The award-winning journalist shares the story of the most brutal murder in the history of the Grand Canyon and how her quest to investigate the victim's life and death wound up guiding the author through her own life-threatening crisis.
Tomomi Hanamure, a Japanese citizen who loved exploring the rugged wilderness of the American West, was killed on her birthday May 8, 2006. She was stabbed 29 times as she hiked to Havasu Falls on the Havasupai Indian Reservation at the bottom of Grand Canyon. Her killer was an 18-year old Havasupai youth named Randy Redtail Wescogame who had a history of robbing tourists and was addicted to meth. It was the most brutal murder ever recorded in Grand Canyon's history. Annette McGivney covered the tragedy for Backpacker
magazine where she is Southwest Editor and she wrote an award-winning article that received more reader mail than any story in the last decade.
While the assignment ended when the article was published, McGivney could not let go of the story. As a woman who also enjoys wilderness hiking, McGivney felt a bond with Hanamure and embarked on a years-long pursuit to learn more about her. McGivney traveled to Japan and across the American West following the trail Hanamure left in her journals. Yet, McGivney also had a connection to Wescogame, Hanamure's killer, and her reporting unexpectedly triggered long-buried memories about violent abuse McGivney experienced as a child.
is a story of this inner and outer journey, how two women in search of their true nature found transcendence in the West's most spectacular landscapes. It is also a tale of how child abuse leads to violence and destroys lives. And it is, ultimately, a story of healing. While chronicling Hanamure's life landed McGivney in the crime scene of her own childhood, it was her connection to Hanamure---a woman she did not know until after Hanamure died--that helped McGivney find a way out of her own horror.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ANNETTE MCGIVNEY is an award-winning journalist and the longtime Southwest Editor for Backpacker
magazine. In addition to Backpacker
, her writing has appeared in Outside
, Arizona Highways
, and Sunset
magazines. Her June 2007 Backpacker
article “Freefall” about the murder of Tomomi Hanamure won a Maggie Award in 2008 from the Western Magazine Publishers Association for Best News Story. McGivney is the author of the previous books, Resurrection: Glen Canyon and a New Vision for the American West
(Braided River, 2009), and Leave No Trace: A Guide to the New Wilderness Etiquette
(The Mountaineers, 2003). She teaches journalism at Northern Arizona University and lives in Flagstaff, Arizona.