One early spring day, two young girls took a short-cut home from school through the woods. Then in a few horrifying moments, the tranquility of the day was shattered by rape, torture and murder. A small Vermont town and the entire nation was stunned - these gruesome crimes had been committed not by hardened criminals but by two young boys, fifteen and sixteen years old.OneOne early spring day, two young girls took a short-cut home from school through the woods. Then in a few horrifying moments, the tranquility of the day was shattered by rape, torture and murder. A small Vermont town and the entire nation was stunned - these gruesome crimes had been committed not by hardened criminals but by two young boys, fifteen and sixteen years old.One of America's finest investigative journalists, Peter Meyer, recounts this provocative true story of terror in the small Vermont town of Essex Junction. He powerfully recreates this tragic case and its complex emotional aftermath - the statewide manhunt, the trial, and the chilling results that sent one teenage killer to prison for life and set the other free after two and a half years. Here is the shocking story....
|Title||:||Death of Innocence: The True Story of an Unspeakable Teenage Crime|
|Number of Pages||:||300 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Death of Innocence: The True Story of an Unspeakable Teenage Crime Reviews
The Village of Essex Junction, Vermont. This is where I live. How fucking quaint can you get, right? This is straight from our website: “Essex Junction today is a nearly textbook model of a well planned, human scale, sustainable community. Within the Village borders are three well kept public parks with a full range of recreational facilities, and programs managed by the Essex Junction Recreation and Parks department.”The total area is about 4.6 square miles. We had 9,271 residents at the 2010 census and the big news on our home page is a reminder to ‘Please Refrain from Blowing or Mowing Leaves into the Public Roadway.’It is the picture perfect New England town. Our schools are exemplary There's no waiting for Superman here, he's snugged out in a Victorian off of Main Street. Our community service is outstanding. We freakin’ rock. Seriously. Stepford wives would leave Stepford to move here. In fact, I’m sure some have. They bring their ceramic coffee mugs to drop off and run after mini vans to have parents sign petitions to keep the arts curriculum at 2 ½ days a week. Hellz yeah. I’m over the damn rainbow and loving it. (although my 14 yr old punk rock cynic self is blustering inside… suburban hell)So, imagine my complete rubbernecking surprise to find out that back in 1981 two girls were brutally assaulted, raped, tortured, left for dead in the parkthat we watch our 4th of July fireworks every year? They were leaving the school that my daughter attends, they were my daughter’s age. Holy Hell. I had to learn more. Why? Because I’m sick. I know this… I just can’t imagine it happening here. I also can’t imagine a bullying problem but then again, there’s Essex Junction popping up with bully related suicides (at least 2 in the 7 years that I’ve been here.) Peter Meyer’s ‘Death of Innocence’ (ok, let’s stop right there… Death of Innocence? Really? My god, did this make it to a Lifetime movie?) chronicles the rape/murder and trial in expressive detail.“Despite their wispy frames, the two twelve year olds were accustomed to the often granite-rough climate of their native Vermont, walking more than a mile and a half (note: no school buses in the Village) to and from school every day, even in blizzard-driven drifts of snow.” Yes… he likes to be descriptive… but I guess this is big amongst true crime writers. Too many times in his long winded portraitures of Essex Junction I had to stop, roll my eyes, and just laugh. Another Note: this was also written in 1985 and he is also the writer of ‘The Yale Murder’ so I really should have known better. Still, this is literally close to home and I am a nosey mofo. The story is compelling. It WOULD make a great TV movie. It has that element of a sleepy town where no one locks their doors and the big events are the annual Memorial Day Parade (the governor shows up!) and the Block Party in July. To have this type of crime…this atrocity.. happen within our 4.6 square miles is pretty damn inconceivable. Yet…. Missy and Meghan were best friends. Sixth graders who played at the same parks my kids play at, hung out at the same library that my kids hang out, one of them lived on the street next to me…. it was a Friday afternoon and they wanted to take a shortcut near the railroad tracks because it had started to rain (163 days a year of precipitation, approximately.) Louie and Jamie were teenagers, friends who liked to hang out ,steal from Woolworths, break into cars and…..stuff. Louie was from Burlington, but Jamie was rooted in Essex Jct. Jamie worked at the Lincoln Inn washing dishes; Louie was on probation for some sort of juvenile delinquent act. That day they decided that they were going to ‘get some girls.’ As Meyer’s put it “Both teenagers were quite familiar with the woods next to Maple Street Park, where they had hunted squirrels and scouted possible sites for their rape plans. That week, the two went to the park almost every day…. On Wednesday, by themselves, they found a couple of musty old mattresses in the underbrush.” What a setup, right? Or is it just me that’s really sick? Don’t answer that. “By now Jamie and Louie were familiar with the Lawton School schedule and knew when the children—Jamie’s brother John being one of them—went home for the day. Their plan this Friday was rudimentary as it had always been. “We were just looking around there to find some squirrels and look for girls,” Jamie later recounted. “If there were no girls, we was going to get squirrels.”What happened, and what is described, um… vividly… is that Meghan and Missy were dragged into the underbrush, gagged, raped, shot with pellet guns, stabbed, choked and left for dead. Only Meghan made it out alive… most likely because she passed out and they weren’t able to 'enjoy' torturing her---or thought she was dead. Missy ended up with six or seven BB gun shots, and 29 separate wounds (cutting knife, stabbing knife, BB gun, and ‘blunt impact’ wounds). Meghan managed to stagger out to the train tracks where a railroad flagman found her naked with a knife wound to the chest. She looked at him and said ‘Please help me sir, I’ve been raped.’ and collapsed. Christ. Now, this probably wouldn’t have affected me so much if I weren’t a parent. I know, that’s horrible to say. I wish I didn’t feel that way. It’s all about how something relates to you, you know? If you don’t have kids… this is a tragedy, if you do… this is a fucking nightmare. This happened 30 years ago. The girls are the same age that I am. My kids are about the same age that they were. This takes on a whole new dread. It’s the stuff of many many horror films are based on. But, now it’s everywhere I look. Even 30 years later… my kids traipse this town like it’s their own playland. How can I spread this fear to them.. this could happen…. this DOES happen. Not just then.. but everyday. How do I break that… yeah, okay… I’ll say it… innocence?Yeah Yeah.. Me-me-me-me…. The book details the manhunt, the trial, the effect on the town and the state. The fact that the juvenile law of 1968 stated“The law in Vermont is such that a juvenile under sixteen is incapable of murder under the law…the juvenile who is treated in juvenile court and found delinquent is, literally, out of the system at age eighteen. At age eighteen the records are expunged, there is no record of the offense and the juvenile is walking around and nobody even knows he committed a crime.”Jamie was only 15 at the time of the rape/murder. He was going to go free in less than 3 years with nothing to note that he was part of this. Louie, on the other hand, would be tried as an adult…he was 16. There was an emergency session of legislature that was spearheaded by two Essex housewives and their 27,350 signatures to petition the call. There were 3 different proposals for change of the juvenile code---One would lower the age from sixteen to fourteen, another would reduce the age to ten, and the third would have no age limit at all. Another issue is that Vermont did not have a Juvenile detention center and juveniles were not allowed to be housed with adults so they were usually placed in the state mental hospital until they turned of age. Can you imagine a state like Vermont having to deal with this? We are farmers and reformed Canadians and some… some… displaced city dwellers… but mostly farmers and mountain folk. Egads. And this was the eighties…. Okay, Okay… those are my highlights… there was no doubt of the guilt… just of who actually killed Missy… technicalities and age debates and putting a poor 13 year old through a trial where the defense, a lawyer named Rusty Valsangiacomo, is asking her questions like:“ Now, what Im trying to ask you—to see if you can remember in your mind whether or not you had a discussion with Susan Via when you went through wnhat happened to you before you started giving Susan a statement that was going to be recorded and typed. Do you understand what I said to you?”“No,” said Meghan tersely. And… “He asked Meghan if she was embarrassed by talking about having to take her clothes off. Meghan said she was.“I’m embarrassed too,” said Valsangiacomo. “Does that make you feel better?” Meghan only shook her head.“No, I didn’t think so.”Really? So, this May was the 30th anniversary of the event. Meghan’s daughter is now 12 and attends junior high in Burlington. The crime is pretty much forgotten except by the natives, which, frankly, have been dying out. At one point, most people in the town knew or were related to the victims or the accusers… now I see kids walking the streets that can’t be older than seven or eight. I pass many cars that are unlocked and I have to admit that I forget to lock my house on many occasions. The new juvenile detention center is near the river where I bring my kids to look for frogs and walk the nature trails... What have we learned? (sorry for the photo links...It's just so unreal that I tried to make it seem more... I guess...)
