Includes Ann Rule's insider commentary on the Mary Winkler murder case
REAL-LIFE MURDER. REAL-LIFE MYSTERY.
In some murder cases, the truth behind the most tragic of crimes crystallizes with relative ease. Not so with these fascinating accounts drawn from the personal files of Ann Rule, America's #1 bestselling true-crime writer. What happens when the case itself becomes an intractable puzzle, when clues are shrouded in smoke and mirrors, and when criminals skillfully evade law enforcement in a maddening cat-and-mouse chase? Even the most devoted true-crime reader won't predict the outcome of these truly baffling cases until the conclusions revealed in Ann Rule's marvelously insightful narrative: An ideal family is targeted for death by the least likely enemy, who plotted their demise from behind bars.... A sexual predator hides behind multiple fake identities, eluding police for years while his past victims live in fear that he will hunt them down.... A modest preacher's wife confesses to shooting her husband after an argument -- but there's more to her shattering story than meets the eye. These and other true cases are analyzed with stunning clarity in a page-turning collection you won't be able to put down.
Bestseller Rule looks at marriages gone bad in her latest volume of true-crime case files. Stories include "The Minister's Wife," about a woman convicted of shooting her husband in 2006, and "The Painter's Wife," an amazing tale of two strangers kidnapped by a hardened criminal. The bulk of the book is taken up by "The Deputy's Wife," the sad tale of a once-promising young police officer, Bill Jensen, who eventually took out a contract on his own family. It's a good yarn, full of horrifying twists, but at 150 pages can get repetitive. For those not used to it, Rule's fondness for potboiler prose-"Their marriage had spun like a colorful top...Now as it wound down slower and slower, Sue could see the pattern of lies"-can also annoy. Many of the seven cases here are gruesome but unmemorable, perhaps the inevitable result of Rule's prodigious output.
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Showing 1-1 of the 1 most recent reviews
1 . It is ok, not the best but worth reading
Posted June 16, 2009 by Pam , Coos BayOut of all of her books that I have read, I have to say that this is not at the top of my list. I own most of her books (hardback and paperbacks, just getting started on the ebooks.) This is one title that I did not previously owned and thought that it would be a good read. The first "short story" was good, but the rest did not keep my attention like the rest of her books, even the short story books!
I would say that if you know someone that is suffering from domestic violence than this is a read that needs to be passed on to them so they can realize what can happen and what they can do to get out. I would also say that if you know someone in that situation that you too should read this to help them out.
not the best but a good read!
December 25, 2007
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Excerpt from Smoke, Mirrors, and Murder by Ann Rule
Happy Ever After?
Sue Harris and her sister, Carol, who was seven years older, grew up in an upper-middle-class home in Lake Hills, the most popular subdivision in Bellevue, an eastern suburb of Seattle, in the 1950s. Bellevue was like Levittown or a thousand other towns that sprang up after World War II, fulfilling the demand for new homes for young families. Initially it seemed a long way from Seattle, but it really wasn't, and when the first floating bridge across Lake Washington was built, Bellevue seemed only a hop, skip, and a jump away for the dads who continued to work every day. The moms mostly stayed home, waxed their floors once a week, and cooked meals from scratch, and if they had a career, it was probably selling Avon or Mary Kay products part-time.
In many ways the 1950s were an easier time, or maybe it just seemed that way. Couples got married intending to stay together, and the divorce epidemic that lay ahead was only a distant threat.
Along with most of the other fathers in the neighborhood, Sue and Carol's father, Hermann, was an engineer for the Boeing Airplane Company. Sue was born in December 1955, and despite the difference in their ages, she and her sister were uncommonly close as children, and that would continue as they grew to adulthood. If they expected life to be happy ever after, so did other little girls in Bellevue. It was the era of Barbie and Ken and playing dolls while mothers lingered over coffee in somebody's kitchen.
In Lake Hills, the fifties were a halcyon time. In the early sixties, though, couples with young children came close to panic when the Cuban missile crisis loomed. World War II had been fought far away, across oceans, but the Cuban crisis threatened to bring war to America itself. With that menace and the simultaneous anxiety it provoked, a small army of salesmen swarmed over Bellevue offering bomb shelters on the installment plan.
