trials.” NOTE: this article by a Stanford Law historian is quite long (though it is interesting!). You only need to read pp. 28-33 (Section C, printed pages 1270-1275), which deal specifically with the Borden case. Lizzie Borden articles This link contains the original texts of newspaper articles from the Borden case. Read two articles of your choosing from this link. The real Marie Roget: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/edgar-allan-poe-tried-and-failed-to-crack-the-mysterious-murder-case-of-mary-rogers-7493607/ Optional: Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Mystery of Marie Roget” Week 3 Other reading: Other readings: Bowden, Mark. “The Body in Room 348” Week 4 Other readings: Other readings: Seal, Mark. “Prisoner of Denver” Rich, Nathaniel. “The Neverending Nightmare of Amanda Knox” Gabrielson, Ryan, and Topher Sanders. “Busted” Press, Eyal. “Madness” Corloff, Pamela. “The Innocent Man” part 1 and part 2 Samaha, Albert. “This Is What They Did For Fun” Goffard, Christopher. “Framed” Optional: Hollandsworth, Skip. “The Killer Cadets” (this is a great read, and takes place in Mansfield, TX in the 1990s.)
IntroductionAs we finish the semester, we will spend some time reflecting on the themes we have covered this semester and the evolving genre of true crime. Your final review will be in a format simila
ENGL 2342 Quiz Rubric Excellent (100) Good (85) Satisfactory (75) Developing (60) Unsatisfactory (0-50) • Creatively answers the question, extending the insights suggested by the prompts. • Provides specific, thorough support from the text, cited correctly in MLA 8. • Uses effective word choice and perfect grammar, spelling, and usage. • Thoroughly answers the question. • Provides examples from the text, but may be missing correct citations. • Uses good word choice. Grammar/spelling may have minor errors that do not impede readability. • Answers most of the question effectively. • Attempts to provide examples from the text, but they are incomplete/ineffective. • Uses mostly effective word choice, but includes significant grammar errors that impede readability somewhat. • Answers part, but not all, of the question. • Does not provide appropriate examples. • Grammar, word choice, or spelling impede readability significantly. • Does not answer the question provided.
IntroductionAs we finish the semester, we will spend some time reflecting on the themes we have covered this semester and the evolving genre of true crime. Your final review will be in a format simila
Spectacle: The lynching of Claude Neal By Ben Montgomery, Tampa Bay Times Source URL: http://www.tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/spectacle-the-lynching-of-claude-neal/1197360 Thursday, October 20, 2011 4:30am GREENWOOD Allie Mae Neal pushed through the screen door and found a shady spot on her porch where the summer sun didn’t bite. Kittens purred at her feet and wasps flitted in and out of holes in the roof. The few neighbors who passed by saw an old woman in a wheelchair, blue eyes lazy and unfocused behind thick glasses. She’d wave and they’d wave back. Black or white. She has never held a grudge. “I never blamed nobody,” she said. “I never knew who to blame.” She never knew because nobody was ever charged with a crime, and because no man spent a single second in a cell for the things they did to her father, with knives and rope and hate. Seventy-seven years have passed. She can’t remember his face. If she ever wanted to look, she could study the single photograph of him that exists. But in it, he is hanging from a tree. The story of her father’s death ran in newspapers from New York to Los Angeles, detailing how a small band of men killed him, and how a mob mutilated his corpse. They called it a spectacle lynching, and historians say it was perhaps the worst act of torture and execution in 20th century America. The killing became Florida’s shame. President Franklin D. Roosevelt knew her father’s name. Claude Neal. But America moved on, all except for Allie Mae, who is still jolted awake by nightmares, and the other descendants of Claude Neal, who are still scattered and broken, and a few historians, who have never told the story whole. In the Panhandle town of Greenwood, the lynching of Claude Neal remains in some families a dark legend. Those who could remember it outright are mostly dead. The ones who inherited the stories have kept them secret, safe. A car pulled up outside Allie Mae’s little house. Out stepped her cousin, Orlando Williams. He is 64, too young to remember his uncle. But he has seen the way the violence ripped through generations of his family. He’s young enough to keep hoping, if not for justice, then at least for answers. He climbed the steps and kissed Allie Mae on the cheek. “I promise,” he whispered. “I know,” she said. For 25 years he has vowed to bring amends. He has fired off letters to