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10 thoughts on “The Darkest Night: The Murder of Innocence in a Small Town

  1. says:

    3.5 Horrific Stars This book details the heartbreaking, true account of the abduction of two sisters one who was murdered and the other was left for dead Franscell the author does a good job describing what happened on that horrific night and pays tribute to both of the victims in a caring way This is how all true crime books should be written I feel like the author did his research really well with this book and most of the facts seem to be legit according to fellow reviewers and those who knew the victims Also, the author gave us some good information about the killers so we could get a feel for who they were and what may have lead up to this unspeakable crime The only downside of this book for me was that we got a lot of information about Becky one of the sisters who was left for dead and only a small amount on the younger sister, Amy I really feel like we should have heard a bit about her as to pay tribute to her.All in all though, this is a good true crime book that will leave readers horrified The two men who committed this crime are clearly monsters and I have no sympathy for either one of them The book is told well in three different parts Part 1 focuses on where everything happened, part 2 describes the crime, and part 3 describes the aftermath of everything and how Becky s life played out after it It is not confusing by any means, and it is not long and drawn out with facts that don t pertain to the actual happenings of that night If you enjoy a good true crime book than this one may be for you


  2. says:

    Franscell s investigative research is rock solid His depiction of the killers is accurate, chilling and spot on.It s my belief that The Darkest Night is one of those true crime books that should or maybe it has wound up on your special reading shelf not just to read once, but to pull back out at a later point in your life Maybe a year after you ve read it Maybe five or 10 years from now It s one of those special non fiction books that makes you think about human life Your values Your surroundings The frailty of human life It s a grim reminder that VERY BAD things happen to good people purely based on randomness and happenstance.


  3. says:

    Despite the alleged title, this one is The Darkest Night Here s the scoop two sisters in a small town in Wyoming already scary to me go to the store at 9 p.m and come out to find a flat tire and two guys are there to offer help They take them out in the boonies, throw the 8 year old off a bridge down 120 feet to the Platte River below then rape the 18 year old and toss her over as well Well, guess what She lived to ID them, testified, etc The two guys were just the scum of the earth, and just when you think maybe she can get on with her life, she goes to a psychiatrist and he molests or rapes her, but she thinks no one will believe herit is just gruesome So, about when you feel like you have had all you can take of her sadness, she spirals into depression and sadness, booze and pills, and commits suicide BY JUMPING OFF THAT SAME BRIDGE Holy crap Pretty well written, and another one that reminds me how easily I might have met a similar fate too trusting Just recently I stopped to talk to a man at the State Park and he offered to show me the insterior of his motor home, and I WENT IN with no clue if he was a serial killer or whatso, the best advice is, just keep yelling to yourself DON T GO INTO THE BASEMENT I mean, really, there ARE people like the 2 guys that helped these two females in their idyllic little townso just to be safe, don t trust ANYONE


  4. says:

    3.75 starsIn a town in Wyoming in 1973, 18 year old Becky and her 11 year old sister Amy went to pick up some groceries By the next morning, Amy was dead in a canyon, thrown of a high bridge, and Becky somehow managed to survive the night with a broken pelvis after having been raped and also thrown off the bridge The author was the girls neighbour The book not only looks at the crime, but it also looks at Becky and Amy s lives, the lives of the two convicted murderers rapists, and the author thinks back on his own life in the small town where it happened The first half of the book was the most interesting, where it focused on the crime and aftermath, including the trial The next part of the book follows Becky s life, as well as Ronnie s and Jerry s, in jail for their crimes The books slips a little at least I found it less interesting as it looks closely at an autobiography written by Ronnie as the author scrutinizes the autobiography, it becomes clear why he includes as much of it as he does in the book But, it is due to this section that I brought my rating down to just under 4 stars.


  5. says:

    The good, the bad and two kinds of uglyBy Wyoming standards, the horrifying 1973 murder of 11 year old Amy Burridge and the rape of her older half sister still looms as a contender for crime of the century As a subject for traditional, in depth true crime treatment, however, the case pales beside complex and gruesome events It remained a mysterious who dunnit for just eight hours and the resulting trial unfolded as a slam dunk conviction complicated only by a half baked, desperate attempt at an insanity plea in which the defense doctors even failed to declare the defendant insane.In the hands of Texas journalist Ron Franscell, however, this case transcends the true crime genre to become a powerful exploration of good, bad and ugly In The Darkest Night, Franscell nails the good of the two sisters, the bad of two criminals and takes a stab at the hardest part of the literary equation the ugly that is easy to see but hard to explain He delivers two kinds of ugly the tragic ugly of a girl who died twice and the pathetic ugly of her tormentor s disgusting survival The result is a book that deserves its awards and stellar reviews.The girl who died twice was Burridge s 18 year old sister, Becky Thomson The two girls were kidnapped from a Casper convenience store by a pair of local punks, Jerry Jenkins and Ronald Kennedy, who took them to a spot near the Fremont Canyon Bridge After tossing Burridge over the bridge into the North Platte River to her death 100 feet below, they raped Thomson and pitched her over the rails as well Although Thomson survived to identify her rapists and send them to prison, she never recovered from the emotional shock of the event and committed suicide 19 years later by leaping from the bridge at the same spot.Franscell paints a stark contrast between the guilt wracked post crime life of Thomson as a victim and the unrepentant existence of the rapists, particularly Kennedy, who became a trusty, enjoyed conjugal visits and even penned a ludicrous, cowardly memoir accusing Thomson of stalking him Although obviously a fairy tale about his youth as a legendary pre teen reincarnation of both Robin Hood and Lothario in 1950s Casper, Kennedy s memoir actually sheds light on the mental state of a psychopath than a dozen psychiatric reports could do Franscell offers a literary MRI of Kennedy s twisted brain by summarizing the memoir while dodging the temptation for editorial pot shots He recognizes that some jokes require no punchline Franscell even goes the extra mile by investigating some of Kennedy s outrageous historical claims, providing a few flakes of fact that add perspective to Kennedy s blizzard of bull Although he now lives in Texas, Franscell is able to add another dimension to his narrative from the perspective of his past growing up in Casper at the time of the crime He had no direct involvement but still manages to inject a personal perspective without overreaching to give the reader an insider feel for the events He describes the book as a memoir of his personal quest for understanding what had been an influential episode in his development.In the end, of course, Franscell finds no complete answer to the question of evil s origins But The Darkest Night does provide an entertaining and thought provoking portrait of his search.


