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Who Killed These Girls?: The Twenty-Five-Year History of Austin's Yogurt Shop Murders

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The facts are brutally straightforward. On December 6, 1991, the naked, bound-and-gagged bodies of four girls--each one shot in the head--were found in an "I Can't Believe It's Yogurt!" shop in Austin, Texas. Grief, shock, and horror spread out from their families and friends to overtake the city itself. Though all branches of law enforcement were brought to bear, the inve The facts are brutally straightforward. On December 6, 1991, the naked, bound-and-gagged bodies of four girls--each one shot in the head--were found in an "I Can't Believe It's Yogurt!" shop in Austin, Texas. Grief, shock, and horror spread out from their families and friends to overtake the city itself. Though all branches of law enforcement were brought to bear, the investigation was often misdirected, and after eight years only two men (then teenagers) were tried; moreover, their subsequent convictions were eventually overturned, and Austin PD detectives are still working on what is now a very cold case. Over the decades, the story has grown to include DNA technology, false confessions, and other developments facing crime and punishment in contemporary life, but this story belongs to the scores of people involved, and from them Lowry has fashioned a riveting saga that reads like a Russian novel, comprehensive and thoroughly engrossing.


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The facts are brutally straightforward. On December 6, 1991, the naked, bound-and-gagged bodies of four girls--each one shot in the head--were found in an "I Can't Believe It's Yogurt!" shop in Austin, Texas. Grief, shock, and horror spread out from their families and friends to overtake the city itself. Though all branches of law enforcement were brought to bear, the inve The facts are brutally straightforward. On December 6, 1991, the naked, bound-and-gagged bodies of four girls--each one shot in the head--were found in an "I Can't Believe It's Yogurt!" shop in Austin, Texas. Grief, shock, and horror spread out from their families and friends to overtake the city itself. Though all branches of law enforcement were brought to bear, the investigation was often misdirected, and after eight years only two men (then teenagers) were tried; moreover, their subsequent convictions were eventually overturned, and Austin PD detectives are still working on what is now a very cold case. Over the decades, the story has grown to include DNA technology, false confessions, and other developments facing crime and punishment in contemporary life, but this story belongs to the scores of people involved, and from them Lowry has fashioned a riveting saga that reads like a Russian novel, comprehensive and thoroughly engrossing.

30 review for Who Killed These Girls?: The Twenty-Five-Year History of Austin's Yogurt Shop Murders

