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Murders In The Swampland

Swampland Murders
  • Published: May 2001
  • Format: Dust Jacket Hardcover(B/W)
  • Pages: 287
  • Size: 5.5x8.5
  • ISBN: 9781401055615

"Murders In The Swampland" Here is a review from the Citrus County Chronicle (Florida)
written by
Chris Van Ormer
"Murders in the Swampland"
Article from the Citrus County Chronicle
Book´s murder stories send chills up spine of the Nature Coast

Many people move to the Nature Coast knowing little about the region.

Certainly, they´ve been enticed by the climate and the natural beauty of the countryside, the Gulf of Mexico and the lower cost of living. Yes, the Nature Coast is an attractive place.

What almost no newcomer to the region does is check the crime files. Perhaps the newcomer will look up the statistics and see fewer hard crimes here than in the place they are leaving and be reassured. However, a higher crime rate reflects a larger population than that of the Nature Coast. And statistics never put a face to crime.

Putting a face on big crimes in the Nature Coast is what Patty Shipp (Lieb) has done in her book, "Murders in the Swampland."

She chronicles 17 murder cases from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. Some of these cases Shipp covered while she was the crime reporter for the Sun_Journal in Brooksville, from 1987 until the newspaper shut down in 1991.

Shipp mentions her editor, Ken Melton, who now works for a sister newspaper of the Citrus County Chronicle, and credits Melton with encouraging her to publish her book.

Each story could be fiction, if the facts and characters were not so real. The scenes of murders, the roads traveled by the murderers and the lawmen who caught them exist. Many of the lawmen are still at work and are well known the the communities. Most of the crimes are set in Heranado County, but adjacent counties figure in as well.

Each story has a horrible uniqueness, but all the murders are amateurs, even the serial killers detailed in the book. Many mistakes are made that lead the lawmen to the killers. It is refreshing to see the entire crime put into one document, rather than revealed in the installments of newspaper reports.

These stories read like accounts in detective magazines, for which many of them were written. Thuse the reader learns about the serial killer, Billy Mansfield, who in the late 1970s and early 1980s picked up young women hitchhikers on U.S. 19, took them back to his mother´s trailer in Weeki Wachee for some hours of rape and torture before murdering them and burying them in the back yard. I have lived near Weeki Wachee for more than seven years, I had never heard about the Mansfield murders.

What is unusual about those murders and several others in the book is that so many people at the time knew about them and said nothing. Indeed, the sheriff said he would have to build a wing on the jail to detain all the people who had withheld evidence about Mansfield´s crimes. But those folks knew about the murders after the fact.

A more surprising crime happened Aug 3, 1990, in Floral City, when many people were aware of the plot to murder Joanne Sanders. The gang at a car repair business in melrose would get together and talk about how it should be done, priming the murder-to-be, John Barrett.

This case was perhaps the most bungled of the 17 in the book, because Sanders never got murdered at all. But four m,en who entered her house before she did were killed, while Barrett was waiting for her.

Barrett was gone when Sanders came home and found the bodies. One thing this story does not tell the reader is why Barrett left before Sanders came home. Perhaps he lost his nerve, or perhaps he thought of something else to do.

A striking similarity in may of these cases is the randomness of the violence. Many of the victims were not safe in the security of their own homes, where the killer broke in through the screen door in the back or just knocked on the front door and asked to use the phone or bathr

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Dust Jacket Hardcover(B/W)
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