  6. says:

    Thomas Wolfe famously wrote that you can t go home again Ron Franscell did precisely that when he decided to go back to his childhood home of Casper, Wyoming to investigate a crime from thirty years previous A police report of September 1973 was his starting point Eighteen year old Becky Thomson and her eleven year old sister Amy were shopping at a local store and discovered a flat tire on the family car Two men offered help but then abducted them at knife point Becky was raped and Amy was killed Becky was thrown off of a canyon bridge, but survived, despite a 120 foot plunge and broken legs She pulled herself up the canyon and was rescued by a couple driving by Her sister Amy was later found in the river by an EMT diver It was his last dive, due to continuing nightmares Two suspects were quickly arrested based on Becky s descriptions at the first interview Jerry Jenkins placed all of the blame on his partner, Ron Kennedy A change of venue was necessary due to death threats Wyoming has a long history of vigilantism At the trial, Becky Thomson was the first witness She identified the men and described the rape and the bridge toss to a rapt jury I just had my own experience as a juror and the six days gave me a deeper understanding of the process My case was a home invasion and robbery, but the logistics were similar They were not dealing with the still unsolved Jack the Ripper case, but instead with two morons with Becky s blood in their car a virtual slam dunk of a trial The vicious of the two criminals, Ron Kennedy, was raised in a Dickensian household with no running water and an outhouse His mother worked as a dishwasher and his father was mostly unemployed and drunk A shrink testified that Ronald was antisocial, but not legally insane He understood right from wrong Jerry Jenkins childhood was equally bad with a drunken father and whore mother like Charles Manson whose promiscuous lifestyle traumatized the future killer The jury had to decide whether these mitigating circumstances were enough to deny capital punishment Kennedy s mother Hilda prayed to Mary and the saints for the souls of her son and for those of Amy and Becky My feelings are mixed regarding the death penalty due to mistakes read John Grisham s The Innocent Man and someone being executed by the state in error In this particular case, I would have tied the two men together and thrown them off of the same bridge where the crime occurred a proper burial at sea The law works in mysterious ways, and it did in this case As expected, Becky s life was turbulent after the trial drugs, alcohol and a failed marriage Franscell posts excerpts from Kennedy s prison autobiography The unpublished memoir is a self serving, delusional mess Ronald is not Oscar Wilde or O Henry The tales contained within are worthy of Stephen King s imagination Franscell writes with great passion, as he was a neighbor of Becky and Amy on that fateful night in 1973 The tragedy haunted him and the result is this excellent book


  7. says:

    The Darkest night is a horrific true story about a night in 1973 in Casper, Wyoming when two half sister s lives 18 year old Becky and 11 year old Amy would forever be changed After going to the store to do some shopping they had a flat tire They were picked up by Ronald Kennedy and Jerry Jenkins two people they thought were going to help and take them home Instead they came face to face with pure EVIL After suffering unspeakable crimes Becky and her little sister were thrown off a remote Wyoming bridge Only after Becky had been raped by Kennedy and Jenkins One survived yet sadly one didn t Amy died almost instantly Becky somehow made it out barely alive Even after 30 years this brutal crime is as relevant today as it was then It robbed the town of it s innocence I can t give away the whole story but No one could have told this story better than Ron Franscell himself because he grew up next door to the victims If your looking for a true crime book that holds your attention from beginning to end, this is it Ron Franschell you did it again


  8. says:

    The only thing that would have made this book a teeny bit better is if it didn t spend 20 pages quoting one of the killer s obviously delusional autobiographies a shorter synopsis would have been fine After learning about his delinquent youth, and the nature of this horrid crime, I didn t think we needed to hear anything further from that lunatic.


  9. says:

    This is a heartbreaking case, but I felt the narrative didn t weave together as seamlessly as I would have liked One highlight is the prison autobiography of one of the suspects It s a primer in the megalomania of a sociopath.


  10. says:

    An Urban Legend that was TrueI chose those book because I grew up in Casper, WY Born 5 years after the crime I remember whispers of afults who knew a friend who knew a friend of the girls Always in whispered and hushed tones, this story became an urban legend to me Too horrifying to be real But, it was and it showed me that monsters are real and even exist in my Wyoming.I chose this book to know the truth behind the legend that I thought existed And life can be as scary as the imagination Franscell writes narrative like and his research is so detailed that I, again, couldn t believe the realities of the lives that were intertwined on September day.I was riveted and when the book was ending, I didn t want it to Such a tragedy 2 souls who will forever haunt the stories of Casper, WY.