Sunday, April 13, 2014

Runaway Devil - Book Review

Runaway Devil: How Forbidden Love Drove a 12-Year-Old to Murder Her Family
Marc and Debra seemed to have it all — a lovely home in the Prairie town of Medicine Hat, fulfilling careers, a supportive marriage, and two beautiful children: eight-year-old Jacob and twelve-year-old JR. After years of struggle to reach this point, they finally felt their future held promise. But on April 23, 2006, their bodies were discovered in their basement, covered in savage stab wounds. Upstairs, Jacob lay dead on his bed, his toys spattered with blood.

Investigators worried for JR’s safety, but unknown to them, the pretty honour roll student had been developing a disturbing alter ego online. Runaway Devil professed a fondness for a darker world of death metal music, the goth subculture, and a love for Jeremy Steinke, a twenty-three-year-old high-school dropout who lived in a rundown trailer park. Soon, shocking evidence in JR’s school locker — printed here for the first time — led police to believe the girl was a suspect in her family’s murders.

The case horrified parents everywhere. Journalists Robert Remington and Sherri Zickefoose have been covering it from the beginning, and in Runaway Devil, they reveal what really happened: the unlikely young love, the teenage rebellion, a troubling world of adolescent drifters, and a small community torn apart by an unthinkable crime.

A modern cautionary tale, Runaway Devil is also a chilling portrait of an approval-seeking man smitten with a manipulative young girl — who would stop at nothing to get what she wanted.
What kid hasn't said "I wish my parents were dead' but you don't actually mean it.  Jeremy thought JR meant it. And the horrible murder of a Medicine Hat family occurred.
This book is haunting. Haunting in the fact that its so close to home.More haunting is  the fact that right now, JR (name can't be provided as she was underage at the time of the murder and the Canadian legal system protects those...but if you do a google search you will be able to find her)  has been out of jail since 2012 and basically living a free life- with obviously a few restrictions. I get it, that because she was only 12 when the murders happened she couldn't be tried as an adult, but she was still charged with 3 accounts of First Degree murder. And somehow knowing that she was part of Canada's youngest murdering spree. and she gets to go to university and have a more or less normal life, just doesn't sit well. I mean, I live in the same city as her and what if she happens to meet another guy who is as manipulative as Jeremy was, and bam.
The also disturbing part of the Canadian Justice system is if she is 5 years clear of criminal activity since 2012, her record is wiped clean. Yup. Clean. I hope for her, and everyone she encounters that she actually does feel remorse and have rehabilitated.
There is also the fact that Jeremy nor JR has confessed to killing her 8 year old brother. Jeremy has stated over and over that he takes responsibility of killing her mother and father, but none will take the truth to who actually killed Jacob.
Jeremy, I don't want to say I feel bad for him. Because I don't. But, he was the classic case of getting bullied on and who found someone who  loved and adored him- and would thus do anything for her. The HUGE age gap has to be mentioned. But surprisingly, he never got charged with pedophilia - (I guess murder trumps that). And I think her real age matched Jeremy's mental age. I also have the feeling that JR conspired and forced Jeremy into it more than she admitted. I mean, you see your parents covered in blood, you freak out, you call the police. You don't go to the nearest 7-11 and steal money from your now deceased mothers bank card.
I enjoyed that while both JR and Jeremy were part of the goth subculture, the authors didn't blame that for their heinous crimes. There are bad people in every subculture; and you can't stereotype them all into bad, violent people.There is also a ton of questions that are raised, mostly why? Most cases where a child murders their parents (or anyone for that matter), they come from brutal, abusive, families. While Jeremy in a way fits that mold, JR doesn't. She had a good life. Good parents. Was a good student for a while. The only answer that we can see is, she really didn't like her parents saying no to dating a guy who was MUCH older than her.  But we will never know why. The only two who could are JR and Jeremy, and well...
I am so glad my book club decided to read this. Was an eye-opener for sure.  If you like true crime novels, I recommend this book.

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