Guide An Innocent Theft: A Novel

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Children weren't under the constant watch of their "helicopter" parents. I got the book at a film festival screening of the documentary film about Jan's abduction, "Forever 'B.

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Because I saw the film before I read the book, I was prepared for the incomprehensible now actions, or at times, inactions, of the parents. I remember wanting to scream at them on the screen-"Wake up and do something to protect your daughter! View 1 comment. Mar 05, Hana rated it it was ok Shelves: true-crime. The purpose and ultimate downfall of this book can be found simply in the first sentence of its description: "How does a mother cope when her twelve-year-old is suddenly abducted?

Throughout the story, Mary Ann inserts herself needlessly into the story, making herself look concerned and as if she is doing her best. But she made countless unbelievable mistakes that ultimately scarred her The purpose and ultimate downfall of this book can be found simply in the first sentence of its description: "How does a mother cope when her twelve-year-old is suddenly abducted?

Steve Winslow

But she made countless unbelievable mistakes that ultimately scarred her daughter for life in ways she will never be able to understand no matter how much she tries to twist the narrative into being about her own pain as a mother. A Netflix documentary recently came out about this case that interviews the family.

Many details of the book do not match those of the documentary, and several accounts from the documentary are omitted entirely from the book. Several incriminating details of their incompetence are left out, further painting the narrative of the mother as a hopeless victim and denying her own culpability.

Yes, it is horrible that this happened to her, but it cannot be denied that her daughter suffered immensely and unnecessarily when her mother could have intervened. Mary Ann admits that writing this book was therapeutic, an idea she got when researching how to cope with the trauma. I'm sure that it was instrumental in her learning to move on, but as a publication it seems self-indulgent and written by an extremely unreliable narrator who does her best to leave out the many, many details that show her true incompetence.

This book was suspended from publication after Robert Berchtold contested it in court, meaning it is nearly impossible to get your hands on a copy I personally read it on The Internet Archive. While I do believe the narrative and that he has no right to privacy and deserves everything he gets in life and now death , frankly, the book itself is simply not good. It provides deeper insight into the kidnappings than the documentary does, but at the end of the day I find this story incomplete and a mother's attempt to cope with her terrible decisions by omitting the details of her failures.

Also, it is very poorly edited, with glaring spelling and grammar mistakes throughout. Mary Ann states repeatedly her desire to inspire hope in the hearts of victims of tragedies, but I find it hard to find comfort in a young girl's trauma being completely untreated. It is truly a miracle that this girl grew up to be at all socially developed and lead any type of normal life.

And while I am amazed and happy for her, I do not find hope or comfort in this. Yes, it is important to recognize that life goes on. But the pain and trauma that she had to endure while her parents did absolutely nothing to help her is unforgivable. They admit to much more active participation in his abuse in the documentary that is completely omitted from the book, such as allowing him to spend the night in her room.

How can someone do this? How can parents allow this to happen to their daughter? A child's ability to survive these brutal circumstances is certainly remarkable, but her family's complete disregard for her safety hardly inspires hope. This book left me angry and unsatisfied. No justice is received.

All we can hope is for Jan to live her life in happiness. While she may be able to remove Berchtold from her life after his death, I do not understand how she could ever forgive her parents for their reckless and selfish actions. The best, or possibly only good, part of this book is the foreword and epilogue written by Judge Charles Gill, an advocate for the rights of children who spends his pages methodically going through each mistake the parents made at least, those that were discussed in the book; the documentary revealed many more that were conveniently left out of this version of the story.

His perspective is refreshing when juxtaposed with the author's denial and exploitative rhetoric. That said, I did finish it rather quickly. Hate-reading is a hell of a page turner. The details of the case are simply fascinating albeit disturbing. But this simply is not the format to receive them in. I would recommend Netflix's Abducted In Plain Sight, or looking for a more objective account of the story. Aug 08, Rachel Robins rated it really liked it.

