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Little Shoes: The Sensational Depression-Era Murders That Became My Family's Secret

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In the summer of 1937, with the Depression deep and World War II looming, a California crime stunned an already grim nation. Three little girls were lured away from a neighborhood park to unthinkable deaths. After a frantic week-long manhunt for the killer, a suspect emerged, and his sensational trial captivated audiences from coast to coast. Justice was swift, and the con In the summer of 1937, with the Depression deep and World War II looming, a California crime stunned an already grim nation. Three little girls were lured away from a neighborhood park to unthinkable deaths. After a frantic week-long manhunt for the killer, a suspect emerged, and his sensational trial captivated audiences from coast to coast. Justice was swift, and the condemned man was buried away with the horrifying story. But decades later, Pamela Everett, a lawyer and former journalist, starts digging, following up a cryptic comment her father once made about losing two of his sisters. Her journey is uniquely personal as she uncovers her family's secret history, but the investigation quickly takes unexpected turns into her professional wheelhouse. Everett unearths a truly historic legal case that included one of the earliest criminal profiles in the United States, the genesis of modern sex offender laws, and the last man sentenced to hang in California. Digging deeper and drawing on her experience with wrongful convictions, Everett then raises detailed and haunting questions about whether the authorities got the right man. Having revived the case to its rightful place in history, she leaves us with enduring concerns about the death penalty then and now. A journey chronicled through the mind of a lawyer and from the heart of a daughter, Little Shoes is both a captivating true crime story and a profoundly personal account of one family's struggle to cope with tragedy through the generations.


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In the summer of 1937, with the Depression deep and World War II looming, a California crime stunned an already grim nation. Three little girls were lured away from a neighborhood park to unthinkable deaths. After a frantic week-long manhunt for the killer, a suspect emerged, and his sensational trial captivated audiences from coast to coast. Justice was swift, and the con In the summer of 1937, with the Depression deep and World War II looming, a California crime stunned an already grim nation. Three little girls were lured away from a neighborhood park to unthinkable deaths. After a frantic week-long manhunt for the killer, a suspect emerged, and his sensational trial captivated audiences from coast to coast. Justice was swift, and the condemned man was buried away with the horrifying story. But decades later, Pamela Everett, a lawyer and former journalist, starts digging, following up a cryptic comment her father once made about losing two of his sisters. Her journey is uniquely personal as she uncovers her family's secret history, but the investigation quickly takes unexpected turns into her professional wheelhouse. Everett unearths a truly historic legal case that included one of the earliest criminal profiles in the United States, the genesis of modern sex offender laws, and the last man sentenced to hang in California. Digging deeper and drawing on her experience with wrongful convictions, Everett then raises detailed and haunting questions about whether the authorities got the right man. Having revived the case to its rightful place in history, she leaves us with enduring concerns about the death penalty then and now. A journey chronicled through the mind of a lawyer and from the heart of a daughter, Little Shoes is both a captivating true crime story and a profoundly personal account of one family's struggle to cope with tragedy through the generations.

30 review for Little Shoes: The Sensational Depression-Era Murders That Became My Family's Secret

  1. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    I found this book hard to place a star value upon. Reading about this horrific crime was heart wrenching. The wanton murder of three little innocent girls, Madeline and Melba Everett and Jeanette Stephens was a crime that heralded in the age of the sex crime unit and provided the country in 1937 the news of these young girls murders. They were only seven eight and nine and their young lives were tragically and mercilessly cut short by their killer. Many years later, the author of this book, a niec I found this book hard to place a star value upon. Reading about this horrific crime was heart wrenching. The wanton murder of three little innocent girls, Madeline and Melba Everett and Jeanette Stephens was a crime that heralded in the age of the sex crime unit and provided the country in 1937 the news of these young girls murders. They were only seven eight and nine and their young lives were tragically and mercilessly cut short by their killer. Many years later, the author of this book, a niece to these girls, stumbled upon the fact that her dad was a brother to the Everett girls. She often wondered, although he never spoke of it, why he was so overprotective. Pamela Everett, being both a lawyer and a former journalist sought out information regarding her aunts she never knew of and the man who eventually was hanged for their murders, Albert Dyer. Investigating the trial, Ms Everett discovers vast inconsistencies in the trial as well as the investigation into Albert Dyer. Dyer was a functional illiterate, a man with the IQ of about a ten year old who was a crossing guard and was accused and later convicted by a unanimous decision of the jury. He had confessed to the crime numerous times but then recanted and presented in each of his various confessions a different scenario. Was he capable of this crime, or was he so easily led that he would do anything people suggested to him? Did Albert commit this crime or was he just the person whom it was most convenient to convict? This story is also in its own way a cautionary tale about the death penalty with the what if always being asked of whether a convicted person is truly the guilty person. It was for this reader a thought provoking book. Thank you to Pamela Everett, Skyhorse Publishing, and Edelweiss for an advanced copy of this book. You can also see my reviews on my blog https://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpres... Publishing May 29, 2018