lawyers, congressmen, governors, presidents. After decades of rejection, there came, this summer, a knock at his door. The Justice Department had opened an investigation into the 1934 lynching of Claude Neal. Whether because of Williams’ efforts, or simply because the world has kept turning, one of the most atrocious chapters of Florida history is getting another look. The six men who tortured Claude Neal in the woods have never been publicly named. Those who kept his severed fingers in jars as souvenirs have not had to explain. Greenwood, a place where the names on the church rolls haven’t changed, has not had to face its history. Its people — the shrinking number who know — are still protecting the reputations of killers. Jackson County, Florida, 1934: Drip coffee, Purity Ice Cream, turnips, chuck roast, mustard for 15 cents a quart, 26 cents for a dozen eggs. Sun-bleached overalls, Baptists, Methodists, kerosene lamps, screen doors, mosquitoes, pine trees, knee stains, brick chimneys, K & K Grocery, and cotton, 12 cents a pound. Cotton on the roadside and cotton in the ditch and cotton in forever rows stretched across fields flat as tabletops. Greenwood, 9 miles north of the county seat, was a one-telephone town of 1,300 farmers and sharecroppers staked to the Florida dirt against the tide of the Great Depression. On the afternoon of Oct. 18, 1934, a white girl went out to water the hogs and did not come home. Lola Cannady was 20 years old, 5 feet tall and 90 pounds. She had brown hair and thin lips, and she was pretty for a farm girl raised in a clapboard shack. She was engaged to a boy who lived not far away. Their wedding was close. She was last seen heading to a pen across the dirt road from the only house she had ever known. When she didn’t return, her family began to search. Neighbors joined, and the hunt stretched through the night, with guns and dogs and lanterns. They scoured the woods and set bonfires in the fields. The next morning, the sun rose on a commotion. At 6:45 a.m., Sheriff Flake Chambliss, a big and burly man who was well-regarded, inspected the scene. Lola’s body had been covered by pine boughs and logs. When he pulled away the brush he could see that Lola, fully dressed, had been beaten over the head. Chambliss found a piece of torn cloth nearby. He kept it as evidence. He called upon two doctors to examine the body. Both agreed she had been murdered and that she’d had sexual intercourse. One called it rape. Talk among the Cannady family and their neighbors turned to Claude Neal. Neal, a 23-year-old farmhand, had grown up with Lola. He was short and scrawny. He couldn’t read or write. He scraped by, picking peas and cotton, mending fences and tending to hogs. He had a wife and a young daughter named Allie Mae. He lived with his aunt, who had inherited 40 acres near the Cannady place. A sheriff’s deputy found him in the corn crib of an employer, where he had spent the night. The local newspaper reported that the sheriff found Neal’s bloody clothes in his aunt’s wash, and the swatch of cloth found in the woods was fitted to his shirt. The sheriff hauled Neal to the jail in Marianna, the county seat, but he sensed something stirring. This was a place where church pews filled on Sundays, but Jackson County wasn’t past dark days. It was still scarred by a bloody Civil War battle and a Reconstruction-era race war. Six blacks had been lynched here since 1900. The headline in the local paper after Lola Cannady’s death read: Ku Klux Klan May Ride Again, Jackson County Citizens May Rally to Fiery Cross to Protect Womanhood. Sheriff Chambliss had just two deputies, so his tactic was to hide Neal the best he could. The next 24 hours were a game of cat and mouse. Chambliss moved Neal to the jail in Chipley, then Panama City, then Camp Walton. The gun-hung whites of Jackson County split up to search a 75-mile radius. By 9:30 that night, 100 farmers, unmasked and drinking, swarmed the Bay County jail, moments too late. The next morning, 50 men surrounded the sheriff’s house, demanding to know Neal’s whereabouts. The sheriff wouldn’t tell. The authorities smuggled Neal across the state line to Brewton, Ala., more than 150 miles from Greenwood. They booked him in as John Smith from Montgomery, charged with vagrancy, and placed him in the best-protected cell. By then, another crowd had gathered at George Cannady’s house. The old man talked to a reporter from the local newspaper. He said his daughter had been choked so hard her eyes were coming out of their sockets. “Lord, but you can’t know how it hurts,” he said. “The bunch have promised me that they will give me the first chance at him when they bring him back and I’ll be ready. We’ll put those two logs on him and ease him off by degrees. “When I get my hands on that nigger, there isn’t any telling what I’ll do.” Inside the jail in Brewton, in the double-locked cell in the back, Claude Neal was alone. The