  1. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    "The men with guns did things to us. Afterward, our cheeks were against the tile, we could smell something in the air like our own blood. Then lighter fluid. Burning plastic. Flames climbed the walls, flashed over the ceiling…We waited for a voice. We waited for a light…" - from Scott Blackwood's See How Small, a novel based on the Austin Yogurt Shop Murders Beware: You’ll never think about frozen yogurt in the same way again. There were four of them working at the I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt! sho "The men with guns did things to us. Afterward, our cheeks were against the tile, we could smell something in the air like our own blood. Then lighter fluid. Burning plastic. Flames climbed the walls, flashed over the ceiling…We waited for a voice. We waited for a light…" - from Scott Blackwood's See How Small, a novel based on the Austin Yogurt Shop Murders Beware: You’ll never think about frozen yogurt in the same way again. There were four of them working at the I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt! shop in Austin, Texas. All of them were girls. All of them were young. Two of them were sisters. Two were seventeen, one fifteen, the youngest thirteen. On December 6, 1991, they were last seen by witnesses preparing to close the store. Before midnight struck, they would be dead. Stripped, bound, raped, and executed by a single bullet, with the exception of the youngest, who was shot twice. Whoever killed them set fire to the store to cover their tracks. This is a story of a tragedy, and a tragedy compounded through the years in an effort to make sense of the insensible, and to wrest justice from injustice. In 1999, four men – all of whom had been teenagers at the time of the crime – were arrested. Two confessed after interrogations that defined the phrase “undue coercion.” Two kept quiet and had their cases dismissed, due to a lack of any evidence placing them at the crime. The two confessors were convicted. In 2006, those convictions were overturned due to constitutional violations. Without getting technical, it suffices to say that if the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals says your constitutional rights were violated, then your constitutional rights were really violated. And then, as though the case had not twisted enough, had not turned enough, had not doubled back on itself like the worst kind of emotional rollercoaster, extending agony, creating new agonies, ruining lives, it came back that DNA recovered inside one of the victims had yielded a full profile. A profile that didn't match any of the four suspects from 1999. To this day, no one has been convicted. This summary doesn’t come close to giving you a sense of the nature of this case, the toll it took, the people it ensnared. For that you need an author willing to go down a lot of dark alleys, explore the grimmest backwaters of human existence, and to do so with the dispassion to remember that wanting to find out who committed this crime is not nearly the same thing as finding out who committed this crime. Beverly Lowry’s Who Killed These Girls? comes very close to succeeding at the highest level. It is, to my mind, a near-great book. However, the things that keep it from achieving greatness also make it incredibly frustrating. The problem, in a nutshell, is that roughly the first third of this 362-page book (not including the appendices) is an organizational nightmare. Lowry jumps all over the place, so quick that even someone familiar with the case will find it hard to keep up. Those who come into this without prior knowledge might feel compelled to quit. For instance, the first chapter starts on the evening of December 6. We are riding in a cruiser with Sergeant John Jones, who will eventually be lead detective on the Yogurt Shop homicides. He gets the call and races to the scene…And then Lowry cuts to 2009, for a first-person account of her attending a court hearing. This time-warp bleeds into a digressionary meditation on the impact of the crime on the city of Austin. Suddenly, we snap back to a chapter on the victims. She gives each of the girls a short chapter that ends with a brief description of where their bodies were found. After already describing the dead girls, she loops back for a fractured discussion of their final hours, broken up intermittently by Lowry’s asides. I could go on, but I think the picture is clear. To wit: that the picture Lowry paints is far from clear. I sense her in these sections trying to reach for something. She’s trying to be Truman Capote or Janet Malcolm. She’s trying to write true crime at the rarified level of transcendent literature. It doesn’t work. It only serves to muddy waters that are already brown, and complicate a case that is already a Russian nesting doll of mysteries. All this could have been fixed with a single focused, devoted chapter giving us exactly what we know about the murders. Give us the witnesses and what they witnessed. Give us the layout of the crime scene. Give us the evidence that was found. I’m not saying that this stuff isn’t here. It is – but it’s dribbled out in parcels. In order to give yourself an idea of what happened, you have to pull all this stuff together yourself, from different chapters. And good luck with that, because this book doesn’t have an index! (This book, rather penuriously, also lacks any photos or diagrams or endnotes, all of which would have added immeasurably to Lowry’s story). The latter two-thirds of Who Killed These Girls? relies very heavily on the state of the crime scene in its discussion of the four arrestees. (The positioning of the bodies, the state of the bodies, whether the girls had been sexually assaulted, whether the back door was locked, where the fire started, and a lot of other facts are necessary to analyze the “confessions”). You cannot appreciate this without a proper foundation. Lowry never provides the basic, ground-level facts in a compact and easily reviewable manner. By now, I’ve probably scared you off. If you’re still here, and still interested, it’s worth mentioning that on page 124 (exactly), this clicks into place in a big way. That’s when Lowry begins her examination of the four arrestees and their labyrinthine journey through the legal system. Suddenly, the narrative flights are minimized, and she bears down hard on the chronology. She presents the story systematically, and in a wonderfully detailed fashion. She puts you in the interrogation room with the suspects and the cops, leading you through each phase of the Reid Technique. She devotes a chapter each to the judge, the prosecutor, the defense attorneys. She does a commendable job on the trials, and on the appellate process. In short, and in belated fashion, this becomes an excellent synthesis of character, trial strategy, and law. The book doesn’t advocate any position, and Lowry takes pains to tell the story from all sides. From the victims’ families, the prosecutors, the detectives, the judge, the defense attorneys, and the arrestees. If it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that the four ’99 arrestees were innocent, it’s because that’s where the facts lead. It is worth noting that 25% of all DNA exonerations come in cases with false confessions, and that there were several, if not dozens, of false confessions in the Yogurt Shop Murders. There is a picture of the I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt! dining room, taken after the murders and marked as a State’s exhibit. At first glance, it is a rather mundane, neutral photograph. It does not show any damage, no bodies, no blood spatters or burned ligatures. It shows nothing more than tables and booths. Chairs are on tabletops. Napkin dispensers are full. It is a restaurant at closing time. Except for one booth. One booth doesn’t have a chair atop it; its napkin dispenser appears empty. When you look at it long enough, ghosts start to haunt the edges of the frame. Two of the last witnesses to leave the shop – a married couple – testified that two men, suspicious, they later recalled, remained at a booth when they left. The door was locked behind them, the girls waiting for the two men to finish. The picture shows an interruption. The girls had been cleaning, going through the closing checklist, and something stopped them. They never finished. Work interrupted and lives interrupted and the world for so many never to be the same. Stare and stare at the picture and it starts to make sense, the horrible thing unspooling in your imagination. It is only an illusion, though. It has been twenty-five years since those girls died, and even if the case is solved, it will still never make sense. Things can never be uninterrupted again.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Hank Stuever

    Too long (by at least 100 pages); reader must follow the author down whatever tangent or detail occurs to her, with very little distinction between what's relevant and what's not. Writing and organization/structure are weak in several spots -- you'll wonder if there was any editing (besides copy editing). One of the later chapters actually opens with the sentence "Things kept happening." All that said, this cold case remains a fascinating story of mishandled police and prosecution efforts. I get Too long (by at least 100 pages); reader must follow the author down whatever tangent or detail occurs to her, with very little distinction between what's relevant and what's not. Writing and organization/structure are weak in several spots -- you'll wonder if there was any editing (besides copy editing). One of the later chapters actually opens with the sentence "Things kept happening." All that said, this cold case remains a fascinating story of mishandled police and prosecution efforts. I get why the author is determined to hunt down every detail, but the result is surprisingly dull -- we get swamped under with info; I wound up skimming huge chunks of it. I hope the case is someday solved, but it seems very unlikely.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Donnelle