  2. 4 out of 5

    Joy D

    This is a gut-wrenching true story of the murder of three young girls, ages seven to nine, in California in 1937. The author decided to research what had happened to her father’s sisters after learning their family had kept their deaths a secret for many years. I normally do not read true crime, but in this case, I made an exception since the author lives in my local area. I am putting the rest of my review in spoiler tags since this is not a well-known case. (view spoiler)[ I cannot imagine rese This is a gut-wrenching true story of the murder of three young girls, ages seven to nine, in California in 1937. The author decided to research what had happened to her father’s sisters after learning their family had kept their deaths a secret for many years. I normally do not read true crime, but in this case, I made an exception since the author lives in my local area. I am putting the rest of my review in spoiler tags since this is not a well-known case. (view spoiler)[ I cannot imagine researching a family tragedy only to find out it is extremely likely the wrong person was convicted of the crime. I can only say I am glad that the legal system has changed over the years, and many of the irregularities in this case would not be legally allowed today. This book points out the need to ensure we get the right person convicted rather than satisfy the urgent need to find and punish someone for a heinous crime, allowing the guilty party to go free. Be aware that this book contains gruesome descriptions of the rape and murder of three innocent children. (hide spoiler)]

  3. 5 out of 5

    Fishface

    An Enlightening Read About A Horrifying Story This is a short read, but satisfying -- as satisfying as a horrific story like this probably can be. If you thought not much could be worse than a triple child murder, wait until you see what the author does with what I thought all this time was a clear, simple set of facts. Don't miss this book if you have any interest in family secrets, the legal system, true crime or learning the truth behind a legend. An Enlightening Read About A Horrifying Story This is a short read, but satisfying -- as satisfying as a horrific story like this probably can be. If you thought not much could be worse than a triple child murder, wait until you see what the author does with what I thought all this time was a clear, simple set of facts. Don't miss this book if you have any interest in family secrets, the legal system, true crime or learning the truth behind a legend.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nat

    3.5 stars~ ☆☆ YouTube | Tumblr | Instagram ☆☆ This Was Kinda Painful -- February Wrap Up || 10 books! What I enjoyed about this book most was the way Pamela Everrett managed to weave personal anecdotes and ties to memories she had of these people into the awful story she was learning. I think that made these events all the more real and powerful, I really loved her line at the end of this book, “even in the darkest histories, there can be a joy to discover,” because investigating this case allo 3.5 stars~ ☆☆ YouTube | Tumblr | Instagram ☆☆ This Was Kinda Painful -- February Wrap Up || 10 books! What I enjoyed about this book most was the way Pamela Everrett managed to weave personal anecdotes and ties to memories she had of these people into the awful story she was learning. I think that made these events all the more real and powerful, I really loved her line at the end of this book, “even in the darkest histories, there can be a joy to discover,” because investigating this case allowed her to know family members who had already passed on. However, I wish there were more of those. I also really liked the layout of the story, how it developed and how Everrett laid out the points of the case, but also mentioned the questions that arose, trying to decide for herself whether she found the suspect guilty or not. I really enjoyed her discussion on false confessions.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Petra

