- OPENING LINE
- PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY
- THE PLOT
- THE AUTHOR
- THE NARRATION
- THE PRODUCTION
- FINAL THOUGHTS
- QUICK FACTS
‘The Vampire Next Door’ tells the story of John Brennan Crutchley, the Vampire Rapist. He received that nickname after it was revealed that he had drawn and drank the blood of one of his victims who was fortunate enough to have escaped his clutches. Crutchley is suspected to have killed some 32 women across several states during his serial killer career but was never charged with a single count of murder. He was considered to be even smarter than Ted Bundy, a lot more careful and according to many who interacted with him, much much worse. The only way in which it seems that Bundy has Crutchley beat is notoriety.
John Crutchley seemed to be living the American Dream. Good-looking and blessed with a genius level IQ, he had a prestigious, white-collar job at a prominent government defense contractor, where he held top secret security clearance and handled projects for NASA and the Pentagon. To all outward appearances, he was a hard-working, successful family man with a lavish new house, a devoted wife, and a healthy young son.But, he concealed a hidden side of his personality, a dark secret tied to a hunger for blood and the overriding need to kill. As one of the most prolific serial killers in American history, Crutchley committed at least twelve murders, and possibly nearly three dozen. His IQ elipsed that of Ted Bundy, and his body count may have as well. While he stalked the streets hunting his unsuspecting victims, the residents of a quiet Florida town slept soundly, oblivious to the dark creature in their midst, unaware of the vampire next door.
J.T. Hunter is an attorney with over fourteen years of experience practicing law, including criminal law and appeals, and he has significant training in criminal investigation techniques. He is also a college professor in Florida where his teaching interests focus on the intersection of criminal psychology, law, and literature. This is his debut true crime novel.
©2014 J.T. Hunter and RJ Parker Publishing, Inc. (P)2014 J.T. Hunter and RJ Parker Publishing, Inc.
How do I even begin to tell the tale of John Brennan Crutchley? In many ways, Crutchley’s life and the fact that he is a notorious serial killer seems almost cliche. He possesses a large number of characteristics you can find on the serial killer checklist.
Crutchley had a troubled childhood with parents who were not affectionate. He felt isolated from others, including his siblings most of his life. Crutchley had above average intelligence possessing an IQ in the range of 160 to 168. He had a fascination with the Occult and was into deviant sexual behavior. He felt no sympathy or empathy for the struggles of others but managed to appear quite sincere. He could blend in to a crowd and also be quite charming. You also have an outsized ego and tendency to blame anyone or anything other than himself for his actions. On more than one occasion in the book, Crutchley is described as being more monster than man.
Crutchley was suspected in perhaps dozens of killings across several states but was never charged for even a single count of murder. If one of his potential victims, identified as Christina in the book had never escaped, there is no telling if or when he would have been caught.
Christina, an assumed name tiven to protect the victim’s privacy was held captive in Crutchley’s home for nearly a day. During that time, she was repeatedly raped, had approximately 40% of her blood drained from her body which Crutchley proceeded to drink and would have died had she not managed to escape out a bathroom window while Crutchley was at work. Interestingly enough, at one point Crutchley was actually charged with robbery for the theft of her blood. This charge was later dropped but would have generated even more fantastic headlines had it made it to trial.
After the details of her capture and escape are chronicled, ‘The Vampire Next Door’ traces Crutchley’s life up to that day in November of 1985. This section is where we learn about all of the childhood troubles, the nurse who turned him on to vampirism and many other exploits from his life. The narrative then follows the story of Crutchley and the investigators tasked with finding evidence to connect him to the murders he was suspected of committing.
I was particularly interested in the involvement of Robert Ressler in the case. Ressler is one of the pioneers in criminal profiling and behavioral analysis. He is also the man who first coined the phrase “serial killer”. I have read a lot of books about criminal profiling and consequently Ressler is already someone with whom I am familiar. The suggestions he gave for how Crutchley’s questioning should be handled and the testimony he gave at Crutchley’s sentencing were both fascinating. Aside from telling investigators what questions to ask and how to frame them, he even gave notes on how the room should be lit.
I also found the period leading up to his parole and subsequent rearrested to be quite interesting. I will not spoil you with all of the details but after reading this section it is fair to question whether or not Crutchley had been set up. Even if he had been set up, I think the fact that he was not a free man for very long ended up being an instance of justice being served.