    I was quite young when these murders occurred, so all of this information was new to me, and it made for a truly compelling read. The foremost emotion one feels at the beginning is, of course, horror that those young girls were subjected to such brutality, and the details of their demises are grisly, to say the least. As the investigations begin to unfold, and references to other cases and Supreme Court rulings come into play, the book becomes a true page-turner. The clues quickly stack up, as d I was quite young when these murders occurred, so all of this information was new to me, and it made for a truly compelling read. The foremost emotion one feels at the beginning is, of course, horror that those young girls were subjected to such brutality, and the details of their demises are grisly, to say the least. As the investigations begin to unfold, and references to other cases and Supreme Court rulings come into play, the book becomes a true page-turner. The clues quickly stack up, as do the infinite number of questions they bring to the fore. So, on one level, this is a fascinating mystery. At its core, though, the story is unendingly provocative, as the reader is confronted with enormously complicated issues: confessions that may be coerced, the lengths to which some officers of the law may go in order to see that justice is served and monsters are taken off the streets, whether misspent, aimless youths can translate into committing utterly savage, remorseless, complex crimes, and the list goes on. I have to confess that I began this book with the expectation that I'd feel as though the convictions being overturned was a miscarriage of justice - some technicality that led to unspeakably violent criminals escaping punishment. As the tale unfolds, though, nuance enters the picture, one sees the mistakes and missteps from all involved stacking up, and all preconceived notions are turned on their heads. It is deeply evocative, in that the tragedy of it all lies not just in the lives lost, but also in the countless other lives - the victims' families, the first responders, each and every law enforcement officer tasked with finding the perpetrators, the defendants and their families, lawyers and judges - that were ruined or at the very least irrevocably altered. The human toll is absolutely massive, and that this case remains unsolved only compounds the sadness and frustration exponentially. All of that said, this book - like all others - is not flawless, in that there are some points when it meanders a bit, but that is, at most, a minor issue and doesn't lessen the impact of the subject matter and how comprehensively it is laid out and explored. Ms. Lowry did an exceptional job of relaying the facts while not being afraid to present the material in such a way that it makes readers see beyond the black and white even as they're compelled to feel for (and perhaps even sympathize with) some individuals to a surprising degree. The book takes you on a journey that is captivating from beginning to end, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    jv poore

    It is clear that Ms. Lowry researched and wrote this book with the singular, selfless goal of uncovering the truth behind the horrific murders. While she focuses on facts, having chosen her words meticulously, there's no hiding her real and relentless determination to portray each person honestly. It's evident that she makes every effort to present the case as transparently as possible, balancing that with various theories and opinions. The matter-of-fact, yet warm tone evokes every emotion. Thi It is clear that Ms. Lowry researched and wrote this book with the singular, selfless goal of uncovering the truth behind the horrific murders. While she focuses on facts, having chosen her words meticulously, there's no hiding her real and relentless determination to portray each person honestly. It's evident that she makes every effort to present the case as transparently as possible, balancing that with various theories and opinions. The matter-of-fact, yet warm tone evokes every emotion. This book has rattled my core and opened another door in my mind.

  5. 4 out of 5

    David

    A riveting true crime thriller I could not put down. At all.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Brooke (Brooke's Books and Brews)

    It wasn’t until recently that I became a fan of true crime. In fact, it was In Cold Blood by Truman Capote that made me realize that this was a new genre that I would enjoy but only if it’s done right. Who Killed These Girls is now right up there with In Cold Blood for me. The author was respectful and, while the horrendous crimes are mentioned, she focused more on the girls lives when they were alive. I think that because the author has experienced her own tragedy with the loss of her son and t It wasn’t until recently that I became a fan of true crime. In fact, it was In Cold Blood by Truman Capote that made me realize that this was a new genre that I would enjoy but only if it’s done right. Who Killed These Girls is now right up there with In Cold Blood for me. The author was respectful and, while the horrendous crimes are mentioned, she focused more on the girls lives when they were alive. I think that because the author has experienced her own tragedy with the loss of her son and the unsolved case of his hit-and-run that she was able to approach it in a different way. The book gives background on the girls who became victims, what Austin was like at the time, and the police investigation into the crimes. The reader sees the eye witness testimonies as the detectives try to piece together what really happened that night. There are frustratingly multiple situations that could have occurred but the police will never know for sure. In fact, a good portion of the book focuses on the investigative procedures and interrogation methods that were used by the Austin Police Department. I find it terrifying and mind boggling that the detectives were able to coax false confessions from men who were never even at the Yogurt Shop to begin with. It’s hard to believe that the men that spent years behind bars for these murders were innocent and the real killers are still out there. I hope that this book brings new attention to the cold case and the detectives find a renewed drive to find the people that did this and put them behind bars.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    I was extremely disappointed by this book. My hopes were high. The case has everything that draws me to true crime: a unique crime scene, red herrings, questionable police work, legal drama, and possible (likely) wrongful conviction. But this book was boring. The author took an interesting case and added about 100 pages of irrelevant tangents until it dulled substantially. I knew I was in trouble when I reached a third mention of El Niño. And again when other weather phenomena were described in I was extremely disappointed by this book. My hopes were high. The case has everything that draws me to true crime: a unique crime scene, red herrings, questionable police work, legal drama, and possible (likely) wrongful conviction. But this book was boring. The author took an interesting case and added about 100 pages of irrelevant tangents until it dulled substantially. I knew I was in trouble when I reached a third mention of El Niño. And again when other weather phenomena were described in detail as well as personified. Descriptions of the victims were well done and appropriate in length, but descriptions of all 6+ attorneys and the judge were boring and unnecessary. I did enjoy the blow by blow of the court room happenings, however. But as an attorney, I probably understood the significance of various rulings more than the typical reader. Ultimately, I thought there was a lot of overly-wordy writerly flourish. Maybe it's just my taste, but there was too much exposition before any real discussion of events.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kris - My Novelesque Life

