The Yale Murder. Not that one. The other one.

I noticed in the New York Times an obituary for Jack Litman, an attorney who defended a lot of people who weren't such nice people. He handled a few notorious murder trials, and the Times named two in particular: one, the Robert Chambers/Jennifer Levin trial, "the Preppy Murder," which I actually remember, dimly (I was a teenager when it happened), and also a murder trial that was called "the Yale Murder." It was interesting to me that the Times made a point of referring to the Yale Murder, because, what with the latest big Yale murder, the Annie Le case, in all the coverage of that case I kept looking in the media for a reference to the earlier murder, and never saw it. I would have thought that someone would have brought it up, but, no, it never happened.

The only reason I know about the Yale Murder is that someone once asked me to locate a copy of the true crime book that it inspired. I located a copy for the customer, and then, because I like reading true crime, I got another copy for myself (finding it by chance at a junk shop, ironically, after putting actual effort into finding the customer his copy). I still have it. It's a bright magenta mass market paperback. Presumably for legal reasons the publisher was prevented from using Yale blue...

Now out of print, the book tells the story of the people involved in the case -- Richard Herrin and Bonnie Garland, two Yale undergrads who were involved in a relationship that had a bad ending (when Herrin killed Garland in her parents' Westchester house). This happened in the 1970s, and while I was here at the time, I was too young to have been aware of it.

I find it sort of weird that the "original" Yale Murder has become such an obscure historical fact, even here in New Haven, where I feel like we all have such long memories for things like this. People talk about Penny Serra like it happened yesterday. But the "Yale Murder"? Nope.

Maybe it's because Bonnie Garland wasn't actually murdered in New Haven. But even so. Even so. It's a Yale crime. Where did it go in our collective memories? Bonnie Garland is now, it seems, just a little note in Jack Litman's obituary.