- Zero at the Bone – The Playboy, The Prostitute, and The Murder of Bobby Greenlease
- by John Heidenry
- Publisher – St. Martin’s Press
- Copyright – 2009
- 211 pages
Rating – 8/10
Review – The 1953 kidnapping of Bobby Greenlease set of a storm of media coverage. Greenlease was the six-year-old son of a wealthy Kansas City car dealer. Bobby ‘s father, Robert Greenlease, subsequently paid $600,000 in ransom. But the case ended in tragedy when police found Bobby’s body buried in the yard of a home in St. Joseph, Missouri.
The home belonged to Bonnie Heady, a local woman who had fallen into alcoholism and prostitution. A man named Carl Austin Hall goaded Bonnie into the kidnapping and murder. The two villains are the main focus of John Heidenry’s Zero at the Bone.
Hall was born into wealth, but had taken a wrong turn as a young man. Despite being written out of his mother’s will, he still received the bulk of her estate (after it first passed to another relative). Hall blew the entire fortune in about five years and ended up spending time in the Missouri pentitentiary. Hall was a morphine addict and (like Bonnie Heady) was a horrible alcoholic. He hoped that kidnapping Bobby Greenlease would put him back on easy street.
The strength of Zero at the Bone is its brevity. At just over 200 pages, the book flies by and never bogs down. But the brevity can also frustrate the reader. Carl and Bonnie remain – in many ways – mysteries to the reader at book’s end.
Heidenry chose a great topic. The story is consistently interesting. After the murder, Carl and Bonnie’s incompetent attempts to evade the police inevitably lead to their downfall. Also, Heidenry covers the mystery of what happened to the $600,000 ransom, which is a good story in and of itself. The book closes with the story of the Greenlease family, which – understandably – never recovered from the tragedy.
True-crime fans will enjoy Zero at the Bone. It’s a fascinating story that is well told by John Heidenry.