July 2022 MBR The Criminology Shelf

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Midwest Book Review

Aug 3, 2022, 2:00:55 PM8/3/22
The Criminology Shelf

The Girl I Never Knew: Who Killed Melissa Witt?
LaDonna Humphrey
Genius Book Publishing
9781947521810, $17.25, PB, 238pp


Synopsis: On December 1, 1994, Melissa Witt was kidnapped from the Bowling World parking lot in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Her lifeless body was found 45 days later in the Ozark National Forest. For over two decades the identity of Melissa Witt's murderer has been hidden among the dense trees and thorny undergrowth rooted deeply in the uneven ground of a remote mountaintop.

Determined to find answers, LaDonna Humphrey has spent the past seven years hunting for Melissa's killer. Her investigation, both thrilling and unpredictable, has led her on a journey like no other.

"The Girl I Never Knew: Who Killed Melissa Witt?" is a suspense thriller of an account of LaDonna Humphrey's passionate fight for justice in the decades-old murder case of a girl she never met in person. Her unstoppable quest for the truth has gained the attention of some incredibly dangerous people, some of whom would like to keep Melissa's murder a mystery forever.

Critique: The stuff of which true crime documentaries are made (and is currently being made!), "The Girl I Never Knew: Who Killed Melissa Witt?" is a riveting read from first to last and will have a very special appeal for criminology students and true crime readers. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Law Enforcement, Criminology, and True Life Crime collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Girl I Never Knew: Who Killed Melissa Witt?" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Editorial Note: LaDonna Humphrey is a writer, documentarian, investigative journalist, private investigator and an advocate for victims of crime. And for the past seven years, LaDonna has found herself passionately entangled in seeking justice for 19-year-old murder victim, Melissa Ann Witt. In her pursuit of justice for Melissa, LaDonna has co-produced the documentary "Uneven Ground: The Melissa Witt Story" to be released later this year.

Murder at Minnesota Point
Jeffrey M. Sauve
North Star Editions
9780578341392, $14.99, PB, 208pp


Synopsis: Billed as the crime of the century in 1894, with the publication of "Murder at Minnesota Point", author Jeffrey M. Sauve tells the twisted, sensational true story of a young, unidentified woman found slain on the isolated sandy shores of Minnesota Point, Duluth, Minn.

For two weeks, her corpse was displayed for public viewing in hopes of discovering her identity. After she was buried in an unnamed pauper's grave, her assailant breathed a temporary sigh of relief. Over the next two years, city detectives pursued numerous suspects from every corner of the country. The manhunt captivated a nation enthralled with the sensational details and deepening intrigue.

Only by chance, an overlooked satchel containing incriminating evidence was brought forth, breaking open the case. Speculation suggested that the wanted man was a bigamist and a serial killer, having slain his first wife in 1890 and two other people in 1893. His evil past included chumming with the infamous Minneapolis killer Harry Hayward. The two men may have acted together in dispatching the woman in Duluth.

"Murder at Minnesota Point" is the result of the Jeffrey Sauve's exhaustive 10-year study that traces the villain's descent into ruin. This is the engrossing story of a long-forgotten murder and one that the reader will not soon forget.

Critique: With a very special appeal to readers with an interest in True Crime stories, "Murder at Minnesota Point" is a compulsively compelling account from first page to last. With all the drama of a crime novel, this factual account is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) and highly recommended for both personal reading lists, community library True Crime collections, and college/university library Criminology collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Jeffrey M. Sauve has been featured in the Minneapolis StarTribune, Minnesota Historical Society's MNopedia, MinnPost, MPR Radio, and TPT television. An award-winning author and historian, Sauve has written eight books and numerous articles for local and regional publications. After serving 20 years as an archivist at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, he now pursues a successful writing career.

Warding Off Evildoers
Joan Arehart-Treichel
Armin Lear Press Inc.
9781956450255, $18.95


Warding Off Evildoers is an expose of those who commit evil and represents a vivid piece of forensic psychology that explores the creation, intent, and operations of the criminal mind. It comes from a senior staff writer for Psychiatric News and synthesizes decades of Joan Arehart-Treichel's interviews with psychiatrists on the subject, as well as her research into studies of criminal minds. This is not the first book to tackle the subject of evildoers in society and how their criminal minds operate. But it differs from most in its inclusion of forensic experts and its focus on studies that reveal "...who evildoers are, how they got that way, and most crucially, how we can protect ourselves and our loved ones from them." This approach makes the survey not just accessible to lay readers, but of prime importance in establishing boundaries, inspections, and savvy that will help protect citizens and their families from evildoers in society.

Discussions range from the definition and moves of evildoers to the influences of genes and environment on their development, covering how to identify an evildoer, different levels of evildoing, and (perhaps most important of all) how to safeguard self and family from predators in society. This sets Warding Off Evildoers apart from the majority of studies on the subject, bringing it to the attention of ordinary, everyday citizens seeking information that will help keep them safe. Each chapter concludes with references for further reading that both support the author's contentions and reinforce the scientific foundations of her statements.

Warding Off Evildoers initially sounds like an occult title; but its message is anything but supernatural. It considers the threats to health that walk among us, acknowledging that the potential for evildoing exists in us all and analyzing the steps that can be taken to either avoid and mitigate its impact, or guide loved ones in a different direction. Many of the findings may be eye-opening to readers who harbor prior opinions on the subject. They certainly were to the author: "In the process of compiling this book, I have learned a lot about evildoing - things I hadn't known before. For example, some people show signs of depravity already in early childhood; women as well as men can be stalkers, and that stalkers, regardless of gender, can be dangerous; and while some of the most ghastly acts are committed by individuals with a severe mental illness, most vile acts are perpetrated by individuals who are sane."

The result is a powerful lesson in personal safety, moral and ethical choices, and better understanding the incarnation and presence of evildoers at all levels of society. While Warding Off Evildoers is highly recommended for any general-interest library, its message will ideally be profiled in mental health, safety, and awareness groups and book clubs dedicated to psychological understanding and improving members' lives with better information.


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