A grisly murder upends life in a charming midwestern hamlet
Battle Creek, Michigan, is famous as the birthplace of breakfast cereal, and the nearby suburb of Marshall is as wholesome as shredded wheat. Well-known for its colorful Victorian mansions, this stately slice of nineteenth-century Americana became infamous on a frigid night in February of 1991. Newscaster Diane Newton King was stepping out of her car, her children strapped into the backseat, when a sniper’s bullet cut her down. The police assumed that the killer was her stalker—a crazed fan who had been terrorizing King for weeks. But as their investigation ground to a standstill, the police turned to another suspect—one much closer to home.
In this gripping retelling of the crime and its aftermath, journalist Lowell Cauffiel re-creates the atmosphere of terror that marked King’s last days, giving us a story of celebrity, obsession, and what it means to kill.
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||4 MB|
About the Author
Lowell Cauffiel is an American novelist, screenwriter, and producer. He began his career as a journalist, contributing to publications including Rolling Stone and the Detroit News. In 1988, he entered the world of true-crime writing, publishing his first book, Masquerade. He later went on to write the New York Times bestseller House of Secrets. More recently, he has begun writing and producing crime documentaries and made his directorial debut in 2012 with the film Men in a Box.
Read an Excerpt
Eye of the Beholder
The Almost Perfect Murder of Anchorwoman Diane Newton King
By Lowell Cauffiel
MysteriousPress.comCopyright © 1994 Lowell Cauffiel
All rights reserved.
He stood up in an est meeting, his gesture not part of the training or any particular practice or custom. He just rose unexpectedly, and everyone listened and watched.
"I love Diane," Bradford King said. "I love Diane, and one day I'm going to marry her, too."
On July 21, 1984, it was hard to miss when he did.
The ceremony was held in the First Unitarian Church of Denver, on the corner of Fourteenth and Lafayette, where Dwight D. Eisenhower married Mamie. Diane wore a white satin skirt and silk jacket with rolled hems. She wore a white blouse, hand painted with yellow and bright red stars. Brad wore a white dinner jacket and slate slacks. His tie and cummerbund were lavender, and Diane carried lavender orchids. A pair of bagpipers in Scottish kilts flanked them at the altar, the tall pipes of the church organ serving as their brassy backdrop.
They'd written out their vows. They'd underlined certain words for emphasis.
He said, "Today and always, I chose you to be the one I stand beside in life. You are the one I will love, support, and serve as we grow and expand in our aliveness."
She said, "I pledge myself to having this marriage be magical and fun, inspiring, fulfilling so that at the end of my life I can know that because of your love and support I went far past my dreams."
When it was over, the pipers puffed up their bags and led Bradford and Diane King outside to the street, where they turned and kept right on going. They stopped traffic and people as the pipers led them to a nearby restaurant for the reception, their instruments still wailing.
Other rituals would come in time.
Marler, their first child, was born March 6, 1988, four years later, in Grand Junction, Colorado. It was well after Diane had established herself as a star TV reporter at KJTC-TV. She named the boy after her late father, Herbert George Marler. She also gave herself a new name, taking the surname of her stepfather, Royal Newton.
Diane Newton King.
It had a rhythm. It sounded contemporary. It sounded authoritative on the air.
Both Diane Newton King and Brad wrote letters to their new baby in a memory book. Diane not only dated her entry on the fifth day of the fifth month, but she noted the exact time as well: 10:47 P.M.
Giving birth to you was the hardest task I've ever known. I would never have changed the experience again. When I saw your head be born I cried because until that very moment I never really could imagine a little human being existed in my womb. The first thing you did is scream immediately. Then as quickly as you screamed, you stopped. I'm so proud of the fact that you bear my complexion. My pug nose and beautiful dark brown hair and eyes. I'm always thrilled to see you wear your daddy's ears and lips and have the same sparkle in your bright eyes. Every time I look at you I realize truly what a miracle it is to have the ability to give birth and realize how very privileged I am to have you. I know there is a god and he created you for me to give all the love I can. You see, before you were born I did not know my being had an empty space. But when you were born I realized you filled a big void and gave my life meaning I didn't know existed. Marler I will commit my life to you and always be here for you whenever you need me or we need each other. Forever your mother. I love you, Mommy.
