Viau’s View/Scott Viau
I’ve always been a fan of true crime stories. I’ve got a stack of books waiting for me to dig into at my apartment. So when I saw there had been a book written detailing murders that have happened around the U.P. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it – and I wasn’t disappointed.
“Murder in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula” by Sonny Longtine starts with a tale from 1846 about who killed James Schoolcraft and makes its way through time detailing other notable murders that have happened in our tightknit community that is the Upper Peninsula. The crimes covered range from everything from simple revenge to pure madness.
I think what’s really fascinating about this book is that a number of the murders aren’t solved – the who and why will never be known. And while there’s that lack of closure for the family and victims involved, it intensifies the story with the lack of knowledge about whodunnit.
One of those stories takes place in Marquette and involves Paul Girard, who was believed to have been meeting up with another man for a late-night rendezvous when he was attacked and killed. While the police had a suspect, there wasn’t enough evidence to link him to the crime. This took place in 1988, so the idea of the killer still being alive and roaming around out there isn’t far-fetched.
Since I’m a relative newcomer to the Copper Country, having moved here about 17 months ago, I was also fascinated by the murders that have happened here, namely those of Jodi Watts and Kathryn Nankervis. Thankfully, the police were able to solve those crimes and pin it on David Allen Goodreau, who claimed to be a deeply religious man. This case reminded me a lot of the BTK killings and helped to recognize that, much like the book supposes, that heinous deeds can be committed by the most unlikely of people.
Because of the book’s short length (weighing in at 172 pages), it’s a brisk read that most people will be able to devour in a single sitting, however taking the book in slowly is probably the best course of action, as some of the crimes are truly nauseating and the idea that some people are capable of such malice and hatred is a bit stomach churning.
However, for those who enjoy true crime, I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s a grim trip through the darker aspects of life in the U.P., but it’s important one. It helps us to remember that although we live in a peaceful and serene area, darkness and evil does not stop at the Mackinac Bridge.