    WHO KILLED THESE GIRLS? THE TWENTY-FIVE-YEAR HISTORY OF AUSTIN'S YOGURT SHOP MURDER Written by Beverly Lowry 2016; Knopf Doubleday (377 Pages) Genre: nonfiction, true crime, literary RATING: 3 STARS Since I enjoyed Lowry's previous book, Crossed Over, I was so happy to see that the library had her newest book, Who Killed These Girls?  I have also been following this case on 48 Hours: Mystery so I was interested to see what Lowry's thought in the case were. The Case: Four young teens, two being sisters WHO KILLED THESE GIRLS? THE TWENTY-FIVE-YEAR HISTORY OF AUSTIN'S YOGURT SHOP MURDER Written by Beverly Lowry 2016; Knopf Doubleday (377 Pages) Genre: nonfiction, true crime, literary RATING: 3 STARS Since I enjoyed Lowry's previous book, Crossed Over, I was so happy to see that the library had her newest book, Who Killed These Girls?  I have also been following this case on 48 Hours: Mystery so I was interested to see what Lowry's thought in the case were. The Case: Four young teens, two being sisters and one girl was just 13, were brutally murdered and then set on fire.  This took place in Austin, Texas in 1991.  The brutality of the crime shook Austin, but the young ages of the victims just about broke everyone on the case.  While this case has continually been active, no one has been convicted as of yet.  Lowry provides the entirety of the case from 1991 to present day.  We learn about the victims, the families, the investigators and the suspects. The Verdict: Maybe I already know too much about this case but I found it too dense and stretched out.  I think this book could have been better edited - at least a hundred pages less.  Lowry's past book was more about the people and the emotions.  In this book, we get more facts and descriptions.  Lowry still has that literary style of writing that aided me in finishing the book.  I almost gave up halfway through because I was finding myself skimming some pages that seemed redundant.  Still, I did find the book interesting as I wanted to know more about this case.  I do hope this case gets solved someday...those girls deserve at least that. MY NOVELESQUE LIFE

  9. 5 out of 5

    Christy

    I had never heard of these murders until I picked up this book. Very sad, very brutal in my opinion. At the same time I feel it could of been a bit shorter. The flip flopping in the beginning confused me at first. The fact that they almost put four boys away for a murder they didn't commit...well Reading this I can understand why that seems to happen. What happened to those girls was horrific and I hope they one day find who did this. :( I had never heard of these murders until I picked up this book. Very sad, very brutal in my opinion. At the same time I feel it could of been a bit shorter. The flip flopping in the beginning confused me at first. The fact that they almost put four boys away for a murder they didn't commit...well Reading this I can understand why that seems to happen. What happened to those girls was horrific and I hope they one day find who did this. :(

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amy Decker

    Very confusing. I think that the author could've shortened the book--especially the court sequences. Very confusing. I think that the author could've shortened the book--especially the court sequences.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Susan Albert