sheriff from Escambia County had questioned him twice and produced a confession signed with an X. It said Neal had gone into the field behind his mother’s house with a relative, Herbert Smith, to catch a sow. He had noticed Lola Cannady cleaning out a hog trough. She asked for help and Neal washed out the trough and pumped it full of water. When Lola turned to go, Smith caught her arm. “How about me being with you?” he asked. “You must be a fool,” she said. Smith grabbed her, dragged her to the edge of the woods and told Neal to hold her arms. He raped her, then said, “Come on, Claude, and get yours.” When they were finished, the confession said, Smith broke a small, dead oak tree and hit her on the head. They covered her with pine boughs, still alive. The confession didn’t jibe with the way Chambliss laid out the story in the local newspaper. And when Smith was brought to face Neal, police said, Neal recanted and said he had acted alone. The Escambia County sheriff, who took Neal’s statement, told the press he had never wanted to kill a Negro so bad in his life. Herbert Smith was never arrested. And even with a new confession, the case against Neal had holes. Whether he was guilty would be lost to history, for he would never face trial. Men were already rushing toward the jail at Brewton. They arrived after midnight on Oct. 26 and held a shotgun on the jailer. They found Claude Neal, tied his hands with a plow rope, stuffed him in the backseat and slipped out of town into the darkness. In New York, Walter White was incredulous. The secretary of the fledgling National Association for the Advancement of Colored People watched from a distance. By his tally, Claude Neal was about to become the 5,068th person lynched in the United States since 1882, and the 45th since Franklin D. Roosevelt entered the White House. He was about to become the 16th lynching victim that year, and there was little White, or anybody, could do. A story about Neal’s abduction ran on the front page of the New York Times that Friday, Oct. 26, seven days after Lola’s body was found, four days after the confession signed with an X was produced. Papers across the country focused the nation’s attention on Greenwood. Mob Holds Negro; Invitations Issued For Lynch Party ‘All White Folks’ Invited To Party Thousands In Throng To See Florida Mob Murder Negro White, 41, sent a telegram to Florida Gov. David Sholtz at 5:22 p.m. EVERY DECENT PERSON NORTH AND SOUTH LOOKS TO YOU TO TAKE EVERY POSSIBLE STEP TO AVOID THIS DISGRACE UPON THE STATE OF FLORIDA (STOP) DOTHAN ALABAMA EAGLE ALSO ANNOUNCES THAT NEGRO IS BEING HELD BY MOB FOUR MILES FROM SCENE WHERE HE IS TO BE BURNED AT STAKE (STOP) WE URGE UPON YOU TO TAKE IMMEDIATE STEPS TO RESCUE NEGRO FROM MOB AND PLACE HIM IN SAFE CUSTODY Gov. Sholtz said he couldn’t send troops to Greenwood without a request from Sheriff Chambliss. Chambliss had not asked for help. He would say later that he couldn’t even find the mob. White didn’t trust the local press, so he called upon a friend, a liberal Southern preacher named Howard “Buck” Kester, to investigate. He wanted to know who was responsible for taking Neal, and he wanted them brought to justice. In a place so small, with so many watching the events unfold, maybe an enterprising white man could sort through the chaos and come up with some names. Cars lined the dirt road in front of the Cannady home for a mile in both directions, splitting cotton patches and hog pens and woods of black jacks, water oaks, dog fennels and persimmon bushes. By 7:30 p.m. more than 2,000 people from 11 states had gathered, according to a Dothan Eagle reporter there. They passed jugs of moonshine and stood around bonfires. George Cannady, 70, paced his property, patting a revolver stuck in his belt. The Cannady clan stepped forward, 14 of them, some carrying knives. “The womenfolk will do what they want to the nigger,” one man said, according to the Eagle reporter. “Then the men will get him.” “Alright!” the crowd shouted. “We want the Negro!” Neal was being held several miles away, in the woods, on the banks of the Chattahoochee River. The six men who had abducted him — who referred to themselves as the Committee of Six — sent word that the mob should disperse. They feared someone would be injured if they introduced Neal into the drunken, chaotic crowd. About 1 a.m., headlamps danced through the woods as a line of cars rolled into the yard. Behind one, a rope jerked as the car hit bumps. The body on the end of the rope was covered with dust and blood. A man standing on the back sliced the rope, and the body slid limp. Lola Cannady’s mother and sister were first to the corpse. They slashed it with their knives. Her brother cut off a finger. George Cannady, crying, pumped bullets into Neal’s body. Men, women and children, some just toddlers, walked past the corpse and stabbed it with sticks. They kicked the dead man’s