Darker than Night: The True Story of a Brutal Double Homicide and an 18-Year Long Quest for Justice

Darker than Night: The True Story of a Brutal Double Homicide and an 18-Year Long Quest for Justice

by Tom Henderson

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In 1985, two 27-year-old friends left their suburban Detroit homes for a hunting trip in rural Michigan. When they did not return, their families and police suspected foul play. For 18 years, no one could prove a thing. Then, a relentless investigator got a witness to talk, and a horrifying story emerged.


In 2003, this bizarre case hit the glare of the criminal justice system, as prosecutors charged two brothers, Raymond and Donald Duvall, with murder. With no bodies ever found, the case hinged on the testimony of one terrified witness who saw a bloody scene unfold-and who was still nearly too frightened to talk.


Now, the truth behind an 18-year-old mystery is revealed against the backdrop of an unusual, electrifyingly dramatic trial. Raymond and Donald Duvall bragged to friends that they killed their victims, chopped up their bodies and fed them to pigs. A Michigan jury soon had evidence of this brutally methodical execution-evidence that would lead a shocked courtroom through the heart of evil and beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312936761
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/03/2006
Series: St. Martin's True Crime Library
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 62,587
Product dimensions: 4.24(w) x 6.87(h) x 1.12(d)

About the Author

TOM HENDERSON, a native of Michigan, has worked as a news reporter for many years. He has been a columnist for Detroit Free Press, a freelance writer for Detroit News, and has been a Senior Editor for a monthly business publication called Corporate Detroit. He is the author of A DEADLY AFFAIR and BLOOD JUSTICE.

Read an Excerpt






Deer hunting is a Michigan phenomenon. A seasonal rite of passage for fathers and sons, mothers and daughters. An economic bonanza for business owners who both welcome the hunters’ money and despise them for clogging the roads, filling the woods, making it impossible to go out and enjoy a meal or a drink for the last two weeks each November.

Some 800,000 hunters pour into the woods. Caravans of cars from the Midwest fill the interstates. They jam the freeway rest stops. Some own hunting cabins. Some camp in motor homes. Others fill the motels along the state and county roads. Many pitch tents and set up camp where their dads and grandfathers have been pitching tents and setting up camps for decades.

They fill the restaurants and the bars. It’s even an economic boon for the farmers, who get to take some measure of revenge for all the corn and grain stolen from them by the marauding deer of summer and fall. Misshapen carrots that can’t be sold in supermarkets are wrapped in big plastic bags and sold as deer bait, to be left in clearings or near blinds in hopes of drawing a whitetail close enough for a killing shot. Huge bags of bait are wedged in between pumps at every gas station, or stacked up out front on the grass next to the driveway. Inside the gas stations, many extra cases of beer are laid in for the siege, too, stacked high and narrowing the aisles.

Whitetails love man. They thrive on the edges of his civilization. They sneak into his fields to eat his corn if he’s a farmer; if he’s a suburbanite, they nibble buds of the lower branches of trees in the spring, trim his lawn in the summer and snag low-hanging or fallen fruit in the fall. In the northern Michigan woods, their population exploded at the end of the 19th century, when the hordes of lumbermen clear-cut tens of thousands of acres of giant white pine, which for a generation supplied the needs of homebuilders across the U.S.

As the pines fell to the ax and were hauled off, aspen saplings by the millions with their tender, juicy leaves, and seemingly endless acres of raspberry and blackberry thickets replaced them, an endless, nutrient-rich cornucopia. As the deer population grew, the new forest that grew with them was shaped by their appetite. Voracious feeders of low vegetation, the deer kept things trimmed on the ground as the new trees grew to form a canopy.

Other species couldn’t compete and left or died. By the mid–20th century, the deer were the dominant animal. Where once a sighting of a whitetail was an adrenaline-jolting highlight of the day, something you told folks about later, they became as ubiquitous as squirrels. They spread throughout the state, finding the edges of suburbia to their taste, too.

