Erie's Backyard Strangler: Terror in the 1960s
Justin Dombrowski continues to demonstrate tact with true crime
In June 2022, Justin Dombrowski's Murder & Mayhem in Erie, Pennsylvania (published by The History Press, a subsidiary of Arcadia Publishing) hit bookstores after over a decade of research on six older and mostly forgotten criminal cases from Erie's past. Less than a year later and his follow-up, titled Erie's Backyard Strangler: Terror in the 1960s, is on shelves as of Feb. 13, 2023 with the same meticulous attention to detail after some clear deep dives into the historical archives by the author.
Dombrowski is a Central Tech and Mercyhurst University graduate who studied criminal justice and interned for the Erie County Detective's Unit. Since then, his passion for raising awareness around long-forgotten local true crime cases has been evident through his stories and his local true crime Facebook project Shadows From the Boulevard.
With Erie's Backyard Strangler, Dombrowski once again masterfully demonstrates his skill for unraveling stories from long ago and ensuring that, in particular, the victims and those who cared for them are not forgotten. Unlike his previous book, this serves as a single standalone narrative, covering a series of potentially connected murders of women by strangulation throughout the city of Erie in the 1960s. Ultimately, it is a story that would eventually escape the borders of northwest Pennsylvania and receive attention across the country.
As with any book of this nature, Dombrowski reached out to numerous historical societies, organizations, and individuals (which included family members of the victims) to ensure that he told a multifaceted and complex story that examines the city through a wide lens, while still feeling tragic and intimate in its scope. The inclusion of dialogue throughout — all of which is verbatim from mentioned sources — further gives it a narrative and cinematic feel that keeps the story continually moving forward. It also includes dozens of visuals of people, locations, and beautifully-designed maps which provides readers with a sense of place.
You can purchase a copy of Erie's Backyard Strangler: Terror in the 1960s from your favorite local book retailer or online.
The History Press // 192 pages // True Crime, History