Bible-toting Earle Leonard Nelson fancied himself a man of mission. The Lamb of God, in fact, divinely empowered to cleanse the world of sin. But the priesthood that carried him across the country from San Francisco to Buffalo and ultimately into Canada during the 1920s assumed grisly proportions—the brutal strangling and violation of twenty-two helpless and unsuspecting women. Landladies mostly, but each, in Nelson's deranged mind, an incarnation of the Bibilical harlots he both loathed and coveted.
Earle Leonard Nelson actually lived. And killed. In The Dark Fountain, famed crime historian Jay Robert Nash tells how and why with chilling realism.
Beginning with Nelson's sadistic marriage to a frightened San Francisco schoolteacher, Nash's fictionalized chronicle traces the path of Nelson's bloodlust to its riveting conclusion. His story illuminates not only the dark drives that compel the psychopath to slaughter, but also their effect on a relatively innocent America. While speakeasies, flappers and floozies were staples of the Jazz Age, mass murder was not, and Nelson's rampage shocked and confused an entire nation.
Nash captures this sense of national outrage in his vivid portrait of Sergeant John Davis, the detective who stalks Nelson with an obsessiveness equal to that of his prey. Infuriated by Nelson's uncanny ability to escape apprehension, Davis also suffers from the impotence of the outmoded investigative techniques characteristic of the period which Nash describes in fascinating detail.
The Dark Fountain completely displays the touch of a master storyteller. Whether mapping the terrible geography of Nelson's disordered mind or the progress of his murderous odyssey, Jay Robert Nash expertly blends horror, suspense and the bizarre to create an atmosphere both repellent and unbearably intriguing.
Jay Robert Nash is the bestselling author of Bloodletters and Badmen, Hustlers and Con Men, and the Almanac of True Crime. He received a special Edgar Allen Poe award in 1991 for his Encyclopedia of World Crime. He lives in Wilmette, Illinois.