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Investigating the dark side of Indianapolis

Investigating the dark side of Indianapolis

By Rick Hinton

Indiana has its fair share of fine writers, with many local. It always strikes a nerve when recollecting past crime scenes associated with familiar locations you have probably driven by a hundred times and not even realized it. “This happened right here,” you might say. It doesn’t get much closer than that! All cities have a dark side. Ours is no exception. These are just a few authors in my personal collection whose work affected me enough that I chose to keep their book as a permanent resident on my shelf. They explore the wicked underbelly of Indianapolis:

John Dean:

His book, The Indiana Torture Slaying: Sylvia Likens’ Ordeal and Death brought a grim chapter of Indianapolis’ history to the public. The house – and neighborhood – never really recovered from the torture and death of a 16-year-old-girl in the mid-1960s. The house was finally torn down a few years ago. Personally, this is still a hard one to get past, and there’s certainly no sense of closure. Which brings about the next two authors dealing with this tragedy. …

Forest Bowman, Jr.:

In 1965 he was counsel for 16-year-old Coy Hubbard and 13-year-old John Baniszewski, both participants and on trial for the death of Sylvia Likens. His book, Sylvia: The Likens Trial covers every aspect of the court proceedings closely followed by Indianapolis residents in the day. Court trials are not normally a consistent hotbed of adrenaline soaked activity. One can find themselves nodding off, however, Bowman was there and has recorded his perception and conclusions as an actual observer. It wasn’t a pretty trial!

A few books of the aforementioned authors. (Photos by Rick Hinton)

Kate Millett:

While not an Indiana resident, Millett recreates the Likens tragedy in her book The Basement. The back cover proclaims, The Basement rocks some of our most basic notions of family, morality and the cultural repression of female sexuality. Millett might have taken a few liberties here and there, yet it’s still a fascinating and sad read.

Robert L. Snow:

This author served 38 years with IMPD, retiring in 2007 with the rank of captain. And he has some stories to tell! Killers in the Family (the 2008 murders involving the Reese family), and Slaughter on North Lasalle (the 1971 murder of business entrepreneurs and playboys Robert Gierse, James Baker and Robert Hinson in their Near Eastside home off of 10th Street).

Robert L. Snow/Russ McQuaid:

Snow and McQuaid (veteran Fox 59 investigative reporter … you know him; he most always wears a fedora hat on his newscasts) collaborated on Love and Greed in the Heartland: The Richmond Hill Murders. It covers an insurance fraud scheme gone fatally wrong, resulting in the largest homicide investigation in Indiana’s history.

Ed Wenck:

Hoosier Killers: Indiana’s Darkest History, There are a variety of killers in the landscape, and Indiana has had its mix.

The author’s bookcase in the man cave is composed of local Indianapolis books, state and the Civil War.

Andrew E. Stoner:

Wicked Indianapolis. The back cover states it best – “These are not aspects of Indianapolis history you’ll see flaunted in visitors’ brochures.”

Dick Cady:

Scavengers: A True Story of Money, Madness and Murder outlines the murder of Marjorie Jackson, an eccentric millionaire heiress who hid her fortune in her home. That was a fatal decision! This book is long out of print and near impossible to find. Locating a copy under $100 will make me your new best friend!

Fred Cavinder:

The late newsman, Fred Cavinder offered Historical Indianapolis Crimes, Murder & Mystery in the Circle City. It has it all!

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