In October 1955, three Chicago boys were found murdered, their bodies naked and dumped in a ditch in Robinson Woods on the city’s Northwest Side. A community and a nation were shocked. In a time when such crimes against children were rare, the public was transfixed as local television stations aired stark footage of the first hours of the investigation. Life and Newsweek magazines published exclusive stories the following week. When Kenneth Hansen was convicted and sentenced for the murders, the case was considered solved—until questions were raised about Hansen’s presumed guilt.
Shattered Sense of Innocence: The 1955 Murders of Three Chicago Children tells the gripping story of the three murdered boys—thirteen-year-old John Schuessler, his eleven-year-old brother, Anton, and thirteen-year-old Bobby Peterson—and the quest to find and bring to justice their killer. Authors Richard C. Lindberg and Gloria Jean Sykes recount the bungled 1955 police investigation, the failures of multiple law enforcement agencies, and the subsequent convictions of Kenneth Hansen, in 1995 and 2002, and present new information concerning two suspects overlooked by police for five decades.
The authors deftly examine all sides of this tragic story, drawing on exclusive interviews with law enforcement agents, with horse trainers affiliated with the so-called horse mafia, and with the man convicted of the murders, Kenneth Hansen. This intensely intimate account offers a rare glimpse into one community and examines how these atrocious crimes altered public perceptions nationwide. Shattered Sense of Innocence, which is also a story of political controversy, a determined federal agent’s quest for justice, and a community’s loss of innocence, includes fifty illustrations.