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.
This story continues on the next page.
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.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.