Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Review Bomb: A Parent's Worst Nightmare

I am definitely taking a break from books like this for a while. They're important stories about our most precious assets, but the stories are so painful and heartbreaking. I need a bit of time away from books like this for a while.

6622497 Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

This whole case is so fucked up. None of it ever made any sense and even after I read this book and took copious amounts of notes, it still did not make sense. I ended up with 105 notes/highlights when all was said and done, and rather than recount them all over and over and over, you can see what notes you'd like on Goodreads HERE.

In the end, I don't really know what to think any more now than I did when this was going on. The police screwed up bigtime and act like they have no idea what they're doing, letting everyone wander around the house like it is not a crime scene, not securing evidence, not keeping victims/suspects separate, the list goes on and on. You want to white privilege at its most obvious, look no further. The Ramseys were treated with kid gloves because they were a 'good family'.

From everything here so far (and there are other books I have yet to read on the subject, so by opinion might very change), I don't think that JonBenet's death was intentional. I think it was staged to cover up some kind of accident. Maybe her parents were arguing in the kitchen, someone swung the flashlight out of anger, and accidentally delivered the blow to the little girl's skull that would have proved fatal even if she had been discovered in the basement alive. Or maybe JonBenet still wetting the bed at age six just set Patsy off that night and she struck JonBenet in a momentarily lapse of self-control. This does not, however, explain the possible signs of sexual abuse, but I am still unclear if it was determined that there was some kind of abuse possibly happening or not.

All I can think about is that this sweet little girl, who loved being a kid and doing kid things, not pageants, was killed and will never get justice. It breaks my heart.

10719965 Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Talk about a horrible nightmare. You turn your back for just a few seconds, and your child is gone. Eleanor is nearly six and I still make her ride in the cart if we are going to be in a store for a while, or if the store is especially busy. I am what some might call hyper-vigilant when it comes to entering and exiting our car, always on the look-out for anything suspicious. It is helpful that Eleanor is old enough to buckle herself into her booster seat so I am not stuck with my back to the world trying to buckle her as I was when she was younger. Even so I remain constantly aware and I don't care if it makes me seem paranoid. I was six when another high-profile kidnapping occurred, that of Jacob Wetterling in my home state of Minnesota. His disappearance fundamentally changed a the way a whole generation of Minnesota parents parented their children and I have carried that with me since I was six years old. I have never communicated this fear to Eleanor, who is nearly six herself, but it is always there in the back of my mind, and reading about the Walsh case brought it all back up again.

Much like the previous book about the death of JonBenet Ramsey, I took tons of notes/highlights as I read. I will leave the link to those highlights and my thoughts, on Goodreads, HERE once more, as it seems very overwhelming to go through them line by line; it would make for a very tedious review. Some of the quotes I highlighted will infuriate you. Time and again Adam Walsh's murderer confessed. But once more the police did not seem to know what they were doing, and they certainly did not seem to want help from officers/detectives from other jurisdictions who also HAD TOOLE'S CONFESSIONS. So, so frustrating. I can't even imagine being John and Reve Walsh and finding all of this out, that Toole could have been arrested, tried, and convicted before he died and evaded justice. Instead, they had to wait nearly thirty years before Toole was finally declared the murderer. I suppose there is some degree of finality here for them, but they will never have closure, because nothing would ever bring Adam back. Detailed and thorough text, highly recommended.

38647400. sy475  ⭐⭐⭐

This whole story is just so awful and sad. Not only was Horner kidnapped and held captive for nearly two years by a man who repeatedly raped her while pretending to the outside world that they were father and daughter, but once she made her way back home she did not have long to live. She killed in a car accident at age 15 within two years of her escape from her captor.

Prior to this book, I had not heard of Sally Horner. I have also never read Lolita, nor do I plan to. The author makes a decent case for the connections, as far as I can see - but again I've not read the book. It was a fairly quick read and just so sad. All this poor girl endured from ages 11 through 13, for her life to be cut tragically short not too long later.

6278558 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Another tear-jerker. I don't know why I do this to myself, but these cases are so tragic and I also feel like I owe it to these children to know their stories and keep their memories alive. This will have to be the last I read for a while on the subject though, otherwise I will be even more paranoid and poor Eleanor will be attached to me for the rest of her life.

The Patz case is the one that in 1979 made Missing Children a big deal. It may seem shocking to parents today that Etan's mom would have let her six year old son walk to the school bus stop alone in New York City, but this was a different world (although, not that different, NYC was pretty scary in the 70s). And imagine the guilt his mother has continued to drown in all the years, with Etan begging and begging to walk by himself for once, and she finally gave in, and that was the very morning he disappeared without a trace.

Etan's legacy is that in death he brought about massive changes to the way kidnappings are handled. He was the first missing child to appear on a milk cartoon. later would come the Code ADAM (named for Adam Walsh) and the AMBER Alert (named for Amber Hagerman), plus the seemingly obvious idea that if a child does not show up for school, maybe it is a good idea to call home and let the parents know. Just imagine how much the search could have been refined had Etan's school called his mom to let her know he'd never arrived. He even had a $1 in his pocket to buy a soda at the bodega - the bodega where his convicted killer worked. The killer who confessed to strangling Etan, placing him in a plastic bag, then putting Etan and the bag into a box with the trash. He also stated that he believed Etan was still alive when he did so.

