THE MURDERED FAMILY: A Novel - by Vernon Keel, 2010. When seven members of a North Dakota farm family and their hired boy are brutally murdered in April of 1920 during an intense statewide election campaign, eager investigators encouraged by nervous politicians get a signed confession from a man who argues immediately that he was forced to sign it. Exactly three weeks after Jacob Wolf, a German Russian immigrant, is found murdered along with his wife, Beata, five of their six daughters and the hired boy, one of the prime suspects in the case signs a confession to all eight murders and is immediately sentenced to life in prison. From the very beginning, though, he denies his guilt and says that his confession was obtained "under duress, intimidation and fear." He claims that he was told then that the safest place for him until this thing died down was in the state penitentiary where he could file a change of plea in order to receive a jury trial. In November of that year his lawyers file a motion in district court in Bismarck asking that his plea of guilty be withdrawn and in lieu thereof a plea of not guilty be entered, and for a trial upon the merits. Their motion is strengthened when some new evidence is discovered on the Wolf family farm only days before the motion is filed. This novel uses historical fiction to tell the true story about the Wolf family murders. In it, the author examines legal and historical records to tell a story that raises questions about the guilt of the man sentenced to life in prison for the crime less than three weeks after the murders were committed. Soft cover - 350 pages.
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