Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Allentown Massacres

Outsider Perspective

Lorraine Adams penned a long article for the Washington Post, comparing the two fatal incidents, the two families, and the murderers. She seemed a bit taken aback by the middleclass American-German homogeneity of the Lehigh Valley, where Allentown is situated with Bethlehem and Easton. To some extent, she found that to be a reason why a kid like Jeffrey, who seemed to blend right in, had failed to get anyone's attention. "No one remembered Jeff being different that day," she said. "No one remembered much about Jeff any day." Because he was "normal," and seemed just like everyone else in an area where people didn't like to stand out, he was "invisible." Thus, he did not achieve the status of notoriety for his crimes that the Freemans did. Now they stood out.

They were skinheads; he was just an average student. They were loud and aggressive; he was quiet. Their crime made the front pages of national magazines and newspapers; his made the local news. The other students spoke about the Freeman brothers with awe; no one seemed to know much about Jeff. In fact, his crime seemed sordid and uninteresting, while the brothers' was considered bold and grand in some perverse manner. One high school senior that Adams quoted dismissed Howorth as having killed and then run away. "There's no plot there." No movie was going to be made about it, but some kids thought that one ought to be made about the Freeman incident. To their minds, that was high drama. Even cool. "They had something going on there." Jeff seemed merely to have wanted to get his parents off his back after having brought in some low grades, while the Freemans had acted to gain their liberty from a supposedly oppressive religion. Some kids admired that.

Thus, four Allentown boys now faced an arduous legal ordeal, each with its own strategy, and all of them considering some form of mental illness defense.


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