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The Indiana Torture Slaying: Sylvia Likens' Ordeal And Death
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The Indiana Torture Slaying: Sylvia Likens' Ordeal And Death

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  1,167 Ratings  ·  116 Reviews

 In the heart of Indianapolis in the mid 1960’s, through a twist of fate and fortune, a pretty young girl came to live with a thirty-seven-year-old mother and her seven children. What began as a temporary childcare arrangement between Sylvia Likens’s parents and Gertrude Baniszewski turned into a crime that would haunt cops, prosecutors, and a community for decades to co

Unknown Binding, 187 pages
Published January 1st 1999 by Borf Books
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Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime, dark
1.5 stars
The first half of the book was interesting although heart-wrenching and really really dark, but the second half was tedious, it covered the trial details and it felt like homework to finish it.
Robert Beveridge
John Dean, House of Evil: The Indiana Torture Slaying (St. Martin's, 2008)

I've spent a few years trying to track down the original Beeline Press release of John Dean's The Indiana Torture Slaying, so I was thrilled when I heard St. Martin's was going to re-release the book in 2008 thanks to the interested generated by the films An American Crime and The Girl Next Door. The Indiana Torture Slaying, now retitled House of Evil, has long been touted as the definitive book on the Likens case; not hav
Apr 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this book the reader can gain a true account of exactly how cruel and vile human nature can become. I have read two fiction books based on this certain account, however the actual nonfiction record of exactly what happened on that tragic day in Indiana still remains the most chilling story... I suppose that reading House Of Evil digs at your skin so much because all of its contents are true. Before reading this book I could not even begin to believe that someone could be so vile and have such ...more
Apr 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The Indiana Torture Slaying: Sylvia Likens' Ordeal and Death
by John Dean
Borf Books

After hearing of the story, and watching the movies, The Indiana Torture Slaying was a hard book to pick up and start. This book is the interpretation of the torture, and eventual murder of a young girl named Sylvia Likens.This book is written in a journalistic and very literal manner.

Sylvia and her sister Jenny were part of a big and very unordinary, yet loving, family. Their mother was in jail for
3.5/5 the first half of this book sucked me in. The second half I skimmed a lot quicker. The ending made me mad. I don't think there was justice in this case unfortunately.
Mar 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
This case was senseless and horrifying; however, if you want to read about it, I recommend you go to Wikipedia instead. The author has a unique way of writing in that he jumps back and forth between events, but funnily enough he has a dramatic way of writing. When I read a true crime book, I prefer it to not read like a novel, but most do.
The book ended up being dry, especially when the author goes into great detail about the legal side of the case. I wasn't interested. Oh! Also, the book
Kristin Little
Creepy. Have read a few true crime books and this one was written in a really odd style. Which was probably a good thing. The writing style seemed disjointed and detached (probably a result of the authors instructions from the publisher - he alludes to this in the preface). If it wasn't, it may have been too gut-wrenching to think of the horrors inflicted on this poor girl. The "eight pages of shocking photos!" were terrible quality and most of the "shocking" photos were just pictures of the leg ...more
Carla ☺Did I Say That☺
Dont get me wrong...This was a riveting story...this book was based I will never forget....but the writing style of this one was terrible!!!...very scrambled and pretty much all over the place!!!
Jul 07, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-shelf
I don't know why 'm reading it....
BAM The Bibliomaniac
True Crime Commemoration # 20
Setting: 1960s Indianapolis
Jul 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
I picked this one up on a whim and could't put it down once I started it. The author's writing is very straight forward and simple. He pretty much just stated the facts on this horrible story. Hard to believe this ever happened but then again when I look at the era it happened in, the 60's, well that explains it. I would hope and pray that this could never happen in this day and age but then again we know it does. Sylvia is an enigma,I will never know or understand why she didn't think she was i ...more
✰☽♥✰  Unsolved Mystery ✰♥☾✰
Jun 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: True crime lovers

I had a review posted but Goodreads ate it.
Jennifer Melnyk
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, kindle, 2017
Sadistic and evil

The best part of this book was the epilogue. I felt a great deal of satisfaction in knowing that none of the people involved in such a heinous crime would live to see another day. God rest poor Sylvia's soul. I hope her killers enjoy their personal spot in hell.
I wanted to read this book because I had read Jack Ketchum's Girl Next Door and in the notes at the back he had mentioned that he based it on an actual crime. So I went digging and found this, checked it out of the library and read it.

