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TERESITA by John O’Brien


The Voice from the Grave

by John O’Brien & Ed Baumann

Pub Date: March 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-929387-67-8

Fascinating Chicago murder procedural resolved by a voice from the afterlife, told here by the two Chicago reporters who first broke the story. O'Brien and Baumann set the stage with several lead-in chapters of straightforward reporting; then, midway through the text, a murdered woman returns to speak her murderer's name. The victim is Teresita Basa, 47, a Filipino aristocrat (and virgin) who once hoped to be a concert pianist but who was so disheartened by the Japanese occupation of her homeland that she later fled to Europe and then to the States, winding up in Chicago working as a respiratory therapist. A fire in her apartment brought firemen who discovered her nude body under a burning mattress, her legs splayed as if she'd been raped. Here, we follow the homicide investigators who check out all leads for six months until the case gets cold. Then the well-to-do Filipino wife of a doctor begins having fits of possession in which an angry Teresita announces the murderer's identity and tells what he did with the jewelry he stole from her and where it is now—especially her pearl engagement ring and jade necklace. When the doctor reluctantly calls the cops, the investigating detective is told the wife's story. He reluctantly tells his commander, who sends him and another detective out to haul in the accused murderer—who works at the same hospital as Teresita—for a talk at the station house. The suspect, they find, has a bad rap sheet that includes two rapes. When the cops grill him and then display Teresita's stolen ring and necklace, which they've found on the suspect's common-law wife, the astonished killer confesses. But the defense team at the trial tries to shoot holes in the occult background of the case. Builds to a strong climax while undermining skepticism.