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Zero at the Bone, Story of Gene Simmons Mass Murderer Hardcover – March 1, 1991

4.6 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The story of Ronald Gene Simmons and his psychotic rampage, which in 1987 left 14 family members in a mass grave behind their trailer home, is presented here in detail. When his military days were over, Simmons, a former Air Force sergeant, began a torturous series of acts of violence and humiliation against his family. While a fierce presence to his wife, Becky, and six of their seven children, he became exceptionally tender with his favorite daughter, Sheila, and forced her into an incestuous relationship that culminated in the birth of a child. Simmons went through a series of menial jobs and, after several moves, finally settled his family in the foothills of the Ozarks. But faced with growing frustration of his need for control, along with his daughter's rejection of him and marriage to another man, which he claimed had ruined his plans to have a happy life alone with her, he prepared the ritual killing of all those who had made his dream unworkable. While for the most part, Williams ( Tankwar ) and Marshall, a journalist, tell the story convincingly, they fail when they attempt to re-create and explain Simmons's thought processes.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Between December 22 and December 28, 1987, former Air Force Master Sargeant Ronald "Gene" Simmons, alienated from his family and unable to hold a job, committed what was perhaps the worst family killing spree in the United States, not only murdering all 14 members of his immediate family but also slaughtering five other people. Coauthors Marshall and Williams have tried to reconstruct Simmons's life to give readers clues as to his motivations for the murders. Having no eyewitnesses, journals, or diaries, they used family records and effects and innumerable interviews with the remaining family, coworkers, and social service and law-enforcement personnel to extrapolate what there was to know of Simmons and his bizarre family life. Much of the book consists of speculative dramatic re-creations. While this "fictionalization" makes for exciting reading, so much is not based on the actual record that this book is not recommended.
- Sandra K. Lindheimer, Middlesex Law Lib., Cambridge, Mass.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 302 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket; 1st edition (March 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671685112
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671685119
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 4.5 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #782,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Zero at the Bone is without a doubt one of the most horrifying accounts of family massacre ever written. Williams very clearly gets across to the reader the contents of Ronald Gene Simmons' twisted, sick mind. His obsessive lust/love for his daughter Sheila is horrifying; and the detailed steps Simmons took to wipe out his immediate family detail him as nothing less than totally mad. The reader cannot help but feel saddened for Sheila, for she is truly a victim of her father's depraved actions. Simmons' wife Becky is a tragic figure, yet she possesses a core of steel which sustains her up until her murder. Simmons is nothing short of a monster, and Williams spares no words in getting this point across. A note of caution: DO NOT read this book before bedtime!! It is capable of producing some of the worst nightmares, and I would not recommend it for those with weak constitutions. I am an Arkansas native, and remember very vividly these murders. And 15 years later, it still sends shudders down my spine.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just finished this book and my only real complaint is that the authors used unnecessarily large words in several places. I won't bother finding examples, but they should have realized that the vast majority of their readers would be lay people, and kept things a little more reader-friendly. There were times when I was tempted to fire up my computer to research words. That shouldn't happen with a novel of this nature (a biography-type novel rather than a forensic examination of the situation).

Otherwise, it was pretty good. Just keep in mind that no one really knows what happened at the end, as there were no survivors to interview. The scenarios presented in the book are assumptions.
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Format: Hardcover
The story of Ronald Gene Simmons is masterfully told. We learn about Gene's life, his family, his intense love and jealousy, his fears and suspicions, and his murders. The monster is made human and we are better able to understand why a man would murder his entire family, then undertake another carefully orchestrated murder spree before docilely surrendering to police.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a genuinely tragic mass murder of innocents.

Well written, researched but the internal dialog that Marshall attributes to Simmons to illustrate his mental breakdown while well-meaning seemed a bit too intellectual for the emotional and decidedly very bent Simmons.

The Incest alone should have been enough for Becky to have had the guts to make her move long long b 4 he acted. She bears some of the blame for how this turned out.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow. A very well-presented, disturbing story. Extremely well researched and although the authors don't promise answers to the question why (since Simmons refused to talk), they certainly paint a very detailed picture of his life and habits, and even the killings themselves. The first true-crime that I really had to put down to get breaks from it. But in he end, it's quite powerful.
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Format: Hardcover
I have been reading true crime for as long as I can remember. And although you always feel frustration, anger, disgust, and a wide variety of other emotions toward the murderers and sympathy for the victims and their families, this particular book hit me harder than any I have ever read. Often times I was unsure as to whether I could continue reading; not because the book was boring or not well written (quite the contrary, actually), but because of the emotions that the paragraphs describing the heartless, brutal, selfish crimes commmited by Gene Simmons evoked from me.

For writing style, detail, and organization, this is one of the best books I have ever read. As for the crime that is the foundation, it is the worst about which I have ever read.
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Format: Hardcover
Until I picked up this book, I had no idea about the crimes committed by Gene Simmons not the Kiss musician but a man who tortured, abused, traumatized, dehumanized, etc. of his own wife, children, and relatives. Gene Simmons was a war hero who earned a Bronze Medal for his services during Vietnam. Despite a military career, Gene's obsession with order and documentation and the control of his own large family.

On December 22, 1987, the book begins with an introduction of the crime about a man murdering his own family before Christmas in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The book and it's writers should be commended for writing about this case after Gene's death by execution in 1990 which is suitable punishment for his crimes which are not just murder but cold calculated murder.

When you read how he planned and plotted for months for this crime spree, you just get chills to think this is how he treats his own family and people who loved him regardless of the constant abuse, heavy workloads, and a kind of life more in tune with a German concentration camp than with a normal family life.

The children never got to be children but slaves to their father who forced them to work over school activities. They were barely allowed to communicate outside the family in facing their father's wrath of terror. Poor Sheila may have been the favorite daughter because she was the oldest but she paid dearly by being her father's mistress as well as the favorite child. She had been unwilling to play the mother and wife role to her own father.

Even though they have a child together, Gene never believed he had done anything wrong in raping his own daughter and impregnating her. Unfortunately the New Mexico authorities never caught up with him in time, he fled to the Ozarks.
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