How freed Michael Shirley, who spent 16 years in jail for a murder he didn’t commit…
True Detective December 2003
Child killers and so-called men of God dominate this month’s issue. Best-selling author Ann Rule wrote, "After many years and writing hundreds of true detective stories I can recall no other murder that has the sheer gut-wrenching impact as the Tanya Adams case."
Tanya had some very peculiar ideas on life. So had Dan Lafferty. Both Tanya and Dan were devout Mormons – dangerously devout as events turned out. Tanya thought she was controlled by Satan, while Lafferty thought he had a hot-line to God. Their stories are separate, but they have one thing in common: they both defy belief.
When her husband left her for another woman Tanya blamed herself. She spent long hours thinking about what had happened, and as her thoughts were entangled in Mormon beliefs she became convinced that she had become what Mormons call a "daughter of peridition," and anti-Christ figure closely associated with the devil. Slipping deeper and deeper into psychosis she became quiet mad, until the only course left to her was to "save" the lives of her two young sons.
Ron and Dan Lafferty were Mormon fundamentalists with Ron claiming that God had favoured him with "revelations." They espoused polygamy and "blood atonement" and adopted the original Mormon policy of teating their wives as slaves. Their four brothers shared their views. Their wives were too cowed to rebel with one exception. Brenda had a will of her own and refused to toe the line. Ron and Dan suddenly had a score to settle, and the "revelation" handed down in March 1984 ordered the "removal" of Brenda and her baby…
Jennifer O’Connor’s daugther Sara was struggling for her life. The woman had told police that a masked maniac had stormed into their home and shot little Sara. But as her daughter’s life ebbed away Jennifer broke down and changed her story. Who Should Take The Blame? is a tragic report of people struggling with educational and emotional difficulties. A powerful and compelling case in wich the system let mother and daughter down – with deadly consequences.