"Murders have three essential elements," explained Detective Skeeters. "They are as follows: motive, means, and opportunity. The `means' in this crime was a handgun, the `opportunity' was the seclusion of a couple's picnic site, but the motive was something that couldn't be ascertained." Burl Barer applies in- depth research of the murderous crimes of serial killer Robert Yates in Spokane and Tacoma, WA from 1975 – 1998. This personal True Crime novel was one that the author undertook with dignity, understanding, and sympathy. Not only did the author live in the area but knew some of the victims and their families. Burl Barer has put together a highly readable, extremely accurate, and well investigated book that digs into Robert Yates childhood background and crimes.
Before reading this book I was under the impression that for the most part the inexcusable prejudices of the work of a prostitute were given little thought or consideration by police. After all, some say they asked for it. I felt the author was clear when he stated that, "when a prostitute is murdered, there is not a united public outrage. It's sad, but for some reason these victims, who were wives, mothers, and someone's child." This humanistic outlook allows healing to the families and more importantly understanding without prejudice by the reader. These women were thrown on the side of the road like trash while ex-military security forces Robert Yates continues to attend church while celebrating fatherhood with his own two children. The frustration and determination can be felt by the reader as each new body is found. One might find many similarities of Yates psychosis to that of Ted Bundy. As Yates becomes more and more desperate to kill and in order to quench his own sexual thirst he buries Melody Murfin in his backyard by his bedroom window. Yet, the descriptions and use of Locard's Principal of Exchange helps homicide detectives and FBI to close in.
From the very start of this book to the end I was hooked. I have read a lot of true crime books in my life and very few have required me to focus on the victims and the family members. It is easy to write a book that gives the hard facts, data, dates, and details. Yet, Burl Barer digs deeper into the life of not only the killer but each victim. I have been a fan of Burl Barer for many years. His style is engaging, addicting, and purposeful. He is an expert in his field and does not hold back. Toward the end of this book one can read the statement to the victims by Robert Yates along with statements from the family members of the victims. I was most touched by the letter that Robert Yates daughter wrote. Furthermore the reader is able to view crime scene photos along with the evidence that was collected. Some may find this disturbing but Burl Bares tackles the issue with grace. I highly recommend Body Count by Burl Barer. Additionally, I hope you too will become a fan of an amazing, talented, and entertaining author: Burl Barer!