Saturday, September 03, 2022

Sunday Synopsis


TERROR TOWN, USA: The Untold Story of Joliet's Notorious Serial KillerTERROR TOWN, USA: The Untold Story of Joliet's Notorious Serial Killer by John Ferak
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Milton Johnson is the title character in this true crime book. His first known crime was in 1970 when he was 19 years old. He robbed a couple in Joliet's Pilcher Park and violently raped the woman also brutally torturing her with a hot cigarette lighter. He was sentenced to 25 years but was released early having spent slightly less than 13 year in jail. Being released in 1983 was a huge mistake of the Illinois Prison System. His release was followed by the summer of terror in Joliet, Illinois.

Between June and August of 1983, the following occured.
1. Two elderly sisters were murdered in their next-door-to-each-other-homes. (2 dead)
2. A couple was shot and killed during a home invasion.(2 dead)
3. Five people were killed including two auxiliary police officers.(5 dead)
4. A young couple was accosted. The man died, but the woman, while injured, was alive. She was raped, stabbed, pushed out of a moving car, and left for dead. (1 dead)
5. It is also believed that he murdered 4 women in a ceramics shop. (4 dead)
6. Three more murders occured in neighboring Cook County, but were not linked directly to Johnson. (3 dead)

His murders are a matter of public record, but in this true-crime novel, the author brings them to life in vivid detail. They are not just names and places on a piece of paper. Ferak humanizes them and gives them a voice. The reader will think of brothers, husbands, mothers, wives just like the ones Johnson killed, and see the randomness of this killer. Home invasions, sneaking up on parked lovers, using knives and guns, raping females, shooting at cars and chasing them... he had multiple MOs. He was also African American whereas 82% of serial killers are Caucasian. The author takes the reader through all of the crimes, the investigation, the evidence, and the trials. He doesn't leave you hanging at the end like some authors.

I had never heard of Milton Johnson, but I have no idea why! I guess his crimes were not publicized as much as say, John Wayne Gacy's crimes, although they were similarly horrifying.
Milton Johnson's mug shot

Ferak kept my interest throughout the book for the most part. A lof of information is repeated over and over in different parts of the book, and I would have preferred it to be streamlined into chronological order so there wouldn't be a need for repetitiveness of basic details which would also make it easier to read. It is well-written for the most part.

Thankfully Milton Johnson remains in jail. He was sentenced to death multiple times, but the sentences were commuted to life in prison, supposedly without parole, but he has been allowed to request parole anyway. His appeals for parole have thus far been denied, and for that, I am grateful.

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