Cover image for The third rainbow girl : the long life of a double murder in Appalachia
Title:
The third rainbow girl : the long life of a double murder in Appalachia
ISBN:
9780316449236
Edition:
First edition.
Physical Description:
318 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Summary:
A stunningly written investigation of the murder of two young women--showing how a violent crime casts a shadow over an entire community. In the early evening of June 25, 1980 in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, two middle-class outsiders named Vicki Durian, 26, and Nancy Santomero, 19, were murdered in an isolated clearing. They were hitchhiking to a festival known as the Rainbow Gathering but never arrived; they traveled with a third woman however, who lived. For thirteen years, no one was prosecuted for the "Rainbow Murders," though deep suspicion was cast on a succession of local residents in the community, depicted as poor, dangerous, and backward. In 1993, a local farmer was convicted, only to be released when a known serial killer and diagnosed schizophrenic named Joseph Paul Franklin claimed responsibility. With the passage of time, as the truth seemed to slip away, the investigation itself caused its own traumas--turning neighbor against neighbor and confirming a fear of the violence outsiders have done to this region for centuries. Emma Copley Eisenberg spent years living in Pocahontas and re-investigating these brutal acts. Using the past and the present, she shows how this mysterious act of violence has loomed over all those affected for generations, shaping their fears, fates, and the stories they tell about themselves. In The Third Rainbow Girl, Eisenberg follows the threads of this crime through the complex history of Appalachia, forming a searing and wide-ranging portrait of America--its divisions of gender and class, and of its violence.
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Summary

Summary

A stunningly written investigation of the murder of two young women--showing how a violent crime casts a shadow over an entire community.

In the early evening of June 25, 1980 in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, two middle-class outsiders named Vicki Durian, 26, and Nancy Santomero, 19, were murdered in an isolated clearing. They were hitchhiking to a festival known as the Rainbow Gathering but never arrived. For thirteen years, no one was prosecuted for the "Rainbow Murders," though deep suspicion was cast on a succession of local residents in the community, depicted as poor, dangerous, and backward. In 1993, a local farmer was convicted, only to be released when a known serial killer and diagnosed schizophrenic named Joseph Paul Franklin claimed responsibility. With the passage of time, as the truth seemed to slip away, the investigation itself caused its own traumas-turning neighbor against neighbor and confirming a fear of the violence outsiders have done to this region for centuries.

Emma Copley Eisenberg spent years living in Pocahontas and re-investigating these brutal acts. Using the past and the present, she shows how this mysterious act of violence has loomed over all those affected for generations, shaping their fears, fates, and the stories they tell about themselves. In The Third Rainbow Girl , Eisenberg follows the threads of this crime through the complex history of Appalachia, forming a searing and wide-ranging portrait of America-its divisions of gender and class, and of its violence.



Author Notes

Emma Copley Eisenberg is a writer whose work has appeared in Granta, VQR, McSweeney's, Tin House, The Paris Review online, The New Republic, Salon, Slate , and elsewhere. Her work has been supported by the Millay Colony for the Arts, the Elizabeth George Foundation, Lambda Literary, and the New Economy Coalition. Her reporting has been recognized by GLAAD, the New York Association of Black Journalists, the Deadline Club and Longreads' Best Crime Reporting 2017. Eisenberg lives in Philadelphia, where she co-directs Blue Stoop, a community hub for the literary arts.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

In June 1980, 26-year-old Vicki Durian and 19-year-old Nancy Santomero were hitchhiking through rural West Virginia, heading to a festival called the Rainbow Gathering. They never made it. The story of their shooting murders, and the hunt for the killer, consumed the citizens of Pocahontas County for decades, as journalist Eisenberg reveals in this gripping account, her first book. She spent five years researching the crime and blends the case facts with a memoir of her time living in the area, playing bluegrass and drinking bourbon with men who were connected to the Rainbow Gathering. Part self-discovery and part crime and courtroom drama, the narrative follows two possible theories. Jacob Beard, a local farmer, was arrested 13 years after Durian and Santomero's deaths and was convicted of their murders, though witness statements were shaky and there was no physical evidence. But as Eisenberg notes, white supremacist Joseph Paul Franklin, a convicted serial killer, made a jailhouse confession before Beard's 1993 trial that he killed the young women, but the prosecutors dismissed it. The author herself thinks it was bogus. Not until 2000 did Beard get a second trial, at which he was acquitted, yet the community may never know the truth. This is essential reading for true crime fans. Agent: Jin Auh, Wylie Agency. (Jan.)


Kirkus Review

A former resident of Appalachia reconsiders its unsolved "Rainbow Murders" in a genre-straddling debut that blends true crime and memoir.Eisenberg tells two interwoven stories that span three decades in heavily forested Pocahontas County, West Virginia. The firstand by far the more interestingstory centers on the unsolved 1980 murders of two young women whose bodies turned up in a clearing after they were shot while hitchhiking to a festival known as the Rainbow Gathering. Alarming rumors quickly spread about local farmer Jacob Beard, who went to prison for the Rainbow Murders 13 years later. Then Charlie Rose and 60 Minutes II, having heard that serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin had confessed to the crimes, started poking around, and a judge granted a new trial for Beard, whom a jury found not guilty. Alleging police misconduct and malicious prosecution, Beard sued and was awarded nearly $2 million. Eisenberg learned of the murders while working for an anti-poverty program in the area after graduating from college, and she reconstructs the case with a brisk pace and a keen sensitivity to a Gordian knot of kinship and other ties that posed challenges for the police and suspects alike. The author's compelling second story is, in effect, a memoir of her coming-of-age in Pocahontas County, involving bluegrass parties, lots of alcohol, and sex with an inapt partner. "I told him I was queer and that my most recent relationship had been with a woman," she writes. "That's cool, he said." Several themes link the true-crime and memoir sectionsincluding how we distinguish lies from the truthand a related set piece explores the stereotypes of Appalachians as either "noble and stalwart" mountaineers or "profligate" and "amusing" hillbillies. With access to Beard and other key figures, Eisenberg avoids both perils and offers a nuanced portrait of a crime and its decadeslong effects.A promising young author reappraises a notorious double murderand her life. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

In the summer of 1980, the Rainbow Gathering, a festival celebrating peace and harmony, descended upon Pocahontas County, West Virginia, bringing thousands of hippies to the remote mountain community. Tragedy struck when two young women who were hitchhiking to the festival, 26-year-old Vicki Durian and 19-year-old Nancy Santomero, were found shot to death off the side of a country road. Suspicions and accusations plagued Pocahontas County for 13 years before police convicted a local man, Jacob Beard, for what became known as the Rainbow Murders. However, more questions would arise when a known serial killer confessed to the crime, resulting in an overturned conviction for Beard. Eisenberg reflects on her time working in West Virginia and how this traumatic event produced lasting effects on the entire community. The book is more than just another true crime memoir; Eisenberg has crafted a beautiful and complicated ode to West Virginia. Exquisitely written, this is a powerful commentary on society's notions of gender, violence, and rural America. Readers of literary nonfiction will devour this title in one sitting.--Michelle Ross Copyright 2019 Booklist


Table of Contents

Author's Notep. xiii
Map of West Virginiap. xv
Map of Pocahontas Countyp. xvi
True Thingsp. 1
Part I Welcome Homep. 7
Part II A Divided Heartp. 47
Part III The Relevant Necessary Peoplep. 79
Part IV A Perfect Storyp. 127
Part V The Cogs Don't Meetp. 177
Part VI Jesse in the Quiet Zonep. 217
Part VII The Third Rainbow Girlp. 253
Acknowledgmentsp. 313
Further Readingp. 317