Thirteen year old Megan O’Rourke and 12-year-old Melissa Walbridge made the fateful decision to take the shortcut through the woods rather than the more visible route on their way home from Lawton Middle School in Essex Junction, Vermont.
In the middle of the woods’ well worn path, the girls would be abducted by 16-year-old Louis “Louie” Hamlin and 15-year-old Jamie Savage. Before it was over, the girls would be raped, sodomized, tortured, and stabbed. And one of them would die at the hands of her teenage assailants.
In Death of Innocence: The True Story of an Unspeakable Teenage Crime, Author Peter Meyer weaves a provocative tale of violent teens with too much time on their hands and the investigation details that would eventually bring them to justice. And the injustice of one killer going free because the law hadn’t yet acknowledged youthful violence.
Meyer has an unique ability to so vividly describe people, places, and actions that readers will feel as though they are witnessing things first hand; which at times can be pleasant but sadly, considering the subject at hand, most often not.
The details are many, the storystelling strong, and the updates (current as of the publication date in 1985) are very informative. My only complaint – if you could call it that – is that there are no photographs. I would really have liked to be able to put faces to the victims and killers, especially since there are not any I could located only (not surprising being that it is 30 years later).
Death of Innocence is out of print but if you can locate a copy, snatch it. The cover may be a little plain but the story inside is anything but.
Where Are They Now?
According to an unnamed source, Megan O’Rourke has changed her name and prefers to live in anonymity as she continues to put the past behind her.
After being exposed for the name change to John Barber and his rape crimes in Vermont by an Arizona newspaper, Jamie Savage‘s whereabouts have become unknown.
According to the Vermont Inmate Locator, Louis “Louie” Hamlin is held in an Interstate Compact Facility. However, the specific facility is unknown.
Louis “Butch” Hamlin II asked for a sentence reconsideration on the grounds that part of the sex offender program violated his religious beliefs. Anyone else rolling their eyes and thinking, “Give me a break!”? Registered under the name Francis Lewis Hamlin as a sex offender, he is currently on an unsupervised status.