In February 1991, local Battle Creek, MI news anchor Diane King was fatally shot twice in her driveway when she arrived home with her two small children from visiting family. Diane was married to Bradford King for about six and a half years. They lived in a quiet farmhouse somewhat away from the hustle and bustle of the world with their two children, son Marler, age 3, and daughter Kateri, who was three months old at the time of her mother’s murder.
Diane was a strong, independent and successful local news anchor who had worked her way up from the bottom rung of the ladder after a mid-life career change. She was a beautiful and vibrant thirty-four-year-old woman with a radiant smile and a fantastic delivery for television. She loved her news career and she loved being a mother. She was close to her family and friends and though some co-workers felt her style in the workplace was coarse and aggressive, the vast majority of people saw her as compassionate and caring, kind and giving. And no one could deny her drive or commitment to her career or to her family.
Brad on the other hand…Brad was a forty-three-year-old Criminal Justice Instructor at Western Michigan University. It wasn’t so much a full-time gig. He was teaching one class at the time of his wife’s murder. The previous term, her had taught three. There, on the college campus, Bradford King was known as a friend to the students, his door always being open for students to ask questions and in particular, it was always open to students of the female persuasion. Although Brad wasn’t in the running for “Sexiest Man Alive”, he apparently made up for it with an impressive amount of charm affording him the ability to effectively sweet talk practically any female student he chose. Brad was not liked by Diane’s family because they either knew of or suspected his multiple affairs. They also thought he was somewhat of a leech, living off of Diane and her success without going out into the world and carving his own. He had already held down several jobs, military service, twelve years as a police officer and now as a Criminal Justice Instructor but, he went through his share of rough times just like anyone else.
Still, there was some conjecture about the marriage between Brad and Diane. Diane had recently been receiving creepy phone calls after she turned down a fan for a lunch date. Then she received a threatening letter like the ones people get in movies, the ones where they are comprised of letters cut from magazines and newspapers and glued to a page to spell out a message. Diane was basically being told she should have gone to lunch with this person.
Now, while Diane and Brad had told a number of people about this harassment, they decided they would work out a security system so that whenever she got home, she would NOT exit her vehicle until she saw Brad on the property. This meant sometimes she would wait in the car for a couple hours until he got home at night. But they had this completely worked out, no way she was to get out of the car without Brad being there.
So, on February 9, 2001 at (by my best guess) around 6:15pm, Diane pulls into her driveway with her two kids in the backseat. Her mother has called ahead to tell Brad Diane was on her way home. She is surprising him with the kids as she was supposed to leave them overnight with a family member. She gets out of her car, leaving her two small children in the back. Before she knows what is going on, she is shot once in the chest, the fatal shot. Then, moments later, a second gunshot rips through her abdomen right at the top of her pubic region. Behind the scenes, the off-the-cuff term for this is “the bitch shot” as in “Take that, Bitch!”. Her son is the only child that is old enough to know anything is going on and all he sees is his Mommy fall down to the ground.
According to Brad’s initial statement, he was home most of the day, received the call from his mother-in-law that Diane was on her way home, took a nap, ran a couple errands, ate lunch, worked outside for a bit and went for a walk. He says he went for his walk around 6:00pm. This was about the time he should have been expecting Diane home. He said that he returned to find her on the ground in the driveway. He phoned 911 Emergency Services at 6:40pm.
What followed next was over a year of frustration, setbacks, disappointments and undermined hard work at seemingly every turn. From the very beginning the police seemed to subconsciously work against themselves. Either they weren’t trained and equipped to handle the situation at hand OR they were and just didn’t use their training and equipment.
Many things in the investigation went wrong or were mishandled. The crime scene wasn’t taped off at the start of the investigation. That means anyone could have entered an exited the scene at any time. The husband and friends were allowed back at the scene before it had been released. There were no casts taken of the footprints at the scene. The list goes on and on.
This made for a tough case for the prosecution. It also made it very easy for the defense to try to raise reasonable doubt at trial.
Brad was a suspect from early on. It was very suspicious to everyone that Diane would have exited her vehicle if she hadn’t seen Brad. Plus, it was hard for anyone to believe that some stalker could have gotten on the property and lay in wait for her without Brad or the dog being alerted to their presence. Nothing was adding up. Additionally, months into the investigation, Brad told a number of people that the cops were, and I’m paraphrasing here, screwing things up and too stupid to ever find out who did it and they’ll never get it right.
