A Dark and Bloody Ground


by: O'Brien, Darcy
Format: Hardcover

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Product Description An account of the crimes of Benny Hodge and his wife, Sherry Hodge, describes how the two went on a ten-year killing spree that left victims all over the South and explores a killer's psyche From Publishers Weekly In his account of a 10-year crime spree in Eastern Kentucky, University of Tulsa English professor O'Brien ( Murder in Little Egypt ) focuses on chronic criminal Benny Hodge and his wife Sherry, who met when she was a guard in Brushy Mountain State Prison in rural Morgan County where he was incarcerated. Sherry seduced him and, after he was paroled, the two began living together, supporting themselves by ripping off small-time drug dealers. After forming a gang, their crimes escalated until they entered the home of Dr. Roscoe Acker in 1985, murdering his daughter, almost killing Dr. Acker, and seizing a cache of $1.9 million before fleeing to Florida. Tangential to their story is that of flamboyant Kentucky lawyer Lester Burns, who took on the defense for $400,000, despite the source of the money. One gang member, Donald Bartley, turned state's evidence; Benny and Roger Epperson were sentenced to death; Sherry and Carol Epperson received prison sentences, as did lawyer Burns, for knowingly accepting stolen money. This is an arresting look into the troubled psyches of these criminals and into the depressed Kentucky economy that became fertile territory for narcotics dealers, theft rings and bootleggers. Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. From Library Journal As he demonstrated in Murder in Little Egypt ( LJ 2/1/89), O'Brien is adept at analyzing crime by using sociological and cultural methods to create an integrated picture of the criminal and his world. This time the world is the "dark and bloody ground" of eastern Kentucky and the criminals are a group of five "hillbillies" (three men and two women) who live by the law of the mountains and support themselves by drug dealing and armed robbery. When they hear tales of a rich doctor living in tiny Fleming-Neon, Kentucky, the inevitable happens; they steal almost $2 million in cash--and brutally murder the doctor's daughter in the process. Telling his story from the viewpoint of Sherry Sheets Hodge, the most intelligent of the group, O'Brien creates a fascinating portrait of the mountain way of life and thought that forged the lives of these criminals--as well as the doctor they robbed and the lawyers they hired. Recommended for true crime collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/92. - Rebecca House Stankowski, Purdue Univ. Calumet Lib., Hammond, Ind. Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. From Kirkus Reviews Hillbilly sociopaths rip off a miserly old doctor and kill his daughter: another first-rate--and lurid--true-crime chronicle from journalist/novelist O'Brien (Margaret in Hollywood, 1991; Murder in Little Egypt, 1990, etc.). The part of Kentucky that skirts West Virginia and Tennessee is, O'Brien says, a region of poverty, bluegrass, and country soul, where crime--even murder--is a major activity. Here, he focuses on the ten-year criminal career of two of the region's inhabitants- -former prison-guard Sherry Sheets Pelfrey Wong Hodge and her husband, lifetime criminal Benny Hodge--who, in 1985, formed part of a gang that stole a local doctor's hoard of nearly $2 million cash, killing his daughter in the process. In O'Brien's expert hands, the slow, handsome, enormously powerful Benny and his tough- minded, quick-thinking, coolheaded wife are totally believable, even sympathetic, products of lives impoverished at every level. Also fascinating are the Hodges' lawyer, Lester Burns--who, already rich but unable to resist accepting a fee in money he knew was stolen, bragged about his illicit payoff to an undercover FBI agent; the classically corrupt sheriff, who hired Hodge (as a cook) and then sought to blackmail him into various crimes; car-crazy middle-class sleaze Roger Epperson, perfectly qualified to be


Product Code: 9780060179588
ISBN: 0060179589
Publisher: Harpercollins
Publication Date: 1993-04-01
Number of Pages: 339 pages
Languages: english
Edition: 1st
Dimension: 6.18 x 1.42 x 9.41 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.55 pounds