In my novel, DEAD OF AUTUMN, the contemporary suspense story intertwines with the tale of Dewilla Noakes. Dewilla and her sisters are on a road trip with their father and older cousin, Winifred -- a trip that ends tragically for the entire family. Although my story is fictionalized, it is based on an historical event. The Babes in the Woods were three young sisters, found dead in the Pennsylvania woods near Pine Grove Furnace State Park one wintry November day in 1934. The 80th anniversary of their deaths was just a few weeks ago.
I had planned to summarize the known history of the Noake's family's fateful cross-country journey here on my blog. However, reporter Joseph Cress of Carlisle, PA's newspaper, The Sentinel, wrote two excellent stories to commemorate the Babe's death. Since they tell the history very well, I am enclosing the links to his articles.
One comment. The second article features family members of Winifred Pierce, the older cousin, who lost her life in a murder-suicide with Elmo Noakes, the Babes' father. The family believes that Miss Pierce was blameless in the 1934 events. My fictionalized story in DEAD OF AUTUMN imagines another scenario.
Only one thing is completely clear - no one will ever know what really happened to the Babes, their father, and Winifred Pierce. Why did they head East? Did Elmo Noakes and Winifred Pierce have a romantic relationship? How and why did the three sisters die? Those answers went to the grave with the Babes in the Woods, their cousin, and their father in 1934.