Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Read - Too Young To Kill

Too Young To Kill
by M. William Phelps
444 pages

'Killing her wasn't enough...
Sixteen-year-old Adrianne Reynolds couldn't unravel the twisted tangles of jealousy and domination complicating her new life in East Moline, Illinois. What began as a fresh start after a troubled home life in Texas ended with Adrianne's body charred, stuffed into garbage bags, and scattered. It seemed the work of hardened criminals, but the truth was far more astonishing: her own 'best friends' choked Adrianne to death and cut her up. Now, master crime writer M. William Phelps recounts this horrific saga of teen lust and violence in every gripping detail.'

I seem to remember reading news articles about this online back when it happened.  The whole killing in the Taco Bell parking lot in broad daylight seemed very familiar to me.  Last year, I'd seen an episode of Snapped featuring this story, and then I saw that episode again even more recently.  Seeing it that second time, something just sucked me into it.  One of the commentators in the episode was M. William Phelps, who I knew was a true-crime writer, so I figured if he was in this episode he'd probably written about this case.  Sure enough, he did.  I ordered the book from Amazon a couple weeks ago, couldn't wait to get it, and finished reading it today.

This is a horrifying story for sure, but it's also such a sad story.  Adrianne had a rough upbringing, being bounced back and forth between parents in different states.  She'd recently come back to live with her father in Illinois after having another round of problems with her mother in Texas.  She'd started at an alternative high school, was trying to make friends and fit in, and started hanging around with a rough crowd.  Sarah Kolb and Cory Gregory were also sixteen, also attending that school, and also part of that crowd.  Sarah saw herself as sort of ring leader of their group, and although she showed some interest in Adrianne at first, she soon saw Adrianne as a threat to her so-called popularity and leader roll.  When Sarah found that Adrianne was quite promiscuous and rumor had it she was interested in Sarah's boyfriend AND Cory, Sarah launched a campaign of bullying Adrianne.  Eventually, Sarah tricked Adrianne into thinking they were going to talk it out and settle their differences, and because of this she agreed to with Sarah and Cory to Taco Bell for lunch one day.  The two girls started arguing in the car, a fight broke out, and Sarah (probably with Cory's help) strangled Adrianne to death.  Over the next day or so, they tried to get rid of her body by burning it, and when that didn't work, the enlisted the help of another friend (Nate Gaudet) to cut her body into pieces so they could spread the parts around and reduces the chances of Adrianne being found or identified.

Cory couldn't live with what they'd done and with investigators closing in, he caved and told the story of what happened.  As the investigation progressed, there was lying and finger pointing, of course.  Sarah said Cory did it all.  Cory said Sarah did it all.  Nate said they both did it.  Cory said ok, maybe he did some of it.  You just get so mad as you follow the case.  You feel so helpless, like you want to scream and slap some sense into people.  But really, Adrianne's story is just so sooo sad.  True, she was no saint.  She'd battled drink and drug demons in her young life.  She was sleeping around, trying to fit in and find love with whoever she could get it from.  She'd been known to be a tough girl herself, getting into fights of her own.  What really gets me, in a weird sort of sad way, is that by all accounts Adrianne was much stronger and tougher than psycho bitch Sarah, and was holding her own in the fight in the car that day . . . until Cory held her arms and let Sarah choke her.  The high and mighty 'don't mess with me' Sarah couldn't even do this on her own.

I've become obsessed with this story for now.  The episode of Snapped, and the book, and most things I see online all show the same general handful of pictures of Adrianne.  She was such a cute girl!

But then today, while looking online for an interview Cory Gregory had done, I came across a news story that showed an actual video clip of Adrianne singing and it caught me so off guard that I cried.  (Video . . . HERE )

I also came across a news video reporting the death of Nate Gaudet.  He was the one who had actually cut up her body.  He was charged as a juvenile and only served a couple years in a juvenile detention center.  However, only a couple years after his release, he died in a fiery car crash.  In the news clip, Adrianne's father says something along the lines of 'what goes around comes around,' and 'the devil must have got tired of waiting for him.'  Well said, Mr. Reynolds.  Well said.

I know that other crime shows have featured this story and I'd like to see them, but I know at least one of them is a cheesy reenactment type version and I'm not too anxious to see that one.

I'm not even sure what it is about this story that has me so sucked into it.  For me, there is just such a mix of strong emotions.  I don't know . . . I just don't know . . .

As for the book itself, I loved getting more information than I'd gotten before.  It was good to delve into it from several different sides, since there was a lot with Adrianne's parents, a lot of looking into Sarah and Cory, a lot of history about Adrianne leading up to the murder, and then it followed everyone through the trials.  The actual writing style wasn't anything amazing though.  I'd seen mention in one review that the writer likes to repeat himself.  I noticed that right away.  There was a lot of repeating of events, and while it was sometimes needed like when he mentioned an event while in an Adrianne part of the story, then mentioned it again in the Sarah part of the story, sometimes it was just redundant and confusing.  Sometimes it seemed like 'How many times did they pick this guy up?' or 'How many times did they go back there?'  The other weak part of the writing was that some of the supposed conversations were rather Hollywood-cheesy.  But these things were easily overlooked because the story itself was so sadly interesting.  Because it was *real* it was easy to forgive iffy writing.

This is the first book I've read by M. William Phelps.  Of his many other books, I know there are a few more that are stories I've seen on Snapped, and I would like to get those.

Are you a fan of true-crime?


  1. How sad! My mom is big into true crime and reads a lot of Ann Rule, but not sure if she's read anything by M. William Phelps. I started a book called "Pilgrim's Wilderness" by Tom Kizzia a few months back but set it aside because a friend kept insisting I read the books she loaned me. It's about a wacko guy who moved his large family out to the remote Alaskan wilderness and then picked a bunch of fights with the Forest Service. I think I read more true crime magazine articles from Outside, New Yorker, etc. than books. and pick up a lot of excellent stuff.

    1. I used to read more true-crime books years ago, then got obsessed with YA stuff like Sweep and Twilight. I think next time I place an Amazon order I will get another of the Phelps books because one in particular is another of my 'favorite' Snapped episodes. (How morbid is that?)


  2. This is pretty horrifying. I don't remember hearing about this case before.

    (I had saved the email of this blog post when it first came because I noticed East Moline in originally skimming it. That's one of the Quad Cities. Wild.)

    1. And then I read a Wikipedia article about the case and it was weird seeing place names like Milan, Dixon, Aledo, Black Hawk College ... all names I'm familiar with from living over there. Crazy.

    2. (Read article today, I mean)