Bluegrass : A True Story of Murder in Kentucky

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-01-06
  • Publisher: Free Press

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By the lights of absolutely everyone who ever knew her, Katie Autry never harmed a hair on a dog's head.She came from a tiny village in Kentucky. The State moved her as a child into a foster home in a town so small it had one stoplight. New to her own beauty and a little awkward, Katie had the biggest smile on her high school cheerleading squad. In September 2002, she matriculated as a freshman at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. She majored in the dental program, but as it was for many college students her age, partying was of equal priority. She worked days at the smoothie shop, nights at the local strip club, and fell in love with a football player who wouldn't date her.Five feet two in heels and without a bad word to say about anyone, Katie Autry was sweet, kind, and utterly naive. She was making the clumsy strides of a newborn colt, discovering what the world was like and learning to be her own person. And on the morning of May 4, 2003, Katie Autry was raped, stabbed, sprayed with hairspray, and set on fire in her own dormitory room.In telling the true story of this shocking crime,Bluegrassdescribes the devastation of not one but three families. Two young men, whose lives seem preordained to intertwine, are jailed for the crime: DNA evidence places Stephen Soules, an unemployed, mixed-race high school dropout, atthe scene, and Lucas Goodrum, a twenty-one-year-old pot dealer with an ex-wife, a girlfriend still in high school, and an inauspicious history of domestic abuse, is held by an ever-changing confession. The friends of the suspects and the foster and birth families of the victim form complex and warring social nets that are cast across town. And a small southern community, populated by eccentrics of every socioeconomic class, from dirt-poor to millionaire, responds to the horror. LikeMidnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, this tale is redolent with atmosphere, dark tension, and lush landscapes.With the keen eye of a talented young journalist returning to his southern roots, Van Meter paints a vivid portrait of the town, the characters who fill it, and the simmering class conflicts that made an injustice like this not only possible, but inevitable.

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The Used, Rental and eBook copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.


1May 3, 2003Although the sun was bright, the unrelenting summer heat had not yet arrived. It was nearing 2 pm in Scottsville, Kentucky, and Luke Goodrum was just getting up. Luke's routine was to wake up late, hang out with his girlfriend, Brittany, until she went on cashier duty at Food Lion, and then play video games until she was free. It was Derby Day, but Scottsville is about 100 miles and a world away from the Triple Crown race in Louisville.Luke had stayed up late the night before playing video games and drinking beer with one of his high school buddies. He knew that he would have to go to Bowling Green, a much larger town twenty minutes northwest, with Brittany -- in part to appease her for the night before when she had stopped by in the middle of a game. Luke had been extremely drunk and ignored her for the pixilated football players on the screen.Luke showered and got ready, admiring himself in the mirror. He was twenty-one years old, six feet two inches tall, with dark blond hair and brown eyes. His 180-pound frame was cut from lifting weights. If he wasn't playing sports he was watching them. The amount of food he consumed was akin to a professional football player -- he drank a gallon of milk each day by himself. Luke was garrulous, often smiling, and spoke in a heavily accented, rapid-fire drawl littered with double negatives and tenses out of whack. When Luke spoke, words burst out of his mouth with no spaces between them, a natural auctioneer. He had the air of a good ol' boy with a touch of hip-hop. A thin patch of a goatee sprouted below his lower lip; sideburns extended halfway past his earlobes. Luke was handsome and he knew it, and never had a problem with girls. In fact, Brittany had picked him up in the first place.About eight months before, seventeen-year-old Brittany Stinson was cruising "the strip" in nearby Glasgow with a carload of girlfriends when she noticed Luke in the passenger seat of his friend's truck. Like many roads in so many small towns, "the strip" was a street gilded with fast-food franchises and telephone poles where the teenagers went on weekends. Brittany followed them into the McDonald's parking lot, leaned on the truck, and introduced herself. The following Monday, after school, Brittany went to Luke's apartment. They had been together ever since.Luke liked being with someone as outgoing as he was, but he was admittedly more struck by her body. Brittany was about fivefeet, five inches tall and petite. "Except for her butt," Luke pointed out to his buddies.Luke folded a white bandanna with blue print and wrapped it around his forehead -- it reminded him of both Axl Rose and Tupac Shakur. He phoned in a delivery order to Domino's and watched TV while eating the pepperoni pizza. Some of the garlic dipping sauce dribbled onto his T-shirt.Although rather oblivious to it, Luke embodied a curious amalgam of each tier of Scottsville society. Currently out of work, Luke had held a litany of blue-collar jobs, such as house painter and truck stop attendant. None of his posts lasted long. Luke would either get fired, or more commonly, abruptly quit. He supplemented his wages by moonlighting, selling marijuana and, on occasion, cocaine.Through his mother's second marriage, Luke was also connected to the richest and most well-known family in Scottsville, the Turners. Donna Dugas's second husband, Bruce Dugas, was a grandson of Cal Turner, the founder of the Dollar General store chain (essentially a less-discerning Kmart). The no-frills emporiums have shelves haphazardly stocked with a variety of discounted everyday items -- loofahs, toothpaste, nails, clothing -- just about anything imaginable. One of the first stores occupies a cornerstone of Scottsville's modest downtown square. Semitrucks emblazoned with the stark black on yellow dollar general emblem on their trailers careen down the roads as they are dispatched from the giant warehouse on t

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