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Shattered Sense of Innocence: The 1955 Murders of Three Chicago Children (Elmer H Johnson & Carol Holmes Johnson Series in Criminology) Hardcover – September 28, 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Telling the story of shocking triple murder in Chicago in 1955, Lindberg and Sykes present considerable detail about the families of the boys who were murdered and the sociopolitical forces then at work in the Chicago metro area. They provide information about the Chicago "Horse Mafia," a crime syndicate separate from but acquainted with Chicago's legendary Outfit, and they criticize the investigators, arguing that the panoply of competing investigative units worked against each other, hindering the investigation. Worse, the inexperienced and ham-handed coroner failed to secure the crime scene. Packed with information and raising questions about the man found guilty of the crime, this is an excellent and accessible overview of the confounding crime that put pedophilia on the nation's front pages. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

“One of the most horrific crimes of the 1950s, the kidnapping, molestation, and brutal murder of three Illinois boys is brilliantly reexamined and brought back to harrowing life in Shattered Sense of Innocence. The human drama, poignancy, raw terror, and legal quest for justice captured by the authors make the book one that readers of true crime will eagerly want to read.”—Vincent Bugliosi, author of Helter Skelter
 
“[A] history book, a true crime novel, and just a good read.”Chicago Life Magazine
 

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Product Details

  • Series: Elmer H Johnson & Carol Holmes Johnson Series in Criminology
  • Hardcover: 440 pages
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press; 1st edition (September 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809327368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809327362
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,004,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Joanne Denison on November 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The book is an amazing murder mystery set against the backdrop of 1950's Northwest side of Chicago. The neighborhood tales and stories tell of a fascinating slice of the 1950's with accurate details, so that even if you are not a murder mystery buff, the book is still extremely interesting. The book carefully relates the bumbling, inept police work which is grossly inadequate due to the lack of forensic science development at the time, and most notably, DNA testing. Although tons of people power and money were thrown at the case, nothing much develops from all this into hard evidence. The only trial that took place was decades later and even that was based upon circumstantial evidence and weak confessions, although the reader was left with a sense at the end that justice was served. Perhaps the book is a bit choppy and many questions are left unanswered, but that is the crux of the entire book--the police work was choppy, fairly uncoordiated, major suspects and clues were not followed up on well, or even at all. So the book style follows the uneasiness of the police work, the uneasiness of a neighborhood left with a triple murder of 12 year old boys found naked, dead, with their lifeless bodies shown on the TV news that evening. But most importantly, the book is reveals stories, tales and legends and a style of life not really known outside the NW side of Chicago, but which can be easily appreciated by anyone. I believe most people would find that they simply cannot put the book down and will feel compelled to read it in a day or two. The writing is an excellent quality, and the investigative work was extremely good and very believable.
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By UnsolvedFan on October 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The Schuessler-Peterson murders, the long unsolved deaths of 3 boys in 1955 Chicago, have inspired three books; "Unbridled Rage," "Three Boys Missing," and "Shattered Sense of Innocence."

All are highly recommended. This is the one that may keep you awake all night.

The authors are brilliant writers and the book is exhaustively researched. Many new questions are raised:

Were the victims looking for someone the night they died?

Why did two of the boys, Bobby Peterson and John Schuessler, report being afraid of someone?

Who was the mysterious "Mr. Potato Head?"

Who was the source of screams heard in a remote area that night?

What is the meaning of the puzzling forensic evidence?

Who is the elusive pedophile Ken Hansen? He was convicted of the murders, but some still have doubts.

Did a mystery witness secretly confess to being the real killer?

Did missing heiress Helen Brach know too much? Is she the Jane Doe in the unmarked grave?

Did the same killer murder Judy Andersen in 1957 and the Grimes sisters in 1956?

This book is like film noir in book format. (There a a few graphic photos.) It is unquestionably one of the greatest true crime books ever written. Read it even if you have to leave the lights on all night.
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Format: Hardcover
I am the co-author of "Shattered Sense of Innocence," one of 12 books I have authored dealing with compelling Chicago subject matter. I am not in the habit of responding to editorial reviews by the readers of my books. I am always grateful to them for the time they have taken to comment on my work - for good or bad. Legitimate, objective commentary, offered without bias or self-serving motive is what this process should be all about. However in recent years I have regrettably observed an ominous trend developing in the AMAZON review process. Too many reviews are being posted by the friends and relatives of authors - and in some cases the friends and relatives of authors of competing works who take a personal delight in "slamming" the work of the first author for whatever spurious motivation, usually based in envy or disappointment. "Shattered Sense of Innocence" has received outstanding reviews from the Chicago Sun-Times and other publications, and the highest testimonial from Vincent Bugliosi, author of "Helter Skelter," one of the finest true crime books ever published. I wish more authors would have the courage to speak out on this issue when a book is slandered by a reviewer with an axe to grind, a personal motivation or simply has been encouraged to do so by a frustrated or disppointed competitor. Thank you for allowing me to make this statement - with the hope of seeing a greater level of professionalism, integrity and ethical standards practiced by the contributors and reviewers to AMAZON.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For nearly 40 years the murder of three Chicago boys, Robert Peterson, 13, John Schuessler, 13 and John’s younger brother, Anton, 11, in October, 1955, had remained a mystery. Their naked bodies had been found in a ditch in the Robinson’s Woods Forest preserve, dumped like unwanted trash. It was a crime that rocked Chicago and the nation. But after several years and thousands of man-hours of police investigations following clues and tips and interviewing thousands of suspects, the unsolved murders had grown as cold and dead as the three boys. Then, in October, 1991, ATF Agent James Delorto, who was investigating the disappearance of candy heiress Helen Brach and her connection to Silas Jayne, the treacherous godfather of “Chicago’s Horse Mafia,” received a surprise phone call from a confidential informant, a “snitch” named William “Red” Wemette. Wemette, a former Chicago pornographer, let slip that Kenny Hansen, one of the people Delorto was investigating, had told him that he, Hansen, had murdered the three boys. Suddenly, the unsolved murders came roaring back to life.
“Shattered Sense of Innocence,” in meticulous detail and care, chronicles the lives and last hours of the three murdered boys. It takes us to the places they were last seen alive and follows every clue, every suspect, every speculation as to who killed the boys and why. It tells the entire sordid story of the 1955 murders that “destroyed two families, more than a few careers, and the trust of a generation.” It doesn’t hesitate to detail the incredible incompetence of police and crime scene investigators and the political rivalries between competing police jurisdictions and the county coroner’s office that virtually assured that the crime would never be solved.
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