Hoosier Killers: Indiana’s Darkest History by Ed Wenck (2014)
Hoosier Killers: Indiana’s Darkest History
by Ed Wenck
Blue River Press, 2014
The level of depravity to which some humans are able to sink is a source of fascination for those who are otherwise “normal” people. From true crime television programs such as Snapped to fictional drama series like Criminal Minds, the general public loves to explore evil minds. There is no shortage of books on morbid subjects, either.
Hoosier Killers: Indiana’s Darkest History by Ed Wenck is one of the latest true crime books that examines a variety of murderers. There are sections devoted to serial killers, mass murderers, killings motivated by racial factors, gang killers, individual homicides, and notorious murderers that spent a portion of their lives in Indiana prior to succumbing to the urge to take another life. Wenck does not pull any punches, describing in detail some of the gruesome acts perpetrated by Leslie Irvin and William Clyde Gibson. There is the unsolved case of four young fast food employees killed during a robbery at a Burger Chef restaurant in 1978; the bodies were found weeks later in three different locations.
A number of female murderers are also profiled, including Sarah Jo Ponder and Gertrude Baniszewski. Perhaps the most interesting, however, is Belle Gunness, who did her dirty work in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and purportedly evaded capture by killing and burning a newly hired housekeeper while leaving her own dental bridgework. Wenck points out inconsistencies between Gunness and the charred corpse that was left behind that makes the reader wonder why the police did not investigate further. Years later, another woman who resembled Gunness turned up in San Francisco under the name Esther Carlson, and those who knew the woman in Indiana were convinced Gunness and Carlson were the same person.
As for the “traveling killers,” those who spent a part of their life in the Hoosier state before committing heinous acts elsewhere, Wenck examines such infamous names as John Dillinger, Charles Manson, and Jim Jones. Their stories are well-known, and the information in Hoosier Killers does not shed much new light on these men, but their inclusion here does not harm the overall purpose of the book.
True crime enthusiasts will find Hoosier Killers interesting, with thirty chapters devoted to unthinkable acts.