Frightful Friday: A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of A Murder by Karen Spears Zacharias

May 4, 2012 Frightful Friday, Memoir, Review, True Crime 2

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week.

This week’s featured book is actually a memoir, somehow making it even more chilling: A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder by Karen Spears Zacharias.


  • Hardcover: 325 pages
  • Publisher: MacAdam/Cage Publishing (April 1, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 159692375X
  • Source: Meryl Zegarek Public Relations, Inc

Karen Zacharias is an investigative journalist living a relatively peaceful life in Corvallis, Oregon.  Never could she have imagined that she would become involved in the murder case of Karly Sheehan, the three-year-old daughter of a troubled woman Zacharias had once welcomed into her home and considered her to be part of her family.

Having parted ways with Karly’s mom, Sarah, years ago,  Zacharias was shocked to learn of Karly’s death.  Upon learning more, she discovered that Karly was beaten to death by her mother’s boyfriend. Stunned into action, Zacharias immerses herself in the investigation, contacting local police, Karly’s father, and other individuals close to the Sheehan family, desperate for an explanation. Having a personal knowledge of the type of woman Sarah Sheehan was, it didn’t take long for Zacharias to realize she was somehow involved. Slowly, the police (and Zacharias following closely behind) unveil a history of abuse involving Karly, an abuse that while reported was never really acted upon by the authorities.

Sharing Karly’s story soon became Zacharias’ passion, her obsession, knowing how many children in this country are victims of abuse and neglect. Additionally, she witnessed the love Karly’s father, David Sheehan, had for his daughter. Once thought to be the source of Karly’s abuse, David Sheehan had been through hell and back after the death of his daughter. Zacharias saw this pain and love in David’s eyes and knew that moment that Karly’s story had to be told.

This is certainly not a light subject matter, but regardless is a book that should be read. So many children in our country, a country that is so rich in freedom, are forgotten, lost victims of abuse. Zacharias doesn’t sugar coat anything, using her skill as an investigative reporter to find and report on the facts.  Her dedication to this cause and her love for this young girl without a doubt impacts her feelings about this case, yet she doesn’t allow it to influence her reporting.

A Silence of Mockingbirds should be a wake up call for as all, a call to action to do something about this epidemic of childhood abuse in our country. We shouldn’t feel afraid to speak up if we fear a child is being abused, for our voice may be that child’s only hope. This is a book I beg of you to read for it has affected me like none other.  Yes, it’s heartbreaking, it will make you cry from deep within your soul. It is also masterful and compelling, a book you’ll read in one sitting, then immediately rise up and want to make a difference, a call to change!

It is thanks to this book that I have volunteered to read with the children of abuse. While I may not be able to erase the abuse they faced, I can do my part in improving the life they have now. Highly, highly recommended.

Listen to Diane Rehm interviewing Karen Zacharias about the book.



2 Responses to “Frightful Friday: A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of A Murder by Karen Spears Zacharias”

  1. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    I will take a true story over a fictional one ANY DAY. I just finished Jaycee Dugard’s memoir and it is chilling, but you know it really happened which makes such an impact. I am truly touched that this book inspired you to volunteer to read to these children.

  2. Allison

    What a sad story and the unfortunate thing is that it is all too common. I can’t tell you how many babies and young kids are beaten to death by a mother’s boyfriend! It is usually the same thing — boyfriend has history of anger problems, drug issues, previously imprisoned, etc. Often the mother’s don’t even know the boyfriend THAT well before they leave their child with them. It frustrates me! GRR.

    Now, I will be checking out the story on this little girl, Karly. My own 3 year old (who is also Carli) — I just can’t imagine. I really can’t. They are so innocent and easy (AND eager) to please. There is absolutely NO excuse for hurting these children.. EVER. :(