    For me, Beverly Lowry's book about the Austin TX Yogurt Shop murders ranks right up there with In Cold Blood as among the very best of true crime. But you have to be patient, for the story world Lowry recreates is initially--and deliberately, artfully, confoundingly--as confusing as the real world she must represent. And every bit as ugly, too. So you'd better bring a strong stomach to this book, as well as patience. There is nothing pretty about it, on any level, in any dimension. The brutal 199 For me, Beverly Lowry's book about the Austin TX Yogurt Shop murders ranks right up there with In Cold Blood as among the very best of true crime. But you have to be patient, for the story world Lowry recreates is initially--and deliberately, artfully, confoundingly--as confusing as the real world she must represent. And every bit as ugly, too. So you'd better bring a strong stomach to this book, as well as patience. There is nothing pretty about it, on any level, in any dimension. The brutal 1991 murders of four young girls remain unsolved to this day. In this book, begun in 2009 and published in 2016, Lowry takes us through the labyrinthine case, from the grisly discovery through the exhausting (and botched) investigations to the arrest of four young men, the conviction of two, and the reversals of those convictions. In the seven long years of research and writing, she grew intimate enough with the families to be able to show us the exhausting effects of decades of grief and uncertainty; close enough to the cops to see (and reveal) their compulsive need to "solve" this case; and near enough to the politics of the judicial system to show its existential and terrifying failures. This is the best we can do in this world, Lowry says. Live with it. We have no other choice. Factual, objective yet compassionate, eloquently voiced, Who Killed These Girls offers us everything we can ask from true crime. It is tragedy in the truest, most classical sense, and masterful. It illuminates, reflects on, and requires us to think about the issues posed by the awful appeal of true crime as a genre: why we want it, why we need it, why it hurts. At the same time--and in the same way as the crime itself and its investigation--the book is baffling, demanding, frustrating, and profoundly disheartening. Readers who want their true crimes solved by competent police, criminals brought to justice, and society restored to a moral balance will not enjoy this book. Readers who can tolerate uncertainty, ambiguity, ambivalence, and real-world disorder--and who are able to appreciate an author who can represent all of this chaos with grace and compassion--will be rewarded with new insights into our very human frailties.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Hopkins

    I feel like the author of this book listened to "Serial" and watched "Making a Murderer" all in one weekend and was like "I wanna do THAT!" There's nothing new or exciting posited here. It's here's what happened, here's who they arrested despite most likely being innocent, here's how the trial went down, and here's what happened when they finally were able to test DNA. Like "Serial" and "Making a Murderer" you kinda walk away like...so nothing actually happened in the end? We still know NOTHING I feel like the author of this book listened to "Serial" and watched "Making a Murderer" all in one weekend and was like "I wanna do THAT!" There's nothing new or exciting posited here. It's here's what happened, here's who they arrested despite most likely being innocent, here's how the trial went down, and here's what happened when they finally were able to test DNA. Like "Serial" and "Making a Murderer" you kinda walk away like...so nothing actually happened in the end? We still know NOTHING about this crime? Which is frustrating as hell and if I watch or read one more story without an ending I'm gonna lose my chill.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Angus McKeogh

    A cold case murder. Loads of suspects. Coerced confessions. Petty thugs. Physical evidence that points elsewhere. Police foul ups. Law challenges. Exonerations. Leads that are apparent but are willfully not followed. New evidence decades old. Still no justice for the victims. Bull-headed State prosecutors and cops steadily following a narrative that is clearly wrong as demonstrated by the evidence. This book had it all. And it's true. Sad. Interesting. Makes you gag on reality. A cold case murder. Loads of suspects. Coerced confessions. Petty thugs. Physical evidence that points elsewhere. Police foul ups. Law challenges. Exonerations. Leads that are apparent but are willfully not followed. New evidence decades old. Still no justice for the victims. Bull-headed State prosecutors and cops steadily following a narrative that is clearly wrong as demonstrated by the evidence. This book had it all. And it's true. Sad. Interesting. Makes you gag on reality.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne

    DNF - interesting case, but the structure of the book is all over the place and difficult for me to engage with. I’m giving up. May try again later.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Paige

    I’m glad I learned more about this case, but felt like things ran a little too long. Glad I listened to the audiobook so I didn’t have to pay 100% attention during the rabbit holes

  16. 5 out of 5

    ElphaReads

    True crime is a genre that I used to really really like, and now I kind of read sporadically because it's ultimately super depressing. I can handle being depressed, but not as much as I used to be able to handle it. When I heard about WHO KILLED THESE GIRLS: THE TWENTY FIVE YEAR HISTORY OF AUSTIN'S YOGURT SHOP MURDERS by Beverly Lowry, I decided that I would pick this one up for one of those sporadic visits to the genre. I sounded interesting: an unsolved murder, a town rocked by the crime, some True crime is a genre that I used to really really like, and now I kind of read sporadically because it's ultimately super depressing. I can handle being depressed, but not as much as I used to be able to handle it. When I heard about WHO KILLED THESE GIRLS: THE TWENTY FIVE YEAR HISTORY OF AUSTIN'S YOGURT SHOP MURDERS by Beverly Lowry, I decided that I would pick this one up for one of those sporadic visits to the genre. I sounded interesting: an unsolved murder, a town rocked by the crime, some shoddy police and prosecutorial work. It had everything I usually like in a true crime book. But sadly, it didn't quite work for me. In 1991, four teenage girls were murdered in an ICBY yogurt shop. The bodies were found after the shop was set on fire, and to this day the murders remain unsolved. A number of people have tried to understand what happened, and while two were convicted their convictions were overturned. Lowry examines this crime, the people around it, and the idea of closure. I think that for me it was just written pretty blandly. While I appreciate writing it in a sensitive and not oversensationalized kind of way, this ultimately just kind of felt like a 'this is what happened, and that's all there is really' book. I think that you can tell a story with compassion and heart that is interesting without going into a salacious or scandal driven mess. So while this book did feel respectful and a proper rumination on grief and the absence of closure, it ultimately just felt monotone and kind of boring. I liked the clear timeline that Lowry had (for the most part, sometimes we jumped around in time which was confusing), and I liked that she presented all sides as best she could, and showed that sometimes pressure to solve a case can lead to some pretty damaging mistakes. And I also recognize that this is an unsolved case, so there was bound to be a certain level of 'oh that's it?' to it. And there isn't much more to say about it, really. It was what it was. I think that there are better true crime books out there to be sure, but this one was definitely one of the more respectful ones that I've read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Robin Redden

