Shortly after I moved to Greensboro in 1985, a tragedy unfolded. A single mother, her male cousin, and her two little boys were killed when the truck in which they were riding exploded. The explosion came at the end of a low-speed chase.
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The "chase" began in an apartment complex that adjoined the residence hotel in which my husband and I were temporarily residing. We were out of town when this happened, but the news reached us 500 miles away, with chilling video footage from the intersection nearest our temporary home. From the day I heard the news of the bizarre deaths in Greensboro to the present, this story has fascinated and sickened me.
The investigation was followed closely by local news reporter Jerry Beldsoe, who ran a very detailed series about the case in the Greensboro News and Record. I believe his series was the best example of investigative reporting the News and Record has ever published.
These four deaths, we soon discovered, were the last four in series of nine deaths.
Jerry Bledsoe eventually left the newspaper to focus on writing Bitter Blood, which told this story. Later made into a TV movie, Bitter Blood is one of the most haunting true crime stories I've ever read.
Susie Sharp Newsom Lynch was the divorced mother of two young boys. She was living with her first cousin, Fritz Klenner, in an apartment in Greensboro, North Carolina. Her ex-husband, living in New Mexico, was seeking full custody of the children, convinced that their living arrangement was dangerous. He had observed odd behavior in his children, changes in their demeanors, and was alarmed by stories they told about activites with Klenner. Susie was estranged from her own family, who may have been supporting her ex-husband in his action, and she, Klenner and the boys were apparently living in their own little world.
Susie's former mother-in-law and sister-in-law were murdered in their home in Kentucky. Not long after that, Susie's parents and grandmother were murdered in their Winston-Salem home. Klenner became the prime suspect for the Winston-Salem murders, then when a tie to the Kentucky murders was found he became the prime suspect for those as well. Police from both states moved slowly, trying to protect Susie and her boys while keeping Klenner under surveillance.
Jerry Bledsoe's book digs deep, deep into the crimes, deep into the investigations, and deep into the history and behaviors minds of Susie and Fritz. The result is chilling and disturbing. As the story unfolds, Bledsoe combines documented history with supposition to explain gaps and inconsistencies, and also to explore the unanswered questions which remain. His examination of Fritz Klenner and a young man he befriended is chilling.
This is an excellent true crime story, told with emotion and clarity, suspense and revelation. A true tragedy, Bledsoe examines the loose ends, the conflicting stories, and speculates as to the final answers.
The tragedy, especially for the two lost boys and their father, is that those answers may never been found.
If you enjoy reading about true crime, this is one of the best books in the genre. Bledsoe's accounts are accurate and detailed, his background as a reporter serves him well. It's a tragic story, but it's interesting and suspenseful reading.
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