While Innocents Slept

Adrian Havill, Author St. Martin's Press $23.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-312-26270-9
This disturbing true-crime tale by veteran author Havill (The Mother, the Son, and the Socialite, etc.) recounts the horrific saga of Garrett Wilson, a man who was convicted of killing two of his infant children for insurance money and is now serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Havill, who interviewed Wilson in prison and had access to both prosecutors and defense lawyers, describes Wilson's penchant for deceit as a smooth-talking womanizer and embezzler who twice tried to mask his stealing of funds as robbery. In 1980, in his mid-20s, he married Debbie Oliver, a 16-year-old who was five months pregnant with his child. Their baby daughter's death at two months was attributed to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), a broadly defined cause of death that is not well understood by doctors. Wilson took his wife on a vacation with the $40,000 life insurance policies he had taken out on the baby's life. History repeated itself in 1988 when another baby, a five-month-old son that Wilson had with Missy Anastasi, whom he married after divorcing Debbie, also died of SIDS and Wilson collected on a $100,000 policy. Missy became convinced that he had murdered their child, and Havill traces her long legal battle for justice. At the time of his arrest, Wilson was again remarried and with a young daughter. Although his third wife, Vicky, testified to his innocence and still takes their daughter regularly to visit Wilson in prison, she, too, eventually divorced him. Child murder is a difficult subject to broach, but devotees of the true-crime genre may be drawn to this account. Photos not seen by PW. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/2001
Release date: 01/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-1-4299-7522-3
Mass Market Paperbound - 288 pages - 978-0-312-97517-3
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