cover image Couple Found Slain: After a Family Murder

Couple Found Slain: After a Family Murder

Mikita Brottman. Holt, $27.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-250-75744-9

In this sobering account, psychoanalyst Brottman (An Unexplained Death: The True Story of a Body at the Belvedere) picks up where most true crime books end—after the investigation and sentencing. On Feb. 21, 1992, 22-year-old Brian Bechtold surrendered himself to police in Port St. Joe, Fla., and confessed to murdering his parents after suffering schizophrenic paranoid delusions. He was found “not criminally responsible” on the grounds of insanity and remanded to a maximum-security psychiatric hospital. Though Brottman briefly covers the family members and their psychological histories, she focuses on Bechtold’s life post-sentencing, during which he’s attempted suicide, filed lawsuits, and sought regular criminal incarceration to escape his perpetual confinement. Through in-depth research, patient interviews, and police and medical records, Brottman delivers a horrifying account of life for the “criminally insane,” who are often drugged into submission, abused by overworked staff, victimized by other patients, and held at the mercy of subjective and conflicting psychiatric assessments that can lead to confinements far longer than the traditional sentences for the original crimes. Brottman draws with authority on case studies and criminal statistics to dispel the common misconception that the insanity defense is preferable to prison and amounts to a get-out-of-jail-free card. True crime fans looking for a provocative approach to the genre will be rewarded. (July)