Guest article by Joyce Nance
No one was supposed to get hurt. But in March 1996, the robbery of a Hollywood Video store went horribly wrong, ending in a hail of gunfire and the worst mass murder in the history of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
This book is based on the true story of three ex-cons who met through the New Mexico Community Corrections early release program. One was obsessed with movies and guns, another was hopelessly in love, and the third double-crossed them both.
Initially, all hoped for a new and better life, but in this modern tragedy, the ex-cons' self-destructive impulses ultimately led to their doom and that of their innocent victims. An entire city was left to mourn.
"Reel to Real: The Video Store Murders,” details the events that lead up to the mass killing. The point of view is seen predominately through the eyes of Esther Beckley, one of two persons convicted in this case.
Her problems began when she fell for the wrong man (again) and did what she thought she had to do to keep him. Another man, an ex-con she met as part of a NM Corrections program and a pathological liar, used her neediness as a tool to get her involved in a couple of armed robberies. She did not understand at the time that this man, her partner in crime, had ambitions beyond money. While the first robbery went off relatively seamlessly, the second one, however does not.
After the crimes had been committed, one of the biggest manhunts in the history of New Mexico took place. About one hundred and fifty officers searched for the killer or killers. Additionally, a $100,000 reward was established. Eventually a tipster came forward and helped the police solve the crime.
To research this book, I went to the Women's Correctional Institute in Grants, New Mexico where inmate Esther Beckley is serving two life sentences and interviewed her at length.