Friday, April 08, 2011

I Would Find A Girl Walking - Kathy Kelly and Diana Montane

I Would Find A Girl Walking
Kathy Kelly and Diana Montané
Berkley

True Crime

During the 1970s, a serial killer was at work in the U.S. He was very good at his “job,” and might have gone undetected in that era before ViCAP and DNA. He made a mistake. He let a woman live. When he was arrested, Gerald Eugene Stano did very little to deny or obfuscate his guilt. In fact, he built a certain trust with a police officer, Paul Crow, and began confessing, in detail and without emotion or remorse, to dozens of murders.

By all accounts, Gerald Stano was unprepossessing. He was pudgy, of below-average intelligence, and displayed a fondness for polyester and disco music long past the time either of those things were considered cool. It must have been his harmless-looking exterior (and the times they lived in) that allowed so many young women to get into a car with him. They probably felt, as the authors surmise, that they could either overpower or outrun him if the situation arose. Unfortunately for most of them, they were wrong. Stano attacked with a suddenness and ferocity that left almost all of his victims dead. A careless comment about his weight, his clothes, or his music set him off and he attacked with his hands, a knife, a gun, or whatever was at hand.

One of the authors, Kathy Kelly, covered many of the stories of murdered girls as separate incidents. At the time, no one put together a pattern. By the time he was awaiting execution, Stano entered into a written correspondence with Kelly, sending some forty letters in a bit less than a year. These letters are appended to the text, and they are chilling. Some are chatty, and sound like a long-distance boyfriend. Some contain offhand confessions to heinous acts. The letters lend insight into the mind of a killer; although readers should remain aware that he was always in control of exactly what he wrote and how he appeared.

The body of the text is somewhat more disjointed. It may be that this is a reflection of the fact that most of these stories appeared as separate events when first reported. There are quotes from the appended letters and interviews the author held with Stano to tie things together, but there’s a lot of repetition and overall, the accounts feel oddly second-hand. It may also be that the author necessarily needed to hold Stano at more than arm’s length, mentally, to deal with the subject matter. Whatever the case, it is unlikely that a killer like Stano would escape notice with today’s detection methods. The truth is that he killed for no good reason, and he cut short lives that held promise out of pettiness and jealousy. This book is far more than he deserves.

Rating: 7
April 2011
ISBN# 978-0-425-23186-9 (paperback)

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