First line: "It was an ordinary night in a small town very few Americans outside its boundaries even knew existed."
Maria Ridulph disappeared on a snowy December evening in 1957. She was playing outside with a friend when a stranger approached offering piggyback rides. Maria’s friend ran home to fetch her mittens; upon returning there was no trace of Maria or the stranger. Despite the determination of her community, national attention, and FBI involvement, no one was charged with Maria’s disappearance. Her body wouldn’t be discovered until the following April; her killer wouldn’t be arrested and tried for over half a century.
Footsteps in the Snow details the oldest cold case ever brought to trial in the United States. Charles Lachman, Inside Edition executive producer and author of A Secret Life, guides readers through the lives of those closest to the case using his meticulous examination of case evidence, historical records and his own interviews.
The murderer’s identity is clear to the reader early on, so this true crime book reads less like a murder mystery and more like a thriller as law enforcement agents throughout the five decades Maria’s case is open struggle to uncover the truth. Events are at times almost unbelievable, like a deathbed confession, and at other times disheartening, such as investigators neglecting to show the lone witness a picture of the killer--and original suspect--in 1958.
While extremely well researched, the account becomes at times weighed down with unnecessary detail and may leave readers with some unanswered questions. Even so, overall it maintains a high level of suspense and quick pace. True crime and crime fiction fans alike should devour this one.
Footsteps in the Snow is available in paperback (ISBN: 9780425272886) from Berkley.