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The Woodchipper Murder Hardcover – October 1, 1989


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt & Co; 1st edition (October 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805007539
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805007534
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,840,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Herzog ( Vesco ) is convinced that Connecticut-based airline pilot Richard Crafts bludgeoned his stewardess wife to death in November 1986; cut up her body with a chain saw; and fed its remains into an industrial-strength woodchipper. In this gripping re-creation of the alleged crime (the case ended in a mistrial; a second trial is pending), Herzog may have leapt into the fray prematurely, but he lays out a cogent scenario for a domestic atrocity. The case began not long after Helle Crafts returned home from a European flight, then vanished. Prior to her disappearance, Helle had commissioned private detective Keith Mayo to conduct an investigation of her husband's suspected infidelity. Newtown, Conn., police at first seemed uninterested in pursuing the disappearance, but pressure from Mayo forced action that led to the arrest of Crafts for murder, a charge based on body fragments purported to be Helle's. According to Herzog, there is less than a reasonable doubt about the husband's guilt--and the author stigmatizes the hung jury's lone dissenter as a misguided eccentric.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Shortly before divorce papers were to be served on her airline pilot husband, Helle Crafts, a flight attendant and mother of three, disappeared from her Connecticut home. Spurred on by her friends, investigators launched an inquiry after learning that Richard Crafts gave conflicting accounts about Helle's absence. He was tried for murder, but one jury member held out for "not guilty" and a retrial is slated this year. Despite the status of the case, Herzog unqualifiedly asserts Crafts's guilt: evidence strongly suggests that he shredded his wife's body in a woodchipping machine. Although Herzog wrote this book without waiting for the trial transcript, he has produced an informed, gripping true-crime drama. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/89.
- Gregor A. Preston, Univ. of California Lib., Davis
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beattie on February 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Tragic story of yet another husband who thought he could get away with murdering his wife. A strong tale of a police, forensic, and prosecution team who ultimately went to jury trial twice with a circumstantial evidence case. And a marvelous example of a well-written true crime book.

Robert Beattie
Wichita, Kansas
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Interesting but not well written. Worth buying as a used product. Interesting to remember the event all these years later.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Woodchipper Murder, Herzog

For centuries our laws required finding a body for proof of murder. Or an eyewitness who saw the body. So if a person disappeared without a trace no one could be convicted even if suspicion fell on someone. There are cases where a murderer almost succeeded. One case in Chicago involved a sausage maker whose wife disappeared - until her wedding ring was found in the grease pit! In November 1986 Helle Crafts, a flight attendant, returned to her home in Newtown Connecticut. She was never seen again (`Prologue'). Helle had complained to her coworkers about her husband's cheating. Her husband Richard said Helle went to visit her mother in Denmark. Helle's friend Rita was told of a dark stain on the bedroom rug (Chapter 1). Helle's friends became worried about this unexpected absence. Richard had a cancer operation in 1984, recovered, and was flying as a pilot for Eastern Airlines (Chapter 2).

Helle had seen a divorce lawyer, who contacted a private detective to shadow Richard. The right photographs could force the husband to settle out of court. After Helle disappeared her private detective contacted the police, who took some statements (Chapter 3). PI Mayo continued to work on Helle's disappearance (Chapter 4). Newtown Connecticut had few murders (p.43). Crafts passed a polygraph test (p.46). [Did he use a tranquilizer?] Mayo's investigation continued (Chapter 5). They found the rug that was dumped in the trash (Chapter 6). Chapter 7 has a brief biography of Richard Crafts and Helle Nielsen. There is a description of Newtown and its people (Chapter 8). There are details about the Crafts' family life. Does job stress cause family problems (p.98)? Crafts paid a high price to rent a big woodchipper machine for a few days (Chapter 9).
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By taryn on April 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
probably one of the best true crime novel I ever read. definitely purchase this book and I promise you will not be sorry.
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