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Among 10 best true-crime books of 2011!
(True Crime Book Awards)

Delivered from Evil

True Stories of Ordinary People Who Faced Monstrous Mass Killers and Survived

Now available in Kindle and Nook!

A 12-year-old boy cowers in his closet while a lunatic killer slaughters his family ... a nursing student unwittingly opens her home to the serial killer on her front porch ... an 11-year-old girl drifts alone at sea on a flimsy cork raft for almost four days after a mass murderer kills her vacationing family aboard a chartered yacht ... a brave firefighter suddenly finds himself in the crosshairs of a racist sniper almost nine stories above the ground ...

And, astonishingly, they all survived.

From Howard Unruh’s 1949 shooting rampage through a quiet New Jersey neighborhood to Louisiana serial killer Derrick Todd Lee’s reign of terror in 2002, the corpses piled up and few lived to tell the horror. Now, award-winning journalist Ron Franscell explores the wounded hearts and minds of the ordinary people these monsters couldn’t kill. His mesmerizing accounts crackle with gritty details that put the reader in the midst of the carnage—and offer a front-row seat on the complex, painful process of surviving the rest of their haunted lives.

In intimate, gripping prose, Franscell takes the reader on a pulse-pounding dash through the murky intersection of pure evil and the potency of the human spirit. This journey into the darkest corners of the American crime-scape is a penetrating work of literary journalism by a writer hailed as one of the most powerful new voices in true crime.

Watch the book trailer here



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Click here to listen to Ron's interview with Voice of America host Steve Norman 7/27/2011, after a mass murderer in Norway killed 76 people



"An idealistic college student shot by the infamous University of Texas Tower sniper in 1966 who decided to enter the ministry; a survivor of the 1984 McDonald's massacre near San Diego who developed a fetish for firearms and serial killers; and a survivor of a 1949 rampage who buried his memories in an old suitcase no one wanted to open ... What happens to them years after the television cameras and reporters have left?"

— CNN.com


"It will scare the crap out of you."
— Emily McCombs at XOJane.com


"In Ron Franscell's captivating account of the darkest chapters of our history, the author skillfully reminds all of us the meaning of grace and the triumph of the human spirit."
— Gregg Olsen, New York Times bestselling author


"In an age when we glamorize killers, Ron Franscell gives a voice to the forgotten victims, a voice you won't and can't forget."
— Erin Moriarty, Emmy-winning correspondent for CBS' 48 Hours


"Ron Franscell ... has emerged as one of the premier authors of narrative non-fiction of his generation. As any fan of true crime knows, it takes much more than recounting the details of events. Franscell gets it. ... With meticulous research and penetrating interviews with victims and witnesses, Franscell's graceful writing and pacing take the reader into the crime scene to experience the terror as though watching the events unfold with our own eyes."
— Patricia Anderson-Boerger, Oxford Guide to Crime and Mystery Writing


"Meticulously researched, the book is graphic and chilling. In the end, it is a testament to the constancy of the human spirit."
— San Antonio (TX) Express-News


"What happens to those called the 'lucky ones,' the survivors, the ones who must live over and over the horrendous crimes from which they lived while others died? Beloved true crime author Ron Franscell uses his superb writing talents to takes readers on a journey alongside the survivors. Readers are invited to relive 10 of America's worst crimes, through the eyes of a victim, and to see the traumatic effects of living long after the headlines have faded. … Get the book, sit back, and enjoy this new style of true crime that sets a new standard in the genre."
— Kim Cantrell, editor of True Crime Book Reviews


"While he’s examining some of the darkest moments in United States history, Ron Franscell manages to convey a sense of hope and even triumph among the survivors."
— Houston Press


"The names of mass murderers are household words, but we rarely are able to identify their victims. Ron Franscell tells the stories of survivors of mass killings in a book that rehashes familiar stories of past crimes, but with a new twist. ... No survivor of a mass killing lives happily ever after."
— Denver Post


"Gripping ... well-written."
— Portland (Maine) Sunday Telegram


"DELIVERED FROM EVIL Evil is not a book that you can read in one or two sittings. It is an intense, heartrending read that exposes your emotions, drives you a little crazy and leaves you wanting to shout 'Don't let the son-of-a-bitch win.'"
— EMS World magazine


"Do not read this book at night. Only read it in broad daylight."
— Talk-radio host Jack Riccardi, San Antonio's KTSA 550 AM


"As one of the premier crime writers of our generation, Ron Franscell stands at the top of the heap. ... [He] delivers a message about the human spirit and the will to live in the face of sudden and unexpected terror. A riveting account of some of our darkest moments as told by one of the best in the business."
— Author and former police officer John Lyman




Introduction: The Shadowlands Between

Emma Wolf was only eight months old when, on April 22, 1920, an angry neighbor murdered her father, mother, her five sisters, and the chore boy on the family farm in Turtle Lake, North Dakota.

The berserk killer left little Emma in her crib, where she lay for two days until the slaughter was discovered.

Within days, the Wolfs' neighbors set to the bleak task of burying the family. Before the eight caskets were lowered side by side into the prairie earth on a wind-swept hill, the good people of Turtle Lake posed behind them for a grim photograph. One of the womenfolk held little Emma-and standing among the mourners was the killer.

