The things wrong with this book: 1. It sounds like a title that the Lifetime TV movie people rejected as too trite. Let's at least bring the pacing up to the level of an episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. If the narrative had been any slower, I would have had to don my gorilla suit and read the book while marching back and forth across the room to Sousa marches just to keep myself mildly entertained. When the man walked by again, Vanessa, sobbing, yelled, 'You don't know how this feels.' 'I do,' he said, more kindly.
First of all, I must say that I think that murder case of Jennifer Cave does deserve a book. Most of opinions and testimonies used in the book to build psychological profiles of characters came from persons emotionally involved in the case and therefore are quite unreliable. I cannot claim that described supernatural events did not really happened, but, when you're reading a true crime book, you above all expect to confront a reading filled with facts and rational thinking. While author's approach and writing may not be to our liking, we will power-through wanting to know the conclusion of the case because behind the book stand real events, real persons and real drama.
Jennifer Cave was a cheerleader many years before the murder happened and Colton Pitonyak was several years removed from his days as an altar boy. Pitonyak wanted to date Cave, while she kept him in the friend zone and used him for free drugs. There was some attempt to humanize Colton during his time in Austin but it seemed halfhearted (In Casey's defense, I think his parents declined to be interviewed for the book). While I have no doubt that Jennifer was a sweet person, it is clear she was a drug addict (a fact her mother seemed unable to admit) who would have been homeless if not for the charity and kindness of her friends. Casey claims the motive was that Colton wanted a romantic relationship with Jennifer and she didn't (I would think that the detectives assigned to the case would have asked that question when interviewing witnesses). Casey's hypothesis is that Colton forced Jennifer to his apartment with a knife, she told him she was trying to break out of the drug scene, did not want to date him and he shot and murdered her. The extent of Hall's participation in the dismemberment will never been known (her DNA was found on only four items in Colton's apartment related to the crime but she bragged about her actions to several 'friends' including making statements about the case on facebook of all places). I have two young children and the drug use/abuse by Jennifer, Colton and their various friends is absolutely frightening.
But you can't really overlook the fact that this story is hardly book worthy. The fact that the defendant agrees he killed Jennifer but doesn't remember how he did it again speaks to it's total lack of noteworthy behavior. I would not recommend this book for most true crime readers simply because I do not feel it has much to offer in that regard.
Kathryn Casey ensured that the reader comes away with the positive impact that Jennifer had on all she met rather than on the person who took her life.
In an awesome demonstration of Karma, Ms. Hall got the length of her sentence overturned (it was five years for one charge and one for the other to be served at the same time.) At her second sentencing trail, she received the maximum sentence for her crimes (ten years and one for the other.) I think I fell out of my chair laughing!
A novelist and an award-winning journalist, Kathryn Casey is the creator of the Sarah Armstrong mystery series and the author of eleven highly acclaimed true crime books.