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While They Slept

An Inquiry into the Murder of a Family

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


Early on an April morning, eighteen-year-old Billy Frank Gilley, Jr., killed his sleeping parents. Surprised in the act by his younger sister, Becky, he turned on her as well. Billy then climbed the stairs to the bedroom of his other sister, Jody, and said, “We’re free.” But is one ever free after an unredeemable act of violence? The Gilley family murders ended a lifetime of physical and mental abuse suffered by Billy and Jody at the hands of their parents. And it required each of the two survivors–one a convicted murderer, the other suddenly an orphan–to create a new identity, a new life.

From Publishers Weekly

Apr 21, 2008 – In the early morning of April 27, 1984, outside Medford, Ore., 18-year-old Billy Gilley bludgeoned his parents, Bill and Linda, and his 11-year-old sister, Becky, to death. He believed his act would allow him and his 16-year-old sister, Jody, to free themselves from an abusive home. Comprising extensive interviews with both Jody, a Georgetown graduate and victims’ rights advocate, and Billy, serving three consecutive life sentences in Oregon, Harrison recounts the trial, where Jody was the prosecution’s star witness, and attempts to understand the Gilleys’ troubled family history. Despite differing accounts from the now estranged siblings on the severity of their parents’ abuse, it’s clear that both parents routinely engaged in verbal and physical cruelty. Billy claimed his murder of Becky was unintentional, but it sealed his fate. Novelist and memoirist Harrison (The Kiss) attends admirably to detail, and her dissection of the effects of violence on both perpetrators and victims is thorough. But by bookending the account with musings on her incestuous relationship with her own father—already addressed in both her fiction and nonfiction—Harrison dilutes the power of the Gilleys’ story.
While They Slept
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  • $7.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: True Crime
  • Published: Jun 10, 2008
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 288 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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