cover image Blood Echoes

Blood Echoes

Thomas H. Cook. Dutton Books, $20 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-525-93399-1

Probably the most famous crime in Georgia history was the 1973 cold-blooded slaughter of six members of the religious, law-abiding Alday farm family by four drifters from Baltimore: brothers Billy and Carl Isaacs, their half-brother Wayne Coleman and friend George Dungee. Forensic evidence and confessions left no doubt of the killers' guilt; the youngest, Billy Isaacs, turned state's evidence and the other three were sentenced to death. Then the appeals process took over and, after 12 years, the death penalty convictions were overturned. In later trials Carl was resentenced to die and is now on death row awaiting further appeals. In the meantime the surviving Alday women (five of the victims were men) were unable to carry on the work of the farm, and the land passed to outsiders. The trials, hearings and appeals have cost an impoverished rural county and the state hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of dollars. Psychologically the survivors have never recovered. With this scorching indictment of the legal and court systems, Cook ( Early Graves ) portrays a case in which justice was both delayed and denied. He is most persuasive. (Mar.)