Eventually, they DID get it right and after over a month of trial, Bradford King was found guilty of murdering his wife and sentenced to life in prison with no parole.
His defense attorney was a real piece of work and honestly, even though the guy has tons of people saying he’s one of the best there is, I wouldn’t have paid for his opening statement and closing argument. What a waste. He babbled as if he didn’t know what to say and being in a courtroom was new to him. Awful.
At his sentencing Brad criticized everyone involved with the entire process from the investigation to the trial EXCEPT his lawyer. He insulted the judge, the police, the detectives, the lawyers, the jury, the victim’s family, the system, everyone. The only TRUE victim in his eyes…was him. No matter what he claimed in his final statement.
In the end, his in laws got custody of his children, which he didn’t want to happen. He’s sitting in jail exhausting appeals with a public defender because the high priced attorney from his trial dropped him the day he was found guilty due to the fact that Brad had no money to pay for the appeals process…and this big time lawyer doesn’t work for murderers for free. King has lost support from the bulk of his family and friends. There may be one or two that still support him but they are few and far between if they are.
I found this book in a thrift store. I saw the word “stalking” and grabbed it. I actually had to look it up online to see what it was about when I decided to read it and was thrilled when I saw that it was about a true crime that happened in the 90s.
The book didn’t take long to read and it was interesting. I think there was a little too much time spent on the whole entire life history of the main players. I don’t know about other people who would read this but, me personally, I don’t really care about the suspect’s summer job as a teenager or his college student career. I think that may be going a little far. I think the author could have just started at where Diane and Brad met and went from there but, hey, to each his own I guess.
I also think the timeline layout of the book could have been a little more organized. We go from the day of the murder to a rundown of Diane’s life to the day of the murder again then we learn about Brad’s whole life, then back to the murder scene, then marital discord…the author just hops all over the place. The last third of the book is where the real meat of the story seems to be because that’s where we get the majority of the trial and the interrogations of Brad. I would have liked to have the life history stuff together after the introduction and then all the crime stuff together with the trial. That, I feel, would have flowed better. I found myself looking back toward the front of the book to refer to the beginning once I got to the trial portion of the story. Other than that, it was a good read.
Here we have the original short story by Stephen King, first published in Cavalier magazine in 1972.
I found it in Stephen King Goes to the Movies, which is a collection of his short stories that have been made into movies. It’s the same collection I found “1408” in.
The Mangler can also be found it its most common place, King’s collection in the book Night Shift.
Like many writers, it took King many years to become the master of the macabre we know him as today. During the time he was waiting to become a big success King held a number of jobs. One of them was at an industrial laundry service. The kind of place where hotels and such places send their massive amounts of sheets and towels out to get laundered. There, in a large industrial building full of steam and mechanical sounds from washing machines and dryers and the like, sits a machine called a mangle. This is the machine that presses and flattens large sheets, towels, tablecloths, etc. It can also be used to dry them at the same time they are being pressed by blasting them with extremely high temperature steam. Plus, there is a setting on this machine to allow it to fold the laundered items as well.
The first version of this was used as a wringer to wring excess water out of clothes. (I remember my Great Grandmother had a wringer that, after the clothes went through the washing machine, we had to feed each garment through one at a time, oftentimes more than once, and then we would hang the clothes to dry on the clothesline. All of this was done in the finished barn she had as none of the laundry facilities were actually in the house. This thing HAD to have been from the 30s or 40s at least. It was the same size as her washing machine.)
Anyways, the mangle is the star of this story. Nicknamed “the mangler” it is the heart and soul of the fear inducing spookiness of this twisted tale. The story takes place in an industrial laundry where a detective has been called in to investigate a horrible workplace accident that has resulted in death. A woman who was working the mangler had somehow gotten caught in the rollers, even though the machine had a safety bar and it was fully functional and in proper working order. Once the rollers had gotten ahold of her the machine pulled her into the pressing mechanism in a flash and well, mangled her.
During his investigation, our detective finds out that not only is this just one in the long line of many accidents involving this particular machine but, there are a number of people that believe this specific machine is haunted or possessed by something not of this world. He does some research and finds a list of horrible incidents that were written off as accidents but rumors suggest that’s not what really happened. There was a steam line that broke and burned three ladies while they were working. One gal’s dress got caught in a drive chain. Over the years various pieces and parts have randomly fallen off of the machine even though at every inspection it was checked and repeatedly reported to have no issues. Sheets constantly get caught in the folding mechanism. It just seems like one problem after another with this thing. He also finds out that it all started with an initial accident of a woman cutting herself on one of the clamps. A seemingly innocuous incident that apparently started a horrifying chain of events that led us to our fine detective friend.