Two and a half months later Brad made his entry. He wrote of Alissa, his daughter by his first marriage, back when he was considered command material on the police department of Pontiac, Michigan.
Seeing you born was one of the great experiences in my life. Having you as part of my life has given a new meaning to our relationship with your sister. Also this new opportunity is yours and mine to live through. Thank you for contributing to me, Alissa, and your mother. Just as I love your sister I love you also. Things I can give you are many. But the most important is to be always questioning of all that goes on in your life. If you do not question you cannot learn and grow. You have a proud heritage and I promise to learn and experience all you can. I gave you a football when you were in the hospital. You are a big boy for your age. Every dad wants a son to be successful and I'm no exception. I'll teach you about sports and business and just having fun. Everyone says you are a beautiful baby. I couldn't agree more. You look so much like your mother and me. No one can mistake you for anyone else's son. I promise to be there for you all the time. We can solve anything by just discussion. Thank you for making a difference in my new life. I love you, Dad.
The boy was baptized in a Catholic church in Colorado. Diane, herself half Mohawk, was learning about her Native American roots. Brad had studied the ways of the Lakota and other Western tribes. They decided to meld native spirituality into the Catholic ceremony. First they smudged everyone who watched with burnt offerings of the sacred medicines of cedar and sweet grass.
Then, after the baby had been christened, everyone circled them. Brad held Marler up, presenting the child to his elders. Brad then held the boy higher. He presented their son to the East and the West and the North and the South. Indians called these the sacred four directions, the center being where he stood.
They named the second child Kateri, born on November 20, 1990. She was healthy, beautiful, and blond. Diane and Brad King had moved to Michigan, settling finally in a farmhouse just outside the Marshall city limits. Brad was working as a criminal justice instructor at Western Michigan University. Diane was the morning anchor at WUHQ-Channel 41, the only TV station with news located in Battle Greek.
They planned more blending of native tradition and Catholic ritual for Kateri's christening, scheduled to be held at St. Mary Catholic Church in Marshall on Sunday, February 24, 1991, at 11 A.M.
But on Saturday, February 9, at 6:49 P.M., a call came in to the Marshall Police Department on the unrecorded line. That meant the caller had just dialed zero and an operator had patched him through.
There was crying and yelling at the same time.
"I need help!" a man's voice shouted.
Then a woman. The controlled voice of a telephone operator.
"You have them, sir."
"Please, I need help!"
Joe Delapas, the dispatcher on duty, tried to make sense out of the hysteria. The man was saying something about his wife. That she was on the ground, near her car. He found her there, coming back from a walk.
He screamed, "There's blood coming out of her mouth and she's not moving!"
Delapas got an address and dispatched a Marshall Firefighters Ambulance Unit from the fire hall just south of town.
"Unknown medical." Location, 16240 Division Drive.
The operator offered the caller's phone number. Delapas asked the caller to identify himself.
"My name is Brad King."
Delapas called the Calhoun County Sheriff's Department dispatcher on another line. Division Drive was in Fredonia Township. That was the sheriff's jurisdiction.
When he returned to the caller, the man named King was still crying, sometimes yelling, repeating the same things. His wife was in the driveway. He'd found her there, coming home from a walk. "It was very hard to understand him," he would later note in his report.
"Let alone keep him calm."
The dispatcher tried to steady him by talking to him, asking him to stay on the line.
"Why did this have to happen?" he kept saying.
"Oh, I want to be with her," he said more than once.
