Tragic, Tragic Stories…

Ann Rule is on her way.

From Ms. Rule’s blog entry, dated January 8, 2005:

“…My next hardcover book will be on the cases of Jennifer Corbin and Dolly Hearn in Georgia, ones that many of you may have heard of. Tragic, tragic stories. There is a gag order out on this from the judge, but I won’t be publishing any book until AFTER the trials, so any information that comes in to me won’t be known to anyone but(…)me. As you know, I don’t want to write anything before its time and interfere with the trials. I’ll be heading for Georgia later in the year…”

If there is a way to ensure Jennifer’s and Dolly’s stories make it into the national consciousness in a more or less permanent way, this is surely it.

Opinions vary as to the quality of Ms. Rule’s writing; that’s kind of spurious, as what she is doing is not intended to be high literature, but reportage. I’m pretty picky and I’ve never had a problem with it. I feel there’s one thing I’ve gotten consistently from her chronicling of major crimes – she is a compassionate soul.

I’m reading Serial Killers: The Method and Madness, by Peter Vronsky right now, and here’s what he says about Ann Rule:

“…Ann Rule’s classic account of [Ted] Bundy, The Stranger Beside Me, pioneered a whole new resurgence of true-crime literature. It introduced the general public to the concept of serial murder, even though the term never appeared in the text of her 1980 book…”

It never occurred to me before, but I think Vronsky is right. Ann Rule knew Ted when he was just that charming psychology student working the phones as a volunteer on a crisis hotline. After realizing he and the killer “Ted” were one and the same, Ann reacted just like I think I would; she started paying very close attention to the news where Ted was concerned. She was already a writer, so it only made sense that the book would eventually follow. And really, it’s a pretty good book.

I also found an ajc article, published on January 2, that mentions Ms. Rule’s interest in the Corbin case. Here’s the link, but since the ajc requires registration, I’ll give you what is, to me, a notable quote:

“…(T)here is a good possibility of a true crime book. Best-selling Seattle author Ann Rule says she’s considering the case.

‘The reason I’m interested is the fact that two women died in an apparently similar manner in a way that women usually don’t kill themselves,’(emphasis added ~ S.H.) says Rule, who has written best sellers on Ted Bundy and other killers…”

The above quote is so notable because of this:

“…Of people who commit suicide, 73% are white men. Of that number of men, 80% commit the act with a firearm. My point is that while women have used guns in suicides, the percentages are low compared to men. Statistically, the chances that two women, in the space of 15 years, will commit handgun suicides while in relationships with the same man, are really, stupidly low…”

What I quoted directly above was posted by me at, on December 30, 2004.

I am not saying Ms. Rule read my crime blog and repeated it; good Lord – if you think that, you have no clue about what an encyclopedia about crime and the statistics relative to it Ann Rule must be at this point. The woman has been doing this thing for a while. She and I drew the same conclusion because you find it’s true, if you know even a little more than the average person about this stuff.

There was one other thing in the article linked above that bugged me. Bet it will bug you too:

“…The story of suspicious deaths and attractive, talented people caught in a web of obsession and jealousy has national media beating a path to Gwinnett County.

“This case has all the elements we’re looking for,” said Marcy Erhard, a spokeswoman for the CBS News show “48 Hours…”

I mean, Marcy Erhard did realize she was talking about human beings, didn’t she? Real people who, attractiveness aside, were far more to their families than mere “elements” of a “story?”

I guess it makes it easier to keep things at arm’s length, makes it easier to avoid thinking about the very real wounds sustained by the ones left behind. Such objectification is a defense.

If you have not been, I suggest you check out the memorial websites for Mrs. Corbin and Ms. Hearn.

Both sites have guestbooks you can sign. In addition, there is at CrimeNews2000 a discussion group for people following the Corbin/Hearn case, and has a messageboard for Leslie Beebe. Sign up and participate, or just read, if you follow such things. Sometimes it’s just people posting links to various news articles, but occasionally people start discussing things, and it gets really interesting.

Either way, pay a visit to the victims sites for sure, and let them know you’re thinking of them.

(I also have an entry up mainly discussing the death and disappearance of Roswell nurse Leslie Beebe at my crime blog.)

3 Comments so far

  1. Thomas (unregistered) on January 10th, 2005 @ 9:19 am

    Anyone else wonder if Ann Rule has trouble finding people to hang out with? I’m thinking she suffers from Jessica Fletcher syndrome, that condition that makes innocent acquaintances all-too-likely to be this week’s victim on “Murder, She Wrote.”

    Kidding aside … our local dentist of death is going to keep suburban Atlanta in the national spotlight for quite awhile, so let’s not be surprised when the 20/20, 48 Hours and Dateline crews start sniffing around Gwinnett.

  2. Steve (unregistered) on January 10th, 2005 @ 2:05 pm

    “…sniffing around Gwinnett…”

    Dude, it’s really already happening. Like I said, they say it has “all the elements” they like.

    If you read Ann Rule, you see that this is all right up her alley. She’s covered a ton of similar cases. I don’t know…I get disgusted with comments like the one by the “48 Hours” producer, yet as a blogger, I’m probably doing the same thing. However, I also do think that if Barton Corbin is guilty, his name should be plastered all over the place, because he’s a predator, a monster. Probably even a crappy dentist.

  3. Thomas (unregistered) on January 10th, 2005 @ 3:40 pm

    “I am your dentist.

    And I enjoy the career that I picked.

    I’m your dentist.

    And I get off on the pain I inflict!”

    – “Dentist!” from Little Shop of Horrors

    (Sorry. Just popped into my head.)

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