In the lovely town of Pleasant Valley in upstate New York, the maple trees were ablaze with fall's blood-red color. The air was crisp. And a woman named Susan Fassett left her weekly choir practice at a church--when a killer emerged from the shadows and mercilessly gunned her down. . .
Was A Realm Of Sexual Depravity Where Murder Was The Last Sin.
Stunned, the police immediately suspected Susan Fassett's husband and surrounded his home. They couldn't have been more wrong. Susan Fassett had been living a secret life, entangled in a passionate web of dominance, lesbian sex, betrayal--and a depraved plan for murder. After detectives untangled a web of secrets and corruption hidden in plain sight, the town of Pleasant Valley would be rocked again when a shocking trial exposed the whole sordid truth. . .
"Phelps proves that truth is more shocking than fiction."
"Phelps is one of America's finest true-crime writers."
With 16 Pages Of Shocking Photos
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By M. William Phelps
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2014 M. William Phelps
All rights reserved.
With a name like Byrd you'd almost expect your life to, at some point, revolve around flight. Although he lived in Pleasant Valley, Richard Byrd had been a Poughkeepsie police officer for going on three decades now, and a member of the Hudson Valley Balsa Busters (HVBB), a local radio-controlled model airplane club, for only the past two. "One of my favorite things is to fly radio-controlled model airplanes," Byrd said later.
Byrd was good friends with HVBB's president, sixty-year-old Fred Andros, who oversaw the club's twelve-hundred-foot-long, 280-foot-wide grass airstrip on some seventy-five acres the HVBB maintained just outside Poughkeepsie. Undergoing a revitalization project today, back in 1999, Poughkeepsie was nothing more than a run-down mill town on the banks of the Hudson River still trying to stake a claim to its reputation as a quintessential small town. Over the years the town has undergone its share of social blemishes and political scandals. But nothing can change the towering Catskill Mountains hovering over Poughkeepsie's shoulder, in the shadow of the famous Bardavon marquee on Main Street, a gold-and-white flashing sign that has, through many incarnations, marked New York's oldest opera house for the past 130 years. Manhattan sits in its saddle of worldly celebrity about two hours south of Poughkeepsie. Some might say, Poughkeepsie, which bills itself as a "forward-thinking city with historic beginnings," is nothing more than a pit stop, a quick jaunt off the interstate to stop and fuel up, grab a bite to eat and use the restroom while en route from Manhattan to Albany, or vice versa. But men like Richard Byrd and Fred Andros have grown to love the city and its people, respecting the quiet repose residents often say drew them there in the first place.
Byrd had fallen deeply into his new passion: flying model airplanes. It had taken Byrd nearly a year to learn how to fly the planes by himself. But he stuck with it. "Kids are better with their hands," Byrd said later in court, "than us older fellows. And, roughly, a young fellow could probably learn how to fly within three or four months. Myself, it took me the better part of the summer and almost the next spring of the following year to learn."
Byrd, Andros and the rest of the HVBB group met at the United Methodist Church on Martin Road in Pleasant Valley. The comradeship in the group was important to Byrd. Flying the planes was a way to lose oneself in something, affording the plane operator a sense of empowerment, much like that all-encompassing authority of being a cop Byrd loved so much. Working on the airplanes and building them from scratch stimulated Byrd's itch to have a hobby. He was just about to move on to flying gasoline engine planes. Up until then, he said, "I had been flying glow engines...." Ordering spare parts and waiting for them to arrive was all a part of the process, and he, much like his good friend Fred Andros, always anticipated the delivery of a new plane.
Byrd met and befriended Fred in 1997, when he was first indoctrinated into the group. At the time Fred had been Poughkeepsie's water superintendent, having worked for the town as a laborer and then rising up through the ranks the old-fashioned way over thirty-one years of service. The two men had become fast friends. Byrd understood Fred's authority and superiority over the planes—and even envied it in many ways. He wanted what "Freddy" had: that control. Fred was himself newly married for what he later told friends and associates was the third time (but was actually his fourth). He had a thirteen-year-old son, Roger (pseudonyms are italicized on first use), a heavyset kid from a previous marriage who had battled cancer and lived with Fred and his new wife, Diana. Roger was a model plane expert, performing feats with his ten-foot-span Piper J-3 Cub that the elders in the club simply shook their heads at and wondered how in heck the kid did it.
Fred adored the boy. He was proud of the way he could fly those planes and the fact that they held such a tight bond.
Byrd had a teenage son, too. The families hung out together on occasion.
Not everyone was fond of Fred, and Byrd knew it. Some later described Fred as hideous, a self-centered man of colossal moral and social ignorance who cared about nothing more than his own needs.
"I can't imagine why a woman was ever attracted to Fred," the mother of one of his lovers said of him. "This was even more puzzling when I actually saw him."
But Byrd was only concerned with how he viewed Fred. To him, Fred was an okay guy. A friend.
Late into the afternoon of October 28, 1999, Byrd called Fred. He had some great news. Something they had been waiting on for weeks had arrived.
"UPS was here," Byrd explained excitedly. "They delivered those parts."
"Come over tonight," Fred suggested, "I'll be home this evening."
Byrd had been waiting on several parts. He often hired Fred to help him build his planes. (Fred Andros did nothing for free. Whether you were his friend, relative or a stranger, there was always a price to pay for what Fred did for you.) Fred had grown up and lived in Hyde Park, a twelve-minute ride north of Poughkeepsie. The basement in his multistory gold Colonial was rigged to work on the model planes. He had drill presses and workbenches. Vises and tools of all sorts. He spent hours in the basement getting lost in his model planes.
"We'll be over about seven, seven-thirty," Byrd said. He was going to his parents' house for dinner first, and then he and the wife would stop by afterward.
"See you guys then."
Fred seemed fine on the telephone that night, Byrd later explained in court. "He was as anxious as I was to get that airplane together, so we could get it in the air by the weekend if that was possible, and it all depended on the parts coming in."
Excerpted from Deadly Secrets by M. William Phelps. Copyright © 2014 M. William Phelps. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
They did this story on Forensic Files. Just saying...
Well written and documented.
Another good book by phelps....Bn
THIS BOOK IS THE WORST WRITTEN, REPETITIVE DRIBBLE I'VE READ IN A LONG TIME. THE FACTS ARE WRONG, THE LOCATIONS ARE VERY WRONG, AND THE CONSTANT REPETITION OF THE CRIME AND THE DESCRIPTION OF THE VILLIAN ARE REDUNDANT AND BORING. THE FACTS ABOUT THE CRIMES COULD HAVE BEEN READ IN THE LOCAL NEWPAPER. BY THE TIME I WAS DONE READING (SCANNING) THIS BOOK I DIDN'T FEEL SORRY FOR ANYBODY, EVEN THE ANGELIC WIFE.