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Driving home after work on September 3, 1998, I found my planned route unexpectedly blocked. I took a right onto Fulton Ave., to see that the usually sleepy street had become a madhouse. Dozens of police cars closed off the road. Huge TV trucks were parked as near as they could get. Throngs of journalists and bystanders were milling around, held back by a platoon of cops. A helicopter hovered overhead.
As I made a U-turn to find another way home, I turned on the radio, hoping to discover what the commotion was about. It wasn't difficult. Every station was blaring the news: the serial killer who had been stalking the women of Poughkeepsie for two years had finally been caught. He lived nearby; in fact, I frequently walked past his house.
Over the following weeks, gruesome details emerged about Kendall Francois. He killed eight women, mostly prostitutes, and kept their bodies in his house - even though he lived with his parents and younger sister. The smell was so bad that it could be detected on the street, and on the skins of the inhabitants of the house...but his family apparently knew nothing about the murders, or the bodies. The house was such a mess, filled with garbage, rotting food, dirty clothes, and excrement, that the police had trouble entering it without stepping on possible evidence.
Ever since this story broke, I've been waiting for someone to write a book about it. Elements of the case are so bizarre they beg an explanation. Unfortunately, this book doesn't provide one.
The main problem is that the author, Fred Rosen, seems to have been unable to get interviews with any of the principles, aside from the police. This makes his viewpoint extremely limited, not to mention one-sided.Read more ›
"Body Dump" by Fred Rosen, ISBN 0-7860-1133-5 (ppb), Pinnacle Books 2001 - is a 303 page disquisition by determined writer (6 books) about the life and times of serial killer Kendall L. Francois of Poughkeepsie, N.Y. An additional 16 pages of photos show the victims, crime scene, killer, and forensic principals. A final 9 pages cover some confounding legalities of premature guilty pleading in capital crimes. The book's presentation is interesting, appearing firstly to be jumping around but the reader discovers this is a likely ploy paralleling the confused thought processes or machinations of Kendall who forgot about one of the eight victims he'd killed and put in his attic. Kendall's M.O. was static, his signature (bathing) intriguing, but his motive elusive and not a factor in conviction, certainly a rarity in itself. We have opportunity to witness the downside of sovereignty and non-cooperative jurisdiction of Town, City, State and Federal policing authorities until a serial killer is suspected. Rosen took some potshots as: "Law enforcement's continued reliance on the outmoded, ineffectual and unproved FBI serial killer organized and disorganized modality does nothing to help in catching these criminals." But, is this fair game when there are no bodies and no crime scenes? All in all, I found the book interesting as a recital of an otherwise incongruous story of a killer stashing bodies (unbeknownst to family) in the attic and basement of his parent's home near the Vassar and Marist Colleges in Town and City of Poughkeepsie. Do take the time to read it.
"Body Dump" is the story of serial killer Kendall Francois, who murdered 8 prostitutes in Poughkeepsie, New York in the late 1990s, and hid their bodies in his house, right under the noses -- literally -- of his family, with whom he lived. The book, while well-written and researched, is ultimately unsatisfying, no doubt to the author himself as well. Since neither Francois nor his parents ever went public, we never learn why he felt compelled to brutally murder these poor women, or how his parents and siblings managed to reside in a filthy, putrid-smelling house without checking for themselves Kendall's poor excuse of dead raccoons in the attic. (Did his family guess the truth but live in denial, or were they just major slobs?)
Apparently there were some psychological issues in Kendall's background, but as he pled guilty and the case never went to trial, his psychological records were never made public. Letters Rosen wrote to him in prison went unanswered.
So, both Rosen and the reader are left without insight into what turned one man into a monster.
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I read a lot of "True Crime" books. Maybe because it is encouraging when the forces of law & order "get their man" (or woman) and partly to ponder how a human psyche could go so wrong "Body Dump" is even more macabre than most books of its genre. It is about one sick man who murdered Poughkeepsie prostitutes and dumped the bodies in his attic and basement. Kind of a John Wayne Gacy thing. Kendall Francois "racked up a kill total greater than Jack the Ripper's." And he lived in this house with his parents and sister. His mother, a psychiatric nurse, never noticed anything amiss with her house - the stench of decomposing bodies? - or with her bouncing baby (6' 4", 300 lb) boy? The book includes pictures of men in Tyvek Coveralls - looking like lunar landing crews - investigators in "sterile suits that keep biohazards from getting on them and to keep them from contaminating the crime scene" deconstructing the house and its eerie environs. Author Fred Rosen takes time to explain the evolution and pitfalls of "profiling" -think Clarice Starling, Hannibal Lecter, and Samantha Waters- which was seriously useless in this case. Francois transgressed one of their basic tenets: serial killers kill their own race. Rosen repeatedly refers to this serial killer as a "Black Pillsbury Doughboy." I wish he hadn't done that. Now, every time I see that cute little giggling guy on the TV commercials, I'll be reminded of murder? What's next? A nymphomaniacal Betty Crocker? I doubt that Pillsbury or General Mills would be amused.
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