You’ve seen some pretty amazing things in your life.
In your travels around the world or around the block, there’s always something to view and some things you wish you’d never seen.
And that’s what Jovan Mosley was thinking after the police picked him up: wishing he’d never been witness to a murder. In the new book, “Long Way Home” by Laura Caldwell, what Jovan saw cost him almost a quarter of his life.
On the night that Henry Thomas Jr. lost his life, things were going well for him.
Thomas was well-liked in his job and was making enough money to buy a decent house for himself and his long-time girlfriend. His family was doing fine, and he was looking forward to seeing his grandchildren soon. His wallet had a few dollars in it that night, so he grabbed some chicken at a local Chicago restaurant and started home.
He never made it.
Earlier that night, Frad Muhammad asked his boy, Jovan Mosley, if he wanted to hang out. They briefly visited a park and found nothing of interest, and were joined by three other boys. When one of them suggested they rob someone, Thomas was the first person they saw.
The beating death of Henry Thomas Jr. went unsolved for several months, until a break in the case came. Police arrested Muhammad, Marvin Treadwell and Lawrence “Red” Wideman. Witnesses said a boy named “Fetta” was at the scene, as was a boy named Jovan Mosley, but Jovan didn’t do anything except walk away.
They arrested Jovan anyway.
For almost two days, the nineteen-year-old was kept, handcuffed, to a wall. Given no food or water, he wasn’t allowed to use the bathroom. Detectives wandered in and out, yelling and threatening. Finally, told that he could “go home” if he confessed to two punches, Jovan signed his name to a piece of paper.
Five years later, attorney Catherine O’Daniel had a chance meeting with Jovan in SuperMax, the Cook County jail. Impressed and astounded that he’d been in jail for so long with so little legal help, O’Daniel agreed to do something she’d never done: she took Jovan’s case, pro bono…
And that’s where author, lawyer, and novelist Laura Caldwell came in: to help O’Daniel and, in the process, immerse herself into this astounding, horrifying case.
With a writer’s knack for words and an attorney’s eye for detail, Caldwell brings Mosley’s story to light with the kind of suspense that will keep you up all night. She’s sympathetic to Mosley’s case, and she makes you care too. I loved that, and the “afterward” hints that Caldwell gives without spoiling the proceedings.
If you love a good courtroom drama, try this gripping true story. “Long Way Home” is definitely a book to see yourself reading.
(“Long Way Home” by Laura Caldwell, Free Press, $26, 303 pages, includes notes)