Homespun mysteries

Settle in for a real-life chiller with these shockingly true stories.

Settle in for a real-life chiller with these shockingly true stories.

“Amy: My Search for Her Killer: Secrets and Suspects in the Unsolved Murder of Amy Mihaljevic,” by James Renner (hardcover, Gray & Company Publishers, 2006, 252 pages, $24.95). In the fall of 1989, 10-year-old Amy Mihaljevic disappeared from the cozy suburb of Bay Village. Her image became indelible not only in the minds of those who saw it every day on television, but also in that of a young boy almost 50 miles away. James Renner never forgot Amy and, after securing a job at a local alternative weekly magazine, found himself rethinking the case 15 years after the body was found.

“House of Secrets,” by Lowell Cauffiel (hardcover, Kensington Books, 1997, 330 pages, $25.95). This is a local story of tragedy and dark horrors. With terrifying detail, Cauffiel takes readers into a shocking world of abuse, incest and family murder — a world ruled by psychopath Lee Sexton, whose ability to manipulate his children produced one of the most sensational cases in true crime history.

“Perfect Beauty: a True Story of Adultery, Murder, and Manipulation in Middle America,” by Keith Elliot Greenberg and Vincent Felber (paperback, St. Martin’s, 2008, 261 pages, $6.99). Cynthia George, the stunning wife of one of Akron, Ohio’s, most successful restaurateurs and mother of seven, got in too deep with Jeff Zack, her younger, longtime lover. In a crime that shocked the heartland, Zack was killed — execution style. From the beginning, investigators suspected Cynthia was involved. Little did they know that her other lover, John Zaffino, knew about Cynthia’s affair with Zack — and was jealous enough to do something about it … for good.

“Tailspin: the Strange Case of Major Call,” by Bernard F. Conners (hardcover, British American Publishing, 2002, 507 pages, $26.95). James Arlon Call was a distinguished Air Force major whose life veered off course after his wife’s unexpected death in 1952: He went from career military man to career criminal. Call committed serial burglary in the suburbs of Cleveland and upstate New York. Tracing Call’s fugitive days, the author suggests that Call was, in fact, the notorious “bushy-haired intruder” wanted in connection with the death of Marilyn Sheppard, better known as the wife of Dr. Sam Sheppard.

“A Woman Scorned: the Murder of George Saxton: a True Crime Melodrama,” by John Stark Bellamy II (hardcover, self-published, 2011, 403 pages, $30). The 1898 murder of George D. Saxton had everything: Saxton, a social register victim with a sordid love life; Anna George, the femme fatale suspect from the gutter where he’d kicked her — and loads of sex, sensation and a slam-bang surprise ending. Not to mention the president of the United States — William A. McKinley — the corpse’s embarrassed brother-in-law. The Saxton slaying riveted a national audience — from the opening shots on a Canton street to the stunning end of a three-week legal combat with Anna’s life at stake.

Books provided by the Stark County District Library,

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass