Monday, April 25, 2016

Letters from a Serial Killer by Kristi Belcamino and Stephanie Kahalekulu

It is a true story, one of the most heinous of crimes resulting in the deepest of heartache.  I became friends with Kristi Belcamino through her role as the author of the Gabriella Giovanni crime/mystery series.  Kristi is a bright, joyful person with whom you immediately feel better about the world and its inhabitants.  And, she is this bright light, no deception there.  But, she carries a heavy burden inside, one that led her to write the fiction series, with the first book, Blessed Are the Dead, a direct link to the burden of experience that lies within her.  That experience is her encounter with Evil in the name of Curtis Dean Anderson, a pedophile, a kidnapper, a murderer.  The true account of that horrific experience is now available in the book Letters from a Serial Killer by Kristi Belcamino and Stephanie Kahalekulu, the aunt of Xiana Fairchild.  Xiana was abducted by Anderson in 1999, and both of these women corresponded with and visited Anderson to try and obtain information about Xiana, hoping to bring her home safely.  Below is a review of this heart-shattering book.  Whether you read Kristi's fiction series (which is an amazing series) or not, Letters from a Serial Killer is an important book you need to read.  Protecting children from evil is a responsibility we all share.

Letters from a Serial KillerLetters from a Serial Killer by Kristi Belcamino

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As hard as this true story was to read because of the monster at the center of the case, I can't begin to imagine how hard it was for Kristi Belcamino, along with Stephanie Kahalekulu, to relive and write. A pedophile who kidnaps and murders is the lowest of the low, the most evil of the evil, and to look this evil in the face requires a strength that few of us could muster.

Curtis Dean Anderson is the nightmare that every parent wants to believe is just that, a nightmare and not a reality. Kristi Belcamino, who was a crime reporter for the Contra Costa Times in the late 90s gained the knowledge of that reality when seven-year-old Xiana Fairchild went missing on her way to school in 1999 in Vallejo, California, a community across the bay from the city of San Francisco. At the time, Xiana lived with her mother and her mother's boyfriend in a rundown apartment in Vallejo, but it was Xiana's aunt, Stephanie Kahalekulu, who had raised Xiana, up until six months prior. Xiana's life with Stephanie was a good one, full of love. It is Stephanie with whom Kristi became friends in the long search and hope for finding Xiana alive. Kristi's newspaper coverage became more than a story for her paper; it became her life, all consuming. Stephanie's life, too, became a complete commitment into this living nightmare, as she uprooted her life and those of her two children from a peaceful, orderly one in Colorado to a chaotic, gut-churning one in California.

A break in the case came when Anderson was arrested for the kidnapping of another little girl, one who was fortunate to get away from him before he could end her life. With his arrest, both Kristi and Stephanie had renewed hope that Xiana would be found alive. So began a cat-and-mouse game that Anderson played with the two women, with them visiting him and corresponding with him through letters, hoping to gain information that would lead them to Xiana's safe return. Kristi, with her brilliant writing skills and emotional immersion, and Stephanie, with her heart-on-the-line descriptions, relay to us what horrors they endured in communicating with this Evil in the guise of a human. Hope and then despair, crumbs of information that led nowhere, demands that couldn't or wouldn't be met, heartache and grief. It was a trail of terror that led to the ultimate anguish.

It has been sixteen years since both women have dealt with this Evil and fifteen years since they discovered the truth about Xiana's fate from the grim discovery of her skull, and, yet, they deal with it every day of their lives. How can something this wretched not impact the rest of your life? Kristi and Stephanie have found their own ways of managing the torment within, and their bravery in bringing this important account to readers must be commended. Heroes do what must be done for the good of the world, and Kristi Belcamino and Stephanie Kahalekulu are heroes indeed.

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