• Before He Wakes: A True Story of Money, Marriage, Sex and Murder

  • By: Jerry Bledsoe
  • Narrated by: Kevin Stillwell
  • Length: 13 hrs and 19 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (383 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The true story of Barbara Stager, a devoted mother, loving wife, and dedicated church leader who committed an almost perfect crime.

By all accounts, Stager seemed to lead the perfect life in her community in Durham, North Carolina. After her husband, popular high school coach Russ, died tragically, the police were inclined to believe her story - that she accidentally shot him. Suspicions rose when the police discovered that Stager's previous husband had died similarly 10 years prior. Detective Rick Buchanan searches for the truth and finds a string of compulsive lies, obsessive spending, and sexual promiscuity. Ever shocking new discovery unraveled Barbara Stager's impeccable image more and more.

Russ left a damning piece of evidence behind that reveals the shocking nightmare truth about his wife.

©1994 Jerry Bledsoe (P)2015 ListenUp Production, LLC

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What listeners say about Before He Wakes: A True Story of Money, Marriage, Sex and Murder

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Great story & great reader

Story is well written & entertaining. The reader did a great job. I only wish he had more true crime novels. If you like true crime you won't be disappointed.

7 people found this helpful

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Jerry Bledsoe is Amazing, as is Kevin Stillwell

Okay, so on the heels of my listen to Bitter Blood, this book wasn't as exceptional as I had hoped. Bitter Blood was phenomenal, so it was a hard act to follow.

Barbara Terry Ford Stager is either: a) unlucky to the 100th power, b) extremely mentally ill or c) a diabolical killer.

Mrs. Ford-Stager has two dead husbands, a penchant for spending FAR beyond her means (which highlighted her check kiting and embezzlement skills), a compulsive lying streak more incredible than Pinocchio, a sexual appetite more impressive than Ginger Lynn and a church lady charade/appearance. She is the ultimate oxymoron.

Her two unfortunate husbands, Larry Ford and Russell Stager had no idea what they were getting their hands on - a black widow in sheep's clothing. Or, was it pure coincidence that both her husbands died in bed thanks to the "business end of a 25 caliber gun"?

You decide.

I think Barbara is where she belongs, serving life in a North Carolina prison.

9 people found this helpful

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Wow!

This story had me glued to my headphones. I couldn't wait to hear what was going to happen next. Truly a sad commentary on the power of greed and its devastating results. Excellent narrator as well. Highly recommend this for all of the true crime fans out there.

7 people found this helpful

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Couldn’t stand narrator

I loved the story but the narrators misplaced emphasis on words and/or syllables was so annoying I had to abort 1/4 of the way through

2 people found this helpful

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Kept Me Listening!

I already knew a bit about this case so I was interested in knowing more. I couldn't have asked for a better listen! The story was well told and the presenter was clear, had a lot of expression, and really gave a picture to the words!! What a great choice this book was!

2 people found this helpful

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Church Lady Killer...

In gripping true crime style, Bledsoe tells the tale of Barbara Stager, a church-going, seemingly upright and righteous woman who just had one flaw: she liked to kill husbands... Stager was so convincing as her role as Church Lady that she nearly passed under the wire during investigations. Then a detective with a sharp eye, and enough cynicism to see past Stager's act, began to unravel the threads of her story.

14 people found this helpful

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bledsoe/stillwell are the dynamic duo of audible..

bledsoe/stillwell are the benchmark for the audio books i listen to...bledsoe is such a great writer and stillwell is so good at conveying the story without sounding as hokey as so many others...

4 people found this helpful

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Before He Wakes

The performer was great. I really liked how deeply detailed the author was with this crime. Can I say it was a pleasure to listen to a good double murder? Yes, I can.

1 person found this helpful

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Murder most evil

How cheap life has become. We all have two faces one we present to the world and the other to our families. We are all guilty of things but hopefully not murder. Our justice systems all over the world seem to favor the perpetrator and condemn the victim.

1 person found this helpful

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Another book chock full of religious nonsense

I just can't understand why the facts of a crime, the backgrounds of the victim/perpetrator, etc., etc., just aren't enough. 98% of the true crime books I've heard on this app have been excessively padded with one type of religious nonsense or another. Not everyone is gullible enough to believe in non-existent magic sky fairies, so putting that all throughout the book is like talking about the Nicole Simpson murder while sprinkling in quotes from Harry Potter... it just doesn't make sense to ruin a story like that!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-26-20

Fascinating story

I enjoyed the way the story unfolded - it kept me gripped until the end. I recommend this book.