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A Cold-Blooded Business

Adultery, Murder, and a Killer's Path from the Bible Belt to the Boardroom

By Marek Fuchs

Now in paperback, with a new afterword updating the twisting narrative of Mark Mangelsdorf after his conviction.

In 1959, Olathe, Kansas, was made famous by the murder of the Clutter family and Truman Capote’s groundbreaking book on the crime, In Cold Blood. But fewer know that Olathe achieved notoriety again in 1982, when a member of Olathe’s growing Evangelical Christian population, a gentle named David Harmon, was bludgeoned to death while sleeping—the force of the blows crushing his face beyond recognition. Suspicion quickly fell on David’s wife, Melinda, and his best friend, Mark, student body president of the local Bible college. However, the long arms of the church defended the two, and no charges were pressed.

Two decades later, two Olathe policemen revived the cold case making startling revelations that reopened old wounds and chasms within the Olathe community—revelations that rocked not only Olathe, but also the two well-heeled towns in which Melinda and Mark resided. David’s former wife and friend were now living separate, successful, law-abiding lives. Melinda lived in suburban Ohio, a devoted wife and mother of two. Mark had become a Harvard MBA, a high-paid corporate mover, a family man, and a respected community member in a wealthy suburb of New York City. Some twenty years after the brutal murders, each received the dreaded knock of justice on the door. A Cold-Blooded Business provides fascinating character studies of Melinda and Mark, killers who seemingly returned to normalcy after one blood-splattered night of violence. Featuring a new afterword by the author covering the events of the past five years, this fast-moving true crime narrative is a chilling exploration into the darkest depths of the human psyche.

Marek Fuchs is a teacher, journalist, and volunteer firefighter. After six years as a stockbroker, he became a journalist, in which role he has written columns for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance, and TheStreet. Fuchs speaks regularly on business and journalism issues, and currently serves as a member of the writing faculty at Sarah Lawrence College. He lives in a loud house with three children in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.

Reviews

“Readers will be riveted … a breakneck pace is maintained right up to the final pages.” Kirkus Reviews

A Cold-Blooded Business

In 2006, when the New York Times assigned Marek Fuchs to cover a cold-case murder involving an executive in a wealthy Westchester suburb,* neither the editors nor Fuchs was yet aware that the case would grow into one of the most prominent—and bizarre—stories since Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Not only is it a shocking story of a bloody, bludgeoning murder, a crime of passion involving a love-triangle among small-town college buddies, but the crime took place in Olathe, Kansas—the same Bible-belt town in which Capote’s classic “nonfiction novel” had some of its most important action.

* “Pelham Man Pleads Guilty in a 1982 Killing in Kansas” (New York Times, 2/15/06; here).