REASONABLE DOUBT: A True Story of Lust and Murder in the American Heartland by Steve Vogel

REASONABLE DOUBT: A True Story of Lust and Murder in the American Heartland

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Vogel, a radio station news director in Bloomington, Ill., recounts that town's brush with tragedy when on November 7, 1983, the family of David Hendricks--three children and their mother--were found axed and knifed to death. Unfortunately, the crime in question is not the stuff of which the best crime essays are written. David Hendricks was from the beginning the only suspect in the case, despite the solely circumstantial nature of the evidence. After six weeks, he was indicted, and the ten-week trial resulted in his conviction, since upheld at two higher levels. Consequently, the author resorts to the only meat that he can really sink his teeth into--the trial transcript itself--and his narrative devolves into a full-scale recitation of the trial (fully three-fourths of the text!). Hendricks was a member of the puritanical Plymouth Brethren sect, which had found business success in marketing his invention of an orthopedic brace. The main drama of Vogel's narrative centers on the fact that as Hendricks began using pretty models for his advertising, his personal supervision of the measuring process for the brace turned into an unfulfilled erotic game--with his religious scruples turning him into a guilt-ridden man who allegedly then turned this guilt onto his family in one violent outburst. The author is clearly unmoved by the prosecution's scenario, but his final page conclusion--that the crime was probably committed by a serial killer of the type that stalks the interstate highways--seems simplistic and unfounded. Shorn of the sort of suspense that galvanized Fatal Vision, In Cold Blood, or other true-crime classics, this will appeal only to habitual trial-transcript readers.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Contemporary