In winter, Michigan ground could be as white and hard as cast plaster. But this week a thaw was underway. On February 9, the National Weather Service in nearby Battle Creek had logged a high of forty-three degrees at five o'clock as the sun had poked through the clearing clouds, headed for a 6:06 P.M. sunset. The farm tracts south of Marshall would need a few more days of unseasonable temperatures to make deep mud. Soy and corn stubble textured most of the fields. Snow lingered only in the shadows or where it had drifted on shorter, colder days.
Sheriff's deputy Guy Picketts had to go home for the flashlight. He'd forgotten it when he reported for the afternoon shift and another night of traffic control across the 744 square miles of territory known as Calhoun County. So, during dinner time's predictable lull, Picketts swung by his house on Mansion Street, not a half-dozen blocks east of the Brooks Memorial Fountain.
Two other sheriff's deputies were out and about that night in separate cruisers, waiting for dispatches. One car covered the eastern side of the county, the other the west, which included the Marshall fringe. The dispatches usually started after dinner. That's when the all-day drinkers got home. That's when the family fights started.
The first radio call went to the west car, eleven miles from Marshall near the county's border: "Unknown trouble. Address: 16240 Division. Subject says he was coming home from a walk and found his wife laying in the driveway."
Deputy Guy Picketts heard the call and west car response from the hand-held radio he'd taken with him into his house. The address piqued his interest as much as the call. He knew the address well.
"I'm responding," he said, grabbing his flashlight and heading out the door. "I'm here in town."
Guy Picketts sped west on Mansion Street, then south on Old 27. The county cruiser leaned through the traffic circle, its lights painting the Greek Doric shapes of the Brooks Memorial Fountain in flashing shades of red, white, and blue. Halfway around, Picketts was headed south again on Old 27. He passed a rescue unit in the first block, its nose just poking out of the Marshall Fire Station. He saw the ambulance in his mirror and surmised it was also heading for 16240 Division Drive, two and a half miles away.
The view out the cruiser's front window changed quickly. Small bungalows gave way to an old canning plant and light industrial buildings. A set of tracks. A lumberyard. A feed granary. A trio found in many rural Michigan towns. After the Kalamazoo River bridge the horizon flattened. Picketts rocketed past a golf course on the left. A Moose Lodge on the right. At Brooks Field Airport, a yellow wind sock hung limp.
Checkered asphalt and a slice of light on the horizon greeted Picketts as he turned west onto Division Drive. Only a dozen houses lined the mile of road west of Old 27. All but three homes were on the north side. The house at 16240 Division was on the south. It was the second home a half mile down the road.
Guy Picketts was marking his thirteenth year of police work. Nine years with the county. Four years with Marshall PD. He knew 16240 Division Drive better than any police officer in Calhoun County. He'd lived with his parents in the old, two-story farmhouse in the sixties. He'd spent another three years there in the seventies raising his own. Picketts knew the house. He knew the farm's red-and-white Victorian barn. He knew the 510 acres that surrounded both and the stream called Talmadge Creek that bisected the back property.
The deputy turned left into the two-hundred-foot driveway, eyeing the yard as he drove up the slight incline, past a stand of cedars and crooked oaks. The Victorian barn on his left, outbuildings and a cement silo straight ahead. A tan station wagon was parked just beyond the barn. A silver Jeep Wagoneer was parked in the branch of the driveway that jutted off toward the house. The Wagoneer's grill faced the side porch entrance; the passenger side faced the deputy.
Guy Picketts saw the body as he passed the Jeep and parked. She was two feet from the Wagoneer's left rear tire. She lay on her back, her legs folded under her at the knees. Her dark, straight hair was spread around her head on the gravel. Her arms extended over her head. Her palms faced up.
Approaching, Picketts heard something. A young boy, a preschooler. He was in the last throes of crying himself out. He was in a child seat in the backseat of the Jeep, his upper body restrained. Next to him, in a smaller car seat, was an infant. She was silent, but apparently alive, her tiny limbs assuming the still shape of her little jumpsuit.
