Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Real-Life Murder Case Inspires UNF Author; the Novel Is Based on the Halloween Slaying of an Iowa Farm Family

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Real-Life Murder Case Inspires UNF Author; the Novel Is Based on the Halloween Slaying of an Iowa Farm Family

Article excerpt

Byline: ADAM AASEN

As a newspaper reporter in Iowa for 20 years, Dan Dundon covered many brutal murder cases.

But no other case stuck with him like the 1975 Halloween slaying of a 25-year-old couple and their two young children. The case rocked the small farming town of Cedar Falls, and he hasn't stopped thinking about it since.

"Thirty years later, this case still haunts me," he said.

To bring closure in his mind, Dundon, who now works as the director of development communications at the University of North Florida, has written a novel inspired by the case. It was published in November by Raider Publishing International.

In the real case, authorities said 32-year-old Jerry Mark shot and killed his brother Leslie, his brother's wife and their two children because of a dispute over the family estate.

Prosecutors argued that Mark, who was living to California, drove his motorcycle cross country to kill the victims because he was upset about being cut out of his father's will.

Mark was convicted and sentenced to life without parole. He maintains his innocence and still has appeals pending.

The novel, Lassiter Hill, focuses on an Iowa farming family led by matriarch Betty Lassiter. In the book, the crime is essentially the same and evidence from the real case parallels the case in the book. The big difference is that the characters and their personalities have been changed.

In the book, Dundon can also use his imagination to fill in the unanswered questions from the real case. In his book, the suspect, Mark Lassiter, tries to cover up a Halloween murder by making it look like a Satanic ritual.

The book also offers a surprise ending that's dramatically different from the real case.

"Because of the brutality of the crime a lot of the people in the town can't believe that one of their own could do this," Dundon said. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.