A Killing in Iowa

The bestselling memoir about a young girl whose family was shattered by a murder-suicide in her small Midwestern town.

  1. The town of Vinton, population 5,257, is on an isolated expanse of eastern Iowa flatness so far-reaching you can almost perceive the curve of the earth’s surface. Perspective is so distorted by the landscape that grain elevators and water towers, the only verticality on the horizon, seem to soar into the sky.

    This part of Iowa is right in the center of the true Midwest. It is perhaps the only region in the country without an epic historical narrative of battles and heroes. Instead, it is the nation’s mother, its source of food and its engine of stability, powered by a strong-stock breed: God-fearing Protestants, women who consider sacrifice a virtue, and farmers who seasonally battle savage weather. It is the chaste core of America.

    This is where we stay, sometimes for so long that farmers throw parties when a family reaches its centennial on a plot of land. And where we’re so intensely local that busloads of people follow high-school wrestlers—our true heroes—to meets around the country.

    Like in much of the state, all roads leading into Vinton are lined with cornfields, followed by soybean fields, then more corn. Most of the vehicles are slaughterhouse-bound hog haulers, but there’s the occasional car headed to one of the pragmatically named towns nearby—maybe Round Lake or Lone Tree.

    At the two-way stop sign just outside of town, there might be a pickup coming from the other direction at fifty-five miles per hour, but more than likely not. Maybe there’s a solitary farmh...

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