A model home in Lake Hills offered the latest upgrade in housing: a bomb shelter in the basement. And Rod Serling's Twilight Zone featured a memorable episode about neighbors fighting one another to crowd into such a shelter. It was the end of a time when everyone felt safe. Most home owners opted to move forward without shelters, realizing that their consciences wouldn't allow them to survive happily when most of their neighbors had perished.
And then John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, and America changed forever.
Hermann Harris had clipped articles on bomb shelters, but his daughters weren't aware of that until after he died -- much too young, at fifty-two -- of a sudden heart attack. Their mother, Lorraine, was only forty-two when she was left to raise her two daughters: Sue was ten and Carol was eighteen. Fortunately, Hermann Harris had been wise in his investments and he left his family well provided for, and there were veteran's benefits from his service in World War II that would pay for his two girls to go to college.
Sue and Carol had seen a happy marriage, and although they missed their father a lot, their mother stepped up to take the reins of responsibility. She was a loving and brave woman and her girls adored her.
When Sue was in the third grade, her parents had bought a house in Newport Hills, a new community where houses and streets blossomed up the hill above the 405 Freeway. It was more expensive than Lake Hills and there was more chance there for individuality and architect-designed homes. Home values in Newport Hills grew exponentially over the decades ahead. They shot up even faster than the giant sequoia sapling that Hermann had planted in the Harrises' front yard when they first moved in.
Just below Newport Hills, adventurous contractors came up with a plan to build another, even more posh community by filling in the shoreline on the eastern edge of Lake Washington. It was called Newport Shores, and Sue's dad had scoffed at the idea, saying, "Who would ever want to live down in that swamp?" For once, he'd been wrong. Although the houses on the hills grew steadily in value, those on the shore tripled and retripled continually in listing prices over the next four decades.
Sue watched her mother evolve from a stay-at-home housewife to a competent head of her household, and Sue admired her more all the time. Lorraine Harris vowed that her daughters would go to college. Carol chose the University of Washington in Seattle, but Sue picked Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, on the eastern side of the state. There, more than three hundred miles away from the Seattle area, the hills of the Palouse roll on endlessly, the soil and weather perfect for fields of golden, undulating wheat. The summers were blazing hot, while the winters brought frigid temperatures and deep snowdrifts. It was another world, and Sue Harris loved it.
Sue was a smart and pretty young woman who majored in business administration. Although she expected to marry one day and raise a family, she was looking forward to having a career first and she wasn't in any hurry to settle down. She had a great deal of confidence then and didn't plan to settle down until she was in her mid-twenties at least.
But that was before she met Bill Jensen. Sandy-haired Bill was six feet four inches tall, with an athlete's muscular build, not an inch of fat on him. Sue was a sophomore when she went to a meeting of the scuba diving club on campus. That's where she met Bill.
She was awed by the way Bill Jensen took over a room. "He was a great talker," she recalled, "and he seemed well informed on so many subjects. He wasn't somebody you could ignore. He really impressed me. He weighed less than two hundred pounds then, and he was in good shape."
Sue was almost twenty, and she assumed Bill was older than she was. She was surprised to learn that he was actually eighteen months younger. She found him quite handsome and she hoped to see him again. It seemed to be fate when she ran into him again when one of her girlfriend's dates had a party in his dorm.
When Sue arrived, she discovered that Bill also lived in that dorm and he was at the party. She was happy when he asked to walk her back to her dorm after the party, and delighted when he asked for her phone number.
"It would have been at the end of October 1975 when we met," Sue said. "I remember because my friends and I went to Spokane the next day -- Saturday -- and when I got back to my room, there was a note from Bill on my door reminding me to set my clock back because daylight saving time was ending. He added his phone number and said there was a chilled bottle of wine waiting, and asked me to call him when I got home."
Bill Jensen launched into a whirlwind courtship, and Sue still thinks of that fall at Washington State University as being a very happy time. Bill struck her as very mature and extremely confident, someone she could depend on. The first time he called her at her home in Newport Hills, her mother handed her the phone, saying, "It's for you. It sounds like one of your professors."
But it was Bill, and his voice did have that air of authority. He seemed such a solid and dependable guy, and Sue respected his determination to finish college even though he didn't have much money. Like Sue, he worked in the dorm dining room to help pay expenses. He also worked for Safeway in their beverage plant as a warehouseman, and later as a store detective. Bill managed to earn good grades -- particularly in any course required for a degree in criminal justice, his major. In those classes, he got As and Bs.
