The Time J. Edgar Hoover Enlisted the Army to Assist in a Nationwide Manhunt

The bullet that pierced the heart of Patrolman Joe Zanella in a small Pennsylvania town was the opening moment of a crime story with few parallels.

It wasn’t the robberies, rapes, the daring escape or even the cop killing that catapulted Stanley Barton Hoss to the FBI’s most wanted man, but it was the broad daylight kidnapping of the lovely young mother and her child. In a nearly unprecedented step, J. Edgar Hoover enlisted the army to assist in a nationwide manhunt. An engaged public followed the drama by hour, day and week – and year to year … for when all thought the carnage was over, it wasn’t. And how Hoss struck again, in virtually impossible circumstances, and who fell, brought a governor to a funeral and provoked racial divide in a county.

Distinguished by Hoss’s  exceptional cruelty, heartbreak and landmark trials, this story about a resolute criminal is one of superlatives, thick with intrigue, blunder and surprise. It was a guess which legislature more often referenced Stanley Hoss as the perfect reason for capital punishment.

Beyond researching traditional sources and having been granted access to previously sealed state and federal archives, as well as Hoss’s most personal and revealing letters, the author has interviewed scores of individuals who lived the roles depicted on the pages of Born to Lose: Stanley B. Hoss & the Crime Spree That Gripped a Nation (True Crime History). Hoss’s victims of assault and rape, police and prison personnel, assorted cutthroats, the prosecution and defense, judges, the wife, mistress, all have talked for the first time on record.

Yet, it wasn’t precisely what Hoss did in Pennsylvania and Maryland, it was to whom and why and how that his reign of violence has sunk into the psyche of a region. This notable saga is a natural read for any true crime devotee, but will as well captivate an audience drawn to a dark tale that explores – and explains – how occasional human error and the very systems set in place to protect us can so easily be the cause for tragedy.