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The Killing Spree
A true story of a string of brutal murders, rapes, and the cop who tried to stop it.
by Anita Paddock
John Edward Swindler never learned to read or write and instead became a bona fide criminal at the
age of fifteen. His crimes quickly advanced from car theft to arson. At three hundred pounds, with
long, fuzzy red hair and pimply skin, his appearance was so frightening that he intimidated fellow
inmates into performing crimes from their jail cells. He sodomized other convicts, who dared not
refuse him. He was moved in and out of solitary confinement in an attempt to break him of his violent
ways. It failed. Released from prison because he was uncontrollable, he began a multi-state crime
spree that culminated in the rape and murder of three young people and the shocking assault on a Fort
Smith, Arkansas, policeman named Randy Basnett. In a matter of days, Swindler's lust for death grew
into an unforgettable KILLING SPREE.
On September 24, 1976, two men—John Edward Swindler, a force for evil, and Officer Randy Basnett,
laying his life on the line for good—came together. The result altered their lives, and the lives
of many others. This is their story.
Killers have long fascinated us, and there must be reasons for this. Perhaps our survival instinct
demands knowledge of the things that threaten us; it's in our best interest to be able to identify
predators—what makes them tick, what are their habits, and how do we avoid them. We want to
gain this knowledge safely, and what could be safter than reading? Morbid curiosity—similar
to slowing down and rubbernecking at an automobile accident—could also apply. Whatever the
reasons, readers of true crime have made the genre very popular.
Anita Paddock does a superb job of laying out the stories of these fearsome and often reprehensible
killers. It's not happy reading, but it is compelling. One thing the author does that I find laudable
is concentrating on those left behind by the victims and how they cope with the hurt and pain indirectly
inflicted on them. She shows the humanity of these survivors in contrast to the inhumanity of the killers.
There is no lack factual data—court testimony and such—but what I read her books for is the
writing ability and the humanity. She does not disappoint. — Bill Wilwers
Reviews of Anita's other books
This is one of the best and most intriguing books I have read. I couldn't put it down. The author
brought life to this story and I felt like I was there in the middle of the mystery. A must read. – BC
Wonderful book. This book flowed well and was easily read. I had little bit of a hard time with the
two Linda's at one point but that was my issue not yours. I have been reading true crime for over 25
years voraciously and I LOVED your book.
I was only puzzled at one time because of the nature of the crime scene. I kept putting myself back
into what year this all happened. I may have missed it! I do remember reading that a strange disease
was killing men. I remember back to about 1983. Of course I know that it had started in the early 70's
I think. It was just a fantastic read. The only sad part for me was that it ended way too quickly.
I was thoroughly enjoying myself. And all of a sudden!! Over. I will be waiting to read your next book.
I wish you all the best!! – mwrice
This book was very interesting and I felt pain and sadness for Linda and the awful abuse she
endured . . . But wow what a survivor! – LG Wilson
This book is really good. I started it and couldn't put it down. It is well written and a very
interesting story. I found it to be a quick read because of the things I have noted. I think
the author is to be commended and I look forward to her next book. – j phillips
I fell under the spell of this tale—must be something wrong with
me to like true crime books, maybe that's why I stayed away from the genre so long. I read it in
such a hurry I felt like I was running downhill and going so fast I couldn't slow down, but had
to rush on even faster to prevent taking a spill, which to me is full proof of a really great read,
and I rate Blind Rage right up there with Fatal Vision and Blood and Money.
Blind Rage takes place in a small Arkansas town. A son finds his mother dead, lying in a pool of
her own blood. She'd been murdered her bedroom and dragged into another part of the house. The
police figure the woman's gay son, a lawyer, is the killer. There are many twists and turns in
Blind Rage and those who love the true crime genre are sure to like this book, and even those
who've never before read one, will thoroughly enjoy it. It will leave you with your hands on your
knees attempting to recover your wind from the effort. It did that to me, at least. – Sumner Wilson
I really liked this book. It kept my attention from cover to cover and was so mesmerizing I couldn't
put it down. Because I am an Arkansan, I recognized many names and places. I'm old enough to remember
this most interesting case and loved the way Ms. Paddock told the story. – Izzy
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I suppose one can say I've had two separate lives. Over twenty years ago I became a widow and overnight
went from being a wife who longed to be a writer to a widow who needed a job. I jumped at a chance to
become manager of a Fort Smith, Arkansas, branch library. Though I no longer had a partner who encouraged
my dreams, the customers in the Miller Branch Library became my friends and eased the pain of widowhood.
As I've said many times, "The library saved my life."
After almost sixteen years, I reluctantly retired due to a bad hip I call "an old football injury." A dear
friend who owned a bookstore suggested I get back into my writing life. Her encouraging words were, "You're
a lot better writer now than you used to be."
I knew the book I'd write: a true story about a crime that took place in my hometown of Van Buren, Arkansas.
I'd tried to write the story in different forms from the age of thirty-six on. This new version took a couple
of years in the making, and "Blind Rage" became a popular true crime novel which was published by Pen-L
Publishing in 2015. Three successful true-crime novels have followed, and I'm delighted to say I now have a
tribe of readers to keep me company.
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