Pros: Very exciting true crime story.
Cons: A bit out of date.
It frequently amazes me to see what lengths people will go to to get what they want. Some people are overly ambitious about their careers. Some have a single-minded determination to win over a lover or to punish an ex lover. Still others are motivated by money. I just finished reading Carlton Stowers' incredible true crime book, Open Secrets (1995). This story is about a love affair gone terribly awry... and a woman who got away with murder for hire for twelve long years.
In 1983, Dr. Peter Gailiunas and his beautiful wife, Rozanne, were teetering on the brink of divorce. The couple had a four year old son, Peter Jr., and Dr. Gailiunas had built up a very successful medical career. They lived in a posh Dallas neighborhood and were building a dream house, but their love had lost its bloom. Rozanne had fallen in love with Larry Aylor, the man who was building their beautiful new home for them. She planned to divorce Gailiunas and marry Larry Aylor, who was planning his own split from his wife, Joy Aylor.
On October 4, 1983, Rozanne Gailiunas had picked up her son from his ice skating lesson, driven him home, and sent him to bed for a nap. A few hours later, the little boy woke up and found his mother stripped, bound to her bed, and shot through the skull. Dr. Gailiunas and Larry Aylor immediately came under suspicion for Rozanne's murder. But it turned out that the person actually responsible for Rozanne's premature death was Joy Aylor.
Joy Aylor had grown up very privileged and had a strong sense of entitlement. She was driven by jealousy, rage, and greed. Using her well developed powers of manipulation, alluring personality, physical attractiveness, and access to her father's money, Joy Aylor arranged for Rozanne's murder and even tried to have her husband, Larry Aylor, killed as well.
It would take years for Texas authorities to solve the murder and bring Joy Aylor to justice. The chase would lead them to Canada, Mexico, and finally the south of France, where Joy had assumed a new name and started building her life anew. It would take another two years for the United States and France to hammer out an extradition agreement. In 1995, twelve years after Rozanne Gailiunas was killed in the presence of her young son, Joy Aylor was sentenced to life in prison while the trigger man was sentenced to death.
This is an incredibly twisted story of a woman who thought she could get away with murder and had an astonishing ability to use people to get whatever she wanted. I was constantly amazed by the number of people Joy Aylor had brought down with her in her bid to get revenge against Rozanne Gailiunas and Larry Aylor.
As it turns out, Larry Aylor was no saint himself and Carlton Stowers does an excellent job showing why Joy Aylor might be driven to her actions. I was fascinated by Joy Aylor's seemingly dual personality that vascillated between charm and warmth and coldness, paranoia, and suicidal ideation. This story is a strong reminder that people are not always who they seem to be.
Open Secrets includes pictures, though curiously there were none of Rozanne Gailiunas. I went online to find out more about this case and that's where I found out that George Anderson Hopper, the man who had actually killed Rozanne, was executed in Huntsville, Texas on March 8, 2005. This book, having been published in 1995, is a bit out of date. I still think it's a cogent example of how even the most promising of lives can go wildly off track. I don't know exactly what kind of personality disorder Joy Aylor suffers from-- though I think I have a clue-- all I have to say is that I'm very relieved that she's now forever behind bars.
If you like true crime, I think Open Secrets is a good choice. I give it five stars.