The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia

Emma Copley Eisenberg. Hachette, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-44923-6
In June 1980, 26-year-old Vicki Durian and 19-year-old Nancy Santomero were hitchhiking through rural West Virginia, heading to a festival called the Rainbow Gathering. They never made it. The story of their shooting murders, and the hunt for the killer, consumed the citizens of Pocahontas County for decades, as journalist Eisenberg reveals in this gripping account, her first book. She spent five years researching the crime and blends the case facts with a memoir of her time living in the area, playing bluegrass and drinking bourbon with men who were connected to the Rainbow Gathering. Part self-discovery and part crime and courtroom drama, the narrative follows two possible theories. Jacob Beard, a local farmer, was arrested 13 years after Durian and Santomero’s deaths and was convicted of their murders, though witness statements were shaky and there was no physical evidence. But as Eisenberg notes, white supremacist Joseph Paul Franklin, a convicted serial killer, made a jailhouse confession before Beard’s 1993 trial that he killed the young women, but the prosecutors dismissed it. The author herself thinks it was bogus. Not until 2000 did Beard get a second trial, at which he was acquitted, yet the community may never know the truth. This is essential reading for true crime fans. Agent: Jin Auh, Wylie Agency. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 10/29/2019
Release date: 01/21/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-0319-3
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-316-44921-2
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