The Case of the Restless Redhead

Poems by Anne Carroll Fowler

The Case of the Restless Redhead

Antrim House has released The Case of the Restless Redhead, Anne Carroll Fowler's story, in poetry, of the 1976 murder of her grandmother. Anne, a longtime friend, is an Episcopal priest, pastoral counselor, and human rights activist who also has five chapbooks in print. Anne encouraged me to design the book's cover. It's a joy to be part of her remarkable project.

 

Maine Attorney General Janet T. Mills writes about Anne's book:

Cold blooded murder with pen gun on Thornhurst Road, October, 1976.

Who could kill a 79-year old grandmother in her own home, in her own bed? Who could steal her life for a TV and a radio, useless loot dumped in the ocean in dark of the night. Who could shoot her in the eye with a “pen gun,” an innocent looking thing pretending to be a scribe’s tool but used instead as an instrument of death, propelling a tiny bullet through an innocent eye, darkening her vision, stealing her life, leaving its signature of powder burns on her face, a “single shot pen gun shaped like a magic marker,” its blowback leaving a telltale blister on the criminal’s hand?

One man already on parole for armed robbery and kidnapping, another picked up on weapons charges days after the murder. “I had to do it. I shot her,” Leon Rich told his friends back in the car. Not a game of Clue but the real life end of a real life, a senseless tragedy, the kind of crime we read about in the newspapers, headline grabbers that lapse the next day, next week, next year, out of our consciousness.

But what about the family and friends of Anne Payson “Nancy” Holt? What shock do they still feel, what memories and terrors do they still harbor? Our lives are not lived alone, nor do our deaths occur in a vacuum. In this volume, one fond family member has taken up the stylus, putting true pen to paper to memorialize one terrible event in the life of a Maine community done with a gun that pretended to be a pen.

Listen to her voice. Learn from these lines.