    I moved to Austin a few months after this terrible crime happened. Four young teen girls were brutally killed in an "I Can't Believe It's Yogurt" shop. It was a part of everyone's life in Austin in the 90's. I saw the billboards for years. I've shopped in the strip mall where the murders occurred. I followed along, with everyone else, the various "breakthroughs" in the case during the past 25 years. I heard "rumors" about the "held back" evidence. I wanted the murderers to have been caught. Both I moved to Austin a few months after this terrible crime happened. Four young teen girls were brutally killed in an "I Can't Believe It's Yogurt" shop. It was a part of everyone's life in Austin in the 90's. I saw the billboards for years. I've shopped in the strip mall where the murders occurred. I followed along, with everyone else, the various "breakthroughs" in the case during the past 25 years. I heard "rumors" about the "held back" evidence. I wanted the murderers to have been caught. Both times arrests were made I felt sure they were "the right guys". Beverly Lowry offers a compassionate telling of this story from today's vantage point (the book published in 2016 and the murders occurred in Dec. 1991) - she herself lost her son to an unsolved hit and run. The most intriguing areas in this book are around the investigative and criminal justice process, the personalities involved in the justice system in Austin during this time, PTSD, and how false memories work and how easy they are to implant. Many lives have been broken by the perpetrators, not just the lives of the victims and their families, but those of the accused and their families, and the attorneys, cops, firefighters etc. who were involved. Reading this book is not easy - it was truly a horrific crime - but it is a fascinating account on many levels and contains lessons to be learned. I can only hope these families will one day get closure.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Exhaustive and exhausting. Lowry's obviously a novelist and I'm intrigued by the premise of her 1992 memoir, Crossing Over, about her relationship with Karla Faye Tucker and the hit-and-run death of her son, but editing down her prosody would've trimmed this book significantly. (Personally, I could've done without the jabs at Oklahoma, my home state, and Baltimore, where I currently live.) I felt like this covered a lot of the same thematic territory as "The Innocent Man" -- John Grisham's book Exhaustive and exhausting. Lowry's obviously a novelist and I'm intrigued by the premise of her 1992 memoir, Crossing Over, about her relationship with Karla Faye Tucker and the hit-and-run death of her son, but editing down her prosody would've trimmed this book significantly. (Personally, I could've done without the jabs at Oklahoma, my home state, and Baltimore, where I currently live.) I felt like this covered a lot of the same thematic territory as "The Innocent Man" -- John Grisham's book on the crooked cops of Ada, Oklahoma--and maybe due to the preponderance of similar names, I much preferred watching the Netflix doc to the experience of reading this. Call it true crime burnout, call it the Big Bad Depression I was mired in for most of the week+ while reading this, call it squeamishness at the discussion of DNA found "inside" the girls, but I did not enjoy this and was glad to get it done. There was a pretty masterful moment where Lowry casually drops in a suspect's quote, flash-forwarding to actually meeting the dude on his porch--I'd never seen that done before.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cait Poytress

    This book was infuriating on so many levels! Not because of the writing or the research, that was all very well done. No, it was infuriating when listening to the circumstances that led up to what I really believe were false confessions. It reminded me of the WM3 or Brendan Dassey. The justice system is intriguing and fascinating - everyone from the detectives to the DA's office to the defense attorneys to the judges to the expert witnesses to the jury to the evidence - but man, does it disappoi This book was infuriating on so many levels! Not because of the writing or the research, that was all very well done. No, it was infuriating when listening to the circumstances that led up to what I really believe were false confessions. It reminded me of the WM3 or Brendan Dassey. The justice system is intriguing and fascinating - everyone from the detectives to the DA's office to the defense attorneys to the judges to the expert witnesses to the jury to the evidence - but man, does it disappoint me sometimes.

