'Mommy is gone'
By R. Marc Kantrowitz
Massachusetts Lawyer’s Weekly
May 10, 2018
On the afternoon of Oct. 24, 1961, Barbara Barker was at home with her 4-year-old son, who was playing with neighbor Lillian Risch, also 4. Shortly before 4 p.m., Barbara walked Lillian back to her own house and dropped her off without stopping in to see or chat with Lillian’s mother, Joan. But young Lillian soon returned, saying, “Mommy is gone and the kitchen is covered in red paint.”
As Barker rushed over to the Risch house, she probably thought of the last time she had seen her neighbor, some 90 or so minutes earlier. Peering out of her window, she had spotted Risch, hunched over, moving quickly and carrying something red as she headed to her car. Nothing appeared out of the ordinary.
It was the last time Joan Risch was seen. Read more.
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“Murder and mystery, society, sex and suspense were combined in this case in such a manner as to intrigue and captivate the public fancy to a degree perhaps unparalleled in recent annals.” Ohio vs. Sheppard, 165 Ohio St. 293, 294 (1956).
While this should no longer occur in a criminal trial, it can in a book. And this is the book in which it does.
Here, some of the most notorious legal cases in American history are explored. What they have in common is that they titillated, if not repulsed, the entire nation when they first occurred. What they still have in common is that, for the most part, they are today nearly totally forgotten.
From the unfair framing for murder of America’s most famous comedian, to America’s first capital case involving an older woman and her much younger lover murdering her husband, to Mad Harry Thaw, the wealthy and mad son of a steel magnate, killing America’s foremost architect over a beautiful woman, all come to life in gripping detail and drama. And meet the real Norman Bates of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, whose mother fixation and real life gruesome crimes far outmatched those of any fictional character.
This book brings to life these notorious characters and many more from the rich pages of history.
Read: "A New Chapter"
“Who’s the No. 1 comedian working today?” Appeals Court Judge R. Marc Kantrowitz asks more than a dozen wide-eyed, mostly young law clerks seated around a long conference-room table. A few moments of tense silence follow. This, after all, is a bit less serious of a query than a judge might typically pose to a student clerk, so it takes a few seconds to warm to the task. Read more.