Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Crime tale focuses on investigation

I just read Jason's post on reading to kids and got a little misty-eyed (so not like me) reading about the powerful bond reading can create between mother - and no doubt, father- and child.

Side note: Jason, I realize I said it, but you didn't have to agree that I'm old.

But reading the post did bring to mind memories of those times with my own kids.

Memories that the families in my latest work did not get to fully form.

"Three Boys Missing" by James A. Jack (ISBN 9780977628148) bills itself as "The Tragedy That Exposed the Pedophilia Underworld."

I'm not sure it did quite that, but perhaps that's because pedophilia and stranger danger have always been a part of my world.

Jack was one of the first law enforcement officers assigned to investigate the disappearance of 13-year-old Robert Peterson, 11-year-old Anton Schussler and 13-year-old John Schussler in Chicago in October 1955.

The boys had gone downtown to see a movie on a Sunday afternoon.

Their bodies were found a few days later naked in a woods.

Jack takes readers step-by-step through the investigation.

It was clearly a different time in society and in law enforcement.

The site where the bodies are found is not blocked off; students are questioned without parents present; "thugs" are rounded up and questioned.

I also was surprised that boys of this age would be taking a bus alone into downtown Chicago.

According to my mother who grew up in the city in this era, everyone did that in those days. In fact, when I told her the title of the book I was reading, she asked if it was about the Peterson-Schussler boys. That's how prominent this case was in the city.

Her next question was, did they ever solve that crime?

The first trial took place in 1995. Forty years after the crimes were committed. Neither one of the Schusslers lived to see it. (I won't tell you if the man was convicted, though.)

Jack has penned an interesting account of this investigation and the lengths dedicated officers will go for a case. All things considered, it's not particularly graphic either, though it clearly could have been.

It certainly made me wanted to give my kids an extra hug - or three!

- Tricia Ambrose

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