Alice Louise Lee (Jun. 3, 1953 – Aug. 29, 1960) was just 7 years old when she was murdered. I wrote about her case before, here.
In that post, an article is mentioned in which former Oregon State Police trooper Al Wolfe thought that Alice’s killer was an older person. You can find that article here.
“Wolfe and the late longtime Oregon State Police Det. Cleve Veteto were assigned to the case after Oregon Gov. Mark Hatfield ordered the agency to take over the investigation of Alice’s murder and likely sexual assault.”
Veteto passed away but not before he asked his partner to never give up on Alice’s case. He didn’t. And he is not alone.
The Handy Candy Man by Justice and Michael is, as they write themselves, “a biographical novel about the life of a man who got away with molesting young girls for decades.” In the book, they explore his life and whether he was responsible for the murder of Alice Louise Lee.
The authors state that the book is based on information found in newspaper articles and archived documents, etc. The main characters are correctly named. “However, situations, thoughts, conversations and some fictional characters have been added to enrich and advance the storyline.” On request, someone remained an anonymous character and some family members’ names were changed.
As much as I understand privacy and confidentiality, this decision hinders the book’s credibility. What is worse, the book lacks source references.
There is no index, no bibliography, no listing of all newspapers used by date, no list of interviews, reports, not even photography of reports or newspaper articles. Nothing. Sometimes a reference is made but then the text has no footnotes to indicate where that piece of information came from and who wrote the article.
Many of the conversations and thoughts are heavy on religious references. But unless you spoke to one of the characters or had the conversation verbatim in writing, you don’t know what their exact words and thoughts were at that time. To me, it doesn’t advance the story line as I kept asking myself where these words really came from.
The title of the book already tells you who it is the authors are talking about, the handy man with candy in his pockets. According to the book, he is a man who molested girls as young as five years old. And according to the book, he molested his own children and grandchildren. Whether that part is true, I do not know.
The book starts with a narrative of the day that Alice went missing, so we start on August 2, 1960 in Trent, Eugene, Oregon. Lane County Sheriff officers came immediately after being notified that Alice went missing but alas, they found nothing.
Eighteen days after searching the area with dogs, volunteers, etc. the body of Alice is found in an area that they had already searched. As the body was decaying and bloodhounds had covered the area, the body must have been hidden elsewhere before being brought back to that searched area. That is clever. The authors wonder if the killer did this so Alice could be found and buried. Maybe. Avoiding detection is I think first on a criminal’s mind. Hiding a victim’s remains in an already cleared area, is a good option.
According to the book, County Coroner Dr. Osterud, examined Alice. “Because of the length of time the body had been exposed, it would be virtually impossible to conduct a regular autopsy or determine if she had been sexually molested.” Alice was buried on September 20, 1960.
In the book we learn that Gerald F. Fox. Gerald, married to Jeanette Fox, served from 1956-1964 as pastor in the Open Bible Standard Church in Lowell. As pastor, Fox heard a confession from the church’s handy man. We will get to whose confession that was in a bit. But I wish to discuss something else before we do that.
From the text, we learn that Fox deemed saving the church from bad media and scandal was more important than reporting a man who sodomized and assaulted several young girls. According to the book, upholding the precious and pristine reputation of that church was more important than to speak up, prevent further assaults, and to do justice to these young girls.
By remaining silent, that pastor and anyone else who knew about this, didn’t serve anybody. They are all complicit in covering up. They all failed mankind. They all failed Alice.
Maybe you think that I do not understand the time setting. It was the 60s, in a rural area, etc. Well, then let me add this detail that I cannot verify but it is in the book: the handy man molested the pastor’s own daughter, Roberta. That child told her parents that the handy man ran “his hands beneath her and felt her bottom.” And what did the parents do? Nothing.
In general, you can ponder all the consequences for your church but by failing to immediately take action you tell your own daughter that her experience is not that important, that the violation she endured is less important than keeping up the church’s appearance, and that this could happen again. Roberta was basically told by her own parents that she just had to learn to live with this devastating experience. That’s quite a sacrifice you are willing to make as a parent. Messing up your own daughter’s mental health and her ability to trust.
