The untold story of one woman’s search for love and justice.
“Save my babies! Oh my God!” Amanda Hamm’s screams echoed in the late summer air surrounding Clinton Lake in rural Illinois.
The Unforgiven is the story of how what appeared to be an accident turned into a crime. But was it murder?
In this anatomy of an exceptional case that attracted national media attention, readers journey through unspeakable tragedy, small-town justice and the consequences of scalding decisions that changed people’s lives forever.
The story stretches well beyond the deaths of Amanda’s three children in 2003 to a Chicago courtroom more than a decade later where she was caught once again in the state’s sticky web of justice. But this time the lives of her three new children were at stake.
The co-authors are veteran journalists with extensive firsthand knowledge of the case and access to nearly every record related to the court proceedings. Brady-Lunny covered the Hamm-LaGrone murder cases and the proceedings in Chicago related to her child custody case.
The Unforgiven is a true-life drama of an extraordinary, unspeakable event that can never to be undone or forgotten, told with telling insight and fascinating detail by journalists Edith Brady-Lunny and Steve Vogel. — Joe Domanick, author and Los Angeles Times Book prize finalist
The Unforgiven is a harrowing journey into a tangled web of love, infidelity, suspicion, and tragedy. — Dave Kindred, award-winning columnist and author
The line between murder and accidental death can be exceedingly thin. This narrow world is the core of The Unforgiven, a richly-told true story by award-winning journalists Edith Brady-Lunny and Steve Vogel. This is a remarkable tale of the tragic deaths of three children that forever changed a central Illinois community and raised deeply troubling questions about the criminal justice system. — Maurice Possley, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author
Defense tests on a California street
Defense lawyers working on the Hamm-LaGrone cases conducted tests on a California street with an incline similar to the sloped boat ramp at Clinton Lake. The video, which was never shown to jurors, shows how an Oldsmobile Cutlass momentarily placed in drive, and then reverse, would still go forward after the brake was released. The judge ruled the video inadmissible based on his opinion that the tests did not meet scientific standards. Here’s one of the tests performed by automotive engineer and defense consultant Dr. Michael Varat.
Investigators focus on Hamm’s boyfriend in questioning
Two weeks after the drownings, investigators moved into new territory in their questioning of Hamm. She was asked to speculate on what her future might hold if she were to implicate her boyfriend Maurice LaGrone in the deaths.. Here’s a link to a portion of the interview:
Police seek confession from Maurice LaGrone Jr.
After their final interview with Amanda Hamm in the psychiatric unit of a Decatur Hospital where she was receiving treatment, police turned their focus once again to Maurice LaGrone Jr. Their efforts to obtain a confession from him fell short after investigators urged him of his need to “score some points” to combat Hamm’s statements about her former boyfriend. Here’s a link to a portion of LaGrone’s exchange with police.
Amanda Hamm police interview
Amanda Hamm agreed to speak with police seven times during the three month investigation leading up to murder charges against her and her boyfriend. During none of those interviews did she have an attorney with her. Here’s a link to a portion of the third interview conducted on Sept. 10, 2003.
Maurice LaGrone Jr. lake video
Two days after Amanda Hamm’s children drowned in Clinton Lake, her boyfriend Maurice LaGrone Jr. agreed to accompany investigators to the boat ramp where the car he was driving went into the lake. The attached link includes excerpts of the interview which was never played in court during the two murder trials for Hamm and LaGrone.
The 911 call summoning rescuers to Clinton Lake
To help enrich readers’ understanding of the two murder cases and the child custody case that followed a dozen years later, we are adding information to our websites from the cases. This the 911 call made by Amanda Hamm. Listener discretion is advised for this emotional recording.