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On Mother's Day, 1985, the bodies of Kathryn Eastburn and her two young daughters were found in their Fayetteville, North Carolina, home. Katie, an air force captain's wife, had been raped and stabbed to death. Kara and Erin's throats had been slit. Their toddler sister, Jana, was the only survivor of a bloody killing spree that terrified a community still reeling from the conviction, six years prior, of Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald for the savage slayings of his pregnant wife and two daughters.
The Cumberland County Sheriff's Department soon focused its investigation on US Army soldier Tim Hennis. Detectives and local prosecutors built their case on circumstantial evidence and a jury convicted Hennis and sentenced him to death. But his defense team refused to give up. Piece by piece, they discredited the state's case, exposing false testimony, concealed evidence, and prosecutorial misconduct. At a second trial, Hennis was found not guilty and released from death row.
But an even more stunning turn of events was yet to come. Twenty-five years after the murders, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation tested a crucial piece of DNA evidence from the crime scene. The shocking results led to an unprecedented third trial to determine Tim Hennis's guilt or innocence.
"I fell in love with Amy Mihaljevic not long before her body was discovered lying facedown in an Ashland County wheat field. I fell for her the first time I saw that school photo TV stations flashed at the beginning of every newscast in the weeks following her kidnapping in the autumn of 1989 - the photo with the side-saddle ponytail...."
So begins this strange and compelling memoir, which delves into the investigation of one of Northeast Ohio's most frustrating unsolved crimes. Ten-year-old Amy Mihaljevic disappeared from the comfortable Cleveland suburb of Bay Village in the fall of 1989. Thousands of volunteers, police officers and FBI agents searched for the girl. Her picture was everywhere - anyone who watched the local TV news remembers the girl with the sideways ponytail. Tragically, Amy was found dead a few months later. Her killer was never found.
Now, 15 years later, journalist James Renner picks up the leads. Filled with mysterious riddles, incredible coincidences, and a cast of unusual but very real characters, his investigation quickly becomes a riveting journey in search of the truth.
One late spring evening in 2010, Shannan Gilbert - after running through the oceanfront community of Oak Beach screaming for her life - went missing. No one who had heard of her disappearance thought much about what had happened to the 24-year-old: She was a Craigslist escort who had been fleeing a scene - of what, no one could be sure. The Suffolk County police, too, seemed to have paid little attention - until seven months later, when an unexpected discovery in a bramble alongside a nearby highway turned up four bodies, all evenly spaced, all wrapped in burlap. But none of them Shannan’s.
There was Maureen Brainard-Barnes, last seen at Penn Station in Manhattan three years earlier, and Melissa Barthelemy, last seen in the Bronx in 2009. There was Megan Waterman, last seen leaving a hotel in Hauppauge, Long Island, just a month after Shannan’s disappearance in 2010, and Amber Lynn Costello, last seen leaving a house in West Babylon a few months later that same year. Like Shannan, all four women were petite, in their 20s, and had come from out of town to work as escorts, and they all had advertised on Craigslist and its competitor, Backpage.
Long considered “one of the best true-crime books of all time” (Time), Lost Girls is a portrait of unsolved murders in an idyllic part of America, of the underside of the Internet, and of the secrets we keep without admitting to ourselves that we keep them.
On a hot summer night in Houston, two teenage girls—bright, beautiful, success-bound friends—took a shortcut home from a friend’s apartment to make their curfew. They never reached their homes. The next morning, the families of the two girls began a frantic search, organizing friends and neighbors and posting thousands of fliers across the sprawling city. But not until an anonymous 911 call four days later were the bodies of Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena finally recovered. Their killers were soon rounded up—a brutal, unrepentant gang of teenage boys whose convictions should have put them behind bars for life. But in the halls of justice, nothing is ever a sure bet . . .