This is a true story about a local woman in St. George Jan Broberg-Felt who was abducted and manipulated by a terrible man who was a close friend of the family from the time she was 12 to 16 while living in Idaho in the '70s.

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I have seen Jan in local musical productions and have always admired her remarkable talent, I had no idea she has suffered something so horrible. In the book, you hear details from her mother and Jan herself about how something so terrible happened. They were so native t This is a true story about a local woman in St.

They were so native that this evil man took advantage of them and played on every emotion. It's an important read for parents to further protect your children and never to be too trusting or too careful. It's also important to read about the strength of the human spirit. That she could endure something so crippling and rise above it to be a loving, successful woman full of faith and goodness is astounding.

The actual writing was a bit choppy, perhaps it could have flowed a bit better but it's unbelievably courageous of her mother to write. Throughout the book I was so shocked at her parents being so trusting and blinded. The '70s was a different time without the information we have about abuse of all kinds so I didn't want to judge them but the fact that the mother was frank about the mistakes and misjudgements they made was moving.

I was moved too by how the family pulled together and survived such an ordeal. I looked up the sicko not convicted by the way-read the book for details and found that he thankfully died a few years ago.

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I read on the goodreads forum that it was rumored to be a suicide. I'm sure he's getting the justice in the next life that he didn't have here. Good riddance This is a long review but a powerful read. Jul 29, MaKayle rated it really liked it. Eye opening story that needs to be shared! Most likely by someone they know. Take the needed precautions to protect your kids!

I met Jan and her dad at my work and was blown away by their story. Such an incredible family! Apr 20, Josi rated it liked it Shelves: josi-recommends-it , non-fiction. This is the true story about a young girl who is kidnapped by a family friend. The man psychologically manipulates her for years after the event as she feels a dependence on him. This is a true story, which makes it all the more powerful and so sad, and it's written by both the girl and the mother, showing both of their thoughts and feelings as events occurred.

The writing was hard for me, it reads choppy and contradictory sometimes, I wish they had hired a really good editor or even a ghostwrit This is the true story about a young girl who is kidnapped by a family friend. The writing was hard for me, it reads choppy and contradictory sometimes, I wish they had hired a really good editor or even a ghostwriter to blend the words and keep the story smooth, it would have made for easier reading.

But the story is great, and a good reminder of why adults--even the ones we trust--should never have access to our children. I was very grateful for the chance to see Jan as a grown woman, she's an actress I had seen in several LDS films, and it let us know that she's okay, she's not 'stuck' in this experience. Had they not told us this I'd have wondered. Jun 14, Camille Sylvester rated it it was amazing. An inspiring story of family strength and healing, and an eye-opening story about the naivete of American families and law enforcement about kidnapping in our not-too-distant past.

I think the most important parts of the book are the foreword and afterword in which the judge straightforwardly addresses the way the Brobergs, a loving, religious, perfect family, did absolutely everything wrong in handling their daughter's multiple kidnappings and brainwashing. Mary Ann is also self-aware enough to An inspiring story of family strength and healing, and an eye-opening story about the naivete of American families and law enforcement about kidnapping in our not-too-distant past.

Mary Ann is also self-aware enough to point out where she and her husband naively and trustingly made choices and took actions or lack of that failed to help their victim daughter. This memoir was a good reminder to better educate yourself to keep your children safe not only from strangers but from those close to us. View all 6 comments.

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Jun 24, Carolyn rated it liked it. Amazing story. I met the author and discussed her life with her. This book makes me thankful that the topic of child molestation is so much more talked about today than 30 years ago. As mothers today, we know much more of how to protect our children than the mothers of the past. I alway Amazing story. I always err on the side of my children's safety.