    Such an awful story (the event; not the book). Three little girls go to the park on a summer day to play and end up dead, lured away from the park to a gully. The author of this book is the niece of two of these little girls. This piece of family history was kept hidden and she learned of it almost by accident and decided to investigate. The story is well told and organized. It's sad on so many sides. The girls, the families, their descendants, the town people, the accused, his wife. Well told. A Such an awful story (the event; not the book). Three little girls go to the park on a summer day to play and end up dead, lured away from the park to a gully. The author of this book is the niece of two of these little girls. This piece of family history was kept hidden and she learned of it almost by accident and decided to investigate. The story is well told and organized. It's sad on so many sides. The girls, the families, their descendants, the town people, the accused, his wife. Well told. A sad piece of history.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I'm really torn trying to rate this. When I came across this book I was very excited, it should have been my jam, seriously. As an avid genealogist, history lover, and true crime enthusiast, the premise behind the book - family history, uncovered secrets, murder - sounded like basically all of my interests wrapped into one, and I started reading with anticipation thinking it had potential to make the list of my favourite books ever, but I was left instead woefully underwhelmed by it. First, the w I'm really torn trying to rate this. When I came across this book I was very excited, it should have been my jam, seriously. As an avid genealogist, history lover, and true crime enthusiast, the premise behind the book - family history, uncovered secrets, murder - sounded like basically all of my interests wrapped into one, and I started reading with anticipation thinking it had potential to make the list of my favourite books ever, but I was left instead woefully underwhelmed by it. First, the writing itself wasn't awful, but the way it was presented and organized was kind of all over the place and inconsistent. Let's start with this: a 230 page book should not have 50 chapters. That's no exaggeration, I actually counted. It made the storytelling really choppy. I also didn't understand why within the chapters she broke apart sections by capitalizing the first few words of the 'new' section, not because I don't understand the concept behind that, but because I couldn't figure out why she was doing it, especially when she did it for every single paragraph on some pages and when it wasn't necessary as it wasn't a departure from the previous paragraph/thought. I can't stand when people in non-fiction make weird suppositions about what other people must have been thinking, or worse, actually write it as though it were a fact that they were thinking that when they couldn't possibly know. She does this quite a bit throughout the book. She also brings up weird outlandish possibilities, like maybe two of the suspects worked together, even though there is no indication they even knew each other. She also goes on for multiple paragraphs about why the defense attorneys might have chosen to take it to trial instead of pleading guilty, when it's the defendant's choice how to plead to the crime, not theirs. She dismisses that in one sentence saying they could have convinced him to plead guilty because he was so scared of the death penalty, when there is no indication that pleading guilty would have gotten him a different sentence, there was no mention of a deal offered and it's unlikely they would have given him one considering the severity and gruesomeness of the crime he was charged with. They already had to protect him from a lynch mob. It's also clear by his mental capabilities that he likely would not have even truly understood the concept of the death penalty, any better than a child would, since even after sentencing he still seemed to think he could get probation instead. Yet she writes "the only conclusion is that Vercoe and his team saw enough holes in the evidence, enough real questions about Dyer's innocence, to justify the impossibly tough road of forcing the state the prove it's case to a jury". No, that's not the "only conclusion", that's your supposition based on your weird assertion that the defense attorneys controlled what his plea was. She also then acts like the prosecution and jury must have been shocked when the defense actually asked for the jury to find him not guilty of the murders, after he plead not guilty for the trial, because somehow she reasoned that even though he was saying he was innocent and didn't murder them, they would somehow instead just ask the jury to give him a life sentence rather than the death penalty, instead of asking them to acquit him for the murders he was saying he didn't commit. I don't get the thought process there, especially from someone who is actually an attorney. Near the end of the trial section, she makes a ridiculous statement that basically implies that short men of small stature, like the accused, prey on children because they are too small and weak to take on an adult, not, yunno, because they are pedophiles. Considering the extreme amount of photos available in this case, many of which she describes, she included very few in the actual book, which I found odd, if it was an issue with space she certainly could have made many of them smaller and put multiple photos on each page. Even more odd was that the photos she included were in no specific order. They jumped all over the place chronologically: other suspects mugshots, photo of the trial, then of the family when the girls initially went missing, then back to the trial, oh and here's the boys who found the bodies, then the funeral, and then a suspect being questioned, then the main suspect a few weeks later, then the trial again, oh but then back to the initial questioning/confession of the suspect... the order makes absolutely no sense! It doesn't even follow when the events unfolded in the book. Also weird that although there are clear photos of her aunts (that I easily found on the internet), she chose instead to use bad, blurry, blown up photos of them. She failed to include any photos of the other victim, though available, but did include one of her family. It was an odd choice not to include a photo of Jeannette, and although I get the focus was on her aunts, it would have been nice if she spent some time talking about Jeannette and her family as well considering she was murdered too. She included a lot of unnecessary information, for example, that she thought her aunts were buried in an unmarked grave in one cemetery but then found out they were buried in a different cemetery with small markers - there was absolutely no reason to include that information. The most frustrating aspect for me was that she included useless information like that, but didn't include enough information or do enough research about things that were important, like background information on Albert Dyer, Fred Godsey, or the other suspects. Even background information on her own family was fairly lacking. She seems to have relied almost solely on newspaper articles and court records, but it's hard to actually know where she got most of her information because, other than mentioning at times that something came out of a specific newspaper, she used no real sourcing in her book, not even when spouting off statistics or other information about wrongful convictions, not even a bibliography at the end, which for a work of historical research (even if it's part memoir) is surprising and disappointing. I was so frustrated with the lack of other research that I just started doing my own, and quickly discovered that she was wrong about Fred Godsey's death, which although she couldn't find any record of, she reported happened between 1947-1949. I found record of him alive in 1951, so I don't know where she got that information from (since she didn't provide any sources). Specific, admittedly petty annoyance: when discussing a New York Times headline on the case, she says "a continent away". New York is on the other side of the country from California, not continent. North America includes both Canada to the north and Mexico to the south, so it's odd that you'd describe a city in the same country as being "a continent away". Disappointingly, the entire story is really given away quite early, and after you realize where it's going and that there is not going to be much more revealed it gets to be a drag to get through it, especially at the end when you already know how the trial is going to turn out and all, and she's mostly regurgitating information she already went over in the book. I blame the publishing company and their editors in part because I think if someone would have fixed some of the issues, like the 50 chapters and photo issues, and kind of put the author on the right track, it would have turned out a lot better. It had a lot of potential that it just did not live up to.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lorie

