Everyone felt the same way: Small-town Nebraska widow Helen Wilson didn't have an ounce of meanness in her body. Then, on February 5, 1985, one of the coldest nights on record, the unthinkable happened. The 68-year-old resident was murdered inside her second-floor apartment. But why?
Local residents were horrified. What type of monster would target a vulnerable widow to fulfill his homicidal sexual fantasies? The crime scene was eerily ritualistic. The trail of evidence turned frustratingly cold until an astonishing breakthrough occurred four years later. A torn scrap of money recovered at the crime scene became the presumed smoking gun that helped solve the hideous crime. The news of six arrests was absolutely stunning to the locals in this easygoing blue-collar community of 12,000 residents. But why were six loosely connected misfits who lived as far away as Alabama, Colorado, and North Carolina being linked to the rape and murder of a beloved Nebraska widow?
As they sat in jail, the constant threat of Nebraska's barbaric electric chair frightened these troubled souls, except for one of them. Joseph White remained defiant in his fight to prove his innocence. It didn't matter. All six of the condemned were convicted of murder and sent away to prison for the ghastly crime. The town moved on, convinced that justice had been served.
For more than 25 years, the Beatrice 6 rotted in prison. In 2008, DNA tests proved that there'd been a terrible failure of justice, but what would it mean to the prisoners?
"John Ferak has carved his necessary true-crime niche with another fascinating exploration of unalloyed evil in overlooked places, and a dysfunctional judicial system. A chilling piece of journalism." (Ron Franscell, author of
The Darkest Night and
Morgue: A Life in Death)
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