body, spit on it and drove their cars over it. When they had finished, the men threw the corpse onto the running board of a car and left for Marianna. At the courthouse square, they hung Claude Neal’s body from a strong oak. A newspaper reporter counted 50 gunshot wounds. Souvenir seekers cut off his fingers and toes and skinned his body with knives. At 6:32 that Saturday morning, Sheriff Chambliss cut down the work of the Jackson County mob. The governor’s phone wouldn’t stop ringing. One man in Marianna called it a “day of terror and madness.” The messages piled up. Mayor of Marianna called and advises that help is needed at once. Doc Baltzell — Bad situation, worse than can be imagined — need 2 companies. Threatening to burn out all Negro quarters tonight. Clake Hotel Calling. Fist fights going on spasmodically. Crowd peeved at Sheriff. Surely need help — running all negroes out of sight. The whites had burned the homes belonging to Neal’s kin. They chased blacks through the streets. Two hundred stormed the jail to get a man accused of throwing a bottle at a white man. They didn’t relent until an officer produced a machine gun. Some white employers held the mob at bay with rifles, protecting their workers. The black people hid. They hid under houses. They hid in their employers’ closets. They fled in droves, some driving, some running. Those cursed with the last name of Neal abandoned the lives they had known and ran. A Neal relative brought his wagon down from Donalsonville, Ga., and told the children to hide under corn and hay until they’d made it safely away. In a thicket outside town, a pregnant woman laid low. She was scared and in pain. The baby inside her would not survive. It is impossible to know whether she knew this. What she did know, what she must have known, is that her life would never be the same. Hunkered beside her was her 3-year-old daughter, Allie Mae. C’mon now, she whispered to the girl. Go with me. Allie Mae Neal is 80 now, and she has no memory of those thick woods save for the stories her mother told. She remembers that the doctors had to cut the fetus from her mother when she couldn’t deliver. She doesn’t remember how it happened, but as they ran, Allie Mae was hurt. “The doctors said they couldn’t tell what was wrong,” she recalled. “They said, ‘When they was dragging you around, something must have happened to you.’ ” Still, if she tweaks her neck or back, she can’t move for several days. She remembers missing school because of it. She remembers her mother having to cut clothes off her back. Her childhood was filled with worry. She walked 3 miles to school, and each passing car was a threat, so she’d hide in the woods. Each white neighbor was a possible predator, so she rarely got close. She hardly left her mother’s side. “She was all I had,” she said, “and I was all she had.” Her teachers favored her. They’d catch her quietly sobbing when the fathers would show up to escort her playmates home, and they’d give her Tim Tam cookies and sing to her, Sally Go Round the Moon. They never talked about it, but it seemed like they understood. When she was older, she cleaned homes in Marianna. Some made the connection. They’d tell her it was a damn shame those men killed her daddy. She can’t remember her father at all. Her mother would tell stories about how, after baths, he’d dress her up and tie bows in her hair. She sees him now in the empty spaces. He looks like her Uncle Grady, handsome and smiling. At night, she lies in bed, staring at the ceiling and thinking about him. She has lived 77 years with a tangible void. Nightmares still interrupt her sleep, but she keeps all the bad inside. “I never have been full of hatred,” she said. “Just every little thing that go on I’d say, I wish I had a daddy. If my daddy was living, so and so. If I had a daddy, I could go such and such a place. I kept that up all the time. My daddy wouldn’t let this happen. My daddy wouldn’t let that happen. “I never had a father to take me to a school party or nothing. I never had the joy of a daddy. Never did.” She has never seen the photograph. It steals your breath. It was snapped before sunup, on Oct. 27, 1934. It shows a thin, short man hanging by his neck from an oak tree in front of the Jackson County courthouse. The man is naked and mutilated. Blood streaks his skin. A rope is tied crudely around his neck. It is not a noose, not meant for killing, for he was dead when he arrived. This hanging was for display. His missing fingers and toes were community keepsakes. At the edge of the frame stands a white man wearing a jacket and hat and a blank stare. The photograph sold for 50 cents on the street that day. That photograph stoked public outrage the way that images of police dogs and fire hoses would 30 years later. The NAACP mailed the photograph and Buck Kester’s investigative report to 15,000 politicians, editors, academics and preachers. Claude