A debut true crime book tells the story of a sudden murder that changes the lives of a Native American father and son.
“Native American Apache legends pass down from father-to-son across centuries,” Hutcheson begins ominously. “Of all those teachings, traditions, and legends, the ‘Legend of the Woman’ is the one they fear the most. Her presence means someone is about to die.” According to the author, there was a beautiful Apache woman sitting in the back seat of the truck as Frank “Wakado” Banashley and his son, Quinten, drove around the vicinity of Hawley Lake in Whiteriver, Arizona, on Dec. 8, 1999. Wakado—who had recently started drinking again after 16 years and whose marriage to Quinny’s mother was quickly falling apart—didn’t want his son to steal snacks from the local convenience store when they find it empty with its door ajar, but he didn’t stop the 17-year-old from doing so. A little while later, they were pulled over by Apache Reservation Police Department Officer Tenny Gatewood, a friend of Wakado’s from boyhood. Despite their friendship, over the course of the interaction both Wakado and Tenny were shot—the latter fatally. For this, Wakado was sentenced to 42 years for second-degree murder. It was inside the prison that he met Hutcheson, a fellow inmate, and decided to tell him what happened that fateful day as well as in the years before and after. It is the stirring story of a man who would do anything for his family, especially his son. The author’s prose tells the tale from Wakado’s perspective, summoning the man’s emotional trauma with stark images: “Deep in Wakado’s soul, those wounds remained suppressed for two decades, and the time had come for them to be free. The small emotional moment with” a faithful friend “caused a seismic event in Wakado that allowed his secret to ooze to the surface like hot magma.” Hutcheson does his best to give the story an intriguing shape, jumping back and forth through time and ending chapters with cliffhangers. Even so, the book reads like it was written by a friend of Wakado’s in terms of its sympathies.
A rough but affecting account of an Apache’s love for his son.