Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Killing in Amish Country by Gregg Olsen & Rebecca Morris

What do you look for when you read true crime? I seldom read it because I read some that went into too much graphic detail as to the crime itself.  If I read true crime, I guess I want it to be like Law & Order, the investigation followed by the trial. Authors Gregg Olsen and Rebecca Morris do not go into graphic detail in A Killing in Amish Country. In fact, the book is almost a treatise on the Amish lifestyle, or at least on the sect called the Andy Weaver Amish. One man couldn't stand the rules, but couldn't stand life outside the sect. The result was murder.

Before Barbara Weaver's murder in 2009 in Apple Creek, Ohio, "There had been only two reported murders among the Amish in America in more than 250 years." When the young mother of five was shot in her bed, the first question asked by those who knew her was, "Where was Eli?", her husband. Although those in their community didn't know the extent of his sins, he had been shunned twice, and forgiven twice. He had moved out, ran around with other women who he met on the Internet. The men who went fishing with him didn't know he'd had a long-running relationship with Barb Raber, the taxi driver he hired regularly. Eli Weaver, who called himself the "Amish Stud", just found his wife in the way.

It was the text messages and computer searches that caught the attention of the investigating officers. It wasn't too long before two people were arrested for aggravated murder. But, the authors and others question whether the person who received the longest sentence was actually guilty. And, through the victim's letters to family and her counselor, Barbara Weaver's voice is heard as it wasn't heard in the courtroom.

A Killing in Amish Country has an introduction by crime fiction writer Linda Castillo, who writes about the Amish. It has an Afterword by  Karen M. Johnson-Weiner, Professor of Anthropology who also writes about them. Olsen and Morris point out that the Amish practices may have kept Barbara Weaver in a marriage when she should have left. It is a fascinating study of the Amish way of life and beliefs. This murder and the subsequent trial shook up a few people in the community, and there may have even been a few changes as a result. But, was the right person found guilty? The authors don't seem convinced.

A Killing in Amish Country: Sex, Betrayal, and a Cold-Blooded Murder by Gregg Olsen and Rebecca Morris. St. Martin's Press. 2016. ISBN 9781250067234 (hardcover), 288p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Deb said...

The only true crime books I like are about crimes that are waaay back in the past, such as Kate Summerscale's THE SUSPICIONS OF MR. WICHER, which is about a notorious murder in mid-19th century England, or something like James Wharton's THE ARSENIC CENTURY, which not only covers some famous Victorian poisonings but also explains how the forensics for detecting arsenic were developed. Any recent true crime books (especially ones that might feature crime scene photographs) give me the willies. The more remote from today the crime took place, the easier it is for me to read about it.

Lesa said...

Actually, this isn't bad, Deb, because the Amish aren't photographed, and the authors honored that. But, I understand. Sometimes it is easier to deal with history. Totally get it.

Gregg said...

Hi Lesa! Thank you for the review!!!