While the City Slept

While the City Slept

A Love Lost to Violence and A Young Man's Descent Into Madness

Book - 2016
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"Binged Making a Murderer ? Try . . . [this] riveting portrait of a tragic, preventable crime." -- Entertainment Weekly

Finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime

Finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize

A Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter's gripping account of one young man's path to murder--and a wake-up call for mental health care in America

On a summer night in 2009, three lives intersected in one American neighborhood. Two people newly in love--Teresa Butz and Jennifer Hopper, who spent many years trying to find themselves and who eventually found each other--and a young man on a dangerous psychological descent: Isaiah Kalebu, age twenty-three, the son of a distant, authoritarian father and a mother with a family history of mental illness. All three paths forever altered by a violent crime, all three stories a wake-up call to the system that failed to see the signs.

In this riveting, probing, compassionate account of a murder in Seattle, Eli Sanders, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his newspaper coverage of the crime, offers a deeply reported portrait in microcosm of the state of mental health care in this country--as well as an inspiring story of love and forgiveness. Culminating in Kalebu's dangerous slide toward violence--observed by family members, police, mental health workers, lawyers, and judges, but stopped by no one-- While the City Slept is the story of a crime of opportunity and of the string of missed opportunities that made it possible. It shows what can happen when a disturbed member of society repeatedly falls through the cracks, and in the tradition of The Other Wes Moore and The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, is an indelible, human-level story, brilliantly told, with the potential to inspire social change.
Publisher: New York : Viking, ©2016.
ISBN: 9780670015719
Characteristics: 316 pages :,map ;,24 cm


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Jul 28, 2019

In his examination of the murder of two young women in Seattle, Sanders — a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist — discovered that the killer, who was mentally ill, was not getting the treatment he needed for his disease.

vm510 Jun 10, 2019

A gripping yet sensitive look at an unthinkable crime and at the man who was decompensating mentally before he committed this crime. The author tracks the lives of the victims and their families as well the perpetrator and his own troubled family. It looks at how the mental health system failed to recognize this man's ongoing descent and how the crime was a "crime in progress" that could've possibly been stopped before it happened.

Mar 11, 2017

One of the better contributions to the "true crime" genre...The story itself and the writing which explains it are a notch above. If this is a category you enjoy, grab this book.

Oct 12, 2016

I remember this 2009 crime, which took place a few miles from where I live. I didn't read the newspaper series on the crime and its aftermath that won Sanders the Pulitzer Prize. That series forms the foundation of this book, which begins with what the neighbors saw when the two women fled their house in the middle of the night screaming for help. Before we get a more or less complete description of the crime itself, Sanders takes us through a careful reconstruction of the lives of the three people involved, whose lives intersect on that night. This leads him to the failures of both how the mentally ill are treated (or not), and of the criminal justice system, and especially what happens when the two intersect. The climax of the book is the trial. Here, for the first time, we get a more or less complete description of just what happened that night, its effects on the survivors, and the true question--why doesn't society care enough to spend the money it would take to prevent crimes like this. That cost would be less than the cost of the criminal justice system when those with mental illness commit crimes (and not all do, of course.) And Sanders makes clear he thinks that many mental illnesses are preventable.

Jun 17, 2016

The commenter, salsabrarian, makes an interesting comment: // How many more tragedies must occur before government provides full support for treating and supporting those with mental illness? \\ Since this book is being cited, perhaps one should examine the author, a reporter and the history of his publication, The Stranger?
Both Eli Sanders and other reporters there have gushed on and on about Gary Locke who, as governor of Washington, seriously cut back on spending on the Western Hospital for the Criminally Insane; and signed the Interstate Compact on Parolees - - bringing three out of every four ex-cons into the Seattle and Puget Sound area [and only the families of four slain police officers in Lacey have settled with the state government, many others, and ignorant attorneys, evidently aren't aware of this, since other murders, assaults, et cetera, have also resulted from this]. And, Gov. Locke offshored a bunch of jobs from a bunch of state agencies - - not reported, and actually censored at times, by Eli Sanders and The Stranger paper! [This is important as it shrinks the state's tax base, although makes the government budget appear better for the short term - - but subtracts from spending on social essentials!]
Also, the individual who wrote the legal brief for Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist to dump all the mentally ill out onto the streets back in 1978, Michael Young, was recently president of the University of Washington [now with U.T], but neither Sanders nor The Stranger would report on this, and did indeed censor remarks about this from the newspaper online.
So if the author and his paper are aiding and abetting those involved, then receiving a Pulitzer for writing about it, the problem becomes collusion between elements of the media and the government!

Jun 16, 2016

How many more tragedies must occur before government provides full support for treating and supporting those with mental illness? This book shows how frighteningly insufficient our legal and medical systems are in dealing with mental illness. Wake up, people!!!

Mar 02, 2016

A well-written account of a brutal crime that treats both the victims and the perpetrator, a victim himself, with balance and sensitivity.

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