2 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful
Anna L. (annalovesbooks) reviewed Shattered Justice : A Savage Murder and the Death of Three Families' Innocence on
Helpful Score: 3
ISBN 0060766328 - Reading true crime books often leaves me feeling a little bad about myself. I mean, we're often talking about peeking into (a) the tragedy of a family and (b) the mind of a nutcase. And these books aren't "case study" things, so that excuse goes out the window. In this case, for once, I closed the book feeling like I'd read something worth reading and learned something worth knowing. Who'd have thought?
Stephanie Crowe was murdered in her bedroom while her family slept. There was no evidence of forced entry, no one was woken up by any noise from the killer or victim and there was one more thing: Stephanie's brother didn't seem to join the family's grieving. The police focused on Michael Crowe early, questioning him extensively. His answers led them to one of his friends, that friend's answers led them to another friend and, soon, the police had their killers - one jealous brother and his closest friends. There was only one problem. There was no evidence that they'd committed the crime. Instead, all the evidence pointed to another killer. The police proceeded to follow their theory, rather than the evidence, and turned the murder of Stephanie - what should be the worst thing to ever happen to the family - into just the beginning of the Crowe family nightmare.
This isn't a spoiler, it's right on the back cover: "a nightmare of FOUR INNOCENT lives shattered". While Stephanie's murder is a tragedy and the start of the story, it is not the primary focus of the book. Author John Philpin has chosen, instead, to step outside the usual pattern of true crime novels and tell the story of the wrongly accused boys and the man who, eventually, put the breaks on the legal system that was working so hard to railroad those kids. The interrogations of the boys are a little tedious to read, but I think that's part of the author's point: if reading it feels tortuous, imagine living it - as a teenager who has been taken from his family, in the immediate aftermath of his sister's murder, and who's been told that he's the killer. If you're not able to grasp that, you might try watching The Interrogation of Michael Crowe (True Stories Collection TV Movie). The way the boys are forced into confessing will make most people think twice before scoffing at the idea that people will confess to things they didn't do (and, in this era, might make them re-think their definition of "torture").
There are several other books about this case or that mention this case - Michael's, not really Stephanie's - and one that sticks out is ISBN 0974134201 Who Killed Stephanie Crowe: Anatomy of a Murder Investigation, notable largely because it seems to be an attempt to shore up the police department's crumbling reputation over the case, as it was still unfolding, and from which the police who "collaborated" on the book made money (yes, while still working the case). In interviews about the book the author, University of Texas at Dallas criminology professor Paul E. Tracy, stated that the evidence against the boys (none) was greater than the evidence against the actual killer (DNA), which sparked some controversy at the time. If you choose to read that one, you might want to counter it with other, more reality-based, books that include the story of Michael Crowe: ISBN 1420047515 Criminal Investigative Failures, ISBN 0306815605 I Am Innocent!: A Comprehensive Encyclopedic History of the World's Wrongly Convicted Persons and ISBN 0387331514 Interrogations, Confessions, and Entrapment (Perspectives in Law & Psychology). The titles alone tell you something is amiss in Tracy's book!
Bet you were thinking this was a fluffy book, weren't you? It is, in its own way, but the story is stunning enough to deserve further research.