The Thoughts That Drove BEST DEFENSE
By Randy Rawls
When I began BEST DEFENSE (released November 1, 2013 in paper and ebook form), I pictured a kidnapping of a five-year-old and the turmoil such an event causes. I chose this topic because I want my books to be topical—at least part of them anyway. And, whether we like it or not, the kidnapping of children fills the news almost daily. I don't know whether there are more here in Florida, but I do know there are a lot.
As I got into the story, though, I reached a point where I sat back and stared at the screen. My fictitious police had just announced they'd have an AMBER alert out by morning. My mind took off on a path of its own, wondering about the news stories I've read over the years. So few of those unfortunate young people have been recovered alive—or recovered at all. Why? Do only murderers kidnap children? I began to research the Internet. Too many cases to chronicle, but here are a few:
Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., 20-month old son of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The father was a famed aviator, but that didn't protect him. His son was found dead two months later.
Michael James Klunder, a convicted pedophile, is believed to have kidnapped at least four young girls. A 12-year old escaped, but a 15-year old is still missing. He may have abducted and murdered two young girls from Iowa. Sadly, Klunder was found dead, leaving no clues as to the 15-year old's whereabouts.
Another registered sex offender, Donald James Smith of Jacksonville, Florida is believed to have abducted an 8-year old girl. She was murdered.
The disappearance of Madeleine McCann, 3-years old, has gotten international coverage to no avail. She is still missing.
Marc Dutroux, serial killer and child molester, was convicted of kidnapping, torturing, and sexually abusing six girls ranging in ages from 8 to 19. He murdered four of the girls.
Robert "Bobby" Cosgrove Greenlease, Jr., a 6-year-old boy, was kidnapped and immediately murdered in Kansas City, Missouri by Bonnie Heady and Carl A. Hall. They demanded and were paid a $600,000 ransom by the boy's father.
Peter Weinberger, 1-month old, was taken from his home in Westbury, New York for a $2,000 ransom. The kidnapper told investigators he went to the first drop site the day after the kidnapping—with the baby in the car—but was scared away by all of the press and police in the area. The baby's decomposed body was recovered later.
Graeme Thorne was 8-years old when he was kidnapped. His partially decomposed body was found weeks later.
The above are the tragic cases, the ones where no live recovery was made in spite of the intense police investigations and, in some cases, the parents meeting the kidnappers' demands. There are others where the victim was recovered. Some of the them are the result of the police involvement, but often they occur in spite of police involvement.
Patty Hearst, the 19-year- old heiress to the Hearst Corporation fortune was kidnapped in 1974. She was captured in September 1975 after assisting her kidnappers in a bank robbery.
Elizabeth Smart, 14-years old, was abducted from her bedroom in Salt Lake City on June 5, 2002. On March 12, 2003, just over nine months after the abduction, she was recovered because of the actions of an alert civilian.
Amanda Berry, Georgina "Gina" DeJesus, and Michelle Knight were rescued from captivity in a house owned by their kidnapper, Ariel Castro. The women had disappeared between 2002 and 2004. They were discovered after an alert civilian helped Berry escape Castro's house with her daughter and contacted police.
There are many other instances of kidnappings where the intense police work did not pay off. In too many cases, the victim's body was all that was found. In others, the victim was never found.
So, when I hit the point in BEST DEFENSE where it was time to start the recovery investigation, I stopped. If my 5-year old daughter were kidnapped, and I had the clout to drive the investigation however I wanted, what would I do? If I added to that formula that I worked every day with the thugs and street slime that would do such a thing, how would that affect my decision?
By looking through the eyes of John Hammonds, a powerful defense attorney in South Florida, I answered my questions. I hope you'll find my responses credible and enjoy BEST DEFENSE.
BEST DEFENSE is book 2 in the Beth Bowman, S FL PI series. HOT ROCKS was first and is available everywhere that fine books are sold.