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Gitchie Girl: The Survivor's Inside Story of the Mass Murders That Shocked the Heartland

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3.80  ·  Rating details ·  1,084 ratings  ·  145 reviews
A terrified voice cried out in the night.

"Who are you? What do you want?"

The sound of snapping twigs closed in on the five teenagers enjoying an evening around a glowing campfire at Gitchie Manitou State Park. The night of music and laughter had taken a dark turn. Evil loomed just beyond the tree line, and before the night was over, one of the Midwest's most horrific mass
...more
Paperback, 164 pages
Published January 12th 2016 by Electio Publishing
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Sandy (8/2/16) I have now been informed that there are FIVE 7th and 8th classes reading this book as a whole group, and the kids have found it to be a gripp…more(8/2/16) I have now been informed that there are FIVE 7th and 8th classes reading this book as a whole group, and the kids have found it to be a gripping tale. There are likely more classes reading it, but I've had students from five different schools come to book presentations based on having read GITCHIE GIRL in class. The teachers and students have spoken, and they are hooked on the book! Even so, I am leaving my original answer posted below as food for thought:
(June 2016)That is iffy. There is a rape that occurs and some violence. The book does give an overall sense of what a victim goes through. My best answer is that on an individual basis, a parent or guardian may decide a child that age would be able to read the book. If you're looking at having a whole class read it, I think high school would be more appropriate. Thank you for your question, and I hope this helps with your decision. UPDATE: I've been asking parents this question, and so far parents of 7th grade students have all said they are letting their child read this. That's obviously an unofficial survey, so maybe a 7th grade teacher will weigh in on this!(less)
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Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,084 ratings  ·  145 reviews


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Start your review of Gitchie Girl: The Survivor's Inside Story of the Mass Murders That Shocked the Heartland
Bill Kupersmith
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A haunting true crime story

This horrible bizarre crime occurred back in 1973, shortly after I came to Iowa but at a far corner of the state. At a state park four teenaged boys were shot to death and a 13 y/o girl with them was abducted and raped, but then released, ultimately to testify against the killers. They are still incarcerated at Fort Madison. I always wondered who the girl was and what became of her. I was saddened to learn that she was treated with suspicion and as a pariah. But the ta
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Merrill Frazier
Jan 17, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was excited to read this book as I had never heard of this event. I don't think I have so vehemently disagreed with a book rating before. I was shocked to see it rated 4.57 here. The book was poorly edited if it was even edited at all. The writing was horrible. It felt like there was so much detail and factual info left out of the book and so much extraneous emotional stuff put in. I really regret paying $5 for it.
Christina
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library-read
Gitchie Girl is a true crime book recounting the tragic events of the multiple homicides that occurred at Gitchie Manitou nature preserve near Sioux Falls, SD in November of 1973. I recently saw a news feature about this book which prompted me to purchase it when I found it for sale at a local shop. I have lived in Sioux Falls for over 15 years and have never heard of this terrible event. Overall the book is well written and a quick read. The authors examine the childhood of the lone survivor, S ...more
Deb
Sandra was only 13, but looked older. When she went to Gitchie Manitou State Park with her boyfriend and a few of his friends, none of them could have anticipated the tragedy and chain of events that unfolded that night. As the only survivor, most of the police were sure she was somehow involved...as did the public. They called her Gitchie Girl - a name that followed her for decades.

I first learned about the events at Gitchie Manitou when I was in high school - roughly 15 years after that fatefu
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♥ Marlene♥
Never heard about these killings so me as a true crime reader I expected to learn (preferably after the crime) why this occurred. Alas I still do not know why they did what they did which and as an avid true crime reader that is annoying. It is one reason why I do not read unsolved books with a few exceptions.





Okay, I am just a too curious, nosy woman :) and want to know how it ends and why they do what they do. I love the psychology stuff of it as well. What make people do things like this?. ..
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Stacey Grey
Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Started out very good then devolved into a Sunday school lesson. I didn't think I had to worry about proselytization in a true crime book. Lesson learned.

The editing was horrible and chunks of facts were completely omitted while some inane bits were repeated.

This crime is interesting but I'd recommend looking for a different book or just reading articles online.
Andee
I have been looking forward to this since Betty (the late Sheriff Vinson's wife) told me about it. She exclaimed, "Oh, you'll just have to read this book coming out on Gitchie Manitou!--I don't even know about everything they're writing and all that happened to Sandy!"

----------------------------------

Quite wonderfully written. Things I liked:

1. It is both a memoir for Sandra and a fact crime on the Gitchie Manitou mass murder. This allows the reader to be absorbed into Sandra's life before, du
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Dale Van
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A haunting story well told.

This story is tragedy beyond most imaginations. A heinous crime and tragic loss of innocent lives.

One of the youths that lost his life was known by me personally. He was a hard worker and lived life to the fullest. So proud of his van and his family.
Laurie
Mar 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a quick read for a long drive across the state of SD. It's about a true story involving the murder of four teenage boys and the rape of a 13 year girl that occurred in a wooded park near Sioux Falls, SD, in November of 1973. I was 10 years old at that time, growing up in Sioux City, IA, but I don't remember hearing anything of this. The authors of the book are educators in Sioux City. Obviously, the teen-agers made some bad decisions, i.e., not leaving the park at the first sign of some ...more
David Herbener
Jul 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
Although the story is incredible and relays a terrible tragedy in the heartland (even right where I grew up), the prose of the narrative lacked the skill to deserve a high rating. Gitchie Girl tells an interesting local true crime story that is almost legend near Sioux Falls, and is worth reading if you are from the area.
Carlene
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really really liked this book. I grew up in NW IA and remember this as I was 13 also. Brings back lots of memories from that time.
Ashley
Jan 26, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Felt like author was trying too hard to be a fancy writer, instead of letting the story tell itself.
Brooke BURKETT
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heartbreaking story but great book!!
Adam Haan
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In November of 1973 my family moved from Aberdeen, South Dakota to Sioux Falls. My mom was in the kitchen of our new house unpacking and organizing, when she heard on the radio about the murders of four teenagers at Gitchie Manitou State Preserve, just across the border in Iowa. The perpetrators were still on the loose, the newscaster said. My mom quickly got up and made sure the doors were locked.