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I wish Jan's mother could have felt more empowered to do the same. You live; You learn. Jun 17, Tonya rated it liked it. At times I was dumbfounded at how unbelievable this story is, and how utterly stupid this family was to allow this to happen. After completing the book, I realized that it does take place in the 70's, in a place where people are often much more gullible and naive than in other places. I came to the conclusion that it's a good lesson for people to learn about trusting others and discounting the unthinkable. I'm allowing my teenage daughter to read it, after much thought and consideration, because At times I was dumbfounded at how unbelievable this story is, and how utterly stupid this family was to allow this to happen.

I'm allowing my teenage daughter to read it, after much thought and consideration, because of the lesson it provides; that of the importance for every child to be able to talk to their parents about ANYTHING! No matter how ridiculous it may seem. To Benjamin, all reproducible works of art can be stripped of their special, contingent social meanings, what he calls their ritual meanings, and given new meanings by the social experience of becoming copies, by virtue of their very reproducibility. Benjamin goes on to argue that distraction has replaced contemplation as our main form of looking at art, an argument that seems, like much of his thought, radically prescient.

There is a sense in which this happened to the novel a long time ago. That conservatism can be fought; distraction can be used to radical effect, to disturb and disorient the reader. All fiction is forgery. There is a sleight of hand at work when an author creates a believable world for the duration of a book, a world interesting enough that readers will stop thinking about how it is made.

Its nostalgia is really for other fictions and not for life itself. The bohemians are generically bohemian. The baddies are creepy, particularly the Gothically named Queel, and one of them even has an eyepatch. The heroin addicts behave as heroin addicts always do. The homosexual characters are doomed, as homosexual characters always are. His brilliant debut novel The Low Road earned him a reputation for daring, and the brooding Bereft attested to an interest in the disturbing.

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His reproduction of a lost era is the nostalgia of Instagram and hipster-vintage clothing: the nostalgia that has become one of the defining characteristics of the work of art in the age of digital reproduction. For all the questions it politely posits, in the end Cairo is a declaration of loyalty to the novel, and to a faith in art as soothing entertainment.

This is as close as we come to a manifesto. Womersley has left the moulds intact in the narrative factory — mainly out of respect, I think. He is a writer who loves convention, particularly cinematic convention. Though Gertrude argues that committing a forgery purifies the artist from notions of bourgeois authorship, nobody here is as radical as they seem. In the end, everyone in this novel is in it for two things: escape, and the money.

His characters might be pseudo-radicals, but he is on the side of the gallery. Writing about the Weeping Woman incident in retrospect, Patrick McCaughey, who was clearly deeply embarrassed by the theft at the time, called it a victimless crime. Finally, old DNA evidence surfaced proving he and his friend were not the rapists.

Much of what got Chicago handyman James Kluppelberg locked up for setting a fire that killed a mother and five of her kids was shoddy forensics conducted by Capt. Francis Burns of the Chicago Fire Department. Burns had taken no notes and made no reports, yet he testified with authority that the burn patterns he noticed at the fire scene bore the markings of arson.

It was filtered through someone the prosecution presented as having no motive to lie. We found he had every reason to lie. Like many jailhouse snitches, Gully lied under oath in exchange for leniency in his own case. Devon Ayers starts to cry as Judge Denis Boyle vacates his sentence and orders him freed in January, Robert Kalfus Bronx teen Devon Ayers was a classic victim of unfair and overly aggressive law-enforcement practices.

Ayers might not have done 17 years for two brutal murders had police turned over a crucial surveillance video that discredited one of the key witnesses. Prosecutorial misconduct includes withholding exculpatory evidence from the defense, destroying evidence, and allowing unreliable witnesses or fraudulent experts to testify. Police misconduct includes coercing false confessions, lying on the witness stand, or failing to turn over evidence to prosecutors. Thibodeaux, Dupree, Kluppelberg, Porter, Ayers and the five others profiled in my book are among the tiny fraction of innocent people who make it out of prison.

In only 21 people were freed for false imprisonment. Last year, were. Each exoneration brings more awareness to the problem, which gets more public eyes focused on the police and prosecutors whose overly aggressive tactics, bad evidence, or misconduct put innocent people away.

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