They Must Be Monsters

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 18 Aug 2019

Member Reviews

Wow! What a remarkable story!! As the old saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction! I was gripped by this book. A modern day witch hunt is an accurate description. I’m surprised that I haven’t ever heard about the McMartin seven and the unbelievable accusations that these poor people faced. What a horrendous event. I hope Netflix picks this one up and does a movie as it needs to be told. A brilliant telling of what can happen when shoddy police work incites mass hysteria. My jaw must have dropped at least ten times as I read this book. Definitely recommend to folks looking for an absorbing and emotional nonfiction. A huge thank you for an ARC on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I remember when the McMartin case broke in the national news.  I always wondered what was true and what was false.  This book answers many of these questions.  This was a witch hunt and many innocent people were affected by what happened.  The writers did a good job in keeping you interested so that you wanted to find out the rest of the story.  The background provided was very insightful and gave you a taste of the hysteria that this story caused throughout the country.  I would definitely recommend this to people that enjoy true crime and mystery.
Thanks to #NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Interesting book about the McMartin preschool case. It is unbelievable to see how much evidence was gathered using unreliable methods, and less than competent experts. The authors have done a thorough investigation, and the book reads almost like a novel.
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“They Must Be Monsters…” is a true-crime/courtroom procedural documenting the McMartin trial in the 1980’s in California. What starts with a single accusation, a claim that a young boy was molested while in the care of the McMartin preschool, balloons into a modern-day witch hunt where no child care provider is safe.
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Wow, What a read- a well written and researched book. I didn't know anything about this case before reading this book and learned quite a bit. It's scary to think and realize how one person's accusation could lead to affecting and ruining the lives of several innocent people. Thank you to Netgalley and BooksGoSocial
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They Must Be Monsters is a meticulously researched and written chronicle of a modern day witch hunt. At that time, the McMartin investigation and subsequent trial was the longest and most expensive legal case in the United States to date.

This is a cautionary tale. It sets forth the manner in which the accusations of one deranged parent set this entire investigation in motion.  Police and prosecutors twisted facts to obtain desired results, psychologists questioned children in a manner intended to produce supporting evidence, and the media was whipped to a frenzy. 

This book shows how easily seemingly rational people can be led to mob mentality based on unproven accusations. It also illustrates the relative ease with which the lives of i nocent people can be destroyed.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received a free digital copy of this title to review from Net Galley.

#TheyMustBeMonsters#NetGalley
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Well written and interesting version of the events surrounding unsuspecting and innocent accused suspects.
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Holy Moly!!! 
Thoroughly written. Well written, so much information, also. 
It truly is scary to think that this book, is in fact, a true story about a big case in the 80’s.
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**Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review**

This was fascinating yet terrifying stuff. The idea that one person's accusation could snowball into a wide-reaching affair which ruined the lives of several innocent people is very believable and very scary.
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I remember the daily crime and trial updates from the McMartin trials.  The media fed into the parents fears until the hysteria boiled over and spread throughout the community with no evidence of any crime.  Matthew LeRoy and Deric Haddad capture the community's efforts to protect their children while punishing the people they felt had harmed them.  The many hours the authors spent in research and their efforts to make sure the truth is heard make a very engrossing read.  You have to wonder why the police went forward with the trials when the evidence did not support their theories.  It makes you wonder if the legal system has progressed to the point where this could not happen today, but when it comes to the health and welfare of children, adults tend to forge above and beyond everyday investigations.  This is an absolutely great book for a book club.  The question of how legal officers would handle this differently today could keep you debating for many meetings.
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If you were a child in the 80s, you likely had parents that were constantly worried that you’d be kidnapped or sold into a satanic cult. Possibly both. The McMartin accusations and resulting trial were seared into all of our psyche at the time and provided an early lesson in mass hysteria that feels quite possible in today’s world. 
Highly recommend for fans of true crime or current events.
Many thanks to NetGalley fork the opportunity to read They Must Be Minsters in exchange for an honest review.
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True crime that reads like a novel, it's very enjoyable, and I've blitzed it.  It reminds me of other books like Helter Skelter etc., so that wasn't bad.
I had never heard of the case, so some of it was 'do I really believe this?' which lead me to Google and research and honestly, everything I questioned was pretty much confirmed.  And as it turned out, the hysteria and accusations were proven mostly (if not all) false.

Echoes of the Salem witch trials in this one, but I do think it needs a clearer banner of what it deals with - it was very disquieting to read.
I do however have to point out one thing - if the mother had the severe mental health issues that she had, it should have been caught sooner.  The book fixes one stigma, while firmly pushing it into 'lost archives of a schizophrenic' territory.  I felt that it could have been handled a bit more neutrally and that the mental health angle was possibly sensationalised a bit.  Given everything that happened though, to handle it in any way would probably hurt one area or another, and my sympathy is with those falsely accused and the poor children that lived through it.
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They Must be Monsters written by Matthew Leroy & Deric Haddad, wow is all I can say, a lot of what I read was extremely uncomfortable not in writing style but in the subject matter. 