Neal’s naked body appeared in newspapers across the country. Men and women put stamps on their anger. “I realize that to you a nigger is probably less deserving of pity than a dog,” a Michigan man wrote to the Florida governor, “but could any decent man stand by and see a dog mutilated, burned, shot, kicked and hanged without making any attempt to save its life?” “Things like this make me almost ashamed of being white,” wrote a woman from Massachusetts. “How long are these mobs of Southern white trash going to get away with their cowardly, inhuman persecution of colored people?” Writers, teachers and clergymen prodded the government to investigate. Newspaper editorials urged the governor to arrest the lynchers, and when it was clear he wouldn’t, they turned to the Department of Justice and the president. But they deferred to the people of Jackson County, saying no federal law had been broken. This stirred progressive politicians, and the next year was the closest Congress ever came to passing antilynching legislation. The need soon faded. Lynchings, already on the decline nationwide, dropped from about 15 a year to fewer than five. There would never again be a lynching in America as large or grotesque. As for the people of Jackson County? A grand jury met three times. It concluded that Claude Neal undoubtedly raped and killed Lola Cannady, and that he was killed “by persons unknown to us.” So civilization marched forward, but it left behind a secret. The killers remained nameless as their crime faded from collective memory. “Most all of the old people who might remember are gone,” said Lizzie Long, 81, who still lives in Greenwood and remembers seeing people running through the woods. “I just can’t go back that far,” said Laura World, 96. “I remember enough to know we were all scared.” “All I know is the stories I’ve been told,” said Doyle Green, 83. “I just know why they killed him was to send a message. If you cross the line, you’re going to die. . . . And they ain’t many people who wants to die.” A few people have tried to break the silence. But each backed off in fear for his safety. When Buck Kester, the NAACP investigator, showed up at a church to meet a black minister, he found the house of God swarmed by white men with flashlights. Cover blown, he left town as quickly as he could, but not before getting a few names “rumored in Marianna to have had a good deal to do with the affair”: Bowen Griffin, Bruce Carter and “Peg-leg” Brown. In the late 1970s and early ’80s, a professor tried again. He was threatened. Some talked on the condition of anonymity. His sources became “psychotically paranoid and frantic.” Later, a sheriff who wanted to take another look was warned: “You just leave that alone.” George W. Cannady’s grandson lives in an old mobile home less than half a mile from where his Aunt Lola was killed. The folks at the courthouse had suggested visitors approach with caution. The Cannadys are “peculiar,” they said. The property is littered with junk cars and rusty farm implements. A young woman came out of the house. “Y’all should just let sleeping dogs lie,” she said. Then she disappeared inside. A few minutes passed before a man emerged, shirt unbuttoned, Velcro shoes, and introduced himself as George Cannady. He stood in the dirt and swatted gnats. His family has its own version of events: The whole thing started over an unpaid debt and a family feud about a milk cow. His grandfather went mad because he had wanted to kill Neal himself. Cannady, 62, said he has always been interested in the lynching, and even did some of his own research in the state archives. He said he knew the Committee of Six, but he wouldn’t identify them. “I ain’t going to go there,” he said. “I even had conversations with some of ’em, years later. They was decent people. I think they felt so bad about her. It is a little 5-foot girl weighs 90 pounds being brutalated and raped by such a monster, you know? “I think the people just said, ‘Well, if we let this go on, then somebody else, it’ll happen to them.’ They just didn’t want it to go on, you know?” Cannady said the primary lynchers are all dead. He mentioned one of their names, and when pressed for more information, he retracted, said the man has descendants and he wouldn’t want them angry. “If I find out you put that name in that damn paper,” he said, “I’m going to look for you, boy.” JOHN P. McDANIEL is 70, retired now, a proud Democrat still living in Jackson County, where he served as sheriff for nearly three decades. In the early 1980s he began quietly studying the Neal lynching. He had grown up hearing the rumors and always wondered. He asked the county historian for help. The two returned to the crime scene. They found a pad of ash, all that remained of the Neal family home that was burned to the ground five decades before. They photographed the dilapidated Cannady house nearby. They scoured