Memoir hopes to set record straight after 35 years
September 3, 2013
By David Hayes
Many authors have a compelling tale they wish to bring to print that, for myriad reasons, takes years to finally get published.
For Larry Edwards, the 35-year journey to bring the public the untold story of the violent loss of his parents was as much a cathartic release as it was a chance to set the record straight.
Talking about his book “Dare I Call It Murder? A Memoir of Violent Loss” from his adopted home of San Diego, Edwards, 63, still gets choked up recounting the events that went into the tale that literally split his family apart.
“I do feel — I know it’s a cliché — as if a weight has been lifted from my shoulders after writing this,” Edwards said.
The story begins, simply enough, in 1977, with a family journey by sailboat, bound for French Polynesia. Aboard the Spellbound were Edwards’ father Loren and step-mom Joanne, an Issaquah High School graduate and resident of Preston. Also aboard were his brother Gary, sister Kerry and a family friend.
Before the boat would reach Tahiti, however, Edwards’ parents would be dead, his sister injured and all survivors providing confusing and conflicting information to authorities.
The incident made headlines in both Seattle and Tahiti papers, with the FBI investigating what happened for years. But in the end, no one was ever charged.
Edwards said certain factors always led authorities to suspect his parents’ deaths were at the hands of his brother, not the result of an accident, as Gary claimed.
The incident literally split Edwards’ family apart, as sides were chosen over whom to believe.
“My father’s side of the family couldn’t believe my brother had anything to do with it,” Edwards said. “My mother’s side had no doubt of his involvement.”
Compounding the FBI’s investigation was his sister’s refusal to testify against Gary. Without her cooperation, Edwards said prosecutors wouldn’t bring a case they knew they couldn’t win.
As hard as it was to cope with the loss of his parents, which Edwards blames for his suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, things got worse.
The family’s festering wound was reopened in 2009 when true crime author Ann Rule included a version of the incident in her anthology, “But I Trusted You (Ann Rule’s Crime Files, Vol. 14).”
Edwards said her story was full of inaccuracies, based on no interviews with the family, but instead from incomplete, initial newspaper reports. He added his family was again torn asunder, taking sides defending or condemning Gary’s involvement. Many of his family members still live in the Issaquah area to this day, but refuse to talk about the case with anyone, he said.
“I was left, essentially, with no recourse to sue Ann Rule, because my parents were dead and there was no one to defame,” Edwards explained.
So, the former journalist and public relations specialist moved forward to set the record straight himself, with or without his sister’s help.
What resulted is more than just a true crime book.
“It’s primarily a memoir of violent loss,” he said.
Edwards learned he was not alone in the severe reaction people can experience when loved ones are taken away violently or traumatically. Now that “Dare I Call It Murder? A Memoir of Violent Loss” is a best-seller on Amazon.com, Edwards is looking forward to sharing it with the public at local bookstore readings.
“As hard as it is for me to talk about sometimes,” Edwards said, “I won’t say I enjoy it, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to talk about it.”
He added he hopes the book and readings brings awareness to the need for more services to those who suffer from the effects of violent loss.
If you go
‘Dare I Call It Murder? A Memoir of Violent Loss,’ by Larry Edwards, author readings and signings
-7 p.m. Sept. 10 — Barnes & Noble, 626 106th Ave. N.E., Bellevue
-11 a.m. Sept. 14 — Costco, 8629 120th Ave. N.E., Kirkland
-Purchase the book on Amazon.com.