I grew up in Essex Junction Vermont at the time of the murders. I was friends with the victims son and my wife knew the Savage family. This sort of murder does not happen in Vermont so it hit the community hard. This also was the first crime in Vermont in where one killer was a minor and the other was a year older and an adult. This book is a quick read and hard to put down....gruesome and bone shivering to me because I knew many people in the book.
Finished this book 2 days ago. very quick read but also very sad and it made me think how unfair the justice system is especially when you are talking about juveniles. Let's say 3 young girls commit the same crime and one is 3 months younger which means also just under the age where they can try you as an adult and because of that is hardly punished while the other 2 get the punishment adults would receive.There was yesterday news about 5 boys who raped a boy of 15. There were pictures of only 3 of the 5 criminals because 2 of them were still underage. But what pissed me so off was that there was a big picture of the victim who happened to be only 15 years old!!!! Yes the protect the criminals but not the victim who is also underage. Anyway as expected very good writing of Peter Meyer again. This book made me very sad and it made me think of the victim even when I woke up the next day.Sad but good.ETA: Heard the very sad news that true crime author and internet friend of mine Corey Mitchell died all of a sudden and it shook me up. So sad and I feel so much for his loved ones.
PUBLISHING INFO: Berkley, 7/1986ORIGINAL PUB: Putnam, 4/1985GENRE: Nonfiction/True Crime/Rape/MurderSETTING: Vermont, 1981PURCHASE: linkMY GRADE: AFROM PUBLISHER: One early spring day, two young girls took a short-cut home from school through the woods. Then in a few horrifying moments, the tranquility of the day was shattered by rape, torture and murder. A small Vermont town and the entire nation was stunned - these gruesome crimes had been committed not by hardened criminals but by two young boys, fifteen and sixteen years old.One of America's finest investigative journalists, Peter Meyer, recounts this provocative true story of terror in the small Vermont town of Essex Junction. He powerfully recreates this tragic case and its complex emotional aftermath - the statewide manhunt, the trial, and the chilling results that sent one teenage killer to prison for life and set the other free after two and a half years. Here is the shocking story.BOOK SUMMARY: On Friday May 15, 1981, twelve-year old friends Melissa Walbridge and Meghan O'Rourke, almost nine months apart in age, were raped, and one was murdered, by teenage friends, fifteen-year old Jamie Savage, and sixteen-year old Louis 'Louie' Hamlin. Both girls were very thin and under 5' tall.Both girls were raped, sodomized, shot multiple times with a BB gun (Melissa was shot through the eye), strangled, and stabbed multiple times. A stab through the heart is what killed Melissa, the older of the two, born 7/17/68. Meghan survived because she's passed out and Jamie and Louie though she was dead, so they left her and put an old mattress over her and Melissa's bodies. Meghan came to, and walked out of the woods, naked and bleeding badly. A flagman working a few yards away at the railroad tracks, Alton Bruso, saw her, ran over to her, she asked for help, and he and a few coworkers, Howard Constantine and Alfred Laidman, called the police. From a distance Alton thought Meghan was wearing a red bathing suit, she was that bloody.It took just over a week to find Jamie and Louie. Neither showed any remorse and neither seems to have a conscience.After they were arrested and Louie's house was searched, officers found in the basement a lot of pornographic photos of Louie's fifteen-year old sister, Lisa, that her father had taken. She said he'd been molesting her since she was four and told her she'd only have to 'do it' until she was eighteen. Louie and his older brother said they'd been molested by their father too. The father, Butch, got a prison sentence of only 6-15 years for molesting Lisa, so he's been out a really long time. I don't know if he was questioned about molesting his other children.Louis- Born 10/64. He's 5'7", stocky, very dark hair with thick eyebrows and a unibrow. He's been violent his whole life. He didn't say how long he'd been molested by his father. He came from a poor family. There was no mention of what his IQ was. He's the second oldest of five children, and was born to teenage parents. At the time of his arrest he was on probation for assaulting a college girl, Candy Hackett, four months before. She was walking along one day when Louie showed up beside her. She got scared so engaged him in conversation in hopes he wouldn't hurt her and it worked for awhile. He later confessed to the author via telephone from prison that he'd intended to rape Candy.Almost two years before killing Melissa, days