Weeks later, the killer-a nearby farmer infuriated by the Wolfs' wandering dogs-was identified, and he quickly confessed. A jury sent him to prison for the rest of his life, which wasn't long; he died behind bars in 1925.

For the rest of her life, Emma was known by the locals simply as "the girl who lived." As a young woman, she worked in a local mercantile where strangers would sometimes come just to gawk at her. She was a living reminder of the horror to people who were trying not to talk about it. Not because they wanted to forget, but because they didn't want anyone else to know.

Even now, more than ninety years later, the curious still drive past the old farmhouse or the old cemetery and whisper about it.

Emma had already died when I found her son Curtis, a hospital chaplain who lives today in Turtle Lake and still owns the family farm where the horror happened. He says Emma grew up never trusting anyone, never feeling love. After the murders, she was trusted to the care of an aunt and uncle with their own big family. Later, she was adopted by a family of strangers in far-off Bismarck, which forestalled her threats to run away by locking her in a closet. She was eventually returned to her aging and ailing aunt and uncle, who handed her off to a local store owner, who made her work in his mercantile. She eventually married and had three children-and for the first time in her life felt love.

Emma died at age eighty-four in 2003, and she almost never spoke of her family's mass murder nor her survival.

But the ethereal Emma's vapors encircle each of the ten survivors in this book. They are all connected, even if each is unique. They speak for Emma-and so many others- when they speak about forgiveness, persistence and mourning. We might hear Emma's voice when they talk about the strange calculus of grief and hope. We get a glimpse into Emma's heart as these survivors try to articulate the role of God, luck or fate in one deadly moment.

What they all understand about life, deep down in their wounded hearts, might just have been the key to prevailing over not just the ghosts of killers, but all of life's great sorrows.

We know plenty about mass murderers and serial killers, but we have not yet developed any science that can foil a murderous rampage that is hatched inside a maniac's head and leaves no trail until too late.

And that means we'll also always have victims and survivors, about whom we can predict even less. They are the rest of us.

Worse, most of us can't even name the victims who've gone before. Oh, we know the names and crimes of Charlie Starkweather, James Huberty, Dylan Klebold, Richard Speck, Charles Whitman, George Hennard, Charles Manson, and Malik Hasan. But who among us can identify Merle Collison, Lauren Townsend, Debra Ann Gray, Thomas Ashton, or Amy Krueger-just a few of the people they killed? Alive or dead, victims become mere cameo players in these real-life horror shows, which only compounds the tragedy.

I spent more than a year with these survivors, and a few truths rise from the tumult of memories, documents, and interviews. For one, time erodes feeling and creates indifference. Society is condemned to be shocked, to grow complacent, then to forget … then to be shocked all over again.

Is it not fascinating that one of America's deadliest public rampages-a madman's 1927 school bombing in Bath, Michigan, that killed forty-five people, mostly children-is all but forgotten in the twenty-first century? That every generation since then has been stained by a mass murder that invariably is labeled as the deadliest (Howard Unruh in 1949, Charles Whitman in 1966, James Huberty in 1984, Seung-Hui Cho in 2007), even though none equals the horrifying death toll of Bath? It's either because our memories fail us or every generation wants its own monsters.

Another truth is that forgiveness is more difficult than we can imagine. Most of these survivors understand that without forgiveness, they rot from the inside out-and the people they can't forgive don't care. These survivors don't excuse the behavior of monsters nor deny their own pain but rather have revoked permission for their monsters or their feelings to darken the rest of their lives. They don't make nice with their would-be killers, but instead they move beyond them. It is more about unburdening than absolution.

All of them feel some debt to the dead. They are aware that to squander this gifted life would be to betray what the victims lost. If the dead trust the living to preserve their memory, the living must trust the dead to help us know who we can be. They give us a past so we can have a future.

No magical formula exists for their inclusion in this book. Fortunately, true survivors of mass murder and serial killing are few. I sought people who were not mere witnesses to a monstrous crime, but who had been directly in the line of fire, so to speak. To harvest their perspective and wisdom, it was important that some time had passed, so the survivors' "second life" would at least be well begun, and the process of contemplating their interrupted lives had simmered.

So these ten stories explore the moments when the survivors and killers crossed paths, but they also examine how the survivor has coped with the trauma and its ripple effects over the years. Each story is as much about "surviving" life after such tragedies as it is about the tragedies themselves.

In short, these ten people all have embraced the gift of a second life that not everyone received on one tragic day. It is a treasure to them, misbegotten but secured by blood.

This book is about the capacity of the human spirit to triumph over monsters. Distilling it into words and putting it between the covers of a book seems somehow inadequate. I'm not sure these chapters can tell the complete story of what happened to these people, or what is happening still, or to explain what it feels to owe a debt to the dead.

Yet they are a beginning.

Ron Franscell
San Antonio, Texas




Order now at Amazon!
Delivered from Evil



[Sourtoe]   [Delivered from Evil]   [The Darkest Night]
   [Outlaw Pennsylvania]   [Outlaw DC]   [Outlaw Texas]   [Outlaw Rockies]
   [Angel Fire]   [The Deadline]   [The Obituary]