Review of Dead Reckoning by Caitlin Rother
I first learned of this story from a 48 Hours episode. Or maybe it was Dateline. It could have been 20/20. The fact is that all of these shows and more covered this story. It’s one of the dumbest yet heinous crimes imaginable. A kid in his twenties convinces a married couple that he is interested in purchasing their $400,000 yacht. He tells them that he was a child actor and invested wisely, thus he is able to pay cash for the boat. But before he commits he wants to take it out for a sea trial and to inspect the underside of the boat.
The owners of the boat Tom and Jackie Hawks are suspicious, but they are also eager to start anew with the cash that selling the boat will provide. So they agree to Skylar Deleon’s request. They also agree to allow Skylar’s accountant and business partner to accompany him. This is where things take a deadly turn. Skylar has no intention of buying anything. He barely has enough money to pay rent on his shoebox of an apartment. His real intention is to force Tom and Jackie to sign documents giving Skylar not only the boat but control of their assets. Once that task is accomplished by force. Skylar and his accomplices tie Jackie and Tom together, tie them to an anchor, and then push the two of them overboard.
How could someone be so evil as to do something like this? That is what author Caitlin Rother attempts to answer in this book. She spends a lot of time explaining the sorry life of Skylar Deleon. He is definitely a product of his upbringing, though others who have had similar disfunctional families haven’t become murderers.
Then there is Skylar’s wife, Jennifer. What was her involvement and how much did she know? Was she the mastermind behind the plot? As with many unthinkable crimes involving more than one person, the chances are that neither person would have committed the crime without the other’s involvement. That certainly is true of Jennifer. She had a normal upbringing with caring parents. Her life changed for the worse when she met Skylar. You can see how Skylar’s abuse as a child could have led to him not having a conscious. But I don’t get Jennifer’s lack of one.
Jennifer and Sklar, though, still needed help to pull this off. That’s where a whole other cast of shady characters comes into play. Like JFK, a former gang member who decided to take part in the plot on the very day of the killings, having never met Sklar before.
I read a lot of true crime and this one is as good as it gets. The author covers the story every step of the way to the final conclusion at trial. If you own a Kindle, you can get this book for under $7. You won’t be disappointed.
For those of you looking for a primer on this story. Here is the 48 hours episode in it’s entirety.