Every Breath You Take: A True Story of Obsession, Revenge, and Murder

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9780743439749: Every Breath You Take: A True Story of Obsession, Revenge, and Murder

AMERICA'S #1 TRUE-CRIME WRITER FULFILLS A MURDER VICTIM'S DESPERATE PLEA -- WITH THIS SHATTERING NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"If anything ever happens to me...
find Ann Rule and ask her to write my story."


In perhaps the first true-crime book written at the victim's request, Ann Rule untangles a web of lies and brutality that culminated in the murder of Sheila Blackthorne Bellush -- a woman Rule never met, but whose shocking story she now chronicles with compassion, exacting detail, and unvarnished candor. Although happily ensconced in a loving second marriage, and a new family of quadruplets, Sheila never truly escaped the vicious enslavement of her ex-husband, multi-millionaire Allen Blackthorne, a handsome charmer -- and a violent, controlling sociopath who subjected Sheila to unthinkable abuse in their marriage, and terrorized her for a decade after their divorce. When Sheila was slain in her home, in the presence of her four toddlers, authorities raced to link the crime to Blackthorne, the man who vowed to monitor Sheila's every move in his obsessive quest for power and revenge.

"Sinopsis" puede pertenecer a otra edición de este libro.

About the Author:

Ann Rule is the author of thirty New York Times bestsellers, all of them still in print. Her first bestseller was The Stranger Beside Me, about her personal relationship to infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. A former Seattle police officer, she knows the crime scene firsthand. For more than two decades, she has been a powerful advocate for victims of violent crime. She lives near Seattle. Visit her at AuthorAnnRule.com.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Author's Note

In my three decades of writing about actual crimes, only once have I been personally involved in a case before I wrote about it. That, of course, was the story of Ted Bundy, who had been my partner at Seattle's Crisis Clinic a few years before he was exposed as a merciless serial killer. During the years I knew him, I had no more knowledge of the man behind the "mask" than anyone else who interacted with him. Indeed, I had a contract to write a book about an unknown killer -- my first book contract -- only to find out I would be writing about my friend.

Now, twenty years after that almost incomprehensible coincidence, another singular circumstance has touched me, making this book much more than the recounting of a tragedy that echoes and re-echoes in the lives of so many people. In a sense, I was chosen by the victim herself to tell her story, even though we never spoke, never met, and when I read about her fate, I had no reason to believe that we had any connection at all.

Her name was Sheila Bellush, and she was the age of my daughters. The premonition that haunted her for the last ten years of her life finally found her in Florida. Before that, she lived in San Antonio, Texas, and in Hawaii. I had never been to those places. My home territory has been the northwest since the mid-'50s -- Oregon and then Washington.

My father's lifelong wish was to have a homestead in Oregon, a house high on a hill that overlooked trees, fields, and rivers. He found his beloved forty acres south of Salem, Oregon. For the last thirty years of their lives, my parents lived there on a ranch where the only sounds beyond the wind in the fir trees were the cries of hawks and eagles and the occasional cougar. It was such an obscure part of Oregon that few people had ever heard of it. I never lived there myself; I had long since moved up to Seattle.

Years after my parents were gone, but only two miles away from that ranch, a young couple found their perfect section of earth to build on. They were patching together their lives after three years of horror and bereavement, and a decade of dread before that. The wife had a number of missions to accomplish, and one of them was to find me.

She was Sheila Bellush's sister. When we finally met, she told me that she had tried many avenues to locate me, unaware of how easy it really was. Had she only called information in Seattle, she could have obtained my office phone number. In January 2000 I received an

e-mail signed with her name; I learned later it was really her husband who wrote to me because his wife had grown discouraged when her efforts brought only dead ends.

Sheila's sister told me they were determined to try one last time, and then give up because they didn't know where else to go. Fortunately, she found me on the Internet, and I wrote back to her immediately.

"Ten years ago," she said, "when Sheila ended her marriage, she told me, 'If anything ever happens to me, promise me that you will see that there is an investigation.'"

Her sister promised.

There was more: seemingly a throwaway remark said half in jest. It happened that Sheila Bellush was watching the miniseries of my book Dead by Sunset in the fall of 1995. Recognizing something in the character of a man accused of murder, she called her sister Kerry Bladorn and asked her to turn on her television set. "Remember what I told you about what to do if anything happened to me?" Sheila asked, and Kerry said she did. "And now promise me one more thing," Sheila said. "That if I'm not here, you will find Ann Rule and have her write my story."

Again Sheila's sister promised. I learned later that Sheila had asked a number of her friends to find me if anything happened to her. And so I face an awesome project; I have been given a huge responsibility by a young woman who once read my books. After so many years this is the first time a victim has chosen me to tell the story of her life -- and death -- long before her premonition of disaster came true. I owe her the truth and the compassion of those who read this book. I owe her a voice when she no longer has one.

