There But For the Grace of God: Survivors of the 20th Century's Infamous Serial Killers

( 7 )

Overview

They stared into the faces of pure evil . . . and survived!

Ted Bundy . . . Jeffrey Dahmer . . .

David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz . . . Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer . . .

These are some of the names that strike terror into even the bravest of hearts. Human monsters, they preyed upon the unsuspecting, freely feeding their terrible hungers. Their crimes were unspeakable, as they maimed, tortured, killed, and killed ...

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Overview

They stared into the faces of pure evil . . . and survived!

Ted Bundy . . . Jeffrey Dahmer . . .

David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz . . . Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer . . .

These are some of the names that strike terror into even the bravest of hearts. Human monsters, they preyed upon the unsuspecting, freely feeding their terrible hungers. Their crimes were unspeakable, as they maimed, tortured, killed, and killed again, leaving so many dead in their bloody wake. But somehow, astonishingly, seven would-be victims fell into the clutches of the century's worst serial killers—and escaped death through courage, divine providence, or just plain luck.

This is the remarkable true story of those who lived.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060890124
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/26/2007
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 685,841
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Fred Rosen's book The Historical Atlas of American Crime, published by Facts On File, won the 2005 Library Journal Best Reference Source Award. Mr. Rosen is the author of many true crime books, including Lobster Boy, Did They Really Do It?, There But For the Grace of God, and When Satan Wore A Cross.

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Read an Excerpt

There But For the Grace of God
Survivors of the 20th Century's Infamous Serial Killers

Chapter One

Survivor: Michele Chapman
Serial Killer: Derrick Todd Lee
aka "Baton Rouge Serial Killer"

"Maybe somebody out there may want one day to come to you. Chris not even gonna be in it because he's the detective. Your name gonna be in there because you the profiler."
—Derrick Todd Lee

New Orleans was easy to spot from the air. It was the big black hole where a city used to be, ringed by the lights of the surrounding communities that had survived Hurricane Katrina.

It was eight o'clock at night but it seemed more like two o'clock in the morning. When it was supposed to be bustling, the airport was comatose from inactivity. The place was totally dead, but that brought bargains, including a rented car that I could drop off in Texas for no additional fee. Outside, the roadways were empty, but farther north toward Baton Rouge, they became jammed with refugees. Many were driving back and forth over Interstate 10, the main highway through the canebrake and into Texas, still looking for permanent shelter and jobs. Trailers were everywhere.

Baton Rouge was a series of traffic jams. Roadways meant for rural traffic were clogged with the hurricane refugees. The night was lit up by an endless string of white lights that outlined the giant oil derricks and oil processing plants in the west. A few miles farther up, the road split. I tooled my car off the interstate and into the canebrake. There were no street or highway lights. The sudden darkness was all-enveloping.

The canebrake isthe countryside of Louisiana, Mississippi, and the Florida Panhandle that borders on the Gulf of Mexico. There was a time, from about 1929 until 2005, that no real storm struck the canebrake with the kind of force to literally destroy it. That changed with Katrina.

The hulking shapes in the darkness turned out to be shattered buildings and uprooted trees. The best thing to do would be to give Louisiana back to the French for the same $15 million Thomas Jefferson paid for it originally. After all, the Catholic parish system that delineates the state's infrastructure is a throwback to France's controls of the state. In Louisiana, parishes substitute for counties.

Suddenly, winged angels lit up the rutted four-lane highway with sharp white light. They seemed totally out of place, their spiritual promise and cheeriness in direct contradiction to the leering neon of the barbecue joints, sleazy video stores, and bars that stood behind them. The angels disappeared between towns, swallowed up in the darkness of the Louisiana canebrake.

The sign up ahead said St. Francisville Parish—5 miles. It was there Derrick Todd Lee was born in 1968. Fifteen years later as a teenager, Lee climbed a pole in the parish. When he got to the top, he had a great view of a second-floor apartment in the development. Inside, as he watched, beautiful young Patricia Savage began to undress. He looked at her unfolding body as something he just had to have, to hold, to contain, to control, to do with as he would.

Down to nothing, Savage looked up moments later to the incongruous site of a pudgy young black boy clinging to a nearby light pole looking straight at her. From the pole, Lee could see her picking up the phone. He tried to scamper down, to jump off the pole and get away, but his legs got caught on something. Police arrived moments later to begin what for Lee became the first in a string of lengthy juvenile arrests that made him a familiar character around the halls of the Zachary Police Department, which administered the law in the parish.

By 1989, when Lee turned twenty-one, he seemed to have turned a corner. Through charm and perhaps guile, he had become a well-liked member of his community. He wasn't well-educated, having barely survived high school. Derrick wasn't much into religion. He had become a concrete finisher whose talent and skills were in demand. As for his friends, they considered him a slick Casanova who was never without a woman. Lee flirted with anything in a skirt. It was just a matter of time.