    First, let me just say that having Reno author Pamela Everett, an attorney with the Innocence Project and a UNR professor of criminal justice, meet with our book club was a wonderful privilege. She told us about the very personal journey that ended with the publication of Little Shoes. In 1937–long before most of us were born–in Inglewood, California three little girls were raped and murdered. Albert Dyer, a mentally challenged crossing guard, was arrested and confessed. He was quickly tried and First, let me just say that having Reno author Pamela Everett, an attorney with the Innocence Project and a UNR professor of criminal justice, meet with our book club was a wonderful privilege. She told us about the very personal journey that ended with the publication of Little Shoes. In 1937–long before most of us were born–in Inglewood, California three little girls were raped and murdered. Albert Dyer, a mentally challenged crossing guard, was arrested and confessed. He was quickly tried and executed. End of story. Years later, teenaged Everett learns of her family’s connection to the story. Two of the three victims were her father’s younger sisters. Her aunts. “Maybe that’s why he was so terribly strict. Maybe he saw his parents assume the best about people and he would spend his life assuming the worst, never for a minute risking his children to dangers, hidden or otherwise.” “Thinking of their forgotten lives, something changed for me, something in my relationship to these girls who were my aunts, my dad’s little sisters. It was just so tragic, to have died as they did and then to be buried away—literally—as if they never lived at all. They’d been alone so long.” Those little girls stayed with Everett and she began asking questions of surviving relatives and former neighbors of her grandparents. As if nudged by something unseen, she dug into court records, newspaper accounts, state archives. With each little piece of information, something kept pricking her conscience. Could they have gotten the wrong man? We learn that reporters in 1937 were just as invasive and aggressive as today’s tabloid and cable reporters. The horror of the killer crossing guard soon became front-page news across the country. And although eyewitnesses were plentiful, they were and are quite unreliable. “Eyewitness misidentifications have led to 75 percent of the wrongful convictions overturned by DNA evidence in our country, and many of those mistakes happen early in the process when police are desperately seeking a suspect…” These were the days before Miranda rights and police interrogated Dyer for ten hours—without an attorney present. Dyer alternately confessed and denied his guilt. His confessions—while inconsistent– weighed more heavily and the police stopped pursuing any other suspects, even as witnesses came forward to say that Dyer was not who they saw with the girls. During Albert Dyer’s incarceration it was determined he had an IQ of 60. He was essentially a nine-year-old boy, which goes a long way to explain why his confession might not really have been a confession. “Confessions are the most powerful evidence in any courtroom, and jurors—indeed, most of us—cannot comprehend how someone can confess to something they didn’t do… In some cases, confessions will overcome overwhelming evidence of innocence such as eyewitness identification and forensic evidence, even DNA… Yet more than a quarter of the documented wrongful convictions overturned by DNA evidence in the United States have involved false confessions…” In this case, the transcripts of the session reveal the interrogator telling the story of what happened and Dyer merely agreeing, “Yes, sir.” And with a riotous mob outside the jail and the pressure on police to bring a killer to justice, it wouldn’t be hard for police to convince their mentally challenged suspect that he was going to die—sooner or later. Everett found holes in the prosecution’s case. She “couldn’t find testimony about the physical evidence that should have been admitted in this case… There was nothing? …no testimony whatsoever about the fingerprints or blood from Dyer’s clothing, nothing connecting Dyer to the knife or the ropes the prosecution introduced.” Furthermore, what forensic evidence was available was contaminated almost from the beginning. “…one of the more unbelievable case photos shows several investigators handling barehanded the tiny nooses and the girls’ clothes, with one of them even smoking a cigar over the pile of evidence.” Everett manages to balance the horrific nature of the crime, the investigation by police, and the trial of Albert Dyer with the long-lasting impact it had on her family. So yes, there is some really bad stuff here, but just enough. And for someone like me, who never reads True Crime, I appreciated not spending any more time on the brutality than necessary. I was also grateful that the photos of the girls were ones while they were alive. Certainly, suspects have more rights today and police procedures have improved. While Everett continues to question wrongful convictions, she recognizes the dangers. “… we open old wounds, forcing victims and families to relive everything, and in many cases to fear the release of someone they believe is guilty… No matter how painful, we should share these histories so victims are not lost and so future generations can know all that came before them and what molded their parents, grandparents and others.” Little Shoes offers much to contemplate the next time a crime is sensationalized in the headlines and we all jump to judgment. Recommend.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Emilio III

    A statement often repeated from death-penalty proponents is that while the criminal justice system has its faults there has never been an execution of an innocent man. Considering that over 150 people on death row have subsequently been exonerated, it's a little hard to give any credence to the idea that no one has ever slipped through the cracks. This book tells a compelling story of just such a case. At the center of this story is the search for the killer of three young girls: Melba Marie Ever A statement often repeated from death-penalty proponents is that while the criminal justice system has its faults there has never been an execution of an innocent man. Considering that over 150 people on death row have subsequently been exonerated, it's a little hard to give any credence to the idea that no one has ever slipped through the cracks. This book tells a compelling story of just such a case. At the center of this story is the search for the killer of three young girls: Melba Marie Everett age nine and her sister Madeline age seven and Jeanette Stephens age eight. The two Everett girls were the sisters of author Pamela Everett's father. They were the aunts the author never got to meet. Pamela Everett is also an attorney who works with the California Innocence Project. The author delved into the killings to learn more about their murders and the man convicted of the crime. What she uncovered was a faulty investigation where a likely innocent man was convicted and executed. The murders happened in the summer of 1937. The author uses interviews, newspaper accounts, and trial transcripts to reconstruct the initial investigation and subsequent trial, while also providing background on the time period and her own family. The police zero in on several suspects. When they bring in suspect Albert Dyer, a mentally-challenged man working as a school crossing guard, they get a full confession. Case closed. There is no evidence linking Albert to the crime except for several witnesses who claim to have seen Albert in the park the day the girls disappeared. Other witnesses identify a different person seen with the girls. That person had some distinctive characteristics that don't match Albert. The other man was also seen with the three little girls in the back of his car. Albert didn't own a car. Read the full review at https://everythingnonfiction.com/revi...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    This is an interesting book because it demonstrates how badly police and the public want to find and kill or imprison a killer of innocent children. It's especially valuable to see how far we as a society have come with DNA retrieval instead of just blood types and unreliable eyewitness accounts. Once police have a likely subject, however, it seems as if all evidence is retrofitted to their argument and nothing new or anything challenging the controlling narrative is ever even considered. If it This is an interesting book because it demonstrates how badly police and the public want to find and kill or imprison a killer of innocent children. It's especially valuable to see how far we as a society have come with DNA retrieval instead of just blood types and unreliable eyewitness accounts. Once police have a likely subject, however, it seems as if all evidence is retrofitted to their argument and nothing new or anything challenging the controlling narrative is ever even considered. If it were not for The Innocence Project, most people would likely have no idea of how unreliable and often just wrong eyewitness accounts are. It's also interesting to see the bloodthirstiness of crowds and how they feel they must extinguish perps with extreme vengeance. Why are people so dead set on killing the perps? C.S. Lewis wrote on this subject that it was fascinating how people rise up in righteous indignation over what they consider foul murders or atrocities. Then, if it turns out they weren't that foul or atrocious, are they willing to scale back their hunger for vengeance? Often not, which says more about people than it does about killers. The fact that the author is related to two of the murdered girls makes the story more immediate and compelling. I thought she would come up with an alternate suspect, but she hazards no guesses other than to point out other suspects that were dismissed. Clearly, the main suspect was not the murderer, so who was?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cee Cee

