The Devil at Genesee Junction

The Murders of Kathy Bernhard and George-Ann Formicola, 6/66

By (author) Michael Benson

Publication date:

05 November 2015

Length of book:

398 pages

Publisher

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9781442252332

Today you’d call Ballantyne suburban, but back then, at the start of the summer of 1966, it was country — just a cluster of houses, some of them shacks, on or near Ballantyne Road, in the Town of Chili, NY. And while June 25 started like any other day it would end in a nightmare. In The Devil at Genesee Junction, veteran crime writer, Michael Benson, returns to his formerly rural hometown to take on the double homicide of his friends Kathy Bernhard and George-Ann Formiciola that took place that night.

The two girls were missing for a month and then found in the bushes horribly mutilated. The double homicide changed the author’s childhood suddenly, and drastically. He went from living in a rural playland, to being encased in fear, wondering who among them was the werewolf who cut up Kathy and George-Ann.

This heinous crime was never resolved, and didn’t go away. In recent years, the author has teamed up with a victim’s mom, and a local private investigator to delve deep into the 6/66 murders, developing along the way some strong new leads and shocking details. Together they have heated up this icy cold case, and their investigation has led them in a startling new direction.
Since childhood, veteran true crime author Benson (Killer Twins) has been obsessed with the unsolved 1966 murders of two teenage girls in his hometown of Chili, N.Y., a tight-knit community forever marred by that brutal violence. This gripping reexamination of the double homicide blends memoir with detective work and provides a convincing answer to a mystery almost a half-century old. Benson, who was nine at the time of the killings, knew both victims, and he is especially effective at conjuring up the atmosphere of terror that gripped the area afterwards, transforming the small town into a place where children were kept on a very tight leash out of fear that the murderer would strike again. Along the way to his proposed solution, Benson recounts other horrific crimes obscured by time but possibly related to the Bernhard- Formicola killings, including the Rochester 'Double Initials' murders of the 1970s, in which each victim had matching initials and was dumped in a town beginning with that same letter of the alphabet. Despite the inclusion of some superfluous personal details, the author succeeds in crafting a real-life page-turner.