One of the more tragic developments in the book comes in chapter 34. This is when we learn how close Crutchley came to accepting a plea bargain that would have kept him off of death row but required him to give up the location of the trophies he kept and the whereabouts of the bodies of some of his victims. It seemed so close to happening when office politics managed to screw the whole thing up. Simply because one official had been left out of the loop on the deal, he squashed the whole thing. He figured that solid investigation work would uncover all the evidence needed to charge Crutchley with murder and that Crutchley would get what was coming to him. This was a gamble that did not pay off and as a result, a lot of families were deprived of knowing what became of their loved one’s remains. Simply describing that as heartbreaking would be a vast understatement of reality.
This is J.T. Hunter’s first true crime novel. He employs one of my favorite storytelling techniques in that he begins with an account of the rape case and then goes back and examines Crutchley’s life and what led up to that fateful day. After that, the story becomes more linear covering different phases including: evidence gathering, Crutchley’s time in jail before sentencing, the sentencing hearing, Crutchley’s activities in prison, his brief taste of freedom, time back in prison, his death and the aftermath.
Another nice touch in the book is when the author ties events from the Crutchley case to other major events that coincided with it. These include the Challenger Explosion, Chernobyl disaster, verdict in the O.J. Simpson case, arrest of Ted Kaczynski among others. It seems as if a new development in the Crutchley case was unfolding around the same time as each of these major events in history.
I would probably read more from Hunter again in the future. I like his narrative style and attention to detail. There is a lot of information crammed into ‘The Vampire Next Door’ even though definitive conclusions are hard to come by.
Rob Shamblin has what I would describe as a very soft and kindly voice. It plays in direct contrast to the dark subject matter but is simultaneously very appropriate. John Crutchley was purposely nondescript and quite adept at fitting in with others. He kept his dark nature hidden from a lot of people including those closest to him. So an actor trying to convey a dark tone throughout the entirety of the text would not have captured the spirit of the narrative.
There are times when Shamblin demonstrates an ability to read darker. This is best displayed in his reading of the scenes between Crutchley and Christina when he is holding her captive during the second chapter. In keeping with Crutchley’s character, Shamblin reads his words with a southern accent that manages to be both charming and sinister.
There is no music or use of sound effects on the track. Some ominous music at the beginning might have been effective in setting the mood but was ultimately unnecesary
There was a tiny glitch on the track at the 16:10 minute mark of chapter 2. A line repeats itself and it is very obviously a glitch because of the context. This may only be present on the audible version of the track that I was listening to and the company has been notified. It did not remotely detract from the listening experience. Most people would not notice it at all, I just happen to have an ear for such details. It is also something that will be fixed in short order I am sure.
There were 45 chapter markers on the track. Chapter markers were placed at: the acknowledgments, preface, parts, chapters, epilogue and credits. Usually, a new part of the book and the first chapter in that part are not separated by markers. It was a nice touch here as it made it easier to go back and locate certain things for later reference.
I was left with a profound snese of emptiness after I had finished ‘The Vampire Next Door’. This is a story that does not have a happy ending. As a reader, I was allowed to feel a very small fraction of what those families impacted by Crutchley’s reign of terror must have been feeling. As the chapters passed by and the countdown clock drew closer to displaying 0 minutes remaining, I kept hoping for a recent discovery of concrete evidence or other positive development that would bring closure to those who would need it. Unfortunately, it was not to be.
There is no sense of closure to be found in the book because no such thing exists in this case. When John Crutchley died, he took all of his secrets with him and no interrogator on this side of eternity can pry them away.
I would recommend ‘The Vampire Next Door’ to anyone with an interest in criminal behavior. John Crutchley, otherwise known as “the Vampire Rapist” was a living breathing episode of the TV series ‘Criminal Minds’. The only difference is that Crutcley never cracked or gave up his secrets.
|Title||Author||Narrator||Publisher||Genre||Release Date||Running Time||Score|
|The Vampire Next Door: The True Story of the Vampire Rapist||J.T. Hunter||Rob Shamblin||R.J. Parker Publishing||True Crime||11/20/2014||11 hours, 45 minutes||7.75/10|