handwritten notes and evidence logs. Sheriff McDaniel, known to locals as Johnny Mac, talked to an old man who claimed to have been present when Neal was killed — not involved, but there. He named names. One of the names belonged to a man who was still alive. The man was old, ill and senile. And then, nothing. McDaniel dropped it. “His memory had gone,” McDaniel said. “It was just of no value to talk to him. He wasn’t going to tell me nothing.” The sheriff felt conflicted. “If I could have solved the case and brought the men to trial, I would have, but it would have taken a lot of evidence,” he said, “and it just wasn’t there.” Plenty of people claimed to know who was involved, but their stories fell apart under scrutiny. He talked to a woman who remembered seeing the silhouettes of chickens flying through the air as the Neal family’s house burned. But when it came to what happened on the Chattahoochee, most of what he heard was hearsay. “If you can’t prove it, you just have speculation,” he said. “And if you speculate, you might harm an innocent person.” Locals are still sensitive about the lynching. Jackson County has been painted as a racist backwater before, and McDaniel said it’s not like that. “I love this county very much. I gave this county 34 years of my life. I love every person in it, black, white, green,” he said. “I’m not going to do anything that will hurt this county. It’s been too good to me.” There is one other person he can think of who knows more than he does. On a blistering August afternoon, Dale Cox bounced in his pickup down a dirt road, outside a fall-down hamlet called Two Egg, east of Greenwood. Tall pines rose on the roadsides. Cox grew up here. A reporter turned historian, he has spent much of his life digging into the past of Jackson County — Civil War battles, ghost towns, racial violence. He has been collecting information about the Claude Neal lynching since he helped Sheriff McDaniel investigate in the early 1980s. He has unearthed new material, unseen photographs, evidence reports. He finally arrived at a boat launch on an inlet near the Chattahoochee River, a stone’s throw from the Georgia border. He parked and found a small opening to a thickly wooded area north of the launch. “Through here,” he said. He walked a crooked path through the thick forest, glancing up occasionally at the canopy. He came upon an overgrown road that once led to a steamboat port called Peri Landing. Not far away, he spotted a tall post oak rising above the pines. “This is it,” he said, touching its bark. Only five or six people alive know where this tree is, he said. “People who came out here after the fact told me that it looked like a deer had been slaughtered,” he said. At the base of the tree, the vegetation is sparse. “The folklore is that nothing will grow where his blood was spilled.” While the crowd of thousands waited at the Cannady farm, the Committee of Six brought Neal here, Cox said. They bound him to this tree with trace chains and held him for eight hours. Cox thinks there should be a historical marker here, but he doesn’t think the community is ready to open up about what happened, to be linked publicly and forever to such an act. “In a way, 1934 was a long time ago,” Cox said, taking a seat at the base of the tree. “In a way it isn’t, because people still remember it. Locally, there’s still a lot of sensitivity.” He has looked at enough evidence to draw some conclusions. “The physical evidence tells me Neal likely committed murder.” He pointed to Neal’s confessions, the sheriff’s report that says Neal’s mother admitted washing his bloody clothes, the footprints at the crime scene leading to Neal’s house, the piece of cloth that the sheriff said fit Neal’s shirt. It’s easy to question the integrity of the investigation. But Neal’s guilt or innocence isn’t really the point. A group of men usurped the legal system and butchered him in a way that was unusually depraved, even for the time. Cox interviewed two of the Committee of Six. They were his neighbors, men who knew his father and grandfather. He said he knows the names of the men responsible, and this has put him in an uncomfortable position. The last of the men died a few years ago, but their descendants are still around. If he makes their names public, he said, it could harm people connected by blood to a crime they had nothing to do with and may know nothing about. Not just the lynchers’ children, but grandchildren, nephews, nieces. “I’m conflicted about it, almost from an ethical standpoint,” Cox said. “These guys never had their day in court, they’re not around to defend themselves, and now, if we name them, their reputations — their families’ reputations — are tarnished forever, nationwide.” He has also wrestled with the question of proof. He wasn’t there. “They were never indicted,” he said, “and to my knowledge they were never named in any of the reports back