INVESTIGATION INTO DROWNINGS OF THREE CHILDREN
FOCUS OF NEW BOOK TO BE PUBLISHED NEXT MONTH
The drowning deaths of three young children in a central Illinois lake, the subsequent investigation and the trials of their mother and her boyfriend are chronicled in an about-to-be-published book, The Unforgiven: The Untold Story of One Woman’s Search for Love and Justice.
The non-fiction book, co-authored by Edith Brady-Lunny and Steve Vogel, is scheduled for release May 3.
“This was an exceptional case that captured national media attention,” says Brady-Lunny, a veteran newspaper reporter who covered the case from start-to-finish, beginning the night of the drownings. “We’ve pulled together a lot of previously-undisclosed information about the investigation into whether this was a horrible accident or a murderous plot.”
Amanda Hamm’s three children were in the back seat of her car, driven by her boyfriend, when it entered Clinton Lake in the fall of 2003. The adults escaped with their lives. The children, ranging in ages from 23 months to 6 years, did not.
“It was an unspeakable tragedy that traumatized the region and splintered families,” says Vogel, the book’s co-author. “The outcome remains controversial to this day, and things recently came full circle with Illinois child welfare workers’ concerns about children born to the mother since the drownings.”
Vogel previously authored Reasonable Doubt, the story of the Hendricks family murders in nearby Bloomington, Ill., that became a New York Times best-seller and part of the St. Martin’s Press True Crime Classics library. Brady-Lunny is a courts and legal affairs reporter at the Bloomington, Ill., Pantagraph and a reporting fellow at The Center on Media, Crime and Justice at John Jay College in New York.
The trials for Hamm and her boyfriend, Maurice LaGrone Jr., where the death penalty was considered, occurred in Bloomington and Decatur, Ill., on changes-of-venue from DeWitt County, Ill. The case is frequently compared to the one involving Susan Smith, convicted of drowning her two young sons in a South Carolina lake. She was sentenced to life in prison in 1995 with the possibility of parole no sooner than 2025.
The Unforgiven has earned praise from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Maurice Possley. “The line between murder and accidental death can be exceedingly thin,” he said. “This narrow world is the core of The Unforgiven, a richly-told true story.” He added the deaths of the three children “forever changed a central Illinois community and raised deeply troubling questions about the criminal justice system.”
The Unforgiven is being independently published in trade (quality) paperback and e-book editions under the BookBaby imprint. Its print ISBN is 9781543962000. Its e-book ISBN is 9781543962017.