For a long time I have felt a kind of "presence" of the people I write about, much in the way homicide detectives come to know the murder victims they strive to avenge. But never, never have I honored a commitment urgently foisted upon me by a woman who was a complete stranger, and who has become as familiar to me as someone in my own family.

So this is for Sheila. I hope I get it right.

Copyright © 2001 by Ann Rule

Chapter One

Friday, November 7, 1997, was an ordinary day in Sarasota, Florida -- or so it seemed. It was a weekday, and the morning began with the sun burning golden in an azure sky, but as one enthusiastic resident remarked, "The sun is always shining, and every day is beautiful in Sarasota. It took me a while to realize that I didn't have to take advantage of the days the sun shone the way I used to do in Connecticut; I could stay inside and read because there would always be another perfect day...and another...and another."

But later on this November day, clouds moved in over Sarasota. They were a peculiar leaden gray-purple shading to black, full of unpredictable electrical impulses that made one's hair stand on end. It was going to rain, but it wouldn't be a soft rain; it would surely be rain that thudded against the earth with a vengeance, forcing trees and bushes to the ground with the sheer weight of water, pounding the grass flat.

The entrance to the Gulf Gate subdivision was flanked by sweeping buff-colored brick walls bearing its name, but that was the limit of Gulf Gate's ostentation. In November the jacaranda trees planted there four decades ago were a froth of peach-colored blossoms, so lovely that they could not be real. Many of the summer flowers were faded, save some bougainvillea, and residents planted petunias and impatiens to carry them through the winter until the late summer sun's molten heat fried them.

Once a family neighborhood where children played, Gulf Gate was home now to many older couples and widows, who kept their shades drawn and hired yardmen to mow their lawns and prune their glossy-leafed trees into round orbs that looked like green plastic. Gulf Gate was close enough to Bee Ridge Road and I-75 for easy shopping and access to downtown Sarasota, but it was quiet, the streets hushed and almost free of traffic in the middle of a weekday. More often than not, there was no one walking a dog, or even peering out at the street from behind jalousie windows, those windows whose very name originates in the French word for jealousy -- "to see without being seen." But few of the residents watched from their cool rooms, because there was nothing to see outside.

One woman who lived in Gulf Gate was watchful, almost unconsciously moving often to the front windows of her home to scan the street for a strange vehicle or for someone she didn't recognize approaching her house. She had good reason to be leery, although she and her husband had taken every precaution to keep their address secret.

Most of the homes in Gulf Gate were owner-occupied, not lavish but very comfortable L-shaped ramblers, painted in the soft pastels of the Florida gulf coast, peach and pink and even lavender -- sunrise and sunset colors. Many had Florida rooms and swimming pools to make up for Gulf Gate's distance from Sarasota Bay. Although the neighborhood was far away from the beach, the November air was usually drenched with the salty-clean smell caught in the wind as it raced east toward the Atlantic Ocean.

Much like the rest of Gulf Gate, Markridge Road was a wide, tree-lined street with single-story houses set on small, perfectly groomed lots. The white rambler with the yellow door and matching shutters in the 3100 block had once been the cherished home of an elderly couple. By 1997 they were both dead, leaving their house and its furnishings to their son. Most of the time he lived in a northern state and rented out the Markridge house. He had changed nothing; the place was frozen in a time warp with furnishings that were modern three decades earlier. "All the furniture, even the knickknacks, dated back to the sixties," one former renter recalled. "But there was a warmth about that house. Everything was still there, even their old sheet music and books, just the way they left it. We enjoyed that when we lived there."

The couches and chairs reflected the tastes of another time, but they were comfortable. The appliances were decades old too. The refrigerator was avocado green and the stove bright yellow -- but they worked. The phone bolted to the kitchen wall above the dishwasher had a rotary dial. It took a lot longer to make a call than a push-button phone, but until November 7 that was merely inconvenient and not disastrous.

The young couple who moved into 3120 Markridge Road in September 1997 had the look of dependable tenants, and they seemed to be pleased with the house even though they had six children and would have to squeeze to fit everyone in. They said they'd moved from Texas when the husband got a big promotion and they needed someplace to live in a hurry. Looking at their adorable bunch of toddlers, the landlord couldn't say no to them. He decided he could forgo occupying his parents' house for one winter.

The new renters had an excellent credit history, and they were attractive. Jamie Bellush was big and burly with the wide grin and the innate charm of a seasoned salesman. His wife, Sheila, was delicately pretty, very tiny and blond. Jamie did most of the talking, while Sheila seemed a little nervous. Well, the landlord figured, she had reason to be, with all those children to care for. The toddlers were winsome and totally captivating, and it was obvious that their parents adored them. The older girls' names didn't seem to fit them. The older sister, thirteen, was called Stevie, and she hovered over the babies as if she was a second mother to them. The other sister was a year younger, and her name was Daryl. Odd. Why...

"Sobre este título" puede pertenecer a otra edición de este libro.

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