He wrote two outstanding term papers in 1977 and 1978: "Jail Security" and the more ambitious "Socio-Psychological Profile of Becoming a Corrupt Police Officer."
When Sue brought him home to Newport Hills for Thanksgiving, her family welcomed him. And by her birthday, December 8, Bill had asked her to marry him.
To her own surprise, she found herself saying yes.
Bill Jensen's background was very different from Sue's. Born in May 1957, he'd grown up in the area around Bremerton, Washington, and the huge naval station there. There was precious little stability in his early years. From the time he was little, he was bounced from one home to another, moving through a series of relatives' homes and sometimes even foster homes.
Bill's father was fifty-seven when he was born, and he had fathered several daughters by different women. He wasn't around much when Bill was small because he was in the navy and out to sea a lot. He was a mythic, heroic figure to Bill, who bragged that his father's ship had been under siege at Pearl Harbor.
Bill's mother was much younger, but she was an alcoholic, and her parenting skills were sketchy at best. When Bill was five his father died, and his mother wasn't in any shape to take care of him. State social workers stepped in to decide where he should go. He went first to his maternal grandparents, but then was placed in a foster home from the age of seven to eleven.
After that, he lived in California with his mother and stepfather for just two months after his eighteen-year-old sister spirited him away from a foster home and drove him to his mother's house.
"Bill had three full sisters and one half sister," Sue said. "His sisters were a lot older than he was and married young, so they were on their own."
Bill didn't meet his half sister, Wanda, until he was thirty-three. Before that, he didn't even know what her last name was. Because his sisters were much older than he, he lived with his oldest sister, Iris,* when he was in junior high school. He suspected that he was taken in as a live-in babysitter rather than because his sister cared about him.
Being poor was a constant worry for Bill; most of the foster parents he lived with subsisted on a bare-minimum standard of living. He would remember one foster home where meals often consisted of catsup sandwiches.
Although he seldom talked about it to Sue, Bill occasionally mentioned that he had suffered both physical and emotional abuse when he was a child, and it's likely that is true. As soon as he was old enough, Bill went to work. He washed dishes and bused tables at local restaurants to earn a little spending money.
Bill's name wasn't Jensen then; he used his father's surname: Pate. Still, he never really felt that he belonged to his birth family. By the time he was sixteen, he was living with distant relatives. His third cousin was the mayor of Poulsbo, where most of the citizens were Scandinavian.
Bill became very active in the Lutheran church in Poulsbo, where he was a camp counselor and Lutheran youth president.
While the mayor's home was meticulously clean and there was plenty to eat, Bill wasn't happy because the rules were very strict. Once more, he was convinced that he had been accepted out of duty, and not because the mayor and his wife had any particular affection for him. And he chafed at the rules that seemed to have no reasons behind them other than to mete out discipline.
After he'd lived with the mayor and his wife for a year, Bill formed a powerful bond with a complete stranger: he was shooting at targets on a rifle range when he met a man of about fifty, who told Bill that he had just retired from the navy as a lieutenant commander. The two had a long conversation, and the retired navy man was quite taken with Bill.
Despite his rough childhood -- or perhaps because of it -- Bill had developed a charismatic fa�ade, and he made an excellent, very likable first impression. His intelligence impressed his new friend. Bill joked as he complained about his suffocating home life, but the older man, whose name was Chuck Jensen, felt kind of sorry for him. Jensen's background was something of a mystery, but he apparently had no family he was close to. He was on his own when Bill met him. Bill and Chuck Jensen became friends.
After they had known each other for a few weeks, Jensen realized how miserable Bill was in the regimented home of the mayor, and he offered the teenager a home -- no strings attached. Bill accepted quickly.
Chuck Jensen set about teaching Bill manners, bought him some nice clothes, and acted as his surrogate father. Like young Bill, Chuck was something of a loner. He lived in a mobile home surrounded by acres of land. Jensen encouraged Bill in his lifelong ambition to be a cop.
