Read this piece, then jump on his new book In the Pines from New Pulp Press.
Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife: The True Crime Book That Wasn’t
by Chris Orlet
Sun Goes Down on MTV’s 120 Minutes and ran out the next morning and bought the cassette of their 1989 album Tantilla, and played it nonstop till the damn thing broke, which was like two months later.
Soon after that I forgot about House of Freaks. Other, new bands came along. Music tastes changed. Record labels signed, then dropped them. The Freaks put out a few more albums that were greeted with a deafening silence and they retired from the business.
When the Hammer Came Down. (In fact the cops at first suspected Hott because so many of their lyrics mirrored the actual Harvey family murders.)
I’d been looking to try my hand at a true crime story for a while, when I heard about the Harvey family murders. The pieces were all there: the perfect family, a crazy murder spree, a former rock and roll idol, who, like so many other indie artists, had grown disillusioned with the music industry. The story had legs. The more I read and researched the more interesting the story became.
That was the last time anyone saw any of the Harveys alive.
So that was the story. There was just one problem: the killers. Dandridge and Gray. They appeared to be soulless, doped-up automatons with no redeeming qualities. Indeed, they seemed scarcely human.
It would be easy to generate sympathy for the victims, but what if the killers were totally without consciences?
Yet try as I might, I couldn’t find a way to make Dandridge and Gray, if not sympathetic, at least worth reading about.
Yes, Gray and Dandridge had apparently suffered traumatic childhoods. They may have been sexually abused. They had no future or prospects to speak of. They lived on the margins of society, in and out of prison. Existing only to get high, have sex, and watch porn movies. But even in that way they weren’t all that different from countless other petty criminals.
I gave it up as a bad job. It was just too much of a stretch to make Dandridge and Gray into people the reader would want to read about, let alone care about. In the end, it would be the story about the perfect white family horribly massacred by White America’s worst nightmare: crazed black drug fiends. Not the kind of story America wants or needs right now.
This I learned: not all murderers deserve an audience. And some stories are better left untold.
In the Pines from New Pulp Press.