As Central Illinois’ most notorious crime nears its 35th anniversary and receives renewed attention in a nationally-broadcast television series, a best-selling book about the case has been updated with new information and additional photos.
Reasonable Doubt: a shocking story of lust and murder in the American heartland chronicles the 1983 ax murders of Bloomington-Normal resident Susan Hendricks and her three young children and the investigation and trials that followed.
The book’s author, Steve Vogel, says interest in the case has never waned.
“A couple generations of readers who either weren’t born yet or weren’t age-appropriate to read about the murders when they occurred will find this of interest,” he says. “But so will others who perhaps read the book long ago and will want to know what’s happened in the intervening years.”
The killings occurred on Bloomington’s east side in November of 1983.
Reasonable Doubt was first published in hardcover in 1989, became a New York Times best-seller as a paperback in 1990, was updated in 1991 and re-issued in 1994 as part of the St. Martin’s Press True Crime Classics series. Now it’s available wherever books are sold in the trade paperback and e-book formats.
“We’ve added a couple thousand words that detail the life of David Hendricks since he was freed from prison and also review some of the interesting, even quirky, things that are linked to the case,” says Vogel. The book also now contains more than two dozen photos.
Hendricks, the husband and father of the murder victims, was charged with the brutal deaths a month after they occurred and was convicted a year later. His conviction was first upheld, then, two years later, overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court. Hendricks was acquitted in a second trial and released from prison in 1991. He now lives in Florida. There have been no further arrests.
The cable TV show “20/20 on ID” (Investigation Discovery Network) is scheduled to debut an hour-long program about the Hendricks case at 7 p.m. (CDT), Saturday, April 7, with an encore showing at 10 p.m. A six-person ABC News crew spent a week in Bloomington-Normal last fall doing interviews, including with Vogel. The program will get repeated showings on the ID Network as well as on the TLC Network and the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).
The ID website has this description of the 60-minute segment titled “The Darkest Night”: “Bloomington, IL is traumatized when a mother and her three children are murdered. Who is responsible is a mystery that points close to home, but all is not as it appears.”
Steve Vogel is an award-winning print and broadcast journalist, columnist, and talk show host who covered every minute of the original murder trial described in the New York Times best-seller Reasonable Doubt.