One day, Bill would tell Sue Harris that he couldn't even remember when he hadn't been drawn to police work. At sixteen, he planned to go to college to get his degree in criminal justice, join a police department, and eventually become a special agent in the FBI.
Bill had to budget carefully to pay for college; Washington State University was known for its superior criminal justice curriculum and, indeed, was the only college that offered a four-year program at the time he graduated from high school. He had some veteran's benefits from his father's wartime service in the navy. Chuck Jensen also helped him, and he obtained some student loans. Besides his part-time jobs in Pullman, he worked summers for the Mason County Sheriff's Office on the Olympic Peninsula in an intern program offered there. He wasn't old enough to be a deputy, but he worked as a dispatcher in the mostly rural county.
Although Bill wanted to get married soon after he and Sue became engaged, she didn't want to give up the veteran's benefits that paid for her tuition, which she would lose if she married. She pointed out the wisdom in that to Bill. They both needed their fathers' legacies to finish college.
Reluctantly, Bill agreed that her argument made sense. There were times when they considered getting married before they finished school, but they always concluded they should wait; they were secure in the fact that they loved each other, and neither was jealous or insecure about the stability of their relationship.
Sue graduated before Bill did -- in the summer of 1978, while Bill still had one more semester. She didn't want to move back to Seattle without him, so she continued on at Washington State and earned a second degree -- this time in psychology.
Although she loved Bill, Sue was surprised when she realized that Bill Jensen was not the popular, outgoing guy she first thought he was. He was actually a loner. Despite the way she had viewed him at their first meeting at the scuba club, he really didn't have close friends. When they got together with a group, the others tended to be her friends, not his. She understood why he might not trust people enough to get close to them. After his pillar-to-post childhood, when he never really felt that he belonged anywhere, she reasoned, why shouldn't he take a wait-and-see attitude about people?
Sue saw that Bill could not keep a roommate, that they moved in and out rapidly, but she didn't think much of it. There was very little about him that concerned her; when they were alone, they got along fine, and she didn't find his tendency to dominate conversations a deterrent to their relationship. He might be kind of bossy and even arrogant sometimes, but to her, he was interesting, and he knew so much about many things. She certainly didn't see him then as boorish and oblivious to other people's reactions.
Sue felt sorry for Bill when his mother humiliated him in front of other students in his dorm. "She would get drunk and call him from California, where she was living then," Sue recalled. "It bothered him so much he got ulcers from the stress. I remember once how angry he was when his mother couldn't get him on the phone and she called the resident adviser in his dorm. He was so embarrassed to think of how she must have sounded, knowing that she only called when she had been drinking."
Bill Jensen was struggling to make a better life for himself, one in which he could leave his birth family behind. He felt no particular allegiance to his mother; he had no reason to. She hadn't fought to keep him when he was five and the state's social workers moved in and took him away to a foster home. And she hadn't been very nice to him when Bill lived with her and a stepfather in California when he was in junior high. Beyond his adopted father, Chuck, Bill had never had any stable roots that would make him feel grounded in the world. Sue understood that, and tried to reassure him that he was a special person, successful and smart, and that he had a great future ahead of him. She loved him and vowed to be the kind of wife who would help him find a happy life.
The only disturbing experience Sue had with Bill in college was at his nineteenth birthday party. They had gone out with some friends, and both of them had a little too much to drink. Although she couldn't even remember what they argued about, it was serious enough for him to put his hands on her in anger, and she was left with black and purple marks where he'd grabbed her arms.
The fracas at Bill's birthday celebration had escalated to a point where somebody called the police, and they quickly broke up the party.
Sue would remember a long time later that the grad student who was the resident adviser in her dorm had looked closely at her bruised arms and warned her to be careful, saying, "This may be your first time -- but it won't be the last time he hurts you."
Sue listened to her adviser, but it didn't sink in and she didn't believe it. She loved Bill, and she was anxious to make up with him. "I heard what he was saying -- but I knew he couldn't be talking about Bill. He didn't know him the way I did."
Bill was a young man in a hurry, and he earned his bachelor's degree at Washington State University in three and a half years. When he did, he and Sue moved home to Bellevue.
They set their wedding date for May 5, 1979, right before Bill's twenty-third birthday. Even though Bill was now an adult, Chuck Jensen had legally adopted him in February. From then on, Bill's legal name was Bill Jensen.
