Boys, guns and murder in Colorado Springs
Readers of the genre known as true crime strike me as a certain breed of people. They are the readers who cant seem to get enough details out of gritty, sometimes grisly, murder cases, and want to be walked through the case, one detail at a time, as though they were the investigators themselves.If not for todays 24-hour news channels and the exhaustive coverage of some high-profile murder cases, I might have read more true crime books. But Ive always felt I knew enough about O.J. Simpsons alleged murderous rampage in 1994, how JonBenet Ramsey ended up dead in her own home in 1996, and why Scott Peterson ended up on death row after the body of his pregnant wife, Laci, washed up on the shore of San Francisco Bay.But when The Aspen Times was sent a copy of Simon Says: A true story of boys, guns and murder, I decided to read it. The book is about a triple homicide in a tiny Colorado town on New Years Eve 2000 that resulted in the arrest of three teenagers from Colorado Springs. Not only had I never heard of this particular crime, but the author, Kathryn Eastburn, was a reporter for the Colorado Springs Independent who covered the court proceedings for almost three years. As a former cops and courts reporter at The Aspen Times, I had covered one lengthy murder trial and I was curious how Eastburn turned her day job into a book.Apparently she obtained transcripts and videotaped interviews between the suspects and police investigators, and of course, spent plenty of time herself in courtrooms and living rooms before and after the case was closed.True crime books dont tend to hold back any details; they delight in parceling out crime details to keep you reading. So without ruining any of those small details revealed in Simon Says, heres a synopsis of the crime itself: Fifteen-year-old Tony Dutcher and his grandparents were found dead at the elder Dutchers home in the small town of Guffey, Colo., in early January 2001. They were killed on New Years Eve, but their bodies werent discovered for three days.The investigation led to Tony Dutchers classmate and former friend, Isaac Grimes, who told police about being part of a secret organization led by his friend Simon Sue, who ordered Grimes and fellow student Jon Matheny to kill the Dutchers. Simon Sue further claims his paramilitary organization has ties to a group fighting in his native land of Guyana.If your reaction at this point is Huh?, it probably should be. Eastburn does an impressive job of tying together the odd facts about this case as it limps along for three years. Furthermore, the book contains relevant information about events before and after the murders that changed how the case was tried in the court of public opinion the Columbine school shooting, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and the sweeping Hayman wildfire of 2002.Simon Says moves slowly at times, reflecting the process of moving multiple suspects through our justice system. The book could have benefited from some additional editing. But Eastburn diligently follows the story to completion and questions how these teenage boys got tangled in a drama that ultimately led to three needless murders.For fans of true crime, Simon Says fits the firstname.lastname@example.org
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