cover image In Eddie's Name: One Family's Triumph Over Tragedy

In Eddie's Name: One Family's Triumph Over Tragedy

William Knoedelseder. Faber & Faber, $24 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-571-19924-2

In November, 1994, 16-year-old Eddie Polec, a member of a middle-class family from the Fox Chase neighborhood Philadelphia, was fatally beaten on the steps of the Roman Catholic church he attended by a teen gang from the nearby suburb of Abington. A husband-and-wife journalist team, Knoedelseder (Stiffed: A True Story of MCA, the Music Business and the Mafia) and Freedman covered the case for USA Broadcasting through the 1996 trial of six young men accused of the crime. Drawing on interviews with family and friends, the authors provide a thoughtful account of the devastating impact of Eddie's death on his two siblings, his mother, Kathy, and his father, John. Although Kathy initially fell apart, her husband coped by immersing himself in the issue of 911 reform, which garnered as much publicity as the murder, since more than 20 calls were made to 911 in the 40 minutes before Eddie was attacked, but no police were dispatched. Although it ultimately resulted in positive changes, at first the 911 issue incited racial tensions (because all six 911 operators who were dismissed were black), which the authors mention but do not fully explore. By limiting their investigation to a sympathetic focus on the Polecs' story, Freedman and Knoedelseder illuminate the issue of victim's rights but do not explore the causes of teen mob violence. Three of the defendants were convicted of third-degree murder, which fell short of John and Kathy Polec's hope that they would receive life imprisonment for murder in the first degree. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)