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Crooked Snake - The Life and Crimes of Albert Lepard

Crooked Snake

The Life and Crimes of Albert Lepard

By Lovejoy Boteler
Hardcover : 9781496821706, 225 pages, 16 b&w illustrations, February 2019
Paperback : 9781496830722, 226 pages, 16 b&w illustrations, August 2020

The true story of a kidnapper’s calamitous criminal life as told by the man he abducted


In 1968, during Albert Lepard’s fifth escape from a life sentence at Parchman Penitentiary, he kidnapped Lovejoy Boteler, then eighteen years old, from his family’s farm in Grenada, Mississippi. Three decades later, still beset by half-buried memories of that time, Boteler began researching his kidnapper’s nefarious, sordid life to discover how and why this terrifying abduction occurred.

Crooked Snake: The Life and Crimes of Albert Lepard is the true story of Lepard, sentenced to life in Parchman for the murder of seventy-four-year-old Mary Young in 1959. During the course of his sentence, Lepard escaped from prison six times in fourteen years.

In Crooked Snake, Boteler pieces together the story of this cold-blooded murderer's life using both historical records and personal interviews—over seventy in all—with ex-convicts who gravitated to and ran with Lepard, the family members who fed and sheltered the fugitive during his escapes, the law officers who hunted him, and the regular folks who were victimized in his terrible wake.

Throughout Crooked Snake, Boteler reveals his kidnapper’s hardscrabble childhood and tracks his whereabouts before his incarceration and during his jailbreaks. Lepard’s escapes take him to Florida, Michigan, Kansas, California, and Mexico. Crooked Snake captures a slice of history and a landscape that is fast disappearing. These vignettes describe Mississippi’s countryside and spirit, ranging from sharecropper family gatherings in Attala County’s Seneasha Valley to the twenty-thousand-acre Parchman farm and its borderlands teeming with alligator, panther, bear, and wild boar.


"A sharp, unsentimental book"

- Allen Boyer,

"Growing up in Beat 4, Grenada County, the Boteler family of the Riverdale community were some of my closest neighbors. I remember well that steamy Mississippi summer day in 1968 when we learned of the kidnapping (and subsequent release) of eighteen-year-old Lovejoy Boteler, by escaped Parchman penitentiary convicts. In poignant yet captivating style, Lovejoy chronicles his harrowing ordeal on that sweltering afternoon with exquisite detail. Crooked Snake—this gripping account of Lovejoy Boteler’s kidnapping and his years-long quest to learn more about his captors—is absolutely riveting. This is a long-awaited publication by this skillful writer and longtime friend."

- William F. Winter, former governor of Mississippi

"Absolutely loving your beautifully written book. Wonderful stuff . . . it’s a damn masterpiece!"

- Richard Grant, author of Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta

"A low-down, true Mississippi crime story, populated with prison yards, dusty Delta back roads, country churches, hot-wired trucks, and bloodhounds."

- Jim Dees, author of The Statue and the Fury: A Year of Art, Race, Music and Cocktails

"If you enjoyed Cool Hand Luke and O Brother, Where Art Thou? then you are primed to appreciate Lovejoy Boteler’s Crooked Snake. A sharp, unsentimental book."

- Allen Boyer, author of Rocky Boyer’s War: An Unvarnished History of the Air Blitz That Won the War in the Southwest Pacific

"A vivid and memorable book—I was riveted. . . . Boteler has a gift for evoking a scene through well-chosen details and dialogue."

- Peter Tonguette, film critic and editor of Peter Bogdanovich: Interviews