Murder and Mystery in Greenwich, America's Wealthiest Community

By Timothy Dumas
Arcade, $24.95
ISBN 1559704411

Timothy Dumas, former managing editor of Greentown News, is obsessed with the most infamous murder to occur in America's wealthiest community, Greenwich, Connecticut. For years, Dumas has written about the headline-grabbing slaying of 15-year-old Martha Moxley, found beaten to death on the lawn of her home on Halloween, 1975. Now, with Greentown, Dumas offers one final examination of the case.

The brutal murder of the young all-American beauty, as chronicled by Dumas, begins with a no-holds-barred overview of the remote Belle Haven community of Greenwich, nicknamed "Greentown," a place where nothing is as it seems. Something evil and decadent lurks in the rows of gabled mansions along the tree-lined streets of the monied enclave, home to the nation's tony jet set, Hollywood royalty, and political power brokers. Dumas shatters the myth of this suburban Shangri-La with his probing, uncompromising look at Moxley's last hours and the crime's aftermath. However, it is the author's crisp, lean writing style that lends the work its power.

Some elements of the case surfaced immediately -- police disclosed that the murder weapon was a woman's golf club and that the last person to see the girl alive was Thomas Skekel, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy. Others, however, remain a mystery. With the complete revelation of the grisly murder, the Belle Haven community, long protective of its reputation and distrustful of outsiders, closed ranks, stymying the police investigation.

To his credit, Dumas veers away from the type of doting fascination with the rich and famous that writer Dominick Dunne exhibited in his popular A Season in Purgatory, also based on the Moxley case. Instead, Dumas focuses his attention on the seemingly ill-fitting puzzle pieces of the unsolved murder. Why would a killer choose the carefree, fun-loving Moxley teen for such a gruesome death? How did a stranger get past the defenses of the heavily guarded community? Was it an inside job? Greentown is a perfect example of what a treasure trove of research can become in the hands of a capable writer.

Robert Fleming covered crime for ten years for the New York Daily News.