Almost Midnight: An American Story of Murder and Redemption (St. Martin's True Crime Library)

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9780312936754: Almost Midnight: An American Story of Murder and Redemption (St. Martin's True Crime Library)
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Darrell Mease grew up in the Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri, in a slice of rural America where religion flourished and tradition thrived. Everyone said he was a good kid: a bit of a clown, maybe not too serious about his studies, but sweet and kind and quick to make friends. When, as a clean-cut teenager, he signed up with the army, the people of Reeds Springs, Missouri, expected to hear nothing but good things about R.J. and Lexie Mease's eldest son.

It wouldn't work out that way. Darrell Mease would end up on the front lines of the Vietnam War and would come home a drug addict. Over the personally tumultuous, drifting decades that followed, he'd make a new name for himself in the Ozarks: as a tough drug dealer. Then, in 1987, he gunned down a 69-year-old meth kingpin, his wife, and their 20-year-old paraplegic grandson. After a desperate cross-country escape, he was captured, hauled back to Missouri, and sentenced to death for his crimes.

In jail, Mease experienced a religious conversion, and he made a shocking prediction: he would be saved by miraculous intervention.

No one believed it would happen. But it did.

On January 27, 1999, Pope John Paul II visited St. Louis and spoke to Missouri's then-governor, Mel Carnahan. It was the same date that authorities had set for Mease's execution. The pope asked that he be spared. Carnahan agreed.

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From the Back Cover:

A GOOD BOY TURNED BAD...
Kind, well-liked, and a good student, Darrell Mease was the pride of his tiny Ozarks town of Reeds Spring, Missouri. His mother even thought Darrell had a special calling and might be a preacher someday. But when he returned from the Vietnam War, everyone agreed something had changed in him. Darrell was no longer the even-tempered, sweet kid they all remembered, but instead a heavy drinker who soon became immersed in the drug underworld.

A BRUTAL TRIPLE MURDER...
Drug dealer Lloyd Lawrence was accustomed to getting his own way, especially when someone double-crossed him. So when Darrell Mease fled with a hefty stash of Lawrence's crank, methamphetamine, he took a contract out on the Vietnam Vet. But Lawrence had underestimated Darrell, who got tired of running and decided to fix the problem once and for all. He drove back to Missouri and gunned down Lawrence on his property along with his wife and paraplegic grandson.

A LIFE SAVED...
It wasn't long before authorities caught up with Darrell and his young girlfriend on the run. Convicted of murder, he was sentenced to die by lethal injection. In prison, Darrell found his faith again and became convinced that "God was his lawyer" and would save him from execution. Many thought he was living in a fantasy world. But the miracle Darrell was waiting for finally happened when in a bizarre twist of fate, he received a death row intervention from none other than the visiting Pope John Paul II...

"A fascinating-and often chilling read."
--MSNBC

"Crisp, informative, and evocative...compelling, vibrant, rich with winning details."
--The Washington Post

About the Author:

MICHAEL W. CUNEO teaches at Fordham University. His research has been featured in media coast to coast. Also author of the critically acclaimed American Exorcism, Cuneo divides his time between New York City and Toronto.

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9780767913423: Almost Midnight: An American Story of Murder and Redemption

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Publisher: Broadway, 2004
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