  20. 4 out of 5

    MadMannikin

    I could not get into this book at all. It seems as though every tiny, minute detail that the author learned during her research is given to us as the reader. In the first half of the book race is mentioned over and over again but race has zero to do with the crime. That's just one example of the tons of irrelevant information in this book. I ended up just reading about it on Wikipedia. I could not get into this book at all. It seems as though every tiny, minute detail that the author learned during her research is given to us as the reader. In the first half of the book race is mentioned over and over again but race has zero to do with the crime. That's just one example of the tons of irrelevant information in this book. I ended up just reading about it on Wikipedia.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Holtzclaw

    i was very eager to get my hands on this book, but this book, to put things frankly, was boring. i think a big part of that is because there is so little evidence or just pure fact here; so much of this case is conjecture - has to be, because it's the coldest of cold cases. i think that, ultimately, there's not enough here to merit even writing an entire book, let alone one that clocks in at around 350 pages. i personally find the courtroom aspect of true crime related things to be the least int i was very eager to get my hands on this book, but this book, to put things frankly, was boring. i think a big part of that is because there is so little evidence or just pure fact here; so much of this case is conjecture - has to be, because it's the coldest of cold cases. i think that, ultimately, there's not enough here to merit even writing an entire book, let alone one that clocks in at around 350 pages. i personally find the courtroom aspect of true crime related things to be the least interesting, and this book was at least 75% that. i am so tired (partly because of the long, trying day i had and the fact that i very coolly don't have a job anymore!) but i think that this book just made me impossibly more tired.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    If you were around in 1991, you remember these murders. If you don’t live in Texas, you might be fuzzy on the details of what happened next and not be aware that the case has never been solved. All I will say about what happened with the police and the 4 boys accused of the crime is this: if the police ever want to ask you some questions, you’d better lawyer up. After all that the families of these girls have been through, it’s easy to understand why the mother of two of the girls is quoted as s If you were around in 1991, you remember these murders. If you don’t live in Texas, you might be fuzzy on the details of what happened next and not be aware that the case has never been solved. All I will say about what happened with the police and the 4 boys accused of the crime is this: if the police ever want to ask you some questions, you’d better lawyer up. After all that the families of these girls have been through, it’s easy to understand why the mother of two of the girls is quoted as saying, “People talk about justice. I just want to know the truth. That’s all I care about.”

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A very interesting look into a still unsolved case. Hard to believe that the DNA has never matched to anyone in the federal database or anything. Also a frightening look into how police can operate with legal tactics and convince someone to confess to things they haven’t done. What I’ve learned is “lawyer up immediately”. Very sad for everyone involved, really. The families need and want closure, the “suspects” in my opinion were not the right guys...I wanted them to find who did it. And I hope A very interesting look into a still unsolved case. Hard to believe that the DNA has never matched to anyone in the federal database or anything. Also a frightening look into how police can operate with legal tactics and convince someone to confess to things they haven’t done. What I’ve learned is “lawyer up immediately”. Very sad for everyone involved, really. The families need and want closure, the “suspects” in my opinion were not the right guys...I wanted them to find who did it. And I hope someday they do. It’s just maddening. Unfortunately another case as well where (IMHO) the early investigation was somewhat botched.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Edie Reynolds

    This book was a little too long and it was hard to keep up with all the characters and the dates. Other than that, it was an interesting book. I had not heard of these murders before.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    I was really excited to receive this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was even so excited that I bumped it to the top of my to read list. So thank you for picking me! So I live in Lewisville, TX which is a suburb outside of Dallas. I was in high school when all this went down in Austin (3-4 hours south of us) but I never heard about this. One of the suspects worked in Lewisville and the dental assistant who replaced my old metal fillings said she worked with him at a si I was really excited to receive this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was even so excited that I bumped it to the top of my to read list. So thank you for picking me! So I live in Lewisville, TX which is a suburb outside of Dallas. I was in high school when all this went down in Austin (3-4 hours south of us) but I never heard about this. One of the suspects worked in Lewisville and the dental assistant who replaced my old metal fillings said she worked with him at a side job she had at the time. She was there when he was arrested. It's a small world, I guess. Anyhow, I digress, let's get back to the book. There's a lot of information in this book and I found it hard to keep it all straight in my head. I was sick when I read parts of it so I couldn't blame the author for that. The book was well written and very organized. I don't read a lot of true crime books but I do find this genre fascinating. This book was no different but the subject that I was fascinated with surprised me. I never realized just how many people can be coerced into a false confession. I don't want to spoil the ending of this book so I will stop here. This book is definitely a work of love and compassion for the victims and everyone involved. The author did a great job showing that to the readers as well as to the people who she interviewed for this book. I was on the fence as to whether I liked this but the final chapters left me wanting more and questioning my assumptions. Read it, you know you want to.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stuti Kokkalera

