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An Hour To Kill: A True Story of Love, Murder, and Justice in a Small Southern Town

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A vicious murder. Churchgoer. Family friend. All-American boy. Murderer. Ken Register, much to the shock of the small town of Conway, South Carolina, was all of these things. Clean-cut, polite to a fault, and respectful of elders, Ken was the kind of guy parents wanted their daughters to date. But only months after a seventeen-year-old girl's brutal murder, the residents of A vicious murder. Churchgoer. Family friend. All-American boy. Murderer. Ken Register, much to the shock of the small town of Conway, South Carolina, was all of these things. Clean-cut, polite to a fault, and respectful of elders, Ken was the kind of guy parents wanted their daughters to date. But only months after a seventeen-year-old girl's brutal murder, the residents of Conway were in for another suprise: that the killer was one of their own. A stunned community. Crystal Todd and Ken were "best friends," and had even briefly dated. When Crystal's hideously gutted body was found near the woods of Conway, Ken checked in every day to console Crystal's mother and inquire about the murder investigation. A shocking killer. Ken was practically the last person anyone would suspect. Until he started acting nervous and suspicious, afraid he would be "framed" for Crystal's murder. And until DNA tests confirmed that he was indeed the man who repeatedly raped and stabbed Crystal Todd, then left her mutilated body in a ditch. Discover, through fascinating first-person accounts, the tortured Southern son who committed murder; the courageous detective determined to break the case; the broken mother who lost her only child; and the disbelieving parents who, to this day, defend their son's innocence.


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A vicious murder. Churchgoer. Family friend. All-American boy. Murderer. Ken Register, much to the shock of the small town of Conway, South Carolina, was all of these things. Clean-cut, polite to a fault, and respectful of elders, Ken was the kind of guy parents wanted their daughters to date. But only months after a seventeen-year-old girl's brutal murder, the residents of A vicious murder. Churchgoer. Family friend. All-American boy. Murderer. Ken Register, much to the shock of the small town of Conway, South Carolina, was all of these things. Clean-cut, polite to a fault, and respectful of elders, Ken was the kind of guy parents wanted their daughters to date. But only months after a seventeen-year-old girl's brutal murder, the residents of Conway were in for another suprise: that the killer was one of their own. A stunned community. Crystal Todd and Ken were "best friends," and had even briefly dated. When Crystal's hideously gutted body was found near the woods of Conway, Ken checked in every day to console Crystal's mother and inquire about the murder investigation. A shocking killer. Ken was practically the last person anyone would suspect. Until he started acting nervous and suspicious, afraid he would be "framed" for Crystal's murder. And until DNA tests confirmed that he was indeed the man who repeatedly raped and stabbed Crystal Todd, then left her mutilated body in a ditch. Discover, through fascinating first-person accounts, the tortured Southern son who committed murder; the courageous detective determined to break the case; the broken mother who lost her only child; and the disbelieving parents who, to this day, defend their son's innocence.

30 review for An Hour To Kill: A True Story of Love, Murder, and Justice in a Small Southern Town

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

    I grew up in the town where and when this actually happened. I remembered a lot of it, but there was stuff I'd forgotten. I was hoping that by reading this book as an adult, I'd get more insight into the case, particularly the trial. I'm not sure I did...but there just may be nothing else to get. I lived through it, so I did know most of what was in the book--our town was consumed by it for years. This was one of the first cases in SC to use DNA evidence almost exclusively. Did Ken Register do i I grew up in the town where and when this actually happened. I remembered a lot of it, but there was stuff I'd forgotten. I was hoping that by reading this book as an adult, I'd get more insight into the case, particularly the trial. I'm not sure I did...but there just may be nothing else to get. I lived through it, so I did know most of what was in the book--our town was consumed by it for years. This was one of the first cases in SC to use DNA evidence almost exclusively. Did Ken Register do it? He's certainly got something wrong with him. And he probably did do it. Still hard to believe, though--even all these years later. I read reviews where people said this book made the people and the town seem "too hillbilly." These reviewers clearly never lived there. I thought the book offered accurate and realistic dialogue and descriptions of the characters and events.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    I wanted to read this book because I live somewhat close to Conway, S.C. I found myself feeling like the convicted man's mother knew what he did. She almost came off as being mentally ill, which I guess isn't a stretch considering the crime her son was convicted of. I am so partial to Ann Rule, though, that I couldn't give this book more than three stars. I wanted to read this book because I live somewhat close to Conway, S.C. I found myself feeling like the convicted man's mother knew what he did. She almost came off as being mentally ill, which I guess isn't a stretch considering the crime her son was convicted of. I am so partial to Ann Rule, though, that I couldn't give this book more than three stars.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    I sat in the court room with the killer in 1999 while in college, this book really hits another level of interesting for me. The victim in this story lived and grew up in the town where my college is located in SC. Great, SAD story.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne Flohr

    Good book , but at the end was too much about the court case.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Fishface

    This is a good one; I'm sorry I waited years and years after buying it to finally read it. Really messed-up case that might have proved impossible to solve if the police hadn't been very thorough and very open-minded. A true case that is just a little stranger than fiction. The authors have a good ear for the local dialect -- so good in fact that I had to keep re-reading to figure out what people were saying. This is a good one; I'm sorry I waited years and years after buying it to finally read it. Really messed-up case that might have proved impossible to solve if the police hadn't been very thorough and very open-minded. A true case that is just a little stranger than fiction. The authors have a good ear for the local dialect -- so good in fact that I had to keep re-reading to figure out what people were saying.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jann

