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Torture at the Back Forty: The Gang Rape and Slaying of Margaret Anderson by Mike Dauplaise–book review

28 June 2011

Torture at the Back Forty: The Gang Rape & Slaying of Margaret Anderson by Mike Dauplaise tells the harrowing tale of a young single mother named Margaret Anderson who was brutally sexually assaulted, tortured, and ultimately murdered by four bikers over the 1983 Christmas holiday in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

This book is atypical of true crime fare in that it’s not published by one of the major true crime distributors but rather by TitleTown Publishing, LLC, out of Green Bay. As such, it lacks the characteristic true crime middle section of photos, though it does sprinkle several pictures throughout the book. In particular, there is a picture included of Ms. Anderson’s legs taken at autopsy. This true crime fanatic does not typically prefer to see such pictures included as oftentimes they appear to be for gratuitous shock value (presumably by choice of the publishers and not the authors), but in this case, the photo serves to illustrate the fierce violence the victim suffered before being fatally slashed.

Released in 2009, the book covers the bawdy details leading up to the 1980s murder, as well as the years following the event, a suspenseful manhunt (five years’ long in one case!), a plea on America’s Most Wanted, four separate trials, and five separate outcomes (one ending in murder obviously).

The crime occurred on a bitterly cold Wisconsin winter night, replete with snowfalls and dubious characters. Ms. Anderson was beaten, tortured, sexually assaulted, and her throat ultimately hacked, nearly decapitating her. Adding insult to injury, her body was then tossed over a railing into a truck-stop feeding dump. Remarkably, Ms. Anderson managed to get up and walk—a witness to her lone figure trampling across the dark highway in the snow reported seeing a stumbling drunk, or in his words “a freak across the railroad tracks.”

Despite her injuries, Ms. Anderson was able to walk a good distance away from where she’d been dumped and left to die. This is strong evidence of her will to survive. Knowing this adds to the already burgeoning dismay that she did not make it, and most likely could not have made it even with medical attention given the extent of her numerous injuries.

An investigation ensued, taking investigators — and readers — into the underbelly of biker counter-culture. Interestingly, the last elusive suspect was caught after a very long, very extensive manhunt only after the then-new show America’s Most Wanted profiled the crime, an idea brainstormed by an astute, innovative detective who had to sell his superiors on the idea. The killer had for years been sustained vis-à-vis an underground biker meta-society, where secrets are kept and its members protected.

A relatively short book, I read all 166 pages in one day.

This reader appreciates an investigative journalist who takes us behind the scenes, perhaps to places we’ve never been before, as in this case we visit the biker sub- or counter-culture of Green Bay at that time. We get a sneak peek into biker loyalties and rivalries — the crime involved members from rival but essentially peaceful co-existing biker gangs — alcohol and drug abuse, and even blatant, unrepentant misogyny. The latter of which, I am convinced, played a huge role in the acting out of said crime. The viciousness of the attack, and the intense rage of the violence, speaks volumes regarding the way the culprits felt about women in general, and this woman in particular.

In fact, in an interview, author Mike Dauplaise comments that Pathologist Dr. Darrell Skarphol remarked that out of all the autopsies he’d ever done, this was “the most brutal case” he’d ever seen.

Poor Ms. Anderson just happened to be female, and just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time — an evil trick of reverse serendipity. She also happened to have a mouth on her which, under the influence of alcohol, invariably facilitated her demise. One learns from reading this book that “ole ladies” do not talk back to their “ole men,” nor to any man for that matter. Case in point, one woman who worked at the bar, and who was a witness to the beginning of the crime as the bar closed, was told to go home and “forget about it.” Incredibly, she did.

Coming up in Part II: What happened to Margaret Anderson at the Back Forty?

For more info:

Buy Torture at the Back Forty on Amazon

Author’s Website 
Mike Dauplaise’s blog
Mike Dauplaise on Twitter
on LinkedIn
Bibliography of Mike Dauplaise 

Visit Mike Dauplaise’s author page on Amazon

Biography of Mike Dauplaise 

LegallyBlog® on Facebook

Sami K. Hartsfield, ACP is a freelance writer and NALA Advanced Certified Paralegal living in downtown Houston. She has worked as a law firm Webmaster, law firm social media marketer, and ghostwriter for personal injury law firms. She holds a degree in paralegal studies with a 4.0 GPA and a bachelor of science degree in political science, graduating summa cum laude. Sami interned with Texas’ 14th Court of Appeals under Chief Justice Adele Hedges, and completed the University of Houston Law Center’s Summer 2008 Prelaw Institute with a 4.0. A glutton for acquiring new knowldedge–in addition to her national advanced paralegal certification–she has earned six specialty certifications since 2007: Discovery; Trial Practice; Contracts Management; Social Security Disability Law; and Entity & Individual Medical Liability. You can find her on Facebook and e-mail her with questions, comments, or ideas at

Sami Hartsfield


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