When my grandfather died, I said to myself, I will never know anyone funnier than Grampy. And I was right. It’s been forty years since his death and I have yet to meet a soul with the speed and cleverness of his wit. It definitely wasn’t a kind and gentle humor, but it wasn’t nasty either. It was just so damn quick and sure, like the thrust of an epee’s blade, especially after his nightly scotch and sodas -- plural.
“And they were never seen alive again.” It was the sentence that stopped my fingers on the keyboard. You see, for decades, fifty years in fact, the fate of three young women was a mystery. All that was known about their “disappearance” was that the last recorded sighting of them was with Tony Costa, a man who would later be convicted for the murders of two women and guilty in the deaths of three more, as well as the disappearances and presumed murders of as many as another eight. So, when investigators went looking for these three women to [...]
"Tony had a way of making a story so convincing you could almost see it in front of you."Steve Grund During the week of February 15, 1969, while the Barnstable County Medical Examiner tried in vain to identify the remains of the young woman found in the Truro woods on February 8th, teams of police and cadaver dogs continued to search the Truro woods. In the winter quiet, an occasional State Police helicopter could be heard overhead. And the year round residents in a usually slumbering Provincetown were wide awake, and gossiping. When Tony was in town he often [...]
In The Babysitter: My Summers With a Serial Killer, it seems every day of the year represents some gruesome milestone, but perhaps none so dark as today. On February 8th in 1969, the dismembered, defiled body of a young woman was found in a shallow grave alongside Old Proprietors Road in the Truro woods on Cape Cod. The police had been searching the woods for two missing women from Providence, RI, but they stumbled on something far more sinister. It would take a full two months for police to identify her ruined remains. For songs that will transport you [...]
On February 2, 1969, Carl Benson took his usual shortcut through the woods off Hatch Rd in Truro to pick up the Sunday paper. Around one of the bends in the narrow, rutted, old fire road, he spotted an “abandoned” VW Bug tucked into a small clearing in the forest. When he pulled over to take a closer look, the hair on his arms stood up and he felt as if he were being watched. He jumped back in his station wagon and raced out of the woods. When he got home, he immediately called the Truro police. He [...]
On Friday, January 25th, 2019, after forty years of friendship and fifteen years of research and writing, Jennifer Jordan and I signed the contract with Atria/Simon and Schuster to co-author The Babysitter: My Summers with a Serial Killer. Despite the thrilling occasion, we were mindful then—as we are today—that on January 25, 1969, exactly 50 years earlier, another pair of longtime friends were on a winter weekend getaway to Provincetown, Massachusetts. On that bright Saturday morning, those friends, Patricia Walsh, and Mary Anne Wysocki agreed to give a ride to a handsome stranger. Shortly thereafter, they disappeared. On that [...]
Writing is a terrifying experience. Or rather, getting your writing published, is terrifying. Your words, after all, expose you in many ways, revealing your intellect, the degree of your research, and most of all, your ability to simply write. And when you bare yourself to the world, you are inviting critique, which all too often is criticism. When I was writing my first book, Savage Summit, about the first five women who climbed K2, the world’s second highest mountain on the Pakistan/China border, it was exhilarating but frightening. I remember when I told my sister the proposal had sold [...]
This past fall, The Boston Book Festival launched a citywide writing project, At Home Boston, to capture slices of everyday life — the ordinary to extraordinary — during these unprecedented times. It was a privilege to have my essay, "Oldest Friend", selected as part of the outdoor exhibit during the 2020 virtual Boston Book Festival. The outdoor exhibit, installed in Downtown Crossing, featured compelling stories about Bostonians living in, responding to, and surviving this pandemic. Learn more.
On a cool May morning, my phone rang. I was many miles from home, housesitting for a friend, tending to her cats, a single pink geranium she had nursed through the winter, and trying to write. And by trying to write, I mean staring out the window. I was ten years old when I “wrote” my first book in a college-ruled notebook, with a short, round purple pen. I wrote so many pages I developed a flat, oval-shaped callus on the inside of my middle finger that was smooth to the touch. And ever since, I’d been trying to [...]
I found what I think is the first diary I ever kept and judging by the boy’s name around which I drew red hearts every time I mentioned him, I’m guessing I was about 11 or 12 at the time. It has a green faux leather cover and one of those little square “locks.” I remember keeping the key for years, thinking it actually protected my secrets, first from my sister who would have read it out loud at the dinner table to mortify me, and second from my mother who would have corrected my grammar and spelling. You [...]