Then No One Can Have Her, by Caitlin Rother (Kensington Publishing Corp., New York, NY, 2015, 435 pages).
Book Review by Dennis Moore
August 8, 2016 (San Diego) - New York Times Bestselling author Caitlin Rother has done it again! Following on the heels of Lost Girls and I’ll Take Care Of You, two true crime novels that this writer had the distinct pleasure and honor of writing reviews of for the East County Magazine in San Diego, is this riveting and brutal novel that examines the personification of evil and depravity; Then No One Can Have Her.
Rother, who works as a book doctor, writing/research coach and publishing consultant, also teaches narrative non-fiction and digital journalism at UCSD Extension and San Diego Writers, Ink., has outdone herself with her latest true crime novel; Then No One Can Have Her.
She thought she had married her soulmate. But when Carol Kennedy could no longer tolerate her husband’s reckless womanizing and out-of-control spending, the artist, therapist and mother of two had to let him go. Just weeks after their divorce, Carol was found in her Arizona ranch home, bludgeoned to death. Her ex, Steven DeMocker, was the prime suspect. Yet it took the authorities months to arrest him – and years to convict…
While Carol was still pregnant with her daughter Charlotte, and with Steve DeMocker being a Dean at Prescott College in Arizona, it was no secret that Steve had slept with two students, who had worked as nannies for him and Carol, as well as Steve having slept with the midwife. You can’t make this stuff up!
Packed with twists and turns, this powerful real-life account reveals every bizarre detail of this compelling case. Bestselling author and award-winning journalist Rother presents an unforgettable story of love turned to obsession.
Among the many twists and turns in this well written and thought provoking book is the presiding Judge Thomas Lindberg having to step down just a week into the first trial of DeMocker, after collapsing in court with a brain tumor.
Also, DeMocker concocting an email scheme with the help of his daughter Charlotte and his lover Renee, while he was actually behind bars with the death penalty hanging over his head, describing hit teams, contract killings, and international drug trafficking rings, in an attempt to mislead and divert attention from him as the actual killer of his wife Carol Kennedy. This is movie stuff!
Rother is meticulous in her research and writing of Then No One Can Have Her, just as she was in Lost Girls and I’ll Take Care Of You. A case in point is how she described the prosecution’s aggravating circumstances against DeMocker which would make him eligible for the death penalty, stating; “The state presented sufficient evidence to demonstrate cause to believe defendant brutally murdered Carol for pecuniary gain and to prevent her from reopening the divorce case and turning him in to the IRS. The state also presented sufficient evidence that the murder was committed in a cruel and depraved manner as well as a cold, calculated manner without pretense of moral or legal justification.
The defense team repeatedly tried to get the five death penalty “aggravators” against Steve dropped for lack of evidence and also to reduce the bail bond, which went as high as $2.5 million. The goal was to get him released with a GPS bracelet so he could help his attorneys prepare for trial.
There is a particular passage in this spellbinding true crime novel by Rother that reads like the O.J. Simpson and Nicole Simpson murder scene and trial, with the brutality of the victims and blood everywhere, but lack of blood evidence on or associated with Steve DeMocker or O.J. Simpson. I see many parallels between Rother’s book and the Simpson murder case, making this book prime for a true crime TV story or movie on the Lifetime channel, with Deborah Pratt, former co-executive producer of Quantum Leap as the producer and director. I had actually earlier written 2 reviews of Pratt’s books in the East County Magazine.
In particular, there is a passage in the book where a Detective McDormett in his interviewing of DeMocker’s lover Renee, decided to take a more direct approach; “explaining that the killer slammed Carol’s skull so hard it broke into fifty pieces.” McDormett further stated to Renee: “I believe Steven DeMocker did this,” he said. “This is a crime of rage and I know that you guys see one side of Steve, but rage indicates some type of personal relationship. Can you definitively say in your heart that you know he didn’t do it?”
Dr. Laura Fulginiti, a forensic anthropologist, was called to get permission to piece Carol’s skull back together, which she concluded; “was one of the three worst cases she’d ever seen.” The skull, which showed a minimum of seven blunt-force blows, and possibly many more, was broken into more than two hundred pieces, including at least fifty larger pieces that were held together only by tissue. The savagery of the description given by Rother is horrific, and certainly gives no mitigation for the killer.
With a cast of characters seemingly taken from a Hollywood movie, we have Prosecutor Jeff Paupore who used the "exemplar" golf club and a rolled up rug to reenact Carol's fatal beating during his closing argument. Paupore also stated in regard to DeMocker that he “continued to break the law even while incarcerated.”
Rother, who seems to have the mind of a defense attorney, states in her book a compelling argument for DeMocker: “Despite the state’s ‘hyperbole’ that Steve’s defenses had been eliminated, attorney Greg Parzych wrote that the DNA under Carol’s fingernail was still not Steve DeMocker’s…. The most powerful facts remain intact. The state cannot place the defendant at the scene of the crime…. Importantly, these facts will never change – no new evidence will surface that will place him at the scene of the crime – because he was not there and did not kill Carol Kennedy. That is what is known as a defense.” This is actually the defense’s position, and their summation. Despite this, the jury found DeMocker guilty of first-degree murder on July 2, 2008, and the judge sentenced him to life plus twenty-one years in prison, where he is now serving it at the state prison in Florence, Arizona.
To fully understand the mind of this true crime author, who has been described by Gregg Olsen as "the next Ann Rule", you might want to listen to our interview of her on the "East County Magazine Live!" radio show here.
Dennis Moore is a writer and book reviewer for the East County Magazine in San Diego, as well as the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine, along with being a freelance contributor to EURweb based out of Los Angeles. Mr. Moore can be contacted at email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.