• A Descent into Hell

  • The True Story of an Altar Boy, a Cheerleader, and a Twisted Texas Murder
  • By: Kathryn Casey
  • Narrated by: Gillian Vance
  • Length: 11 hrs and 52 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (232 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Bright, attractive, and both from good families, University of Texas college student Colton Pitonyak and vibrant redhead Jennifer Cave had the world at their beckoning. Cave, an ex-cheerleader, had just landed an exciting new job, while a big-money scholarship to UT's prestigious business school lured Pitonyak to Austin. Yet the former altar boy had a dark, unpredictable streak, one that ensnared him in the perilous underworld of drugs and guns. When Jennifer failed to show up for work on August 18, 2005, her mother became frightened. Sharon Cave's search led to Colton's West Campus apartment, where Jennifer's family discovered a scene worthy of the grisliest horror movie. Meanwhile, Colton Pitonyak was nowhere to be found.

A Descent into Hell is the gripping, true story of one of the most brutal slayings in UT history - and the wild "Bonnie and Clyde-like" flight from justice of a cold-blooded young killer and his would-be girlfriend, who claimed that her unquestioning allegiance to Pitonyak was "just the way I roll".

©2008 Kathryn Casey (P)2012 Kathryn Casey

What listeners say about A Descent into Hell

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not my cup of tea.

I don't think I'll listen to any other Casey titles. The main story feels stretched out, repeating information several times. I didn't like the other stories with it. The title makes it seem like one story, but the added stories seem like they're thrown in as filler. Couldn't hold my attention. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone.

7 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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True crime done right!

This book is very well written and researched with unexpected twists and characters. easy to listen to and details of the players and events moves this story move quickly. Small warning; the details of the gruesome crime are covered very thoroughly which I appreciated but some listeners might not enjoy.

4 people found this helpful

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"Could not put it down"

"Usually Casey's books are a hit and miss for me ,but not this one! I was familiar with the case and recommend it . Never got bored."

3 people found this helpful

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Senseless story well-told

Where does A Descent into Hell rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Near the top of true crime books. It is obvious that Ms. Casey got interviews with many of the people that she needed to in order to tell the story in a well-balanced way. I found that I really got to know the people involved in the tragic story - Jennifer, Colton, members of Jen's family... I found Laura to be a bit of an enigma, but possibly because her family did not wish to provide more information. The shocking nature of this crime, coupled with the tragedy of Jen wanting to get her life back together, was just so senseless.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me angry. How could this have happened? How could drugs have given three young people who had everything going for them into a murderer, a mutilator, and a victim treated in such a horrific way?

Any additional comments?

This is the second Kathryn Casey book I have read (the first being "Evil Beside Her." It is obvious that Ms. Casey's professionalism is on full display here, that she has grown as a journalist and as a writer. I am glad to see most if not all of her catalog on AUdible.

3 people found this helpful

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Fascinating Account of Heinous Crime

Where does A Descent into Hell rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I would rank this book in my top Five of all crime novels written in the past 20 years!

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The lead-in to the crime usually involves a good bit of tedium in these books, not here, the narrator paints a vivid pre-crime atmosphere.

What does Gillian Vance bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The narrator adeptly brings the characters to life and draws the listener in immediately. Great Job!

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

It was concerning to learn the ambivalence the murderer and his accomplice showed toward the victim.

Any additional comments?

I would really like to hear more from this author and narrator on other true crime events.

3 people found this helpful

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pretty good for true-crime lovers.

Would you listen to A Descent into Hell again? Why?

not if there were other books to listen to. it was good as far as it goes. i myself do not fall in love with this type of book!

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

the story itself was compelling but depressing. how some very privileged kids were able to just go their wild ways and sink into some evil depths, without those in authority being more aware, and intervening. i blame the parents of the main perp, colton, for not being more in control of this kid. the girl involved was more of the victim. i guess her mother and sister did see some of what was happening, and did try to intervene. but that could go only so far, because the victim was living away at college. what happened to the victim was any mother's perfect nightmare.

Which scene was your favorite?

NO favorite scenes in this horrible story~

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

the book title says it all: descent into hell.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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NOT THE BEST TRUE CRIME CASE BUT IT WAS WELL DONE.

Where does A Descent into Hell rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

NOT VERY HIGH. IT WAS PASSABLE. NOT BECAUSE OF THE WRITING, BUT I FOUND THE STORY NOT THAT INTERESTING.

Would you be willing to try another book from Kathryn Casey? Why or why not?

YES. I WILL WANT TO BE SURE THE TRUE CRIME CASE IS MORE INTERESTING.

Have you listened to any of Gillian Vance’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

DEADLY LITTLE SECRETS. IT WAS A MORE INTERESTING BOOK.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

REALLY, I DON'T THINK YOU PICK UP TIDBITS READING TRUE CRIME.

Any additional comments?

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent use of a credit

If you could sum up A Descent into Hell in three words, what would they be?

I could not stop listening. I am not sure if it was unbelief or making sure everything ended neatly, but what a crazy ride.

What did you like best about this story?

The fact that everything is still on the internet. The story is fresh and new.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

yes

2 people found this helpful

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Interesting

Where does A Descent into Hell rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is one of my favourite audio books so far. Kathryn Casey did thorough research and bought the people involved in the awful events of the book to life. You get to know the family of Jennifer Cave as well as Jennifer herself and the events leading up to the crime.

What was one of the most memorable moments of A Descent into Hell?

The way that Jennifer's mother knew something was wrong and how they found her was engrossing because it was true and so shocking. My favourite part of the book was what Jennifer's mother said to Laura Hall in court - finally someone telling her the truth.

What about Gillian Vance’s performance did you like?

The performance was spot-on and kept me involved in the story. Gillian Vance reads with a great rhythm that kept me engaged.

Any additional comments?

I admired Jennifer's mother and family so much after hearing their story and hope they've been able to find some peace. I can't imagine going through what they have and still behaving with such dignity, integrity and love.

2 people found this helpful

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Shocked ! My prayers to you Jen and family 💞😇

I'm in grief and shock , feeling so much love ! for Jennifer and her family. It is 2018, January 10. I will never forget ! I will always have a place in my heart and soul for you. My prayer's will always be for Jennifer and the family. God be with you all. Kathryn Casey you are a gifted writer. Gilliam Vance, you are a gifted narrator !

1 person found this helpful

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  • AnneDriscoll
  • 09-09-15

Not as good as some of her others

I enjoyed listening to the book but did not find it as engaging us some of Ms Casey's others.Still worth a listen though.