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on March 21, 2017
I am not quite sure how you rate a book about someone who murdered her entire family.
It was well written, but the tragedy was truly heart breaking. Makes you fear for your children these days.
I hope now that J.R has been released, that she will do good in the world and that she is at peace with herself, as much as she can be. She is a young woman now, and this situation will haunt her for the rest of her life, but it happened and we need to move on from it and allow her to move on.
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on August 26, 2009
"Why?" That's apparently the last word uttered by the father of Canada's youngest mass murderer and certainly the first question asked by most people who have heard her story. JR was just twelve years old when, with her 23-year-old boyfriend, she participated in killing her father, her mother, and her younger brother in the grisly April 1996 murders that took place in Medicine Hat, Alberta. We are used to adolescents having rebellions, but many people continue to struggle to make sense of this particular tragedy.

The vast majority of criminal offences happen in a context, though, and finding an easy answer to the question of "Why?" risks missing some of those important nuances and circumstances. Robert Remington and Sherri Zickefoose are reporters from the Calgary Herald who covered every aspect of this case, from the initial discovery of the bodies by a boy looking for his playmate, through the separate trials of JR and of Jeremy Steinke, and even up to the annual review hearing for JR's court-mandated Intensive Rehabilitative Custody and Supervision (IRCS) order. They are skilled writers with knowledge of the intricacies of the murders and of the murderers, though the story they tell in Runaway Devil never wallows in unnecessary detail. Tenaciously, Mr. Remington and Ms. Zickefoose tracked down members of the perpetrators' families, as well as friends of JR and Jeremy, verifying versions of events, weaving in courtroom testimony, and adding evidence never admitted in the trials, all to tell the story of how a seemingly bright, friendly, athletic young girl so quickly turned against her family. Was she the puppet master, manipulating the immature Jeremy into acting out her death fantasy or was he the Goth werewolf-wannabe who saw an opportunity to become the hero in his own version of Natural Born Killers?

Answering that question is where the book struggles, though not through any fault of the authors. We know the story. We know how it ends. At the time, however, as pieces of the narrative came together, we were shocked. She was a missing child, the subject of an Amber-Alert like media release. Suddenly, she became the suspect. They had communicated via the Internet and spent time in websites [...]. They had sex. They made out in the midst of a friend's party just hours after the murders. A marriage proposal was carried by police from one cell to the other after their arrests. She said he forced her to kill her brother. He said he wasn't even in the room when it happened. Each case had excellent and well-prepared Crown and defence lawyers, and the trials were overseen by respected justices who rarely stepped into the proceedings. The details have been told and retold and most people have likely formed their opinions about who really did what, about where the blame rests (society? music lyrics? drugs? parenting styles?), and about the justice system's response to a 12-year-old who, a full month before the murders, wrote of her "plan" that "begins with me killing them and ends with me living with you."

Mr. Remington and Ms. Zickefoose, then, took on a particular challenge: attempting to write more than a simple true crime book about a sensational event, while preserving the integrity of a seemingly well-known story. The result is a polished work that flows from beginning to end, that integrates the community's history into the personal stories, that provides new glimpses into the lives of the perpetrators and their families, that explains the lethal mixture of JR's need for control and Jeremy's need for acceptance, and that challenges the reader to look beyond the notion of simple answers.
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on August 11, 2009
This case is fascinating and strange, and it's hard to believe a young girl from a loving family background could do something so horrific. It was almost a Bernardo-Homolka situation, where JR and Jeremy met and fed off each other and did horrible things that they might never have done on their own. The book is a page turner and includes a lot of details that I don't remember ever reading in the news. It really gets inside the minds of these kids. I'm a big true crime fan and there aren't many stories like this: goths, a 12-year-old girl dating a 23-year-old guy, small-town boredom, teenage rage, death metal music, the influence of the Internet. I couldn't put it down.
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on September 18, 2009
I found this book to be very well written - it kept my interest from beginning to end - although this story was very sAd; terrifying, perplexing and shocking; it certainly gave me a jolt in realizing how your seemingly normal life can suddenly take a horrible turn. Although this was a difficult subject to write about; this story needed to be told. The most perplexing part to me was how does a parent deal with this problem when it starts - I don't mean Jeremy; I can understand to a certain part why he ended up the way he did - but the 12 year old girl really scared me - this book should open up many parents eyes - good job to the authors.
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on August 18, 2009
It's pretty scary knowing all of these events are true. Reading it makes me think I'm just reading a typical fiction crime book but it freaks me out that it's real. It's quite fascinating and interesting how all of these events occurred in a step-by-step process. The way they thought and executed their crime was quite impulsive, yet they rationalized their own actions at the time. I think this book tells the truth to the story and people should know what really happened. A very good inspirational book to young people who may have similar problems. Recommended.
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on February 11, 2011
For those of us living close to the events of this book we well remember not just the horror of the details but the disbelief when it became apparant that the 12 year old daughter and sister of the victims was involved and perhaps was the perpetrator. I read the book because I wanted to try to understand what in the world had gone on in this family. It appears that the parents were rather typical and one does not get any impression of abuse of any kind or any other behaviour which would induce a child to strike back in such a horrific way. The boyfriend is scary and appears devoid of any sense of right or wrong but it becomes somewhat apparant that he is a bit slow and easily led. After reading this book I truly believe that the daughter instigated the events and likely was the one who killed the young boy and it scares me to think that she will soon be on the streets again.
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on June 27, 2015
Being from Medicine Hat (town of the murders)
This book scared the hell out of me. I can still remember some of the little punks hanging around at the mall. Even though reading it 9 years after the crime it still had a profound effect on me. Having an intimate knowledge of where these punks hung out ( blocks from my house) even makes it that much more disturbing. Something must have been wrong with this girl from the start. Jeremy was just a puppet...not to bright ...and went with it. Threw the book in my backyard fire pit right after reading. Good, well written book but will not have it on my book shelf. It creeped me out that bad.
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on October 15, 2011
The shipping was very quick, and it arrived on time! The price was very reasonable compared to what the stores are charging. This book was an unbelievable read...I was unable to put it down! It was the most captivating and most tragic crimes I have ever read about!
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on January 22, 2016
If you like true crime or you'd like to start reading true crime this is the book ... This was my first true crime and now I'm hooked. I have lent this book out to friends who now have started reading true crime!
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on October 31, 2011
Item arrived exactly as described and arrived sooner than I expected (it is also an amazing read). I would purchase from this seller again.

Allyson, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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