    This was a great book. I was intrigued from the beginning and could not put the book down whenever I found time to read. This is a great book to read if you like a good mystery. Some details are very disgusting, but it adds to the plot. I am still not convinced that they caught the real perp. This goes to show the police tools that was available back then and how much of an improvement has been made today.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bettina Partridge

    Your basic true crime book that was interesting enough authored by a descendant with a journalist background who was unaware of the hidden tragedy involving her nearest family members.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    I quite liked this book. It did an excellent job of weaving family history and true crime together. Having a strong interest in both myself, I felt both aspects of the narrative were compelling. I truly appreciate the efforts of the author to delve into the facts of the case. Of course, victims' families endure too much in the aftermath of the deaths of their loved ones, but I also feel that their emotional weight should not press as much on the scales of justice. The author's efforts to be objec I quite liked this book. It did an excellent job of weaving family history and true crime together. Having a strong interest in both myself, I felt both aspects of the narrative were compelling. I truly appreciate the efforts of the author to delve into the facts of the case. Of course, victims' families endure too much in the aftermath of the deaths of their loved ones, but I also feel that their emotional weight should not press as much on the scales of justice. The author's efforts to be objective serve as a wonderful model to others. Stories like Albert Dyer's remind us that the problems with our legal system are extensive, ongoing, and largely uncorrected. While no system is perfect, I'm sure, the gross inequities and strange motivations that drive our current "justice" system should be the focus of our attention.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    To read this book about a family secret explored shortly after reading "Mindhunter" proved to be intriguing. The author, the niece of two of the little girls killed, uncovers the back story of this tragedy, including the likely news that the one convicted was not the killer. Rather the real killer could have been the guy who got away and committed more crimes across the country. Pamela Everett describes the way that the police invited a psychiatrist to put together a profile of the killer. What t To read this book about a family secret explored shortly after reading "Mindhunter" proved to be intriguing. The author, the niece of two of the little girls killed, uncovers the back story of this tragedy, including the likely news that the one convicted was not the killer. Rather the real killer could have been the guy who got away and committed more crimes across the country. Pamela Everett describes the way that the police invited a psychiatrist to put together a profile of the killer. What that doctor described in 1937 fits with the profiles described in "Mindhunter." The likely miscarriage of justice and the profound sadness at the loss of the three young lives makes for a painful story to read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    DD

    Odd read. The book retells a murder in 1937, the author believes the convicted to be innocent and keeps comparing that investigation, trial and conviction against modern day standards and forensics. Believe her point is to show that even today with better investigative tools we do convict innocent people and so therefore we should not condemn anyone to death. I didn't know I would be reading a book on that topic but rather just the retelling of the original crime. Personally I agree with that th Odd read. The book retells a murder in 1937, the author believes the convicted to be innocent and keeps comparing that investigation, trial and conviction against modern day standards and forensics. Believe her point is to show that even today with better investigative tools we do convict innocent people and so therefore we should not condemn anyone to death. I didn't know I would be reading a book on that topic but rather just the retelling of the original crime. Personally I agree with that thinking but book should be described as such and not just as a crime story. Was a long read for 200 pages.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jane Thompson

    True Crime Story This is an interesting book. The author tells the long forgotten story of the murders of her aunts when they were children. The murders are horrifying, and so is the treatment of the defendant. Sure does a good job of telling the story of their lives and deaths, and explaining why she thinks the wrong man as convicted and executed.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Marianne Hetzer Hawn

    Disturbing times two. 1) Every parent's nightmare comes true; three young girls lured from a crowded playground in broad daylight and savagely murdered. 2) Was the wrong man targeted, badgered into confessing, tried, convicted and executed? Three families irreparably damaged. Have we made progress, since 1937, in keeping our children safe and guaranteeing due process for accused criminals? Disturbing times two. 1) Every parent's nightmare comes true; three young girls lured from a crowded playground in broad daylight and savagely murdered. 2) Was the wrong man targeted, badgered into confessing, tried, convicted and executed? Three families irreparably damaged. Have we made progress, since 1937, in keeping our children safe and guaranteeing due process for accused criminals?

  17. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    Interesting true crime.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Marty

    Such a sad case and a difficult one to read. Maybe even today we might not know the truth.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Tebo