then.” The men named in Kester’s report for the NAACP — Griffin, Carter and Brown — were not directly involved, he said. Cox, 48, has spent much of his life trying to uncover truth, recording the past in all its nobility and wretchedness, so we can better understand who we are and who we aspire to be. It’s ironic, he knows, that now he can’t tell his hometown’s biggest secret. He has been diagnosed with ALS, a terminal illness known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. His body is shutting down. Already, he grows dizzy and has to rest. He’ll lose the ability to move his arms and legs, the ability to speak and, eventually, to breathe. He knows this, and it’s why he has been working hard to finish a book he started long ago: The Claude Neal Lynching. He will tell everything he knows, except for the names of the men responsible. He is willing to name names only if the FBI asks, so someone else can responsibly vet the information. But he has shared the transcript of one of his interviews. This is the first time it has been published. He was scared to begin with, telling us he didn’t do it but that he would point out the man that did. Stuff like that. But then after he got relaxed he started to get mad and uppity. He said he had done it and if she weren’t dead he would do it again. We was supposed to take him to old man Cannady’s house and let him do the killing, but we heard from our man there that there was so many people that showing up with him would just get people hurt. So instead we took him down to Peri Landing and chained him to a tree on that little rise there where the road cuts down through the hill back from the river. Know where I mean? Cox: Yes, sir. Well, we kept asking him weren’t he sorry for what he had done, but he kept saying no sir, he wasn’t. We beat on him some, I reckon, and started cutting him and letting the blood run then burned the blood with a torch. We did a lot to him, I reckon. Cox: Like what? Well, I guess we was pretty liquored up and I ain’t like that no more, but we cut off his balls and made him eat them and say they was good. Then we cut off his pecker and made him eat it and say it was good. Burned him up some. Whipped him some. I know everybody says we cut off his fingers and toes and all that but we didn’t really do that. Other people did that later. After he was killed. Cox: How was he killed? Oh, well, we decided we couldn’t risk carrying him alive up to Cannady’s place, so somebody shot him. Cox: Who did the shooting? I don’t rightly recollect for sure but I think it was (name withheld). He had his pistol with him and I recollect he or (name withheld) shot him in the head. Cox: What happened then? Well, we put him up on the back of the car and carried him in slow procession I guess you could say up to Parramore and then on up the Bascom road. We stopped there at your granddaddy’s and showed him what we had done. You ever hear of that? Cox: Yes, sir, my dad and uncles have talked about it. From there we went on up the old road near abouts to Bascom then on over to the Cannady place. When we got there we kicked him off the bumper and drug him on up there. The old man and old woman came out and was pretty mad with us. He kept saying that we had promised him he could do it, but we hadn’t promised nobody nothing. (Name withheld) came out and shot a round of bullets into him but he was already dead. (Name withheld) cut off the little finger on his left hand too. Everybody that wanted to took a look and some of the kids poked him with sticks or kicked at him. Somebody then said that if old Flake wanted him so bad, we should take him on up there andgive him to him. So we took him up to the courthouse and hung him in a tree right outside Flake’s office. That’s pretty much what we did. Cox: How do you feel about it now? Well, I don’t think much on it. It just seems like it were something that happened but it don’t seem so real nowadays. I mean I don’t feel bad about it because he raped and killed that girl. There weren’t no doubt about that. He were a bad man. A bad man. Late summer 2010, Jackson County. A light rain was falling. The sign outside the Greenwood Chapel A.M.E. Church said WELCOME SMITH AND NEAL FAMILY. Up the road, under low-hanging clouds, inside a little club called Paradise, a family gathered. It was a strange reunion. Most of them had never met. They came from places like Caryville and Madison and Donalsonville, towns that adopted them after their parents and grandparents were chased away. Claude Neal’s nephew Orlando Williams had brought them together. He hoped a reunion, with barbecue ribs and a chance to talk about the story they’ve whispered about for generations, might bring some kind of closure. The Electric Slide and family secrets. Neal’s niece, Ruth McNair, 80, rode the Greyhound up from Tampa, the first time she had been on a bus since the 1950s. She sat in the front seat because