In November 1992, at the age of twenty-four, Lee committed his first "adult" crime. Still favoring his childhood conveyance, bike riding was the way Lee got around. Biking through the Fenwood Hills neighborhood of Zachary, he found a house that looked empty. Parking in the front yard of Rob Benge's house, Lee barged into the house without knocking. Behind him, the kitchen door was left wide open.

Returning from a shopping trip, Benge was surprised when Lee, a handsome, massive African American who looks like the actor Michael Clarke Duncan from The Green Mile, came out of his bedroom with a friendly handshake.

"I'm looking for a party named Monroe," said Lee, turning on the oily charm and shaking the stunned man's hand.

But it was Lee who was surprised when Benge picked up the phone and called the police. Lee ran into a place he would come to know quite well: the Azalea Rest Cemetery. He tried hiding behind some gravestones, where his massive form was not easily concealed. It was no surprise when the police found him a short time later. Captured, he was taken meekly into custody.

Minutes later I spotted lights in the distance. Getting closer, the headlights picked out a weathered sign that said, Zachary—Town Limit. The angels flew in once again to the side of the road, lighting up the town that resolved itself out of the darkness.

A church steeple appeared in the town square. It was its huge size that caught the eye, more so than its dark silhouette against the gray winter sky. It was the highest building in town, here in a place of low-lying garages, sparkling new banks to take advantage of the refugees from Hurricane Katrina, and old ramshackle wooden buildings between run-down strip malls. The road ended a few blocks later at Lee's old stomping ground, the Azalea Rest Cemetery. In Zachary the difference between life and death was a mere matter of blocks.

There But For the Grace of God
Survivors of the 20th Century's Infamous Serial Killers
. Copyright © by Fred Rosen. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

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( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 23, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Factually wrong in every case he writes about. Even if you know

    Factually wrong in every case he writes about. Even if you know nothing
    about these cases, you can pick out the myriad of errors. This is an
    example of why there needs to be an option to give a zero star rating.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting...

    This book is interesting because it does cover the survivors of serial killers. Though it was engaging enough to keep me interested by presenting facts about the murders and about the murders, I expected, from the book's synopsis, that it would actually be about the survivors. Yes, the book does discuss the survivors; however, the book is mostly about every other aspect of the murders and murderers with a page or two for each survivor.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2007

    This book was stillborn

    The author took an interesting concept and went nowhere with it. We learn more about his favorite drink and the foot traffic at various airports than the hand of fate. The few survivors are reluctant at best and none provide any insight. In the Ted Bundy chapter are 2 glaring errors. Carol DaRonch did not fight off Bundy in a parking lot, she escaped from his car and was rescued by motorists. Kimberly Leach was a victim in Florida, not Utah. The author refers to his father's 1973 Ford Fury. His father may have had some kind of Ford or perhaps, a Plymouth Fury. Where was the editor? But then why would an editor bother with this trash? A very poorly done book. Save your money....please!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2007

    Rehash

    'This is the remarkable true story of those who lived.' Not so. This book mostly reports on the killers'crimes. There is very little said about the survivors. The author tries to be sarcastic and witty about the killers and the book ends up reading like a tabloid.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 28, 2014

    This publication, because I refuse to give it the respect of cal

    This publication, because I refuse to give it the respect of calling it a book is without a doubt one of the worst ones I have ever read, and may be one of the worst ever written. The “author” boasts continuously of how the victims refused to speak to any other people about the attacks they survived when in fact they gave numerous interviews over their lives. The fact of the matter is that most of the information in this publication was derived from public documents and news media articles salted with assumption.
    This horrible excuse for literature if filled with racist comments, sexist comments, misogynistic comments, and jokes that are horribly denigrating and at the expense of the victims of these crimes. On the other hand, the “author” does speak with great conviction and authority on a great many items that he obviously knows absolutely nothing about. From psychological profiling to the American interstate system.
    If it we not for the fact that this was assigned reading for my doctoral program in forensic psychology, for which I was going to tested I would have thrown it away. Unless you too are being forced to read it for something similar, I encourage you to forgo this book for anything, and I mean ANYTHING else you can find on the topic. For instance, if there is a MAD Magazine edition that discusses Jeffery Dahmer, buy that instead. It will have more redeeming qualities, it will be more accurate, it will be more journalistically sound and reputable, and it will be more respectful of the victims and their relatives.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2012

    Liked it

    I really liked this book. I wish there were more books out there that let you know how survivors are doing. I have read this book twice and the story that gets to me the most is kevin -Btk victim

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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