BRAWLEY – For many Brawley residents the 1965 kidnapping and murder of young Brenda Sue Sayers was the crime of the century. Many people in the community today remember this horrific event with sadness. Their faith in living in a safe little town was severely tested by this crime.
Author Glenn Crowson has written a book, ALMOST ELEVEN, The Murder of Brenda Sue Sayers, recounting the crime. His narrative tale does more than retell the events; it goes back and gives the back ground story of not only the Sayers family, but the family of Robert Eugene Pennington, the killer.
Crowson was a junior at Brawley Union High School when Brenda Sue was murdered. He remembers well how the community reacted, but his interest in writing about the crime began when he read an article about the Boston Strangler and Pennington’s name came up in that article. He began to think about how a similar crime had turned his small town upside down in 1965. It seems Pennington just didn’t murder a Brawley child, he was connected to other murders as well.
Mr. Crowson has spent over two years researching the events leading up to the January 7th murder. He interviewed family members, law enforcement personnel, and even the one surviving jurist who still lives in Holtville. Crowson gives the background stories of each family and recounts how they came to live in the Imperial Valley and what led them to that fateful day.
Pennington was found and arrested in Indiana then brought back to El Centro for trial. He eventually had a second trial after J. Perry Langford, a San Diego attorney, got the first conviction thrown out of court. Pennington died in Vacaville State Prison in 1996. Young Brenda is buried near Imperial in the cemetery on Hwy. 86.
ALMOST ELEVEN is self-published. Mr. Crowson said he wanted to keep the graphic descriptions of the crime to a minimum as that wasn’t the focus of his story. He just wanted to tell a good story of a terrible moment in the history of a small California town. This is his first novel, but has written other pieces about law enforcement, city government, and the death penalty.
He is a personable man who enjoyed putting this book together. It is available on Amazon and can be downloaded as an e-book.
The Brawley Public Library hopes to have him come for a book signing and a discussion in the fall. There are many people in the community who still remember this event and the effect it had on their lives. Mr. Crowson lives in the Palm Springs area and can be reached at [email protected] I am looking forward to reading his book.