The authors take us on their path of investigation and the subsequent result of exactly what happened in the small town of Southern California, Manhattan Beach. How one woman´s accusation turned the whole town into mass hysteria and suspicion, resulting in one of the United States most expensive trial. 

I have never heard or read about this before so had no idea about these events, however the book provided with plenty of information, I am not from the United States but was able to understand exactly what was happening with all key players and each and everyone had enough information to explain each of their role in the event very well, maybe sometimes there was extra information thrown in and could sometimes bog you down but they soon showed you the relevance. 

I am amazed at the authors' thoroughness and I found they were fair about everyone, I can't help but pity almost everyone, such injustice and I still feel they were really never vindicated, however, everyone went through pain and the essential question is always who would you believe? And as a parent can you rely 100% on what your children tell you? Or even Doctors and people of authority?

I would like to say so much more but would not want to release any spoilers or create a bias for someone who is interested in reading this book, would I recommend it 100% yes! But good luck this book does not leave you once you have finished.
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"They Must Be Monsters" by Matthew LeRoy and Deric Haddad tells the account of a disturbing series of events in Manhattan Beach, California in the early-mid 80's. I had vaguely heard of this story, but was too young back then to really understand or invest thinking in what happened. Though, I'm not sure I will ever be able to wrap my head around the ridiculous, heartbreaking, and unfathomable events that occurred.

While the content is disturbing, the content is also well-written and the investigative journalism seemed to be as objective as it possibly could be. It is an excellent read if you are seeking to understand the effects of child abuse, abuse cases, and the many nuances involved. 

And as a side note, in a general sense this book provides insight into the effects that making assumptions and judgments, and not dealing with mental illness can have on society as a whole. It is mind-boggling that anywhere in our nation we would fail at both 1) not being proactive with the care of our children and ALSO 2) not handling allegations with even an ounce of thought and consideration before we jump to conclusions and go on witch hunts.

Thank you to the authors, the publisher, and NetGalley for providing an advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review.
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I was not aware of this incident before now, maybe because I live in England, so learning about it absolutely horrified me.  I do have knowledge of the Salem witch trials through studying the Crucible at Uni, and my personal research afterwards, and the similarities with the McMartin Preschool Case are stark.  However, that this happened within my lifetime makes it even more harrowing to read about.

I found the narrative flowed well and was easy to read, and what stands out for me is how much research the authors have done.  What happened is seriously scary example of mass hysteria which started with one allegation and grew to over 100, with many lives and businesses destroyed along the way.  The tragic life of Judy Johnson, a schizophrenic, who started the whole incident by accusing Roy Buckey of abusing her son, is told in detail and is incredibly sad.  How widespread the accusations that followed were, is absolutely chilling.  It was the telling through the eyes and notes of Judy that particularly drew me in.

In the end this case took 7 years, and in 1990 all charges were dropped.  In this book, the authors examine how, why and what happened, and have done a tremendous job of it.  Highly recommended.