I was too young to remember any of this. In later years, my parents talked about how creeped out t
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Koren
This book was recommended to me by a friend who knew I liked True Crime and her dad's first cousin wrote the book. This is a somewhat local author for me as the crime took place about 2 hours from me and I am familiar with some of the towns mentioned in the book. My son lives in one of the towns mentioned. This took place in the 70's. 4 teenagers were senselessly gunned down and a fifth one raped and then let go when they were camping in a state park. Why the fifth one was allowed to survive is ...more
Jeanette
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good read...

I read true crime books because I'm always trying to understand why some people create horror & mayhem in their lives and others.
Some authors are better at telling a story than others. These authors were great. Just the right amount of information bypassing the truly horrible parts. It's hard to accept that four young lives were taken apparently for no reason at all.
I'm impressed that this young lady was finally able to overcome and live her life again. She should be an inspiration
...more
Janet McMillan
Jan 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book

The book is well written. In fact perhaps too well written. Somehow it seemed that I was there. I had to take breaks from the book because it ripped me apart, it felt so real to me. I have nothing but admiration for the courage Sandra showed in the years after the killings. Five young victims. A true my sad story.
Magpie67
True crime of the unusual but lacking a certain depth that I enjoy when reading true crime. Forensics, crime scene descriptions and the minute to minute details of the days leading up to the discovery and arrest of 'The Boss'. Detail junkie I am, so I would have preferred to hear the details from the detectives/policeman view. Plus one small detail that I think should have been bigger was the mention of the one brother who was in jail and could let himself in and out for a work release program. ...more
Heather
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
Gitchie Girl reads like a scary campfire story...except it is true. The authors did a very nice job of capturing the horror of the events without dragging us through every little gory detail. The story is frightening enough without needing anything more to sensationalize the horror that these kids experienced. Well done.

I rate this book 4.5 stars (rounded up to 5) and recommend it to true crime enthusiasts or anyone who enjoys reading a scary, page-turner. I was not familiar with these murders s
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Heather Berkhof
Mar 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could not put the book down once I started it. I read it in a couple of hours. This story of true events that happened right outside Sioux Falls is heart wrenching and unimaginable! This 13 year old girl is beyond brave and has an incredible spirit. The things she endures even before this horrific night in her life is unreal! She is a true testimony of the things we can endure as humans and still function. She gives us all hope. I had the pleasure of meeting her at a book signing and was shock ...more
Bonnie Kernene
Sep 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 50for2016
This book is about the mass murder that occurred in 1973 in Gitchie Manitou State Park in Iowa. The book title refers to the only survivor of the night, Sandra. The book reflects so much of her emotions that you feel as though you were there with her. She is such a strong survivor who wanted justice for her friends.

This book touched me personally. Sandra's emotions, especially her compassion towards her friends, was truly amazing and inspiring. I highly recommend this book.
Mzfitted
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved This book

This is a great TC book but also a book about the only survivors battle with survivors guilt. It is a story of teenagers out for a innocent night of bonfires and music that quickly turned into a nightmare only one would live through.I highly recommend this book.
Angela
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent non-fiction book that reads smoothly like a novel. It usually takes me a long time to read anything in the true crime genre, but I tore through this book in two days.
Eric Dirksen
Feb 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
great first hand account of a horrific story that happened near my home
Kaitlin
Oct 10, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I suggest not reading until page 43. I wish I knew why the authors decided to write the story the way they did.
Sheri
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I like reading true crime & survivor stories, but the writing in this book was at a high school level. Interesting story tho since I'm from the area and had never heard about these murders. ...more
Fishface
Mar 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
This was pretty powerful survivor's-eye-view account of an atrocious crime and how it blighted, reworked and generally rewrote the life of the only victim to walk away alive.
Cindy
Apr 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1900-present
I needed to read a true crime story for a challenge. I remembered this book because there was a big story on the local news about Gitchie Manitue Park, the new book just published and the sad history from the 1970's. Gitchie Manitue means Great Spirit. The authors did a book tour through South Dakota. Part of the park is in South Dakota and the other part is in Iowa. In the early 1970's teenagers gathered in the park for a bonfire and some fun. That night ended in a tragedy. All of them were sho ...more
Courtney  (courtney_three_tears)
This story was decent. I read it because it happened near where I live, and that made it interesting to me. I felt like the story was a good one, especially the mystery of why the teenagers were murdered. The way the story was told left me wanting more.
Denise
Sep 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-reads
I think I was drawn into this book by the fact that it took place in Iowa, but it left me feeling unsettled. I always read these things looking for the "why." It's never there. Senseless crimes.

It's an incredible story, but not great editing.
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Phil Hamman is the co-author of the #1 national best selling true crime book Gitchie Girl. He also has two memoirs published by eLectio Publishing that profile his struggles to rise above a dysfunctional childhood marked with domestic violence and poverty. One serendipitous night drove him from his criminal path and put him on the road to becoming a teacher who mentored and taught students with b ...more

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