BODIES OF EVIDENCE by Chris Anderson


The True Case of Judias Buenoano, Florida's Serial Murderess
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 Pedestrian account of the investigation and trial of an unusually monstrous parricide. On March 31, 1984, Judias Buenoano was convicted of first- degree murder, and is now on Florida's death row. Buenoano poisoned two husbands and her son; when arsenic left the boy only partially paralyzed, she took him fishing and shoved him (he wore steel leg braces weighing 50 pounds) out of the boat. She then blew up her boyfriend in his car--the crime that led to her arrest. Shortly before killing her victims, she took out multiple life-insurance policies on them, and for 12 years evaded discovery by moving to new communities. Anderson and McGehee, an N.Y.C. husband-and-wife writing-producing team, re-create the story through a chronicle- -assembled through interviews and court and medical records--of the work of Ted Chamberlain, the Pensacola detective who made the case against the killer. Buenoano is an interesting murderess, and the authors vividly re-create the milieu in which she operated. Their invented dialogue, however, is wooden when supplying narrative detail (``The victim, a John Gentry, white male, thirty-six, had already been taken to Sacred Heart Hospital...'') and clichÇd when used to convey personality (``That's mighty white of you buddy''). Through this clumsy treatment, Chamberlain comes off as a brooding Neanderthal. Since Buenoano was an inept killer and making the case against her was a routine assembling of evidence, the real interest in her story is psychological: One wishes that instead of padding their book with court testimony (more than 100 pages), the authors had probed deeper into Buenoano's background. Buenoano's madness harks back to Victorian England, when coldblooded and elaborately schemed murders of families by a spouse were more common; even contrasted to those, the crime here is particularly heinous. A book that students of murder will want to have despite its flaws. (Eight pages of photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-8184-0542-2
Page count: 320pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1991


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