I received an eArc from the publisher via Netgalley, but this review is entirely unbiased and the words are my own.
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The subtitle “longest running and most expensive trial in American history” hints at the merest fraction of what this book covers. It is about the process dubbed the “McMartin affair” – whereby an allegation of child sexual abuse morphs into a massive miscarriage of justice on a wide front. It is perhaps very much of its time – the mid-late 1980s, but there is very little in the process that one suspects could not happen again – as the processes that drove the situation still survive. The authors produced a resume, roughly in date order, of what happened about 30 years ago and this is now the publication. It follows what happened (as far as they could ascertain) from testimonies, press reports, court & police documents and critically the diaries/calendars of the main allegation maker – Judy Johnson. Be prepared, this is a dense, complicated, multi-layered and uncomfortable read.
Virginia McMartin, in her 70s, had set up and run a reputable pre-school for many years. More recently it had passed into the management of her daughter Peggy Buckley and by 1983 her son Ray, previously rather unsettled, had joined the staff. In that year Judy Johnson, recently separated and with 2 sons Mark (12, with terminal cancer) and Austin (2) first dumps Austin without permission at the school and then is allowed to enrol him part time for the summer sessions. Very rapidly, having not paid her bill, she makes a claim that Austin has been sexually abused by Ray.
This claim is investigated by Detective Doag the new police “expert in child sexual abuse” and a huge legal juggernaut is set in process. Judy – suffering from paranoid schizophrenia – makes wilder and wilder claims of what her (largely pre-oral) son has “said”. She will carry out “investigations”. More staff are accused, and reports that he was moved to other schools for abuse, he was “flown” to a possible military base; other children were being attacked; all were controlled by threats to their parents backed up by mutilation of animals in front of them. 
Austin is sent to a new child Psychotherapy Clinic, with a leading “expert” in the field of helping children to report otherwise hidden abuse. This will then lead to physical exams elsewhere which will “prove” serious sexual abuse. Judy is not discrete; other parents hear the allegations and will send their children for assessment. The situation is exacerbated by Det. Doag sending out a “fishing letter” to all parents (current and previous) naming Ray. The community descends into panic and paranoia. More children are police interviewed, more “abusers” are identified and at more places. Allegations of satanic worship start to circulate and a police task force is set up to investigate links from McMartin School to organised child abuse linked to known pornographic and paedophile groups. The stories spread and spread and become more bizarre.
Even though the clinics are not able to keep up with demands the situation escalates; critically the police are not able to work through the “evidence” generated properly. There are a series of inadequate and illegal home and premises searches of the increasing number of those accused. Children of the accused are seized and put into child protective custody for months or years. Bizarrely Judy Johnson’s children are left with her regardless.
Seven people linked to McMartin will initially be charged with offences (including conspiracy) – Virginia, Peggy, Ray and 4 other staff. Bail will be set at ridiculous levels – not least because the school has been forced to close and all are unemployed. Ray will ultimately stay in jail until cleared after trial and re-trial decisions in January 1990. He will be the last legal victim of this “witch-hunt”. A younger victim along the way will be 16 year old Michael Ruby a summer assistant at another pre-school who will be accused, imprisoned and finally found not guilty. Others charged will gradually be cleared/released as questions start to be asked as to whether the extent of what is claimed could possibly be true – particularly in view of no supporting evidence other than the children’s testimonies. Some of which are patently false
This book will highlight failures of police procedures. But also show the inherent risks of a highly politicised legal system with prosecutors (and sheriffs) elected to office – often on the way to “higher” places. With their resultant sensitivity to public pressure and their inability to later admit mistakes, or back down from previously highly public decisions or statements. It will show, too, the toxic impact that the press can have on a situation. It is a book about its time in so far as it shows the then newly emerging “understanding” of the extent of child sexual abuse.  But behind that in this case is the problem with the new theories of identification (and recording) were flawed – and recognised so even before the Ray and Peggy Buckley trial. The “identification” of evidence of sexual abuse was similarly flawed with, in retrospect over 90% of the children examined identified with indicators. But it shows the failure of each group to understand the professional processes of others, to explore more fully what is being claimed and assess the likelihood of this being true.
But it primarily shows what happens when a community of otherwise sane and sensible adults – who have never experienced the slightest worry about their children’s physical or medical health - descends into paranoia and mass hysteria and accepts should be patently obvious,  that they are being peddled a load of exaggerated and nonsense stories. Exacerbated because they have been told “to believe what children say” because to not do so increases their trauma. Increasingly few will stand up and say it is nonsense – not least because of a series of threats, vandalism and further claims of “conspiracy”. Once they are “committed” to this line of belief they will find it difficult to reverse that role – a scenario mirrored with even more deadly effect in the legal system. It takes a very long time to halt this ongoing destructive monstrosity and in the meantime there are serious casualties. Not least the children genuinely abused who will travel under the radar of community identification and safety.
It is impossible in a review to cover the complexities of what is included. But it is a very important read – if you are interested in child safety, policing, legal processes or even the functioning (or not) of communities. The implications of this book are wider than the USA. Not a comfortable read (especially if you recognise elements of people of your own community in it) but work your way through it, it needed to be said and widely read.
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Being a true crime junkie, I felt compelled to read this book even though the events happened before my time.

Even though this is a non-fiction book covering a case that took place in the 80s, it read like fiction and had me completely absorbed in the story.  

Having been a preschool teacher for many years, I could imagine the panic that would spread if a teacher were accused of sexually abusing children.  Be prepared before reading that this book contains a lot of distressing material and disturbing allegations.  

Well written and documented- I would definitely recommend to lovers of true crime genre.
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This book is a non-fiction written about a news case that took place back in the 80's. It brings to mind the same fanatical horror of the salem witch trials. Very well written and documented in this book by Mathew LeRoy and Deric Haddard, they do an amazing job of covering all points in this case. Not for the faint ofheart to read.
Terrible to think things like this can still happen in the supposidly enlightened time.
The wrtitng is easy to follow the course of the events and helped to understand more of what acctually happened.
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Wow, what an unfortunate story for all of those involved.  I kept thinking how could those kids have known details about what comes out of male genitalia.  While it all seemed so far fetched, I know that these things probably do exist.  But truly at first I was torn.  As someone who was repeatedly raped and molested as a young child in the early 80s, the story made me sick to my stomach and I felt for those kids but the more facts that were presented as the book progressed there was just no way that those things could have happened.  How traumatizing for the accused and also for the children for having to go through just needless acts.  My mother was a paranoid schizophrenic, she was diagnosed when I was in high school.  This book touched on two subjects that happened to me in real life.  I remember my mom's paranoid episodes, they were similar to Judy Johnson's.  At first they were so believable but then they got more outlandish.  Ray Buckey and Michael Ruby's strength is inspiring.  I hope that they've been able to move on and live their lives in peace.
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This book was written very well.  I do not remember this incident at the time. 
The book explores everything that happened in an easy to read fashion. I am glad I read
it. 

Thank you to NetGalley, the writer and the publisher for giving me the chance to read this book
about a bad time in history!
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