Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Once Upon A Time by Harry N. MacLean

Once Upon A Time: A True Story of Memory, Murder and the Law, Harry N. MacLean. New York: HarperCollins/ Crime Rant Classics, 1993. 535 pps.



     Susan Nason, fourth grader, went missing in Foster City, California in 1969. She was discovered dead a couple of months later. The homicide went unsolved for twenty years. Some say it remains unsolved to this day.

     George Thomas Franklin had some kids, a wife, a white van, and a sexual attraction to little girls. He beat all his kids-- George Jr., Janice, Eileen, and Diana-- and his wife Leah. He was not a nice man. 

     In 1989, Eileen Franklin began claiming that she had a sudden returning of memories of the murder of Susan Nason. And that her dad George Thomas Franklin had done it. Her retrieved memories involved hypnosis and the use of several therapists. She retrieved other memories of her father sexually abusing her. Later she would claim that her dad killed two other people. But he was cleared of the latter through D.N.A.

     There was a trial. George Thomas Franklin was put in prison as the murderer of Susan Nason.

sapphoq reviews says: I had heard or read bits and pieces of the Susan Nason/ George Thomas Franklin story before [finally] picking up this book. I'd heard that he was in A.A. and that his A.A. buddies had written a slew of letters to the judge. I also located the articles written in 1969 after the Susan Nason murder and some written during and after the trial. 
     George Thomas Franklin and Leah are now divorced. Leah has blossomed and is now an attorney herself. She denies many of the things that Eileen has "remembered." She was astonished to find that there was a claim that Eileen had rubbed a spot on her head bald and bloody. No such spot existed. Eileen's claim is that her mother Leah simply wasn't "there" mentally when she was growing up. This inattention is supposedly why Leah does not recall the spot.
     I had some problems with Eileen's claimed memories. Having read both Lenore Terr and Elizabeth Loftus, I tend to be in the Loftus camp. Eileen's "memories" kept changing as was convenient. Meanwhile, her dad [a creepy guy but perhaps not a murderer] languished in prison.
     Eileen going to the jail before the trial in an attempt to get a confession from her father was one of the reasons why George Thomas Franklin is a free agent today. During that visit, rather than get into the particulars of the case George pointed to a sign that stated that conversations may be monitored. I would have done the same, innocent or guilty.
     The portrayal of Eileen's older sister Janice was most interesting to me. She was bent on revenge. I would have liked to have known more about Janice. Although Eileen was one of the main characters of Once Upon A Time, I wonder about Janice and her rages. Janice was not addicted to being a victim. She simply wanted revenge.
     Harry N. MacLean did an excellent job with this book. Excepting those who object to any talk about the implications of repressed memories going viral in the present time, highly recommended.

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