    This is a true crime story of a teenage girl that was murdered in 1991 in Conway. Her best friend was charged and convicted (you know this from the cover). The book covers the investigation and the trial. Mickey Spillane and his wife (they lived in Murrells Inlet) got involved and tried to proclaim his innocence. I found the book very interesting and well written.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Shayne

    I remember when this happened. I live in South Carolina and this was big news. This book gave me details I did not know. It was well written and very informative.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ronnie Cramer

    A solid true crime book by the late Dale Hudson, his first, though I could have done without the imagined dialog and mind-reading ('I have to figure out what I'm going to say, he thought'). The last quarter of the book was dedicated to the trial, and for once it wasn't just a re-telling of the story as with so many true crime books; this time some new information was revealed in the courtroom chapters. A side note: the paperback copy I got from Thriftbooks was signed, 'To Katie: Thanks so much f A solid true crime book by the late Dale Hudson, his first, though I could have done without the imagined dialog and mind-reading ('I have to figure out what I'm going to say, he thought'). The last quarter of the book was dedicated to the trial, and for once it wasn't just a re-telling of the story as with so many true crime books; this time some new information was revealed in the courtroom chapters. A side note: the paperback copy I got from Thriftbooks was signed, 'To Katie: Thanks so much for your interest in our book!! - Dale Hudson.'

  9. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    One of my first True Crime books. Great plot/story.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    In-depth look at a brutal crime. I first heard about the story on Stolen Voices, Buried Secrets. It stuck with me. I find myslf particularly drawn to cases from the '80s/'90. That's when I was growing up. I found myself wondering how the killer went from being incredibly squeamish around blood to doing what he did. I still have a problem with that and the timeline. The title seems hokey. But I realized it was a pun. The killer and victim had an "hour to kill" before curfew. There's a lot of talk a In-depth look at a brutal crime. I first heard about the story on Stolen Voices, Buried Secrets. It stuck with me. I find myslf particularly drawn to cases from the '80s/'90. That's when I was growing up. I found myself wondering how the killer went from being incredibly squeamish around blood to doing what he did. I still have a problem with that and the timeline. The title seems hokey. But I realized it was a pun. The killer and victim had an "hour to kill" before curfew. There's a lot of talk about that hour and how it was determined that he had time to do what he did despite two alibis. This book really got me thinking about balancing forensic evidence and witness accounts. I felt so bad for Crystal's mother. I hope they've found each other in the aftelife.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Robyn Nestvogel

    Good book about a crime in SC. I remember when this was going on.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lorie

    Excellant book... hard to put down.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Davis

    This was a well written true crime story. I believe The DNA. What he did to Crystal was beyond horrible.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    An Hour To Kill by Dale Hudson and Billy Hills An Hour To Kill by Dale Hudson and Billy Hills tells a true story of love, murder, and justice in small southern town. This book is mainly focused on solving the murder of Chrystal Fay Todd. The killer turns out to be a close friend, who the Todd family never would have guessed. In the long journey of the hunt to find Chrystal Fay Todd’s murder, it turns out to be a success. Bonnie Fay, which was Chrystal’s mother, was determined to seek revenge of h An Hour To Kill by Dale Hudson and Billy Hills An Hour To Kill by Dale Hudson and Billy Hills tells a true story of love, murder, and justice in small southern town. This book is mainly focused on solving the murder of Chrystal Fay Todd. The killer turns out to be a close friend, who the Todd family never would have guessed. In the long journey of the hunt to find Chrystal Fay Todd’s murder, it turns out to be a success. Bonnie Fay, which was Chrystal’s mother, was determined to seek revenge of her daughter’s killer. The man that had raped and brutally stabbed Chrystal to death, turned out to be a very close family friend. A good Christian boy who no one would have ever guessed until the DNA comes up as a positive match to the DNA that was found in Chrystal’s body. When he was convicted, the battle was on. He had a battled to keep his head above the water; he had a battle to keep himself out of prison for life. It has always been wondered if he will get away with it, or if he will testified and kept in jail for the rest of his years. I enjoyed reading this book because I live in the town this crime took place at which was in Conway. Also my family was close to the Todd and Register families. At some points which made me go nuts was when the writer makes you think twice on if the man they are trying to convict is guilty or not. I loved when they found the killer and convinced him to testify that he killed Chrystal Fay Todd. I really thought the book was not just telling a story, but informing people of a time when the reputation of Conway changed. If you like investigational and crime solving stories, I rate this book a 6 out of 5 stars because this it keeps you thinking and almost seems that it needs your help to solve the case. I hope who ever reads this book enjoys it very much!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    I read this book a few years ago . This was the first time I read anything by the author . It was not just a true crime book but a shockingly sad ( as most true crime books are ) type of book . I will be looking for more books from the author .

  16. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Banaszak

    I wasn't crazy about this book-it was slow to keep my attention-regardless of the terrible crime, I just couldn't get into it. Not really sure why. I wasn't crazy about this book-it was slow to keep my attention-regardless of the terrible crime, I just couldn't get into it. Not really sure why.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amy Forsee

    This is a sad true story but I'm glad justice has been served. The book was a good read and easy to follow. This is a sad true story but I'm glad justice has been served. The book was a good read and easy to follow.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amberpie

  19. 4 out of 5

    Britzi Waddell

  20. 5 out of 5

    Keith Morlang

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anag430

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tanya

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sherry

  24. 4 out of 5

    Vicki Anderson

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jim Thomas

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

  28. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  29. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  30. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

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