Thursday, August 15, 2019

Audio True Crime: "Sex Slave Murders" by R. Barri Flowers

Audio True Crime: Sex Slave Murders: the true story of serial killers Charlene and Gerald Gallego by R. Barri Flowers, 2012 (for this audio version), downloaded from Wisconsin Digital Library.

This book seems to have had several printings and editions. I will not try and track those editions and dates down but a few references in the text mention updates to the story. I categorize this as Supermarket True Crime. The paperback you find on a spinner,printed on acidic paper, and with a lurid cover and description.

Flowers loves to use the phrase "sex slave" over and over again when writing about the Gallegos's crimes. To me "sex slave" sounds like a sounds more "sex games" or "let's get kinky". As if Flowers is trying to titillate the reader before revealing sex life details. So, don't get to think the title is a nod and wink. This is about kidnapping, rape, and murder.

Gerald Gallego had a difficult upbringing with a father executed for murder and a mother with a revolving door of husbands and boyfriends and lots of booze. He was a charming womanizer, multiple married, violent and rapey ex-con when he met teenage Charlene.

Charlene was a single child of overindulgent parents who was charmed by Gerald. She took up with him and actively and passively participated when Gerald wanted to start kidnapping teen girls for rape.

Gerald was certainly abused physically, sexually, and emotionally. He himself abused a 6-year-old when he was 13. Flowers writes how Charlene had a sharp change in behavior as a teen that, to me, shouted "Sex Abuse!".

Anyhoo. Petite, blond, and pretty Charlene would chat up a couple girls and get them to the Gallegos's van. The girls would be tied up and driven to a remote location (the murders happened IN Ca, NV, and OR). Gallegos would rape the girls, shoot them, and bury them. Charlene would hang out at in the van.

The two of them were getting away with murder when they execute the risky abduction of a college couple outside a fraternity dance. The Gallegos forced the couple into the back of the victim's car when a friend of the couple approached, spoke to the couple, saw the Gallegos, and the Gallegos drove away. The now missing couple are searched for, the murdered bodies are found, and the cops track down Charlene and put things together.

Flowers does a good job telling the entire story. As mentioned above she is very fond of the phrase "sex slave" and repeatedly emphasizes how Gerald murdered a pregnant women. But, Flowers put in the work and fills in details on Gerald's childhood, the crimes, the investigation and the many arguments and maneuvering over which state would get primary jurisdiction for prosecution.

Flowers details the absolutely bizarre parts of the trial in Nevada where megalomaniac Gerald acts as his own attorney. He puts Charlene on the stand and tries to get her to take the blame for some crimes. Their interaction is a fucking bizarre back-and-forth conversation of people acting like 8th graders but discussing rape, murder, and the possibility of a state death sentence.

Giving a vicious control freak like Gerald a free voice in court was nuts. The court had to accede to the situation and Gerald must have been on an emotional moon rocket as he got to stand in court and try to push around witnesses and make demands.  Fucking vile person.

And Charlene mostly gets away with all this. She plays the "poor little me" victim and, like Karla Homolka a few years later in Canada, gets away with just a few years in prison. Gerald was a controlling thug and I understand that leaving that coercive control can be very difficult. But, Charlene actively participated in murder.

1. The female narrator's male voices were awful with this weird gruff voice that only had one emotion: anger.
2. I will associate this book with wearing a 35 lbs. pack and walking the dog at Korth Park in preparation for the Yellowstone high adventure trip.
3. Flowers talks about Charlene getting out of prison and appearing on the Sally Jessy Raphael show. I could not find a online video of the program.

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