• The Trials of Walter Ogrod

  • The Shocking Murder, So-Called Confessions, and Notorious Snitch That Sent a Man to Death Row
  • By: Thomas Lowenstein
  • Narrated by: Chris Andrew Ciulla
  • Length: 10 hrs and 47 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (429 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The horrific 1988 murder of four-year-old Barbara Jean Horn shocked the citizens of Philadelphia. Plucked from her own front yard, Barbara Jean was found dead less than two and a half hours later in a cardboard TV box dragged to a nearby street curb. After months of investigation with no strong leads, the case went cold. Four years later it was reopened, and Walter Ogrod, a young man with autism spectrum disorder who had lived across the street from the family at the time of the murder, was brought in as a suspect.

Ogrod bears no resemblance to the composite police sketch based on eyewitness accounts of the man carrying the box, and there is no physical evidence linking him to the crime. His conviction was based solely on a confession he signed after 36 hours without sleep. "They said I could go home if I signed it," Ogrod told his brother from the jailhouse. The case was so weak that the jury voted unanimously to acquit him, but at the last second - in a dramatic courtroom declaration - one juror changed his mind. As he waited for a retrial, Ogrod's fate was sealed when a notorious jailhouse snitch was planted in his cell block and supplied the prosecution with a second supposed confession. As a result, Walter Ogrod sits on death row for the murder today.

Informed by police records, court transcripts, interviews, letters, journals, and more, award-winning journalist Thomas Lowenstein leads listeners through the facts of the infamous Horn murder case in compelling, compassionate, and riveting fashion. He reveals explosive new evidence that points to a condemned man's innocence and exposes a larger underlying pattern of prosecutorial misconduct in Philadelphia.

©2017 Thomas Lowenstein (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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What listeners say about The Trials of Walter Ogrod

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Innocent Project Policy Director’s Book

The narrator brought a this book to life with a intelligent tone. I think this book is well written and no doubt, helped bring in the attention this case needed. It’s a horrific story about how an innocent little girl was taken from the world and rather find the killer, detectives sought a closed case. And all the cards were stacked against an innocent man. I wish for the true killer to be found and some justice for Miss Barbara Jean and her family.

5 people found this helpful

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Listen, then research developments afterwards

The book is a thorough look into the injustice surrounding the police and prosecutors' role in win-at-all-costs judicial system. It should come as no surprise these days that our institutions only work when the thin reed of belief that they are run honestly can be maintained. They are not. The book details an egregious fabrications by multiple layers of government, working ostensibly in the name of the people, but actually working for their own political and professional ends. The book tends to get a bit tedious at times with extended trial transcripts, with various officers of the court twisting words and suppressing the truth. Listening to the cynical misrepresentations from the prosecutors, detectives and judge can become maddening though it understandably serves to depict the glaring bias, incompetence or outright prevarication of those assigned to ascertain justice, even if they openly acknowledge justice has little to do with their jobs.

It's a book that definitely requires an epilogue. I would recommend listening to the book, then researching the story on one's own. In fact, since the book's release there are been significant developments which provide welcome closure to the story.

4 people found this helpful

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Justice System

I enjoyed the story and the voice of the person that read it. I do think that the story was too long especially three quarters of the story I think I forwarded 4-5 chapters.
When it comes to the cops, investigators and judges I’m a bit hesitant to believe them to be too honest.
I have decided that if an investigator ever wants to interview me even if I’m not being accused of anything I will bring a lawyer.

3 people found this helpful

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A great look into the injustice system

next time you read or see a story about a jailhouse confession this book will make you think about it from a different perspective

3 people found this helpful

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Interesting

I liked this book. The writing and narrator were good and it was well researched. The reason for my 3 star rating is that I didn't feel it stood out from others in its genre. The retelling of the facts was fascinating but felt rather clinical. I would have liked the author to present an alternate theory of what happened, but I know sometimes writers don't want to do that in an investigative piece. I feel sorry for the parents and for Mr. Ogrod. It's a sad story with no definitive answers unfortunately.
A positive note is Mr. Ogrod was released and cleared of charges in spring of 2020.

2 people found this helpful

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Very sad and happens too often

So very sad that this happened to him! Wrong in so many ways! Just awful!

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Wow

just when I thought the legal system could not be more corrupt and dishonest, I read this book. This is why I will never be pro death penalty. it's all about convictions and professional ladder climbing. I hope this poor guy gets some attention and relief.

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Compelling Story of broken justice system

It was story I have never heard before even though I am from Pennsylvania. It was interesting to see how this played out and it wasn't until less than 2 years ago that this story made the news again.

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pretty good

it it was hard to follow at times. it seemed to jump around a lot. it's a tragic story

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Where’s the justice in the justice system?

I usually never write reviews on the books I read, but I couldn’t let the opportunity slip by to express my anger at what happened to Walter Ogrod!! If I say too much I’m afraid it will give away parts of the story and ruin it for the reader. I will say that it was wonderfully written and narrated, which made for a very good listen. It was hard to listen to at times, though, due to the blatant unfairness and unethical behavior by certain individuals. And we wonder why there is no faith in our justice system. Sad and outraged!!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-09-21

Excellent reporting

Highly recommend, both the writing and the narration are really good. Thoroughly researched, and this story is outrageous.

1 person found this helpful

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  • nicole
  • 01-13-22

Amazing Outlook of the Case

Absolutely enjoyed this book, I got invested which at points made me super emotional

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  • i8compooters
  • 09-22-21

Shocking case of wrongful conviction

This case is truly appalling. The police and prosecutors seem to have done whatever it took to get a conviction, that Walter was not the culprit mattered not at all. Walter was released last year, after 28 years in prison. I hope that the killer of Barbara Jean is found soon.

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  • Janine
  • 08-04-21

Excellent Read

Thoroughly good and well written. highly engaging and detailed. And narration was outstanding. harrowing at times. Ogrod was rail roaded, and it bothers me greatly, what he was made to go through. Many thanks to audible, for bringing this book to my attention.

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  • philip g brady
  • 06-27-18

very engaging book ...kept me entertained

This is a well researched book and left me frustrated on behalf of Ogrod who seems to have been the unfortunate target of a manipulative and twisted justice system . I was shocked and angry at times at how ruthless the detectives and prosecutors involved in the case behaved in order to get a conviction regardless of how loosely (or not at all) they followed legal protocol. Maybe I've been manipulated by the author but his logic and consistent thoroughness is impressive none the less. He would have convinced me to choose not guilty If I was a juror.....it was also a great book for exposing human nature when it is in predatory and rigid-minded mode or how it can use a horrendous crime to destroy someone because we want someone to pay at any cost.
It is also read with a sense of great connection to the story by the narrator who has a good and flexible voice.

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  • R.J
  • 09-02-17

Shocking eye opener!

I wasnt sure how i would feel following the completion of this book, yet i am surprisingly certain of my feelings. with such research done in the making of this it places you there as events unfold. it lets you feel or understand every possible emotion and for me makes it so very clear how the american justice system is failing far too many. I hope and pray walter finds his way home hope his case is shown for what it is, a lie. It was a horrible thing that happened that day but it will never turn back time, and its certainly not a solution to make someone pay for those events just for sake of saying they can tick the job off as closed. He is innocent and the one responsible is still out there....but to those who found his verdict acceptable it doesnt matter. After all why worry about someone languishing in jail awaiting death when all it was is a 'job well done'.....