Eventually there were so many whitetails that the hunters and the bureaucrats who ran the state’s Department of Natural Resources stopped talking about them as if they were animals and began to refer to them as if they were rows of corn or soybeans. The kill during hunting season came to be called “the deer harvest.”

There were millions of the things. Nearly a million hunters sitting in blinds or stalking through the woods hoping to kill one. In any given year, 300,000 would be successful. Just the rope needed to tie that many big animals to the roof of a car or an SUV was a cottage industry. Add in archery season, and the kill was 500,000 deer.

A bountiful harvest, indeed.

Copyright © 2006 by Tom Henderson.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
St. Martin's True Crime Library Titles by Tom Henderson,
Copyright Page,

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Darker Than Night 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You want a well researched book with all info, this is the book..author did a great job !! Thank gosh those monsters cant hurt anyone else....Bn
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Out of all the true crime books I have read, I liked this one the least. It was very long winded with not much action to take you through the same old, same old investigations. I would not recommend this book to avid true crime readers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very well written account of a brutal crime. Very Engaging.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book! I couldn't put the book down while I was reading it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When my daughter told me of this book I remembered the newpaper headlines. So I researched it on the internet under Michigan murders. I found the name and went to B & N to find the book. When I got it I burned through the pages to find the true story. Then I read through it for the accuracy. It was the very area that my Dad and I hunted at the very time the murders took place and the murders still roamed the areas. I research the name of the roads and knew a few of the restaurants and stores. It truly was a scary book. I also went to the offends sites for prisons to see the pictures of the killers. Great book.
uschica More than 1 year ago
I kept wondering if I knew some of the people it was written about. My family camps in the area that these murders occured so it was intriguing to find out what all the others were talking about this past summer. It's hard to keep focused at times as the content which could have had a better flow. It seemed to jump around but I suspect there was limited information to go by. It was mainly focused on the cops and elaborated more about the careers of them and the prosecutors. It was tangential at times. Overall, it was suspenseful and the pages kept turning, chapters flew by but then it came to an abrupt stop. The content seemed like what the movie Fargo could have been based on.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The brothers are ruthless with there actions and threats, My hat goes off to Bronco for never giving up.And to Ms. Pendergast, Great job.
TheLoopyLibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The disappearance of two hunters in the Michigan Woods in 1985 took 18 years to solve and prosecute. This story was not so much a who-done-it as it was a how-to-prove-it. The break in the case came when one eyewitness to the brutal homicide was eventually persuaded to testify by state policeman Bronco Lesneski. He worked the case every day. He spent many of his off hours tirelessly re-interviewing witnesses. Everybody seemed to have an opinion as to what had happened, but nearly all fingers and lines of questioning pointed back to the Duvall brothers. It¿s a story straight out of Deliverance. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of this case was that it was successfully prosecuted without a body, without a weapon, and without one iota of physical evidence. The courtroom testimonies are the most fascinating and at many times rather amusing parts of this story. It¿s a horrific crime. No doubt about that. And certainly nothing amusing about it either. But the cast of characters is so unbelievable that one can¿t help but laugh. And some of the testimonies were beyond belief.The writing however was sloppy, and the editors missed many an error. The mystery didn¿t really carry the story either because early on, the reader had a good idea of what happened and who had done it. What keeps the reader engaged is perhaps one of the same motivators that kept Lesneski plowing away. The reader wants to see justice done and the truth come out.I¿ve read better true crime novels. Ann Rule is hard to compete with in terms of quality of writing and storytelling. However, the courtroom drama in this book makes it worth the read for true crime fans. It leaves the reader shaking his head and wondering if he picked up a work of fiction or non-fiction. There¿s a quote attributed to different people that says the difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense. That¿s how I know this crime and these players are real. No one could have made them up in their wildest imaginations. The witness who by his own definition was a recovering amnesiac still has me laughing. The world can be a crazy¿and scary¿place.
russelllindsey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a great book for anyone who loves suspense/mysteries. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, although growing up in the area where the murders occurred added another element for me.
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