    Pamela Everett's book crosses genres: in one sense it is a memoir and in another sense it is historical non-fiction. She details the horrific murders of three young girls two of whom were her aunts. Everett didn't know these aunts existed until her father blurts out one day, "I lost two sisters, and I can't lose my daughter...They found them--they found their pairs of little shoes lined up in a row." At this point, her father breaks down and can no longer talk about it. For Everett, this was an Pamela Everett's book crosses genres: in one sense it is a memoir and in another sense it is historical non-fiction. She details the horrific murders of three young girls two of whom were her aunts. Everett didn't know these aunts existed until her father blurts out one day, "I lost two sisters, and I can't lose my daughter...They found them--they found their pairs of little shoes lined up in a row." At this point, her father breaks down and can no longer talk about it. For Everett, this was an epiphany of sorts explaining why her dad was so strict with her and had so many rules. It also opened up a mystery for her to solve. Losing her aunts was horribly tragic but so was the conviction of Albert Dyer, a school crossing guard with the mental capacity of a 10-year old. Three innocent children were murdered and a fourth innocent victim charged with a murder he did not commit while the real murderer was free to commit more atrocities. Everett leaves open the possibility that Dyer could have committed the murders but based on the evidence she presents this reader is 99.9 percent sure he was not capable of committing such horrendous acts. Everett's work is a fascinating page-turner. It makes one uneasy about how many innocent people have been executed while the real murderers were never caught. It also exposes the flaws in our justice system and the interrogation practices of some investigators. The mistakes made in this case brought to mind the more recent 1991 murders of the Kerry sisters who were raped and thrown off the Chain of Rocks bridge. The cousin, Thomas Cummins, who was also thrown off the bridge, survives. In authorities' eagerness to solve the crimes, Cummins becomes a suspect in his cousins' murder. Cummins confesses but later recants. He was sleep deprived and coerced into a false confession. Dyer, like Cummins, is also coerced into confessing. Unlike Cummins, however, Dyer is described as having a limited mental capacity. The injustice of obtaining a false confession under duress is just as relevant now as it was in 1937 and in 1991. Authorities are pressured by the public for answers and to produce a suspect when the emphasis should be on finding the right person no matter how long it takes--not just anyone so they can close the books as quickly as possible. Everett's book goes way beyond the territory of memoir. It's a chilling story with implications for all of us. If you like mysteries, memoirs, and true crime, I highly recommend reading, "Little Shoes."

  20. 5 out of 5

    Violet

    A Must Read For Any True Crime Fan I have to admit I considered whether to buy this book or not, as I figured a crime that was committed so long ago, along with the ensuing details, capture, court etc, would be a bit old fashioned for my liking, but how very wrong I was. I’ve read well over a hundred (probably closer to 200) true crime books, and I thought I’d read most of the ways a story can be told in this genre, but this book takes the reader where others just can’t. Starting with the fact th A Must Read For Any True Crime Fan I have to admit I considered whether to buy this book or not, as I figured a crime that was committed so long ago, along with the ensuing details, capture, court etc, would be a bit old fashioned for my liking, but how very wrong I was. I’ve read well over a hundred (probably closer to 200) true crime books, and I thought I’d read most of the ways a story can be told in this genre, but this book takes the reader where others just can’t. Starting with the fact that it occurred so long ago, and also that it is written by a close family member, who herself knew nothing about this part of her family’s history. With writing this book the author took herself on a journey to learn about her family’s sad past, and she takes her readers along with her. She is very careful to not say what her ultimate feelings are about the person who was charged and condemned for the brutal murder of the 3 young girls, but I think there are a few hints along the way that let the reader make a good judgment call not just for themselves but also for her feelings on the matter. The crimes themselves are very sensitively covered, perhaps part in keeping for the fact that 2 of the victims are members of her own family. More than enough information is given though to get an understanding that even in these days this crime would stand out and could possibly have a similar outcome. And that is the one question this book leaves readers questioning, was the person who confessed and was charged with these crimes the real killer ? I’m not going to say in here other than my own personal feelings, that no he wasn’t the real killer, and again that’s not a spoiler, it’s my opinion. So it seems a book I initially questioned gaining any enjoyment from, has given me more than its money’s worth, it’s made me think about more than just the crime itself, and to understand that no matter how much we feel we have evolved in our new technological age, we haven’t really stepped that far ahead at all. Crimes like this still happen, innocent people still go to jail, they still confess to crimes they did not do due to a myriad of reasons, police pressure, mental defect etc and yes, are still put to death. It’s really made me understand just how important is is for the defense to have a trial, to have lawyers and people to help, because some of the accused and even the confessed, are not guilty, and how do we really know which ones are which if they’re not given a fair chance to show it ?

  21. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    An Uplifting Yet Tragic Story About A Woman Seeking Her Past Pamela Everett grew up knowing there was a terrible secret in her family's past, but nobody would talk to her about it. She couldn't understand why her father, who was so loving, was so strict about knowing where she was and who she was with at all times. She tried to talk with him and other family members, but they all just became extremely emotional and literally couldn't speak. So, as an adult she became determined to discover the tru An Uplifting Yet Tragic Story About A Woman Seeking Her Past Pamela Everett grew up knowing there was a terrible secret in her family's past, but nobody would talk to her about it. She couldn't understand why her father, who was so loving, was so strict about knowing where she was and who she was with at all times. She tried to talk with him and other family members, but they all just became extremely emotional and literally couldn't speak. So, as an adult she became determined to discover the truth to the story of her family, and why the felt it had to be kept a secret. What she found was the tragic story of t he murder of three little girls on a beautiful day in 1937 by a well known and not unlikable man from their hometown. Two of the little girls were her aunts, which she never knew existed and the third was a friend of theirs. These three little girls were lured away from a park across the street from their homes and taken allegedly to go hunt rabbits. In reality, they were taken to a barren forge approximately 3 1/2 miles from the park where they were strangled to death and brutally abused. Their bodies were found by a group I p oh boy scouts after an extended search by members of the entire town. Witnesses said they had seen the girls talking to a man known as Eddie the Sailor the day before and again on the day of their disappearance, blue who was Eddie the Sailor. All anyone really knew was that her could do tricks with rope and bend his hand backwards. Nobody knew who he was. The last time the girls were seen was running from the park singing they were going rabbit hunting, and then a final sighting of three little girls matching their descriptions in a beat up truck driving away towards Ballow Hills and the location where they were later found. The search started to find the culprit who committed these atrocities, but there was no forensic evidence to tie it to a single person or the evidence had been compromised by the poor control of the crime scene and the handling of the evidence. It wasn't until a local man came forward and confessed to committing the crimes that the police had anything to work with. The only problem was the man had the mental capacity of an eight-year old.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Barb

