Review of Mike Dauplaise’s Torture at the Back Forty
Outlaw Motorcycle gangs always hold a particular fascination for me. These “one percenters” live short, violent lives outside society’s conventions. Unlike other organized-crime groups such as the Mafia, motorcycle gangs don’t even pretend to be respectable.
The other day, I was sitting at home on the weekend and I needed a book. I didn’t want to go to the library, so I found a digital copy of Mike Dauplaise’s Torture at the Back Forty on Amazon for $7.95. I was pleased with my purchase.
Green Bay as Mayberry
Green Bay, Wisconsin’s claim to fame is the Packers football team. Otherwise, the small city enjoys a reputation of being something of a “modern-day Mayberry” – a nice place to raise a family. But, as with all places, there is another side to Green Bay.
Murder in 1983
December 27, 1983, was bitterly cold in Green Bay. A 35-year-old woman named Margaret Anderson went out drinking with a friend of hers, a local biker named Terry “Weasel” Apfel. After a long night of drinking, Margaret and Terry got into an argument outside a bar called The Back Forty. Terry became so enraged at Margaret that he shouted to some bikers who were in the parking lot “You guys can have her. I’m done with her.” Within a few hours, Margaret Anderson was dead.
While Torture at the Back Forty isn’t a great book, it has many strong points. One thing that I liked was that author Mike Dauplaise did a good job of discussing Margaret Anderson’s background in rural Montana. The stories help bring her back to life, reminding you that she had a family that cared for her. The book also contains graphic details of how badly Margaret suffered before she died. The details are uncomfortable, but make you want to see the bikers face justice.
One of the book’s big attractions is that you get to learn about the outlaw biker subculture. Two motorcycle gangs were involved in Margaret’s murder – The DC Eagles and The Drifters. The Eagles were an outlaw gang; 3 members were involved in Margaret’s murder. The Drifters were not a true outlaw gang; most of them had legitimate jobs, though they were a rough group. The owner of the Back Forty bar was a Drifter who was involved in Margaret’s murder.
The bikers proved to be surprisingly adept at evading the law. 2 of the bikers fled and it took much effort to find them. Justice didn’t catch up to the last of the bikers until 4.5 years later, when his case was one of the first to be featured on America’s Most Wanted. The story of how these guys survived “on the lam” is one of the most-interesting aspects of the book.
Don’t Ask Why
On the whole, the 4 were surprisingly cagey when it came to telling the story of what happened that night. All attempted to shift the blame. At the end of the book, the reader has a general idea of what occurred, but not 100% of the truth.
A frustrating aspect of the case is that the motive is murky, even to the 4 bikers. It was a crime of opportunity. The bikers had been drinking and taking drugs for hours, and – as a group – were capable of killing with little forethought.
Torture at the Back Forty is a good, short read (about 160 pages). The story and Dauplaise’s writing are both better than what one finds in most true-crime books. I give the book 7.5 out of 10.
My $7.95 digital copy was money well spent.