It was written by a newspaper reporter, is a fast read and pretty much covers the facts and not much else. In fact, it reads like a very long newspaper story and doesn't really delve into anything beneath the surface.

For the basics on the case, the trial and the a
Tera Marie
Gut-wrenching story of the torture and death of young Sylvia Likens by her caretaker, the caretaker's children and children's friends. Although the story is captivating, the book itself is not very noteworthy. The writing is dull, but provides the basic events that occurred during the short life and death of the young Sylvia.
Sep 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Sylvia Likens
If your like me and have happened upon Sylvia Liken's terrible case, this book is a very good source of information. It details things that are not found on crimelibrary, wiki, or any of those other users. While it's obviously a hard read they let you into more of Sylvia's life, not to mention what was said during the court transcripts. When it comes to Sylvia, this is a very reliable source.
Christina Lyles
Oct 25, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Awful. For such a horrific crime, this book is poorly written. I feel like it is just one long run on sentence. It's like a 200 page book, and it took me over a month to read because it felt like such a chore.
Incredible story. Straightforward and competent recounting of the "facts." Would have appreciated more insight into the characters' motives; however, on the author's admission, this is beyond the scope of his expertise and this book.
Jul 13, 2009 added it
The content was morbidly fascinating. Seemingly well-researched for the time the event occurred. I find myself unable to 'rate' this book as it would imply enjoying anothers' torture.
Joanne Hastings
Not as well written as some othe true crime I have read but still interesting
Tera (adventuresbetweenpages) Baird
My only problem is I think the mother should have been sentenced to death! And NO ONE should have been paroled
Feb 04, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I had to give up on this book. It's not very well written. I went to Wikipedia and found out the whole story.
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this in an op shop not realising this was a true story, i thought it was going to be a horror novel. It was more terrifying than any novel could be to tell you the truth! The events took place in the mid 60s when young Sylvia Likens and her sister are sent to live with Gertrude Baniszewski and her family as part of an arrangement her parents had worked out with Gertrude. She and her sister are tortured and bullied constantly by Gertrude and one day, Sylvia Likens' emaciated corpse is fou ...more
Kiramey Gilleese
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Super quick read. Only took about 3 hours from start to finish. I really enjoyed this author's writing style. When it comes to true crime books, I don't want embellishments and fancy adjectives. I want details and I want them succinct. This was just that. No opinions, only facts and research. The actions from the murderers is all the drama a great true crime book needs. This crime was disturbing and haunting. The prosecuting attorney (Leroy New) writes the forward and his sentiments resonate eer ...more
Zeke Grant
This was such a horrific crime and really hard to wrap your head around it all. Its an interesting case as group dynamic peak my curiosity from a psychological perspective. I found the first part of the book well written/informative but the other half took some effort to keep myself reading as it dragged on a lot.
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you do read this book, bare in mind it has a lot of detail which may be hard to read. This case is so sad and disturbing. Just imagining, the pain and suffering this poor girl had to endure. And all the people who completely failed her.
Alison Robinson
First part of the book will make you I'll with a description of how the young girl was killed back in the 60's. Second half of the book was a little boring, as it only talked about the court case. Glad the people responsible were convicted in the end.
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was intense. Everything this poor 16 year old went through was horrific and unimaginably heinous. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. I wouldn't recommend this book if you don't have a strong stomach.
3.5 stars.
All my reviews probably contain spoilers

Like many other reviewers, I agree that the first half of the book is much more engaging than that last half, which focused on the aftermath of Sylvia Likens' death and the trial(s) that followed. With that said, I enjoyed John Dean's style of writing and very clear and concise explanation of events - I'm guessing his experience as a news reporter made it feel like that: one big report on the horrific death of Sylvia Likens. Some other reviewers harshly
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“discussing facts or culpability in the matter because the convictions are still on appeal. But I have been repeatedly asked why Sylvia did not just simply run away. I would suggest that by the time Sylvia told her sister she knew she was dying, she had reached profound apathy” 0 likes
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