Realizing that this may very well all come down to some sort of witchcraft or demonic possession he seeks the help of a friend of his. Together they come up with a plan of attack, a way to battle the evil trapped inside this mechanical nightmare. They only get one shot at this, for if they fail, they could unleash this evil and the consequences could be worse than they ever imagined.
You’ll have to either read the story or watch the movie to find out what happens.
I read this story so I could watch the movie and see how Hollywood did with bringing this King novella to life. So often they change things like they did in Cujo so, I was curious how they would translate this story to the big screen. I actually liked this tale. I do have to say that I am glad it was a short story. If it had been a full length novel, I don’t think it would have been as good which is why I am curious about the movie. Plus, I have wanted to see the movie for a while and I like doing the book vs. movie comparisons.
This was one of those King short stories where he got right to the point and ran with it. We started the story with death and we just kind of remained there in that general vicinity. The ending to the story was really one of the best parts and that’s why I’m not going to spoil it for you. Keep in mind this IS a short story so it’s not like it would take all THAT long to read, even for those who don’t read much. It’s worth it. Then again, almost anything King writes is worth reading in my opinion.
The interesting thing about this story is that it brings to life an inanimate object a way that is similar to the way he brings the hotel room to life in “1408”. Both stories are about conquering evil, albeit in a different manner. King has a special way of weaving sinister spirits and entities into his tales and having those evil things torment his characters. If you get a chance, this might be worth your while to pick up.
By Alvin Schwartz
Illustrated by Stephen Grammell
This is a collection of three books from my childhood, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1981), More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1984) and Scary Stories 3 More Tales to Chill Your Bones (1991). Collecting stories from folklore and urban legend, Alvin Schwartz retells these tales with his own flare and, at times, even adding a hint of comic relief to the darkness swirling in the mind as you peruse the pages.
I’m sure there are many from my generation, Generation X, that remember these books. There is actually a movie being made from them, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark being released in August of this year. I’m not sure what stories they include or from which books they pulled them from BUT, I’m hoping for a good and FUN film that takes me back to the days without cares like going back and reading these books again did.
Seeing as how these books are really meant for kids, they are broken down in each book into sections based on story content, whether the stories are scary, involve jump scares, have humor, include death as a main component, unexplained mysterious happenings, urban legends, those kinds of things.
This is a fantastic collection, perfect for parents and kids to share together, an activity that seems to have been lost with the advent of tablets, smartphones and the endless slew of video games available. When I was a child, my father and I read together every night before bed. And we read all kinds of things. He had a fabulous book collection that included great works like Alice in Wonderland, Huckleberry Finn, Lord of the Flies, The Wizard of Oz and so much more. We took turns reading aloud but, it was always a book I chose. I don’t think I would enjoy reading near as much if it hadn’t been for those experiences reading with Dad. It got me to read something OUTSIDE of school, OUTSIDE of what THEY assigned and got me to search literature for something more than The Babysitter’s Club or R.L. Stine. (In all honesty, I NEVER read one book that was assigned in school, not one. I didn’t read The Outsiders, I watched the movie. I didn’t read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 1984 or To Kill A Mockingbird, although I watched that movie too. Basically, if a teacher assigned it, it got put in my locker and was never seen again until it was time to turn the book back in. I certainly wasn’t going to pay for a book I had no intention of ever reading. However, if I had been given something like Catcher in the Rye to read, I probably would have read it because even at that young age I was well aware it was on the banned books list and that would have felt rebellious to me way back then. But alas, this was never the case.)
I can’t imagine any of these stories actually scaring any kids but, it’s hard to think back that far and put yourself back in that young of a mindset. There might be one or two in there but, seriously, some of these things I remember from Halloween parties at school.
The artwork is simple yet very effective. Some of the images are actually pretty grotesque for a kids book but, hey, that’s what I like about it. I liked it even as a kid.
My whole purpose for reading these again was to refresh my memory so when the movie comes out I had a better idea of how to gauge the final product. With the kind of technology and special effects that are available these days there is a lot of potential for this to turn into a well done film. However, with the “let’s do everything half-assed” mindset that seems to be permeating the entertainment industry, it has potential to totally suck as well. Let’s keep our fingers crossed yeah?
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Trailer (all trailer spots and content in one viewing):