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. “Eyewitness misidentification have lead to 75 percent of the wrongful convictions overturned by DNA evidence in our country.” Pamela Everett That statement right there should be enough to scare the pants off of all of us as a country. This story is about three murdered little girls, two from the same family. More importantly this story is about a miscarriage of justice, an investigation that was flawed from the very beginning, law enforcement that focused on just one man, Albert Dyer even though “Eyewitness misidentification have lead to 75 percent of the wrongful convictions overturned by DNA evidence in our country.” Pamela Everett That statement right there should be enough to scare the pants off of all of us as a country. This story is about three murdered little girls, two from the same family. More importantly this story is about a miscarriage of justice, an investigation that was flawed from the very beginning, law enforcement that focused on just one man, Albert Dyer even though there were other men that were better prime suspects. Pamela Everett never knew her Aunts, they were the unspoken secret of her family. Once she found out about them she began investigating on her own. She longed to know about her Aunts, who they were, what they were like and most importantly what happened to them. This is a very sad but also angering novel. Ms Everett did a wonderful job recounting the search, trial and eventual death of Albert Dyer. She was also able to lovingly recount her family and what they went through during the loss of two young girls. When all is said and done, she felt as if she knew who her Aunts were, loved them, and vowed that others would know the circumstances behind their deaths in 1937. I think we should all be grateful that it isn’t still 1937 and that we aren’t accused of murder. I also think that the next time there is a murder being sensationalized in the news, I’ll think twice about making any rash assumptions. I would definitely recommend this as a true crime novel.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn Shea

    This is a true crime book told by a person related to two of the child murder victims. As she had only sketchy newspaper articles and court documents to work from, I wondered how she was able to write the courtroom scenes complete with "he looked down at his shoes," and similar touches. So it has elements that were probably invented to help the flow of the story. And it was one of those awful, doomed stories of an accused man so cognitively impaired that he would smile when he thought he was "he This is a true crime book told by a person related to two of the child murder victims. As she had only sketchy newspaper articles and court documents to work from, I wondered how she was able to write the courtroom scenes complete with "he looked down at his shoes," and similar touches. So it has elements that were probably invented to help the flow of the story. And it was one of those awful, doomed stories of an accused man so cognitively impaired that he would smile when he thought he was "helping," happy to be the center of attention and little understanding that he was incriminating himself. It seems obvious, from the conflicting evidence and omissions, that he was not the person who committed the murders, and the man who probably did commit them was absent from all but the very first inquiries. These murders and the trial took place in the 1930s but I don't think we as a society have progressed much from that time in terms of assuming a suspect innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It still is too common for someone who is a convenient target, often poor, uneducated and unsophisticated, to be railroaded into a guilty verdict. It is a terrifying prospect, to prove one's innocence, when the public and the media have found one guilty.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Reading Cat

    Instead of most true crime, which delves into the gruesome details of the crime for the source of horror, Everett focuses on the real horror having less to do with one particular monster (the killer) than the victims--the young girls who died, the way the crime continued to haunt the family who survived, the whole community, willing to railroad a probably innocent man to the gallows, and the helplessness of an innocent man in the justice system. In that, it's scarier than the usual killer true c Instead of most true crime, which delves into the gruesome details of the crime for the source of horror, Everett focuses on the real horror having less to do with one particular monster (the killer) than the victims--the young girls who died, the way the crime continued to haunt the family who survived, the whole community, willing to railroad a probably innocent man to the gallows, and the helplessness of an innocent man in the justice system. In that, it's scarier than the usual killer true crime story. This is a family story, and a legal story (she's both the descendant of the victims and a lawyer and she brings both to bear in her eye on the story.) She pieces together the story from the evidence, analyzing the details and the approaches of the lawyers, and, most touchingly, the photographs, only some of which are shared with the reader. At first, I found myself wanting to see those pictures too (not the gruesome crime scene photos, but the photos of her family) but I realized that there was a real private divide here--some of what she shares with us is incredibly vulnerable. I can't fault her for wanting to keep some of the photos (of the little dresses hanging outside to be chosen for the funeral, for example) for herself. The thousand words she gave was enough.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Geeta Ramani

    Prompt: A shoe on the cover. LITTLE SHOES by Pamela Everett. It is purely by chance, that Pamela discovers her family's secret. Her father's family had buried it too deep and for too long. But the enormity of the case made it unforgettable. And again Pamela was surprised to learn about the extensive newspaper coverage of the crime that had deeply affected the family in the year 1937. The perpetrator of the crime was hanged unto death. But after reading the court records and documents, Pamela (as m Prompt: A shoe on the cover. LITTLE SHOES by Pamela Everett. It is purely by chance, that Pamela discovers her family's secret. Her father's family had buried it too deep and for too long. But the enormity of the case made it unforgettable. And again Pamela was surprised to learn about the extensive newspaper coverage of the crime that had deeply affected the family in the year 1937. The perpetrator of the crime was hanged unto death. But after reading the court records and documents, Pamela (as many at that time) remain in doubt - was an innocent man hanged? She had no way of knowing what the family believed. Her writing is brilliant in parts. She is so good at telling the human side of the story. Alas, she has burdened the reader with original court records and documents of the case, which dates back to 1937. Maybe, the human side of the story could have been gleaned out and presented. Finally, Pamela makes a case for families to share their stories with the children. But the traumatic nature of such stories affects families very deeply and only by forgetting them, can they move on.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Karen Koppy