before his fifteenth birthday, he'd been arrested for attempting to rape his thirteen-year old sister, Lisa. One day at home he forced her to get naked, he got naked too and laid on top of her but didn't penetrate her. She told their mother and the mother called the police. I don't understand why Lisa told on him yet didn't tell on her father for molesting her for years.He was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after 45 years, which was the maximum sentence he could have been given. He was imprisoned in Missouri, then Wisconsin though I don't know where he's currently incarcerated nor can I find an inmate photo. He'll be 51 this October.Jamie- Born 9/20/65. He's blond, 6' tall, lanky with acne pitting on his face. He has a low IQ of only 78, which is 'borderline impaired to delayed'. He reads at the first grade level. There was no mention of physical or sexual abuse in his past. He's violent too, at least with his siblings, but there was never any attempted rape. I don't think he actually raped Meghan though he tried but said his penis wouldn't fit. I wish who did what had been made a bit more clear.He was released from a juvenile facility when he turned eighteen in 1983. He has no prison record and his crimes have been erased from the records since he was under the age of sixteen when the crimes were commited.An Arizona newspaper headline from May 1984 read 'You can rape, and you can kill, and then you can move to Arizona and change your name'. That's the first time anyone knew where Jamie was located since he was arrested. It was rumored that after his arrest he was sent to Pennsylvania to serve his measly two year sentence. Maricopa County Superior Courts (Arizona) records showed that in December 1983, shortly after his release, he'd applied to have his name legally changed and his wish was granted the following month. His name was changed to John W. Barber. He'd lived with someone for a short time in an apartment in Arizona and after moving, left a forwarding address in Vermont. He'll be 50 this September.In 1984 Jamie's twenty-year old brother was murdered. You can read about that here.MY THOUGHTS: This was a really well written book. I learned of it by searching older true crime books at Amazon very recently. Jamie and Louis's backgrounds were explored, as were the backgrounds of the parents.Unfortunately there aren't any photos of Jamie, Louie, or Melissa in it but there are online newspaper articles with Jamie and Louie in them, but they're hard to make out. I wish the author had interviewed the parents of Jamie and Louie.You can see Melissa's grave here. This story was done on Killer Kids in 2011. It's season 1, episode 3. 7:30 into the episode this story starts. You can watch it here. The author is interviewed for it.You can read the case summary at Valley News. In 2007 Melissa's younger brother, Judd, was arrested for sexual assault. You can see his photo here. I found a Vermont television station's post on Facebook from 2012 advertising a 'where are they now' update on the case but couldn't find the actual update video so I have no idea what's going on with anyone involved with the case.EDIT: I did find a story from 2013 that the station did. It says that Meghan is living a 'full rich life'. It says too that Louie has been in a Colorado prison since 2000 but I can't find him listed on the Colorado Department of Corrections site.
Great Book!!! Very detailed and imaginative. Very sad to read what happened to the two young innocent girls! I was born and raised in VT and moved to CT when I was 19, than moved to MA. I miss VT very much. In MA you could see this sort of thing happening, but it's not to often you hear about something this cruel in VT. This is a wonderfully written book by Peter Meyer that'll give you chills! I'd love to be able to find this in an audio book. My husband is a big audio book fan and I'd like him to hear this story! If anyone knows where I could find this or has any recommendations for other true crime audio books please share.
Super-disturbing double rape and murder case that got sicker and creepier the closer the detectives got to a solution. Totally respectful of the victims, and openly baffled about the motivations of the assailants.
This haunted me from the day I finished it. Such a sad and terrible tragedy. Excellent read, you felt every emotion these people wne through.P.S. If anyone has a copy they are willing to swap or sell please let me know. Someone actually stole my copy and I've been looking for it ever since.
Incredible book! I was a young child living in Essex Junction, Vermont when this heinous crime occurred. This book hit INCREDIBLY close to home, both literally and figuratively.
Very sad book. Well written for a easy read.
A well-written story about a tragedy that struck a Vermont town in 1981: the sexual assaults of 2 school girls & the death of one of those girls at the hands of 2 teenage boys.