A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

We Thought We Knew You- by M. William Phelps- Feature and Review


New York Times bestselling author, television personality, and host of the #1 podcast "Paper Ghosts," M. William Phelps is one of America's most celebrated true crime authorities. In WE THOUGHT WE KNEW YOU, he takes readers deep into the murder of Mary Yoder, a popular wife, mother, and healer in Upstate New York -- telling a gripping tale of a family drama, a determined investigation, and a killer with the face of an angel.

In July 2015, Mary Yoder returned home from the chiropractic center that she operated with her husband, Bill, complaining that she felt unwell. Mary, health-conscious and vibrant, was suddenly vomiting, sweating, and weak. Doctors in the ER and ICU were baffled as to the cause of her rapidly progressing illness. Her loved ones--including Bill and their children, Adam, Tamryn, and Liana--gathered in shock to say goodbye.

In the weeks that followed Mary's death, the grief-stricken family received startling news from the medical examiner: Mary had been deliberately poisoned. The lethal substance was colchicine, a chemical used to treat gout but extremely toxic if not taken as prescribed. Mary did not have gout. Another bombshell followed when the local sheriff's office received a claim that Adam Yoder had poisoned his mother. But Adam was not the only person of interest in the case.

Pretty and popular Kaitlyn Conley, Adam's ex-girlfriend, worked at the Yoders' clinic. She'd even been at Mary's bedside during those last terrible hours. Still, some spoke of her talent for manipulation and a history of bizarre, rage-fueled behavior against anyone who dared to reject her.

Had Kaitlyn and Adam conspired to kill Mary Yoder, or was the killer someone else entirely?

In another twist, accusations were hurled at Bill Yoder himself, ricocheting blame in still another direction...

Renowned investigative journalist M. William Phelps details this incredible story piece by piece, revealing a heartless plan of revenge--a scheme that would tear a family apart, divide a community, and result in two gripping, high-profile trials.



We Thought We Knew You: A Terrifying True Story of Secrets, Betrayal, Deception, and MurderWe Thought We Knew You: A Terrifying True Story of Secrets, Betrayal, Deception, and Murder by M. William Phelps
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We Thought We Knew you: A Terrifying True Story of Secrets, Betrayal, Deception, and Murder by M. William Phelps is a 2020 Kensington publication.

An unreal, twisty, very sad, true crime saga...

This book is about the murder of Mary Yoder, a vibrant, active person, who, along with her husband, Bill, ran a chiropractor clinic.

The couple had hired their son Adam's girlfriend, Kaitlyn Conley, to work in the office, and never allowed the couple's on/off turbulence to affect the work relationship they had with Kaitlyn. In fact, it seemed Mary and Kaitlyn got on quite well... Until one day...

Mary came home from work presenting with symptoms of a violent gastrointestinal illness. The initial consensus was that she had a bug, just as Adam had endured a short time ago, but it soon became clear that Mary needed medical attention.

Once admitted into the hospital, the staff also felt her illness was due to what was most likely a short- lived stomach bug. But, Mary's condition quickly deteriorated, taking a serious turn for the worse. She coded, then rallied several times before finally succumbing to death.

Because it did seem very unusual that a woman in perfect health had died so suddenly, an autopsy was performed, where it was eventually discovered that Mary had been poisoned with colchicine, a substance normally used to treat gout- a condition she did not have.

The investigators, as is usually the case, zeroed in on Bill, but an anonymous letter pointing the finger at Adam changed their focus, leading them to conclude that Adam might be the victim of a frame-up.

Who wrote that letter? Who stood the most to gain from Mary’s death? Did Adam kill his mother… or was there a more sinister plot afoot?

Well, this was one strange story. By all accounts, Mary was a wonderful, beautiful, spirited woman. Why on earth were there SO MANY suspects???

My goodness- Mary’s husband, her son, her friend and employee, Kaitlyn-

They were All primary suspects. Mary’s daughters, and law enforcement say all the evidence points to Kaitlyn, but three of Mary’s sisters think it was Bill, while Adam also faced damning evidence and accusations against him, as well.

What did the jury say? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out the shocking way this case came to a close!

I have my own opinion, and because of remarks made by the author about the Dateline coverage of the case, I looked it up online. Mary’s daughters had interview time, as did Mary’s sisters. I didn’t really pick up on a strong slant. Still, I was disappointed to learn those involved in the Dateline production, seemed to have favored one side over the other. No matter, though, because I’m still with the author on this one.

This is just a horribly sad case. Mary seemed to live life with gusto, with so much more to give, it's just tragic that her life was cut short in such a cold, ruthless way, and that her death has torn her family apart.

As for the organization and presentation of the facts, the author uses multiple timelines, outlining Adam and Kaitlin’s relationship, Bill and Mary’s history, the gathering of evidence and the trial.

For the most part, this approach works well, and prevents the book from becoming too dry, the way a more traditional, chronological approach might have. The downside to this method is that it led to some repetitiveness.

One should also be aware that this book is focused Kaitlyn, who was the person arrested, and who was placed on trial for Mary's murder.

The book, I think, sets out to remove all doubt about who killed Mary Yoder. From that standpoint, it might seem one sided- but in my personal opinion, the evidence bears the burden and law enforcement got this one right.

Overall, true crime fans will find a great deal to puzzle over with this case. The courtroom drama was unbelievable, and the author lays out his case admirably and convincingly. I hope the Yoder family finds some comfort and peace moving forward.



Phelps grew up in East Hartford, CT, moved to Vernon, CT, at age 12, where he lived for 25 years. He now lives in a reclusive Connecticut farming community north of Hartford.

Beyond crime, Phelps has also written several history books, including the acclaimed, New York Times bestselling NATHAN HALE: The Life and Death of America’s First Spy, THE DEVIL’S ROOMING HOUSE, THE DEVIL’S RIGHT HAND, MURDER, NEW ENGLAND, and more.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.