    I do read a lot of true crime because of my work in criminal justice issues. This was a crime I knew of, but very briefly. The book cover got me interested and luckily, I was one of the people to receive this through the Goodreads Giveaway. The case is totally heartbreaking. Ms. Lowry does a good job of reminding you of how wonderful these girls were and how well loved they all were. She also dedicates a major portion of the book (I'd say one-third or so) to what happened in the courts- which we I do read a lot of true crime because of my work in criminal justice issues. This was a crime I knew of, but very briefly. The book cover got me interested and luckily, I was one of the people to receive this through the Goodreads Giveaway. The case is totally heartbreaking. Ms. Lowry does a good job of reminding you of how wonderful these girls were and how well loved they all were. She also dedicates a major portion of the book (I'd say one-third or so) to what happened in the courts- which were very interesting to me because of my legal background. However, I'm not sure if all the legalese is as interesting for another reader. Another challenge is the vast and clearly copious amounts of information. Because of this, the book does meander in some chapters. While Ms. Lowry follows a chronology initially, she does not always follow through with it. I would still recommend this book to fans of true crime, and especially for people who are interested in how the criminal justice system works, and how it often fails victims, their families and even criminal justice agencies. Especially in light of cases that come up today surrounding wrongful convictions and false confessions, this book does a fantastic job of showing how the police can get it wrong and the courts can get it wrong too. I hope that this book is the first of many steps to get it right and to bring justice for these girls and their families.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Matt Breidenbach

    Tl;dr - this was lowest "rated" book I've read on Goodreads this year, but one I personally found to be fantastic. I read many poor reviews before reading this true crime/court room drama, but I couldn't agree less with them. A lot of them said there was too much irrelevant detail, whereas I was hungry for more details. Perhaps it's my personal geographic connection (I used to live several blocks away from the site of the grizzly murders), but I was hooked from chapter one. This is a story of cri Tl;dr - this was lowest "rated" book I've read on Goodreads this year, but one I personally found to be fantastic. I read many poor reviews before reading this true crime/court room drama, but I couldn't agree less with them. A lot of them said there was too much irrelevant detail, whereas I was hungry for more details. Perhaps it's my personal geographic connection (I used to live several blocks away from the site of the grizzly murders), but I was hooked from chapter one. This is a story of criminal justice, detective work, mystery, court system, but ultimately, one of ultimate loss and lack of closure. As interesting as the book was, the key to remember is the terrible pain these families continue to deal with to this day, and the fact that the killer may still be amongst us in Austin. I plan to visit the memorial plaque off West Anderson Lane soon to pay my respects, and may do so again on the anniversary.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Arnied

    This is really a book about false confessions. It is hard to believe that anyone could be bullied into confessing to murder but it does happen. Sometimes they just want out of the interrogation. Sometimes they just want attention. And sometimes they are convinced they did it. It is pretty clear in this case that the guys who were convicted and then let go...did not do it. DNA leaves very little doubt that they had nothing to do with it. The cops just needed someone to go down and concentrated on This is really a book about false confessions. It is hard to believe that anyone could be bullied into confessing to murder but it does happen. Sometimes they just want out of the interrogation. Sometimes they just want attention. And sometimes they are convinced they did it. It is pretty clear in this case that the guys who were convicted and then let go...did not do it. DNA leaves very little doubt that they had nothing to do with it. The cops just needed someone to go down and concentrated on the person they wanted - and they made it happen. Some advice...Never talk to police without a laywer..even if you didn't do anything. The murders are horrible. If you are squeamish about such things, don't read this book. And you might want to be careful where you go to get your nails done in Austin. There you go.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    What was done really well in this book was the character building- of the girls, and of the young men accused. The legal stuff... less of a story, and a bit too reporter-ish. And it got tedious. Also, and this is a minor point, I got a bit annoyed by the case being called simply "yogurt shop" without the "THE" in front. Also, nobody called it "ICBY"-there was TCBY, and I Can't Believe Its Yogurt. The whole name, never shortened to initials. I grew up with the case- I was 12 when it happened, and What was done really well in this book was the character building- of the girls, and of the young men accused. The legal stuff... less of a story, and a bit too reporter-ish. And it got tedious. Also, and this is a minor point, I got a bit annoyed by the case being called simply "yogurt shop" without the "THE" in front. Also, nobody called it "ICBY"-there was TCBY, and I Can't Believe Its Yogurt. The whole name, never shortened to initials. I grew up with the case- I was 12 when it happened, and lived not far; I'm connected by few degrees to the characters- and never heard of it referred to without the THE in front. Also, there was a good chunk of time spent on "related" things- like cases she wrote about before, or cases that set precedent for rulings in the trial- that were just too much. Could have easily been 100 pages shorter, with a stronger story.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Linda Hutchinson

    This is a stunning true life crime story but it suffers under the voluminous amount of information covered in 377 pages. I think the author had good intentions but ended up regurgitating the same sensationalistic facts. The inside jacket cover boasts that the author has "fashioned a riveting saga that reads like a Russian novel." I am in the middle of War & Peace and I can guarantee that this does NOT read like a Russian novel and it is NOT riveting. If you want a true crime novel, I would recom This is a stunning true life crime story but it suffers under the voluminous amount of information covered in 377 pages. I think the author had good intentions but ended up regurgitating the same sensationalistic facts. The inside jacket cover boasts that the author has "fashioned a riveting saga that reads like a Russian novel." I am in the middle of War & Peace and I can guarantee that this does NOT read like a Russian novel and it is NOT riveting. If you want a true crime novel, I would recommend Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" since his book was exemplary. This book does not do justice to four innocent girls and and their still unsolved murders. A weak 2 stars for me.

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