Hell in the Heartland: Murder, Meth, and the Case of Two Missing Girls
“There is, in the best of us, a search for the truth, to serve the living and dead alike…Jax Miller is one of those people and Hell in the Heartland is one of those books.”—Robert Graysmith, New York Times bestselling author of Zodiac.
S-Town meets I’ll Be Gone in the Dark in this stranger-than-fiction cold case from rural Oklahoma that has stumped authorities for two decades, concerning the disappearance of two teenage girls and the much larger mystery of murder, possible police cover-up, and an unimaginable truth…
On December 30, 1999, in rural Oklahoma, sixteen-year-old Ashley Freeman and her best friend, Lauria Bible, were having a sleepover. The next morning, the Freeman family trailer was in flames and both girls were missing .
While rumors of drug debts, revenge, and police corruption abounded in the years that followed, the case remained unsolved and the girls were never found.
In 2015, crime writer Jax Miller–who had been haunted by the case–decided to travel to Oklahoma to find out what really happened on that winter night in 1999, and why the story was still simmering more than fifteen years later. What she found was more than she could have ever bargained for: evidence of jaw-dropping levels of police negligence, entire communities ravaged by methamphetamine addiction, and a series of interconnected murders with an ominously familiar pattern.
These forgotten towns were wild, lawless, and home to some very dark secrets.
My thoughts– I felt something familiar as I read this book, following along as the tension was building. It seemed like I’d heard of some of the main victims before, but I needn’t have worried, the story was totally new to me. It was a horrific story indeed, and one that kept me involved, reading as various agencies and the author investigated over the years, trying to find out for certain who had committed the awful crimes. The mother of the young lady who was staying over on the night the crimes happened, Mrs. Lorene Bible, kept the momentum moving forward on the case whenever law enforcement would lose interest or lack in leads. There was plenty of push back too, as several in the case received threats of all kinds if they didn’t quit looking into the case and go away, including the author plenty of times. This is one nasty true crime case with bizarre elements to it making it very cruel and taking a long time tormenting the families. Advanced electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Jax Miller, and the publisher.
Publisher: Berkley – 336 pages
Publication: July 28th, 2020
My rating: 4/5 Stars
The Author– Jax Miller is an American author. While hitchhiking across America in her twenties, she wrote her first novel, Freedom’s Child, for which she won the 2016 Grand Prix des Lectrices de Elle and earned several CWA Dagger nominations. She has received acclaim from the New York Times, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, and many more. She now works in the true-crime genre, having penned her much-anticipated book and acting as creator, host, and executive producer on the true-crime documentary series Hell in the Heartland on CNN’s HLN network. Jax is a lover of film and music, and has a passion for rock ‘n’ roll and writing screenplays.