Sue knew that his relationship with his family was nothing like her own, and her mother and sister did, too, so they made sure he felt welcome in their family. If only being accepted into a warm and loving clan when one is an adult could make up for emotional abuse and deprivation in childhood, Bill Jensen might well have been a happy and successful man.
Still, it's almost impossible to build self-esteem atop a shaky foundation. Bill Jensen's life during the vital years between one and six, when a child is forming his own view of the world, was one of abuse and abandonment. As gruff and dominating as he appeared, he wasn't a man who felt confident inside.
He hid it well. He often told Sue, "I'm a survivor." Whenever they had problems, he added, "We'll get through this."
In the beginning, Sue found his "survivor" declarations endearing. And she always thought he said, "We'll get through this," although there were times when she wondered if he'd actually meant, "I'll get through this."
Bill had already survived a lot, and there were events that kept reminding him of the turmoil he had come from. His mother died in the summer of 1977, and Sue remembered a bizarre experience when she accompanied Bill to the funeral in California. She was about to meet his family for the first time.
During the wake, the mourners imbibed heavily, and most were intoxicated as the day ended. Bill had rented a car and he and Sue offered to give two of his sisters a ride after the wake. Almost from the moment his sisters got into the backseat of his car, they began to fight about which of them had loved their mother more. Their verbal abuse quickly escalated to a physical fight.
"I couldn't believe it," Sue said. "They were actually scratching each other and pulling hair. I looked at Bill and the veins in his neck were just bulging because he was so angry. These were grown women who were almost a decade older than he was."
And then Bill Jensen suddenly whipped his car into a gas station, opened the back doors, and tossed his screaming sisters out. He left them there. How they would get home was anyone's guess, but he didn't care, and Sue couldn't really blame him for feeling that way.
Sue wasn't all that surprised when Bill told her he didn't want her inviting his sisters to their wedding, although she asked him if he was sure he wanted to leave them out.
"They'll just ruin it," he explained. "You saw how they behaved at my mother's funeral."
Indeed she had, and she didn't want their wedding to end up in a free-for-all. Bill's oldest sister was almost as tall as he was, an inch or so over six feet in her stocking feet, and there were some people around Bremerton who nicknamed her "Wild Iris" for her short fuse.
In the end, Bill convinced Sue not to send wedding invitations to any of his birth family.
Sue and Bill's wedding in the Mercer Island Covenant Church was a lovely event, albeit without the presence of his relatives -- except for Chuck Jensen, and Sue thought of him as her new father-in-law. Bill had two friends he'd made in high school, and he asked one of them to be his best man. The rest of the wedding party was made up of Sue's family and friends.
Their marriage started out well. Sue and Bill had a great honeymoon. Bill and Chuck converted an old but sturdy Chevy van into a self-contained camper, and the newlyweds traveled around the United States in it for six weeks. Gas was relatively cheap then, and they cooked on the road and slept in the van. They had both worked hard in college, and their honeymoon was a relaxing and bonding time for them.
"Bill applied at some police departments before we left," Sue said. "He had an outstanding r�sum�, and while we were on the road, he got a message that his interview at the King County Sheriff's Office had gone so well that they were going to hire him."
But the King County personnel office told Bill he could finish his honeymoon -- he didn't have to come right back to Seattle: he could join the fall class of basic police school in September of 1979.
He was due to graduate in December, and they would start the new decade with Bill's ambition to be a cop realized.
They found an apartment in Lake Hills where the rent was cheap; at least it seemed that way in the summertime. Bill and Sue moved in, but when the weather turned cold they discovered that the heating bill made the low rent seem something less than a bargain.
Still, the young couple were both earning good salaries -- Bill as a deputy with the sheriff's office and Sue in a rather unusual job for a woman. During the summers while she was in college, she worked for Sears in the automotive department as a "tire buster." She got thirty-five cents more per hour than regular clerks. She didn't mind putting on new tires or installing batteries, and she made as much money as any of the male employees.
In her early twenties, Sue Harris Jensen was a confident young woman, happy in her marriage, and solidly behind her husband's goals.
As the Jensens settled in, she took a job with Automotive Wholesalers as a sales representative. She knew what she was talking about as she sold their products to auto parts, hardware, variety, and grocery stores.