I'm a Tennessee-based freelance writer with a passion for true crime, a thirst for knowledge, and an obsession with lists.
1. Evil Intentions: The Story of How an Act of Kindness Led to Senseless Murder by Ronald J. Watkins
In January 1981, Suzanne Maria Rossetti was happy, carefree – living life to the fullest.
As such was life the night she pulled into the U-Totem convenience store on Van Buren Street in Tempe, Arizona. It was a pit stop, intended only to waste the few minutes before she was to meet her parents at a nearby hotel, that would forever change the lives of so many.
At the store were two men with lengthy criminal histories: Jesse James Gillies and Michael David Logan, who was an escapee from the Michigan correctional department as well. The duo was out of money and thinking of ways to get some fast cash so they could buy booze and drugs when Suzanne pulled into lot. Eyeing her closely, the men noticed she was well-dressed and decided she likely carried a nice stash of cash with her.
In their sick and twisted minds, it must have seemed like fate when Suzanne exited the store and realized her keys were locked in her car. While trying to decide what she should do, Gillies and Logan approached her and offered to help. When they popped the doors open, Suzanne was most grateful and asked how she could repay their kindness. A six pack, they said and Suzanne happily made the purchase.
But it wasn’t enough. Not at all. In the time it took Suzanne to re-enter the store and purchase the beer, the two thugs had decided to rob her.
Yet things only went from bad to worse. Much, much worse.
Author Ronald J. Watkins was opposed to the death penalty at the time of Suzanne’s brutal kidnapping, rape, and murder but even he couldn’t justify letting such evil continue to waste perfectly good oxygen. In his 1992 (eBook version updated 2011) Evil Intentions, Watkins chronicles the fateful meeting of a friendly young woman and two scumbags who believed the world owed them just because they were born to craptastic parents and the end result is, like Watkins, even the anti-deathers will have a hard time not wanting to push the button on these pathetic losers.
2. In Broad Daylight by Harry Maclean
Ken Rex McElroy was an illiterate hog farmer who terrorized northwest Missouri for over twenty years. He robbed, raped, burned and assaulted almost at will. The residents were scared of him,law enforcement avoided him.
McElroy believed in “No witnesses, no case.” He made a mockery of the entire criminal justice system.
His reign of terror came to an abrupt halt in July 1981. A year earlier he had become pathologically inflamed over the allegation by a grocer’s wife that one of his daughters had not paid for a jawbreaker. He terrorized the grocer and his wife for months, until one day he drove up to the loading dock behind the store and shot the grocer’s husband at point blank range with a shotgun. He was eventually tried and convicted of assault in a neighboring county, but the law turned him loose, and he returned to the small town with rifle in hand. In the bar he threatened to shoot one of the witnesses, a town elder, and several bystanders swore out a complain to have his bail revoked.
On the day of the bail hearing, seventy-five men met in town to form a protective guard to get the witnesses to the courthouse. McElroy heard of the meeting, and drove into town. He settled in the bar with his wife, Trena, whom he had raped when she was twelve. The men streamed down the street and into the bar. When he left a few minutes later, six-pack in hand, over fifty men streamed out behind him. As he sat in his Silverado pick-up, casually lighting a cigarette, one man in the street reached into the back of his pick-up and pulled out a 30.30. Another man, close by, pulled a .22 from the rack in the rear window of his truck. The high-powered rifle opened first, shattering the window and puncturing McElroy’s skull. The .22 followed.
In a rich detail, author Harry Maclean tells the story of Ken Rex McElroy– from his early childhood days to how he came to be gunned down in the street when an entire town had had enough, in his book In Broad Daylight: A Murder in Skidmore, Missouri.
I was extremely impressed with the writing style offered by Maclean as I read the updated version, which contains a 2006 epilogue.
MacLean offers his readers the opportunity to settle in with the folks of Skidmore and get an inside look into life in a small farming town. As a result of this effort, readers are privy to minute details but details which are so very important if the readers are to gain the insight MacLean wishes them to have, which is not the “Who done it” but the “Why” of this crime.
3. Until the Twelfth of Never by Bella Stumbo
Elizabeth Anne Broderick was the perfect wife to successful attorney Daniel "Dan" T. Broderick III. She was beautiful, wealthy and devoted mother to their four children.
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They lived an idyllic life until almost two decades into the marriage, Dan begins acting strangely. He's distant, irritable, and away from home for long hours and greater frequency. Diane isn't an idiot; she suspects Dan is having an affair but decides to turn a blind eye. After all, she's a perfect wife and Dan will eventually comes to his senses and realize as much.
Unfortunately, Diane was wrong. After a lengthy divorce, Diane receives but a pittance in alimony (despite having worked to support Dan while he was a full time law student) and must witness Dan's new girlfriend moving into their marital home.
But the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back was when the Court granted Dan and his new wife Linda Kolkena Broderick custody of the children. Thus begun her campaign of revenge which Dan used his position to fight back equally as hard.
The insanity would come to an end late one night. Dan and Linda Broderick were shot to death as they slept and Betty Broderick is arrested for their murder.
The shenanigans in The Twelfth of Never are better than anything you can find in fiction. While I do not condone Betty's ultimate act, Dan and Linda weren't exactly innocent in their own demise either.
Bella Stumbo's book is truly an outsider perspective and much more factual than the made-for-television two part series titled A Woman Scorned and Her Final Fury which was based on Dan Broderick's brother's version of events.
4. Against Her Will: The Senseless Murder of Kelly Ann Tinyes by Ronald Watkins
Kelly Ann Tinyes was anticipating her fourteenth birthday in March 1989 when she got a call from a neighbor just a few doors down and headed out the door, leaving her eight year-old brother to care for their ailing grandmother.
Many would see Kelly Ann enter the Golub home at 81 Horton Road but no one would see her leave.
Frantic when her daughter didn’t return home, Kelly Ann’s mother began knocking on doors and calling her friends, then finally she called the police.
A rudimentary search of the Golub home uncovered the strangled, mutilated body of the young girl and after an intense investigation,Robert Golub, the 21 year-old son of the couple who owned the house, was charged with murder.
But the charge did little to quell the grief of the Tinyes family and the Golub family’s insistence that their son and brother wasn’t guilty, especially when many considered the younger brother to be an uncharged accomplice, only fueled the fires that raged within.
Suddenly Valley Stream, New York’s Horton Road was turned into a battleground; neighbors chose sides and home values tanked because no one wanted to live in a neighborhood filled with such hate and ongoing bickering. The Tinyes insisted the Golubs should move, the Golubs refused to be uprooted on an “accusation.” Police spent too many valuable hours answering harassment and vandalism calls from the two homes. The constant fighting took a toll on neighbors who couldn’t sell their homes and leave it all behind.
And the courtroom drama when the case finally goes to trial is like no other, leaving even jaded Court officials with dropped jaws and scrambling to separate the two families.
Ronald J. Watkins unveils the details of this horrible crime and the insanity which ensued in his 2004 true crime book Against Her Will.
The book is very well written and tells a story that is both heartbreaking and enraging; so well told that I wound up feeling sadden for bothfamilies – but not the killer, rest assured.
© 2016 Kim Bryan