Pros:The book is short, sweet, and to the point.
Cons:The pictures were sparse and the one of Eldon Anson was a bit disturbing.
The Bottom Line: A solid story that explains the motivation behind the senseless killing in a small town. Recommended for those who like true crime stories.
I grew up in a middle-sized midwestern city known as Fort Wayne, Indiana. It's the second largest city in Indiana and has a population of around 250,000. Even though it was a sizable community, nothing too exciting ever happened here in the way of crime. And this was true for the surrounding tiny cities that fed into Fort Wayne.
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In 1989 in the small town of Huntington (which is just south west of Fort Wayne), a horrible murder occurred to a man named Eldon Anson. It was a horrible murder because it was rather gruesome in nature. Not only was he shot in the head, but he was also beaten with a hatchett. Initially and surprisingly, he survived his attack. After undergoing several procedures and surgeries, he died while a patient at Lutheran Hospital. At times he was conscious although he was unable to verbally communicate with anyone.
This was a pretty big shock to the Huntington and Fort Wayne communities. In Huntington, crime was only thing you saw in the movies (that is, if you traveled to the drive in or to a cinema in FW). When Eldon was murdered, every one was convinced that it was a random act performed by someone who didn't live in the area.
Oh how wrong they were.
Three seventeen year old boys from Huntington High School - Jarrod Wall, Erik Esch, and John Velasquez - all had a part in Eldon's death. Their secret would not been discovered had John not felt the need to brag to another student. Once that occurred, the three young men saw their worlds crumble.
The part that surprised the community most about the murder was that these three kids could have been involved. Jarrod Wall, who was actually responsible for shooting and beating Eldon with the hatchette was that kid who every parent wanted their daughter to marry. He was a football hero, an honor roll student, and a Sunday school teacher.
All three ended up going to prison, with Jarrod being handed down a sixty year sentence. During the trial, the motivation of the murder was still a mystery to the community.
Author Thomas Henry Jones steps in and gives us background information on all three boys. We learn that Erik Esch came from an abusive family and lived in a high crime area in Indianapolis before coming to live with his father in Huntington. John Vasquez was a fish out of water as his childhood was based mostly in a larger city in Ohio. He was a huge fan of gangsta rap and his favorite film was Colors.
There was more to Jarrod Wall then anyone ever knew. He was molested by an older man from a very young age and this combined with his religious beliefs caused a great deal of conflict and pain for him.
Mr. Jones, with the assistance of Jarrod, John, Erik, and the prosecuter, John Braham, was able to answer the questions that we were looking for in the motivation behind Eldon's death.
Although the entire picture wasn't pretty, he was able to convey it in a way that kept me attached to the book. It was difficult for me to put down. It wasn't a suspense element that he used but rather the unraveling of the personalities of all of the participants that interested me.
For me, that's basically the main reason for reading a true crime book. What motivates people to do what they do? How does knowing this help us change behaviors of others? Those of you who have an interest in personality disorders and other psychological issues know what I mean. I'm not interested in the gory details and I could care less about how the "real" story ends.
The author's style is a little more straightforward and to the point than someone else that I admire - Ann Rule. Ann tends to use a lot of adjectives and descriptors which can sometimes draw out her main point. I liked Mr. Jones' no nonsense approach. I've not read anything else published by him but should I see something else, I probably pick it up.
My only complaint is that there were only a few pictures. The one picture of Eldon Anson was a close-up shot of him in the hospital. His eyes were basically rolling back in his head. Not a pretty site. I would have liked to have seen more pics of the boys and one of Eldon before he was murdered.
If you like true crime books or if you were a member of this community at one time then you would probably enjoy reading this book.