IPT Book Reviews

Title: Gone in the Night: The Dowaliby Family's Encounter with Murder and the Law
Author: David Protess & Rob Warden
Publisher: Dell, 1993

Dell Publishing
1540 Broadway
New York, NY 10036
(800) 223-6834

This 484-page book, written by a journalist and a political consultant, is about a couple falsely charged with child murder. The story involves police bungling, ineffective attorneys, a prosecutor motivated by political gain, and an easily influenced judge. The case was long, exhausting, and expensive. Bail was set very high and the couple was forced to stay in jail, where the wife received death threats from other prisoners. The Mt. Sinai hospital staff concluded that a younger sibling had been sexually and physically abused and this child was removed and placed in an institution.

The couple was eventually freed with the help of a lawyer, a television reporter, and a college professor. When the television stations publicized the case, money began arriving from sympathetic listeners and the mother was released on bail, although the father spent two years in jail. A private investigator hired by the defense quickly picked up on the police bungling. Evidence by defense social workers and a psychologist refuted the Mr. Sinai findings and, after two years, the younger sibling was finally returned to the mother. The father's appeal was eventually granted and he was released.

This is a frightening account of what can happen to a couple falsely charged with child abuse and murder and demonstrates the dangers of not demanding an attorney from the beginning and of depending upon the justice system for justice. It made little difference to the court or to the Chicago agencies that a convict had confessed to the killing of the victim or that a person who physically resembled the husband was located near where the victim's body had been found. The crime was never solved.

Reviewed by LeRoy G. Schultz, Professor Emeritus of Social Work, West Virginia University.

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