Serial Killers of the ’70s: Behind a Notorious Decade of Death

Jane Fritsch. Sterling, $17.95 trade paper (280p) ISBN 978-1-4549-3938-2

The 1970s were probably the most active decade for serial killers in America, as shown in journalist Fritsch’s engrossing debut. In her introduction, Fritsch observes how the interstate highway system allowed people “to travel anonymously for thousands of miles” at a time when it was still common for young people to hitchhike across the country, making them relatively easy prey for serial killers. Of most interest are the chapters devoted to now obscure cases, such as that of Texas’s Dean Corll, who with the help of two teens—Elmer Henley and David Brooks—molested and killed 23 boys and men. When Henley finally had enough, he shot Corll to death in 1973, and called the police. Both boys helped police find the bodies, and both went to prison for life. Another is that of Rodney Alcala, a winning bachelor on TV’s The Dating Game in 1978 whose date never showed up because she thought he was creepy. Alcala was later convicted of murdering eight girls and young women. Other chapters cover such notorious serial killers as Son of Sam and Ted Bundy. The author freshens these familiar stories by adding fascinating trivia, such as that First Lady Rosalynn Carter was on the prosecution’s witness list in the trial of John Wayne Gacy because she was photographed with him at a Polish Constitution Day event in Chicago, but was not called to testify. True crime buffs will look forward to Fritsch’s sequel covering the 1980s. (Aug.)