Books about mystery and murder are as compelling as they are addictive. But add the fact that what you’re reading about actually happened, and you’re in for some sleepless nights.
These true crime books will have you itching for more murder and mayhem. Read about these 21 real-life crimes below, and then click to read book excerpts from the horrific tellings.
Mother’s Day, by Dennis McDougal
Nine years after her sister’s unidentified body was discovered burned on the side of the I-80 in Sacramento, Terry Knorr came forward and detailed the shocking abuse and death of her sisters … carried out by their mother, Theresa Knorr.
A Death in California, by Joan Barthel
Hope Masters and her fiancé Bill were on vacation in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains when they met G. Daniel Walker, who proceeded to kill Bill and hold Hope captive—sexually assaulting her over the span of a weekend. But the most unfathomable part? She began to fall in love with her captor.
The Michigan Murders, by Edward Keyes
In the 1960s, the Ypsilanti Ripper began terrorizing the college town of Ypsilanti (pronounced Ip-sih-lan-tee), Michigan—torturing and killing women. But the killer’s identity was most shocking of all: An all-American college student at Eastern Michigan University—where many of his victims were also students.
Blood Echoes, by Thomas H. Cook
In 1973, Carl Isaacs, his half brother Wayne Coleman, and George Dungee escaped from prison and were joined by Carl’s 15-year-old brother, Billy Isaacs. They stumbled upon the mobile home of Jerry and Mary Alday, where they proceeded to kill the couple and multiple family members that came by.
The Professor and the Prostitute, by Linda Wolfe
William Douglas was a brilliant professor at Tufts University. But when he murdered his call-girl mistress in a homicidal rage, he needed to come up with a plan about what to do with the body–and fast.
Evil Angels, by John Bryson
While camping in Australia in 1980, Lindy Chamberlain’s 9-week-old daughter was snatched by wild dogs, known as dingoes. Chamberlain was tried and found guilty of her daughter’s murder, serving almost four years in prison before being released due to new evidence that backed up her story.
Brady and Hindley, by Fred Harrison
Between 1963 and 1965, Ian Brady and his lover Myra Hindley abducted, raped, tortured, and murdered five young victims, ranging from 10 to 17 years old, in Manchester, England. Known as the “Moors Murders,” Fred Harrison’s true crime book on the deadly duo is based in part on face-to-face interviews with Ian Brady himself.
Richie, by Thomas Thompson
From the age of 15, Richie Diener showed signs of aggression and began using drugs. When Richie, high on pills, began swinging a steak knife at his parents on February 27, 1972, his father George felt he had no choice but to kill his own son.
Needle Work, by Fred Rosen
Lovers Carol Giles and Tim Collier killed Carol’s husband, a homebound diabetic and heroin dealer, with a lethal shot of heroin from his own stash. Believing that Carol’s best friend, Nancy Billiter, would turn them in for the murder, paranoid Tim decided that she needed to be kept quiet … permanently.
Deadly Greed, by Joe Sharkey
According to Charles Stuart, on October 23, 1989, he and his pregnant wife Carol were driving back from a birthing class in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston when a black gunman forced his way into their car and shot them. But what really happened is far more chilling.
To Kill and Kill Again, by John Coston
We might never know just how many murders Wayne Nance committed. Referred to as the Missoula Mauler, the suspected serial killer has never been tried or convicted of any murder because he was shot and killed while breaking into the home of Doug and Kris Wells.
Forever and Five Days, by Lowell Cauffiel
Cathy Wood and Gwen Graham met as nurses at Alpine Manor, a senior living facility in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The pair quickly became lovers and started a deadly game: Killing their elderly patients by smothering them in their beds.
A Dark and Bloody Ground, by Darcy O’Brien
Beginning in the 1980s, Benny and Sherry lived out their version of a Bonnie-and-Clyde fantasy for 10 years—by going on a killing spree all across Eastern Kentucky.
Who Killed My Daughter?, by Lois Duncan
In 1989, Kaitlyn Duncan was shot in a seemingly random act of violence. After years of investigation, the police were unable to solve Kaitlyn’s murder. But Kaitlyn’s family started their own inquiry, eventually discovering that their daughter was hiding some very dangerous secrets.
Thirty-Eight Witnesses, by A.M. Rosenthal
In 1964, bar manager Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death on her way home from work in the early morning hours. As news broke of the brutal slaying, a starling narrative emerged: 38 neighbors allegedly heard Genovese’s cries for help that night, but only one called the police. Examine the details of the infamous Kitty Genovese case, which haunts popular culture to this day.
The Killing of Karen Silkwood, by Richard Rashke
On November 13, 1974, the body of chemical technician and labor union activist, Karen Silkwood, was found in her wrecked vehicle off the road in Crescent, Oklahoma. Though police assumed she had fallen asleep at the wheel, those close to Silkwood knew she had been fighting against a large nuclear facility for its unsafe practices … and her death seemed like no accident.
Nutcracker, by Shana Alexander
On July 23, 1978 in Salt Lake City, Franklin Bradshaw was murdered from two gunshot wounds. The scene was set to look like a murder, and it wasn’t until two years later police revealed the truth: Bradshaw had been shot by his 17-year-old grandson Marc Schreuder.
The Wrong Man, by James Neff
For 10 years, Dr. Sam Sheppard served a jail sentence for the brutal murder of his wife Marilyn—a murder he was eventually acquitted of in 1966. Was Sheppard really guilty of such a heinous act … or was he the wrong man?
Death Sentence, by Joe Sharkey
On November 9, 1971, List methodically murdered his wife Helen, his mother Alma, and their three children—Patricia, 16; Frederick, 13; and John Jr., 15. It would be 18 years before he was finally brought to justice.
Butcher, Baker, by Walter Gilmour and Leland E. Hale
Robert Hansen, a soft-spoken and charming local baker with a penchant for hunting, abducted, tortured, and murdered 17 women as part of his sick fantasy. Alaska’s most notorious serial killer was finally caught when one woman finally escaped.
Sharon Tate and the Manson Murders, by Greg King
Actress Sharon Tate, three of her friends (Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, and Abigail Folger), and a friend of Tate’s housekeeper, Steven Parent, were killed when members of the Manson family stormed Tate’s residence in 1969. Tate was eight and a half months pregnant at the time, just two weeks from her due date.
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