In this book, you will find more about the other young girls who were molested and sodomized by the handy man, Claude Lawrence Glaspey. I have however, no verification except for the one below.
Glaspey was married and had children of his own. I have been able to find that on Ancestry. He married Martha Ann Howard in 1914. On page 178, we read what apparently Martha observed and thought. If this is true, it is extremely important to the case but again, there is no source. This is about Claude and their daughter Julie as a baby. “Then she caught him checking her out. She had caught him checking Larry out once. And after that, she never left the diaper changing to Claude.”
In the book, an attack on the Handy Candy man is mentioned. He caught a stray bullet in the head. We need to wonder whether that was by accident or a missed mark. The head injury gave him of course headaches but it also seemed to accelerate and aggravate his need to touch young girls. I wonder whether brain damage can accelerate pedophilia and/or obsession.
The theory that the book presents is possible. Glaspey was familiar in the area, his daughter also picked beans in the same field, he may have seen Alice, maybe offered her candy, and when she approached, maybe she turned and screamed. A scream was heard but nobody thought anything of it. Maybe then Glaspey grabbed her, placed her in his car, drove off, and by the time that he had Alice in his shed, she was dead. He possibly kept her there and his behavior alerted his wife, who, after hearing about Alice, put two and two together. But she didn’t do anything either.
On page 220, it says that the “perverse behavior with his daughters continued but he made light of it. Martha knew his routine by heart.” And by allowing this to continue, she taught her daughters to endure sexual abuse and that perverse handling of your body is the entitlement of your parent that you should suffer silently.
Ironically, it is a young girl who brought Glaspey down but in a different case. Sadly, one in which she was the victim. Only, her parents stood up for her.
In 1961, Missy Mefford was five years old. On October 15, 1961, Missy told her mother that Glaspey had touched her private parts. Her dad didn’t hesitate to call the Sheriff. Thank you!
Glaspey was arrested on charges of sodomy on October 30, 1961. His mental state of mind was examined. Two doctors determined that he was unfit to stand trial, understand the charges, and or assist in his defense. The inclusion of names, dates, and actual reports would have sealed the book, but alas.
Unfortunately, Glaspey did not face a judge in a criminal trial. Instead, he was committed to Oregon State Hospital, a mental hospital, on December 20, 1961. In doing so, the investigation into Alice’s case stopped.
This is a point I don’t understand. We have a man who is suspected of assaults on young girls, he is unfit to stand trial, but does that exclude the investigation of his possible involvement in other crimes? Does that mean you cannot get a search warrant for that shed anymore to see if you can find trace evidence that places Alice there?
The charges against Glaspey were dismissed on December 7, 1964 which eventually led to his release on July 2, 1969.
After reading this book, I considered digging into archives myself to see if I could find anything about Claude Lawrence Glaspey, The Handy Candy Man, to verify the text. I quickly found his grave and the paper clipping that you see here. I was all set to dig deeper but then I stopped.
It isn’t up to me to prove what the authors state in this book. That’s their job.
If this book had a listing of all the sources that they consulted it would have been a phenomenal advancement of the case. However, unless we can connect Glaspey with hard evidence to Alice, it remains circumstantial. Powerful, but not conclusive.
The book is well written. The authors have clearly spent time on this project. The pace is good, the chapters are well spaced, and the despite the theme, the book is easy to read. Justice and Michael are good authors. I just don’t agree with the set-up of the book.
At the end, The Handy Candy Man makes a strong argument for more collaboration of police agencies. If more information had been shared amongst the various agencies, maybe Glaspey could have been stopped. However, as long as there are people willing to cover up, to remain silent just to protect a church’s reputation, as long as there are people willing to sacrifice their children’s health and mental stability, no amount of police networking will ever be enough.
I received a copy of The Handy Candy Man in exchange for an honest review. My other book reviews are here.