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Erased: Missing Women, Murdered Wives

ISBN: 978-0-7879-9639-0
360 pages
March 2008, Jossey-Bass
Erased: Missing Women, Murdered Wives (0787996394) cover image
Based on five years of investigative reporting and research into forensic psychology and criminology, Erased presents an original profile of a widespread and previously unrecognized type of murder: not a “hot-blooded,” spur-of-the-moment crime of passion, as domestic homicide is commonly viewed, but a cold-blooded, carefully planned and methodically executed form of “erasure.” These crimes are often committed by men with no criminal record or history of violence whatsoever, men leading functional and often successful lives until the moment they kill the women, and sometimes children, they claimed to love. A surprising number go on to kill a second or even third wife or girlfriend, often in exactly the same way.

In more than fifty chilling case studies, Marilee Strong examines the strange and complex psychology that drives these killers—from the murder a century ago that inspired the novel An American Tragedy to Scott Peterson, Mark Hacking, Jeffrey MacDonald, Ira Einhorn, Charles Stuart, Robert Durst, Michael White, Barton Corbin, and many others. Erased also looks at how these men manipulate the legal system and exploit loopholes in missing persons procedures and death investigation, exposing how easy it can be to get away with murder.

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Acknowledgments.

Introduction: A Crime Without a Name.

PART ONE: ERASER KILLING: THE HISTORY AND PSYCHOLOGY OF A NEW CRIMINAL PROFILE.

1. Out of the Shadows.

2. The Dark Triad.

3. The Real American Tragedy.

PART TWO: GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER.

4. The Lady-Killer.

5. Disappearing Acts.

6. Hiding in Plain Sight.

7. Pregnant and Vulnerable: When a Child is Seen as a Threat.

PART THREE: A PSYCHOLOGICAL AUTOPSY OF A CLASSIC ERASER KILLING.

8. A Watery Grave.

9. Keeping Secrets.

10. Too Good to Be True.

11. Seeds of a Plan.

12. A Collision Course.

13. Sex, Lies, and Audiotape.

Conclusion: Fixing a Broken System.

Bibliographical Sources.

About the Author.

Index.

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Marilee Strong is an award-winning journalist who specializes in the coverage of psychological and social issues. She is the author of A Bright Red Scream, on the aftereffects of childhood abuse and trauma. She has also written widely for newspapers and magazines on such topics as child abduction, women in prison, gang violence, hate groups, and psychological treatment for sex offenders.

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The notorious Scott Peterson (also limned in E Lee Bailey's When the Husband Is the Suspect, reviewed in this issue), tabloid-trumpeted convicted murderer of wife Laci, provides the launching point for Strong's study of what she designates "eraser killing, a form of intimate partner (or domestic) homicide ... committed almost exclusively by men." In eraser killing, the dirty deed is undertaken in such a manner as "to leave behind as little evidence as possible." After laying out the parameters of this sort of homicide, Strong delves into specific cases, from the 1906 case of Chester Gillette, who did in his pregnant mistress, to recent examples. In an urgent style similar to Ann Rule's later writings and Dominick Dunne's Power, Privilege, and Justice TV series, Strong recounts sad story after sad story of heinous male motivations and their effects. Strong on detail, atmospherics, and, without overdoing it, moralistic tut-tutting, she also delivers the gore in a tantalizing manner that true-crime devotees may consider the book's real pay dirt.--Mike Tribby, Booklist. March 1st, 2008
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