That part however, you will not find in the book. Etan Patz's murderer was convicted in 2017, a man by the name of Pedro Hernandez. This book was published in 2009, eight years after Etan was declared legally dead, and at that point much of the second part of the book focused on a man named Jose Ramos who made several almost-confessions, saying he was a certain percent sure that he talked to Etan that day he disappeared, that he wanted Etan to come back to his apartment, but ended up putting the boy on the subway. The story sounds bogus because it most likely is - Etan would not have gotten on the subway alone (his mother addressed this), and what are the chances that a pedophile is going to lure a child home, but when the child says he's 'not interested', Ramos just pats him on the head and sends him on his way? Yeah right. In addition to that, Ramos had been dating the woman who sometimes baby-sat the Patz children. I can't say what would make Ramos "admit" these things, but Hernandez's defense tried their hardest to throw all the blame they could his way. It didn't work.

I thought about how this book would need updating, given that the case is officially closed but that's not really possible. With so much focus on Ramos, the book would pretty much have to be entirely rewritten. Ramos is a pedophile, dangerous, and absolutely belongs behind bars, but I do not believe he is part of Etan's story.

I can not imagine the trauma this family has faced, over and over. They dealt with strangers accosting them in public, telling Julie it was her fault Etan disappeared, calling their home to say awful things. And on top of that, to think they know who murdered their child, only to find out they were wrong; it is all too much. Even so, they still remain in the SoHo loft they lived in the morning Etan walked out of their lives forever, and still have the same phone number. They clung to those things in the hopes their beloved son would return. Etan was a smart boy; he knew his address and phone number, perhaps he could have found his way home.

If only.


  1. You're not missing anything by avoiding reading Lolita. It was a dreadful, dull book and I DNFed it. I do like the Jeremy Irons film version. I used to read tons of true crime but I admit they depress me too much now!

    1. Good to know. There are some classics and such that I have not read and I get crap for it all the time. I don't feel like Lolita should be considered as such, and it will remain unread!

  2. Whoa! How could you get through all this? I admire your given reasons for reading these stories though. I did read Lolita and it upset me so much, I had to wonder about all the people who think it is such a masterpiece. After reading these reviews though, I wonder if Nabokov intended to give readers a look into the minds of such people. And just so you know, Lolita does escape his clutches in a brilliant way.

    1. These were all read over the course of a couple months, so no worries on them being back to back to back. I could not handle all of this otherwise. And I definitely still need an extended break from such a terrible topic. How does she escape??

    2. She is no dummy. She outsmarts him finally. That is the best part of the book.

    3. That is good to know. I still won't read it, but I am glad to know she was able to get away. Thanks!!

  3. Girl....(that's how we talk in Texas)...gerrrllll...you need to stop torturing yourself with these gruesome stories. I did that when my son was Eleanor's age and younger.

    The thing with JonBenet, and what upsets us is that there is no closure, but what I deplore is the whole infant beauty pageant thing. Why is that legal? How is this not sexually exploiting your own children? And we wonder why child porn is out of control.

    I read about the boy in Minnesota (Wetterling). That book also needs to be updated because they caught and convicted the murderer a couple of years ago. Ironically, he plea bargained so he did not get convicted for murdering (and raping) the boy, but was sent to prison on 25 charges of child porn.

    I recently read Lolita. I understand why someone would write a book like that because those people are always with us. Why the heck did it become so popular? Have you read Reading Lolita in Tehran? It was so weird how the author would decry the oppression of women in Iran while drooling over this book. Huh?

    On to more positive things.

    Great Top Ten reading list. I see that is another post, but it came up in my news feed with this one. Have a good one!

    1. I used to be able to read books like this, watch Law and Order: SVU, and not be impacted on such a deep level but it is waaaaay harder now that I have a child of my own. It will be long time before I can read another book on this topic.

      I whole-heartedly agree on the topic of these beauty pageants. And from the narrative crafted for that book, it really feels like JonBenet didn't care about it at all. She just wanted to run and play and be a kid and I really feel like her mom was pushing her to do it, to relive her own pageant days. There are even mentions of JonBenet giving her medals and such away to new competitors who didn't win. Sweet girl, so tragic.

      I have not read Reading Lolita in Tehran, but I read non-fiction almost exclusively. I have heard mixed things about it and your assessment is spot on!

      Thanks for coming by :)

      Jacob's kidnapping happened not far from where I grew up, about two hours or so. I still have the button that was distributed with his photo as the search for him carried on. After finishing this post up last night, I went looking to see if there were any books about Jacob's case and it looks like there are two, but I am not sure of the quality. I felt like I was a child all over again when Heinrich was arrested and everything came out that he really had been the one who abducted and murdered Jacob. It was a very surreal thing, we all felt like Jacob was our brother, and we so terribly much wanted a positive outcome. A lot of people on the outside were really upset about the plea bargain, but the Wetterlings signed off on it, because they wanted to know where Jacob was so they could bring him home. The plea bargain never would have happened if the Wetterlings had not been okay with it. Part of the deal also mandated that Heinrich publicly recount exactly what happened the night he took Jacob, so everything would be on record to support him receiving a civil commitment at the end of the sentence for the child pornography. At the end of his sentence, if Heinrich even lives that long, it is all but a given that he will be civilly committed by the judge. One way or another, he will never be a free man again.


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