Picketts fell to his knees next to the woman. She was in blue-and-white running shoes and baggy powder blue lounge pants and a gray "Operation Desert Shield" sweatshirt. Picketts noticed a wisp of frothy blood near her nostril. He placed his fingertips on the cardioid area of her neck. Her skin was soft and smooth and warm.
There was no pulse.
Now muffled shouting was coming from inside the house, well beyond the facade of the side porch. Picketts jumped to his feet and moved toward the noise, thirty feet away.
More yelling, still muffled. He saw movement beyond the porch door, inside the house itself, in what he knew to be the dining room. A second door on the porch, one that led to the kitchen, was open.
Then Picketts could see the figure of a man silhouetted on the porch.
"Help her," the man shouted. "Help my wife."
"They're on their way," Picketts shouted back.
Picketts strained to make some kind of identification. It was all happening very fast. The Marshall rescue unit had pulled to a stop in the driveway behind him. Picketts spun around and pointed out the body to two emergency medical technicians as they ran from the ambulance, one carrying a duffel bag of emergency equipment.
The rescue unit later logged its time of arrival at 6:54 P.M. One EMT dropped his duffel bag as he fell to his knees at the woman's side. The other started searching for a pulse.
The other EMT tried.
"I think I've got something."
Then, he thought he heard a breath. Maybe one faint, desperate breath.
One EMT sprinted to the ambulance to get an intubation kit and a defibrillator. He also sounded a general EMT alarm that the crew had a probable cardiac arrest. The other EMT cut open the woman's sweatshirt, pulled back the garment to expose her white bra and the skin of her upper chest.
Picketts was heading to the porch now as the man on the porch stepped out the door onto the sidewalk. But the EMT called out.
"My God," he said. "I think she's been shot."
Picketts turned. Headed back. He shined his flashlight on the woman's chest. There was a quarter-inch hole just to the right of her sternum, just above the bra line. A drop of blood trickled from the wound. One of the paramedics was feeding an intubation tube down her throat now.
"Try not to disturb anything," Picketts said.
The deputy turned around and approached the man again. Gotta get a handle on this, he thought. Right now.
"Your name is?"
"And that's your wife?"
"Do you have any weapons?"
"Only a shotgun."
"Is there anybody else on the property?"
"I want you to stay right here," he said, holding out both his hands for emphasis.
The man stood motionless, his arms hanging at his sides. He stood on the sidewalk, just off the porch, some twenty-five feet from the body.
Guy Picketts would get a good look at him a little later. Brad King was an odd-looking fellow. He was wearing Maine boots, green camouflage pants, and a loose camouflage shirt. His head was covered with a stylish wide-brimmed hat in striking red felt, something L.L. Bean called "The Crusher." The man had dressed up its crown a bit further.
A blue jay feather poked out handsomely from its band.CHAPTER 2
"I'm not sure what I got out here," Deputy Guy Picketts told the county dispatcher. "But I need some help now."
Three county cars and two Michigan State Police cruisers were speeding toward 16240 Division Drive within five minutes of the first dispatch. All carried cops who recognized the alarm in Deputy Guy Picketts's voice.
Picketts needed a lot of help. He didn't know if the shooter was still on the property. He knew little about the man near the porch. He had two EMTs who needed space, maybe protection. In seconds, a medical emergency had turned into a crime scene that needed to be secured and preserved.
Confusion introduced itself into the scene. The cardiac alarm was sounding beepers on volunteers all over Marshall. A third EMT parked his truck on the road and ran across the lawn to the house. He tried to scurry past Brad King, who was sitting on the porch steps. The EMT thought a heart attack victim was inside. King stopped the stranger in street clothes.
Excerpted from Eye of the Beholder by Lowell Cauffiel. Copyright © 1994 Lowell Cauffiel. Excerpted by permission of MysteriousPress.com.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.