A 12-year-old boy cowers in his closet while a lunatic killer slaughters his family . . . a nursing student unwittingly opens her home to the serial killer on her front porch . . . an 11-year-old girl drifts alone at sea on a flimsy cork raft for almost four days after a mass murderer kills her vacationing family aboard a chartered yacht . . . a brave firefighter suddenly finds himself in the crosshairs of a racist sniper almost nine stories above the ground . . .
And, astonishingly, they all survived.
From Howard Unruh’s 1949 shooting rampage through a quiet New Jersey neighborhood to Louisiana serial killer Derrick Todd Lee’s reign of terror in 2002, the corpses piled up and few lived to tell the horror. Now, award-winning journalist Ron Franscell explores the wounded hearts and minds of the ordinary people these monsters couldn’t kill. His mesmerizing accounts crackle with gritty details that put the reader in the midst of the carnage—and offer a front-row seat on the complex, painful process of surviving the rest of their haunted lives. In intimate, gripping prose, Franscell takes the reader on a pulse-pounding dash through the murky intersection of pure evil and the potency of the human spirit. This journey into the darkest corners of the American crime-scape is a penetrating work of literary journalism by a writer hailed as one of the most powerful new voices in true crime.
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About the Author
Ron Franscell is a bestselling author and journalist whose atmospheric true crime/memoir The Darkest Night was hailed as a direct descendant of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and established him as one of the most provocative new voices in narrative nonfiction. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Denver Post, San Jose Mercury-News, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Delivered from Evil is his fifth book. He grew up in Wyoming and now lives in San Antonio, Texas.
Read an Excerpt
From Delivered from Evil, Seventy-Seven Minutes in Hell, McDonald’s Massacre, San Ysidro, California, July 18, 1984.
Keith Thomas slid down beneath the table as the room exploded in an endless shudder of deafening bursts. He had never heard anything as horrifying as the earsplitting rake of semi-automatic gunfire, much less in the confined, peaceful spaces of a neighborhood McDonald’s. Everything was upside down.
Under the seat against the wall, shielded by Ron Herrera, Keith couldn’t see anything except the camouflaged pants of a man walking deliberately just feet away.
“What’s happening?” he asked.
“Be still!” Ron commanded him. “Don’t move!”
Keith turned his face to the wall and closed his eyes. He no longer wanted to see what might be coming. He already knew.
He was about to die.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Shadowlands Between 8
1 "They're all Dead": Charles Cohen and the Insane Spree Killer Howard Unruh 12
2 "Today is Gonna be Visual": Brent Doonan and the Atlanta Day Trader Spree 40
3 Seventy-Seven Minutes in Hell: Keith Thomas and the McDonald's Massacre 66
4 Nightmare at Noon: Suzanna Gratia Hupp and the Luby's Massacre 94
5 Death From Above: Tim Ursin and the Howard Johnson Sniper 118
6 The Darkest Tower: Roland Ehlke and the Texas tower Sniper 142
7 Evil on the Front Porch: Dianne Alexander and the Serial Killer Derrick Todd Lee 166
8 The Devil you Know: Anthony Majzer and serial Killer David Maust 188
9 A Prayer Before Dying: Missy Jenkins and the West Paducah High School Shooting 210
10 Alone in a Dark sea: Terry Jo Duperrault and the Bluebelle Murders 234
Selected Bibliography 259
About the Author 265