(First, please let me make a lame excuse for not posting more lately – wedding planning sucks all the life out of the world-don’t expect much out of me this fall. Now, back to our regularly scheduled review.)
Shadow Chasers, by Carolyn Deloach is a startling tale and one most casual true crime buffs are not familiar with.
But this is a hauntingly chilling tale of a man accused of annihilating his entire family with a short axe handle – nine in all, including his father, step-mother, six siblings (two boys and four girls) and an elderly aunt of his step-mother in one frightening evening in Bibb County, Georgia on August 6, 1887.
(This is a very rough online timeline of the events. This is a small overview of the murders.)
Though only tried and convicted for the murder of his father, he was quickly indicted for all nine murders shortly following the discovery of the bodies – by Thomas himself and inquest. Woolford is found guilty of the murder of his father in just 45 minutes by the jury empaneled in the case.
He is hanged on October 29, 1890 in front of a crowd of 10,000. He maintained his innocence until the end.
Many details of the murders ARE troubling – a common one in family annihilations is how one person managed to subdue an entire family, and in this case, is particularly troubling given the number of people killed and the age of Thomas’s brother, Richard Jr., who was 20 years old at the time of his death.
This is a mediocre book about a very, VERY intriguing case. Part of what turns me off is the heavy use of license in creating a constant dialogue that runs throughout the book. It’s stilted enough that it’s always in the back of my mind that these conversations are largely the work of the author (albeit based on true events.)
Even so, the book is compelling and well worth a read. Deloach has obviously done more than her share of work researching this book – and that shows in the details that one would think would be long-gone in a case that’s 120+ years old, and for that she should be praised.
Oddly enough, even though it has been thought to have burned down, remains of the Woolfork home still exist-very, very decrepit as they are, in case you are looking for some place to go on Tuesday for Halloween.