In what bestselling author Michael Connelly describes as “One of the best looks into the mind and motives of a serial killer I have ever read,” authors Kathy Kelly and Diana Montane offer readers a true crime drama. in I WULD A GIRL WALKING. Just before the technological age that would change the way law enforcement agencies would handle criminal investigations forever, Gerald Eugene Stano became one of the most prolific serial killers of his time. Without surveillance cameras, cell phones, DNA evidence, and computer communication between law enforcement agencies, it was basically a simpler time to allow people like Stano to ride their prized cars in search of young girls for sex. .. or what started that way.
In the late 1960s and 1970s, Stano could be found strolling the world’s most famous beach, Daytona Beach, Florida, in search of his next victim. It’s hard to understand why these women went off with Gerald Stano, who was what we would now probably call a nerd (?): Chubby, polyester pantsuits and gold jewelry, big rimmed plastic glasses, disco lover drunk (most of the time). and yet they did. But in I WOULD FIND A GIRL WALKING, Kathy Kelly takes her experience with Stano, enters this crazy man’s mind, and, along with Diana Montane, gives an insight into what made it tick.
At the time, Kathy Kelly was a reporter for The Daytona Beach News-Journal and, being in the “police coup,” she was the one who wrote the stories about these murders and Stano. Kathy’s reporting caught Stano’s attention, as she loved reading her own press and would only accept interviews if Kathy was doing them. His other connection was with DBPD Sgt. Paul Crow. Crow, who had studied at the FBI Academy in Quantico, was able to connect with Stano in a way that no other law enforcement officer could, and also in whom Stano placed his trust. Since many of the murders were committed in other jurisdictions, law enforcement officers in those locations would work through Crow to deal with Stano. Once Stano liked Kathy Kelly, he agreed to answer questions for her so she could get all the facts and reciprocate. Kathy kept all her letters in a shoe box at home with thoughts of someday working to put them in some kind of book.
Together with fellow reporter Montane, they worked for two years to tell Stano’s story and the description of the crimes he committed is compelling. More important especially for the perpetrators, are the stories of the victims and their families. Taking the details of Stano’s letters, the authors have written a haunting story that readers will find hard to put down. Many of the chapters are dedicated to the victims and how their part of the story came about. Yes, some of the women were runaways or prostitutes, but there was also the graduate on a field trip, a dancer, a cheerleader, a local swimming champion, and even a little young skater. All of these girls had families and lives ahead of them, and Kathy makes sure readers know their stories. There are even two of the girls who had twin brothers, so being victims wasn’t the only coincidence. Their families and how they dealt with each loss are included, as well as what some are doing today. Intertwined for an intense and fascinating read, I WOULD FIND A GIRL WALKING will keep you turning pages as it surely did for me.
It is also written about Gerald Stano’s background when he was the unwanted child of a prostitute of a much-wanted baby by an adoptive father who struggled to provide for him even after he was labeled “unadoptable.” Gerald’s relationship with his adoptive parents is described even to the end. Confessing to killing some 40 women throughout Florida, you’d think Stano would have regrets, and yet he’s described as someone who would never believe that he spent years on death row, even at some point alongside another notorious killer. serial, Ted Bundy. . Stano could be found knitting blankets for the inmates’ children and even sending Kathy a scarf and hat that he once knitted for her. It was obvious from reading the book and later in the letters that are verbatim in the appendix, that Gerald liked Kathy. He even asked Paul Crow if she was married. For Kathy, it was a difficult and emotional journey to “get the story” and stay sane while this madman thought of them as friends. The letters in the back of the book are quite meaningful after reading the story as Kathy interjects personal observations to explain some of what Gerald writes. In fact, it is from one of the letters that the authors got the title of the book. Gerald Stano had written to explain how he chose a victim, and said very casually that he would “find a girl walking …”. In a second appendix, all the letters to his “good friend” Paul Crow are also included.
It describes how Stano is finally convicted and which of the murders is the one that ultimately executes him. The book even has some photographs, but as the authors are quick to say, none of them are gruesome. Stano was executed in 1998 and always one to make people think, he changed his stories, retracted his confessions and blamed Paul Crow while asserting his innocence in a letter he left to his lawyer. With his hints of knowing more than he was saying before his death, we will never know how many more women he actually killed. However, the suspicion he tried to cast on Crow was investigated and, of course, cleared. Montane, in a recent radio interview, said of Stano: “I felt he was a very average but crafty individual … self-inflated with a great image of himself … a killer, a real killer.” I guess that says it all, but one thing I know for sure is that it has made me look at strangers differently, no matter how charming they may seem, I am careful when alone. As a Daytona Beach resident, chills still run down my spine as I think of all the places Stano worked and frequented that are so familiar to me. I wonder every day where he was at a certain time and wasn’t it REALLY possible that I had run into him too? Good thing I rarely walk anywhere!