    I felt this book was an excellent review of the legal aspects of this horrific killing. It was similar to reading a documentary type article of the legal chronology of a specific case. A lot of characters were introduced and I admit I had a hard time keeping them all straight, but it didn't really matter because the main characters were such strong personalities. It was an example of the difficulties defenders had in trying a case without the help of DNA. And it is a good example of the failures I felt this book was an excellent review of the legal aspects of this horrific killing. It was similar to reading a documentary type article of the legal chronology of a specific case. A lot of characters were introduced and I admit I had a hard time keeping them all straight, but it didn't really matter because the main characters were such strong personalities. It was an example of the difficulties defenders had in trying a case without the help of DNA. And it is a good example of the failures of the death penalty. It seemed from reading the book that there was inadequate investigation of the case, and a rush to find someone guilty because the case was so extremely awful. And the jury must have had a lot of pressure from the community to find the defendant guilty. After reading the book there was enough reasonable doubt, in my opinion, that the defendant should have been found not guilty.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Karen & Gerard

    This book is hard to read because of what it describes, but it is gripping too which makes it hard to put down! The pacing of this book is well done. The writing really made me feel like I was right there. I always enjoy reading about true events that I am not up to speed on, but I can't say I enjoyed this. However, it is very good and am glad I read it! (Gerard's review) This is a very sad and disturbing book! The author wrote this to memorialize the three girls who were murdered, two of which h This book is hard to read because of what it describes, but it is gripping too which makes it hard to put down! The pacing of this book is well done. The writing really made me feel like I was right there. I always enjoy reading about true events that I am not up to speed on, but I can't say I enjoyed this. However, it is very good and am glad I read it! (Gerard's review) This is a very sad and disturbing book! The author wrote this to memorialize the three girls who were murdered, two of which her family never spoke of much. I really didn’t enjoy this one because not only was the murder of the three little girls horrible, but then it seemed to me that justice was not even served. I felt the guy who was convicted was really innocent! This book points out pitfalls in our criminal justice system when it comes to wrongful convictions. I found the research extremely interesting about eyewitnesses. The emotions I felt while reading this were sadness and anger. Much of the book moved very slowly for me, but things picked up once the trial got underway. Overall, this book is very unsettling. (Karen's review)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Glenda

    This book is amazing.... so sad, but so well written that I just couldn't put it down. It is an eye opening book on so many levels. It is a journey back in time, you feel like you are there. It shows you how much things have changed in our legal system and yet how even in today's world, the same challenges still exist. It makes you question things you may not have questioned before. It is a story that your heart can relate to, but so much unimaginable pain, that unless you experienced it, you co This book is amazing.... so sad, but so well written that I just couldn't put it down. It is an eye opening book on so many levels. It is a journey back in time, you feel like you are there. It shows you how much things have changed in our legal system and yet how even in today's world, the same challenges still exist. It makes you question things you may not have questioned before. It is a story that your heart can relate to, but so much unimaginable pain, that unless you experienced it, you could never really understand. It reminds us that it is those left behinds, most important responsibility, to make sure our love ones and past (good and bad) lives on. It shows how such a tragedy can change future laws, that make today's world a better place to live. If you enjoy reading true crimes, lingering mysteries, and history, then this book is for you.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Sanders

    I'm a fan of true crime books and this is probably one of the best I've ever read. It's written by an actual member of one of the families that the crime was committed against. It all started for the author when her father caught her somewhere she wasn't supposed to be and a comment he made to her on the way home, saying that he'd already lost people he loved and he couldn't bear to lose her, too. That made her begin researching her family way back into the 1930's and finding out a lot of very in I'm a fan of true crime books and this is probably one of the best I've ever read. It's written by an actual member of one of the families that the crime was committed against. It all started for the author when her father caught her somewhere she wasn't supposed to be and a comment he made to her on the way home, saying that he'd already lost people he loved and he couldn't bear to lose her, too. That made her begin researching her family way back into the 1930's and finding out a lot of very interesting, sometimes just heartbreaking, information about her family's past. It was hard to put it down but I finished it in less than 3 days, even when I couldn't read late a night because of having to get my son ready for school in the mornings. It's definitely worth picking up and worth the tears that you may also shed.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    The murderous family secret at the centre of this book is the stuff of bestselling thrillers— made all the more shocking and disturbing by the fact that it is 100% true. The details revolving this triple murder case are gut wrenchingly heinous so I would not recommend to the faint of heart. That being said, it IS worth reading for educational benefit as it highlights the imperfections in the American justice system both in the past and present. Ethical questions are raised in regards to false co The murderous family secret at the centre of this book is the stuff of bestselling thrillers— made all the more shocking and disturbing by the fact that it is 100% true. The details revolving this triple murder case are gut wrenchingly heinous so I would not recommend to the faint of heart. That being said, it IS worth reading for educational benefit as it highlights the imperfections in the American justice system both in the past and present. Ethical questions are raised in regards to false confessions, wrongful convictions, death penalties, shoddy and biased police investigations and sketchy court proceedings. Though much has changed and improved over the years, there is a long way to go before the justice system is truly just.

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