Local author to unveil latest true crime book

DONNIE BRYANT?donnie.bryant@empiretribune.com
Local historian and true crime writer Sherri Knight is slated to present her new book, Death List: Trail of Terror, at Dinner in the Stacks Saturday, Sept. 29. DONNIE BRYANT/E-T

Tarleton State University is inaugurating their new season of Dinner in the Stacks with author Sherri Knight’s reading of excerpts from her latest book, Death List: Trail of Terror. It chronicles the acts of three criminals who placed Erath county in a state of fear and trepidation.

In August 1974, Erath was to become the unwitting host to the trio who had escaped from a Cañon City, Colo. penitentiary. Their crimes had ranged from petty car thievery to murder, and they added abduction and rape to their criminal history before they hit the Texas border. They were to leave a horrific path of terror through parts of New Mexico and Texas before meeting their Waterloo right here in Erath’s jurisdiction.

Dalton Williams, Jerry Ben Ulmer and Richard Mangrum wielded their reign of terror for three days in Erath County before being taken down by area law enforcement, leaving residents reeling in fear and disbelief. Their merrymaking was so devastating and violent that many Erath residents left the area or waited out the ordeal with the idea of safety in numbers by staying at the Hannibal store.

Knight is the author of several books based upon real life crime, and Death List is her fifth book.

“I fell into writing true historic crime with my first book, Tom P's Fiddle. I wrote it to clear up some mysteries for the family,” Knight explained.

Her latest project took Knight the better part of two years. She found herself faced with a wealth of interview subjects, but she felt compelled to rush in getting their stories.

“I felt a sense of urgency,” she said. “Many of the people involved in the story were getting older.”

Knight's account of the three men's actions will be detailed at the Dinner in the Stacks event on Saturday, Sept. 29. Appetizers will be served at 6:30 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m. Knight's reading will follow.

Members of the Friends of the Dick Smith Library will pay $17.50 for the evening, and non-members will be charged $20. Reservations can be made by calling 254-968-9474.