To most of us, I-45 is just another highway. To true crime author Kathryn Casey, it's a crime scene. A 50-mile stretch of I-45 connects Houston to Galveston. Over the past 40 years, dozens of bodies of young women, mostly teenagers, have been found dumped in the woods that border the highway.
Casey's newest book, Deliver Us: Three Decades of Murder and Redemption in the Infamous I-45/Texas Killing Fields, is a look at the reasons the majority of those cases remain unsolved.
"I've been looking at pictures [of the victims] for 20 years, off and on, in the newspapers. I wanted to know what happened to them and why the cases weren't being solved.," Casey says.
During the three years it took her to write the book, she found there were several factors.
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The murders happened in small towns near I-45, each with its own small police force, all of which lacked experience in murder investigations. There was a lack of cooperation among the agencies that had jurisdiction over the cases. And once the young women were reported missing, officers assumed they had simply run away, delaying the investigation until a body was found.
Casey, with eight true crime books and three novels to her credit, won't be doing another book like Deliver Us. Ever. "This one was really hard on me, it truly was. There are so many girls and the crimes are so random that it was pretty wearing...this book honestly changed me as a person. Your heart goes out to the families. It was hard going to the prisons to interview the suspects, but they have important stories to tell. And if we don't talk to them, we'll never know why these things happened.
"This was the most difficult book I've ever written. I felt it was important and I wanted to know what happened to those girls, [but] it was pretty overwhelming. It usually takes me a year to write a book, and this one took me three years. It was a lot of cases, a lot of research, a lot of interviews. I went to two trials and three or four prisons. True crime books are always hard to write, but this one was over the top. I won't do it again."
Kathryn Casey discusses and signs Deliver Us at 4:30 p.m. February 28. Murder by the Book, 2342 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-524-8597 or visit muderbooks.com. Free.