now she could. “I’m just so happy I don’t know what to do,” she said. “Somehow God took care of us. Who would have thought I’d ever be able to meet my family?” Seeing each other made them realize what had been lost. It didn’t take long for them to understand they had all been changed by the crime that had driven them apart. “It don’t ever get erased,” McNair said. When Claude Neal’s brother Joseph was on his deathbed in 2001, he had a talk with his son-in-law. It was a quiet moment, and the old man began to cry. Long ago, he said, some white men were harassing him. They thought he looked familiar. Thought he looked like a Neal. He told them he wasn’t. To save his own life, he denied his name. “He had carried that with him,” said Jerrund Sheffield of Caryville, “for a long time.” Orlando Williams stood behind the turntables, headphones over his ears. The family he had never known danced and hugged into the night. He wants to shake skeletons from closets. He has dedicated an hour a day for 25 years to getting answers. Who killed his uncle? Why was nothing done to stop it? He was encouraged when President George W. Bush signed the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2007, which authorized up to $13.5 million a year to investigate old racially motivated killings. But prosecutions are difficult. Witnesses die and memories fade and many of those crimes, no matter how awful, are never solved. Even if the Department of Justice can’t prosecute, agents deliver a report of their findings to the victims’ families in an attempt to bring closure. Williams is obsessed with exposing the truth. There were dozens of victims of the Committee of Six. Their crime chased entire bloodlines from Jackson County, tormented his elders and robbed him of his childhood. The lynching broke his own mother. “She was traumatized when her brother was killed,” he said. “She went through total hell, and she put us through total hell.” She would leave her five children with relatives and disappear for months, sometimes years. She’d return out of guilt and whisk them off to some tiny house to try to make a home. When she was sober, she was okay. But she always slipped back into dark places. She’d start talking about what the men did to her brother. She’d smoke Camels and drink moonshine. She’d hit and kick her daughters. She’d make the kids read the 23rd Psalm out loud while she drank and cried. “She just couldn’t take what happened,” Williams said. They found her dead, face down on her bed, on Valentine’s Day 1961. She had suffocated. Orlando Williams was 14. After they took her away, he stood in the room where she died. He saw a calendar on the wall above her bed and an indentation on the mattress, the empty place where his mother had been. The knock sounded official. One afternoon in early August, Orlando Williams’ wife peeked through the window of their house in Virginia and saw a man in a suit and tie standing at their door. The man flashed a badge and introduced himself as an agent with the FBI. Williams thought he was in trouble. What did I do? he asked. The agent said he was there to talk about the murder of Claude Neal. The two men sat at Williams’ kitchen table. The agent said a case had been opened and that the Justice Department intended to learn all it could. The agent took notes as Williams told him about his mother and his grandmother, shreds of stories of how a family was torn apart, and how it had come back together in search of justice. The agent said the results of the investigation would be sent to a cold-case prosecutor, and that if the evidence showed that there was a prosecutable violation of any federal statutes, appropriate action would be taken. Names would be named. When the agent left, Williams called Allie Mae to share the news that someone had finally listened, and that the rest was only a matter of time. Times researchers Natalie Watson and Shirl Kennedy, correspondent David Gardner and editor Kelley Benham contributed to this report. Ben Montgomery can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8650. About this story: This story is based on dozens of interviews over two years with the relatives of Claude Neal, residents of Jackson County and several historians. The retelling of events in October 1934 relies on documents from the state archives in Florida and Alabama, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People files at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., newspaper articles, court transcripts, Jackson County property records, scholarly publications and the 1982 book Anatomy of a Lynching: The Killing of Claude Neal, by James R. McGovern. A bibliography and links to source material are available at tampabay.com/spectacle. The lead photo has been cropped to make it suitable for publication. The original can be seen in our video report online.
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