This is a repost of a review I wrote for Epinions.com on Anthony Delano’s book, Joyce McKinney and the Case of the Manacled Mormon. This review was written on January 15, 2010, and appears here as/is.
This book review has the distinction of once earning me $54 in one month. $54 from Epinions on a book review is amazing, especially when it was earned in one month. Book reviews didn’t typically make a lot of money on Epinions. Anyway, it was my most popular book review… it was probably my most popular review, period. So I have to repost it.
Back in 2008, a weird news story was circulating about an American woman who had gone to Seoul, South Korea and had her pet pit bull, Booger, cloned. South Korean scientists took a piece of Booger’s ear and turned it into five cloned puppies. Booger’s owner, who was calling herself Bernann McKinney, was strangely familiar to a lot of people in Great Britain. British author, Anthony Delano writes in his 2009 book Joyce McKinney and the Case of the Manacled Mormon that McKinney was a bit frumpy and middle-aged, but the face was unmistakable.
It turns out that Bernann McKinney, owner of the cloned pit bull, was actually Joyce McKinney, a former beauty queen and notorious perpetrator of a sex crime that occurred in England in 1977. There was a time when Joyce McKinney was big news in Great Britain; she had been accused of kidnapping a Mormon missionary named Kirk Anderson, chaining him to a bed, and raping him. McKinney and her male accomplice, Keith May, jumped bail before they were tried and went back to America, where McKinney has continued to live an odd life.
As it so happens, I was actually living in England in 1977, though at that time I was too young to know or care about this case. I found out about Joyce McKinney by reading a messageboard for former Mormons. It seems that the story of Joyce McKinney and Kirk Anderson had become missionary lore among Mormons. A regular poster on the messageboard brought up McKinney’s story along with a link. I found out about Delano’s book by following the link to a news article about the case.
Joyce McKinney and the Case of the Manacled Mormon was priced at $17 and appeared to be published by a small time outfit. Nevertheless, I was fascinated by the story for many different reasons and that is what led me to purchase this book, which, I will admit, has sort of a tabloid feel to it.
A brief rundown of what happened
Joyce McKinney, who was called Joy back in the 1970s, had grown up in Avery County, North Carolina. She was an attractive natural blonde with a thick southern accent, big boobs, and a flair for drama. Indeed, before she got involved with a Mormon missionary, she had earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in theater.
Joy converted to Mormonism after living with a Mormon family and observing how close and loving the family was. She had lacked that connection as a child and thought that becoming a Mormon would allow her to achieve that same closeness with other people. After Joy converted to Mormonism, she moved to Provo, Utah to attend Brigham Young University (BYU) and study for her doctorate in theater. It was at BYU that 27 year old Joy met 19 year old Kirk Anderson.
While they were in Utah, Joy and Kirk apparently had a “fling” that included sexual intercourse. Kirk felt guilty about the premarital sex and confessed to his bishop. The bishop’s solution was to get Kirk sent off on a mission for the church. Kirk was originally bound for California, but in light of his problem with Joy, the church sent him to Britain instead.
Joy was obsessed with Kirk. Evidently, he was the one man who wasn’t willing to have sex with her. Oh, I’m sure there were other men out there who wouldn’t bed Joy, but apparently in her mind, Kirk was the one man she couldn’t have. So Joy resolved to fly to England and make Kirk marry her. She found a willing accomplice in Keith May, a man who had answered an ad she had placed for a “free trip to Europe”. They went to the little town where Kirk was doing his missionary work and, using a fake gun, managed to kidnap him and take him to a secluded cottage.
Joy McKinney and Keith May chained Kirk to a bed and held him hostage. Joy made him wear silk pajamas and then tore them off his body. She played sexy music, wore negligees, plied Kirk with liquor, and sexually assaulted him in an attempt to get pregnant. When Joy and her accomplice loosened the chains on Kirk Anderson after he had agreed to marry her, he escaped. Joyce McKinney and Keith May were later arrested, but when they got out of jail on bail, they fled back to the United States, where McKinney has had a few more scrapes with the law. She was later found in Atlanta, Georgia, but Britain declined to extradite her. Shockingly, she was never punished for kidnapping and raping Kirk Anderson, though Britain did sentence her to a year in prison in absentia.
Author Anthony Delano presents the story of Joyce McKinney and the Case of the Manacled Mormon in a distinctly “cheeky” way, using a writing style that is unmistakably British. I could practically “hear” a clipped British accent as I read this bizarre tale. Besides writing the story of what happened with Joyce McKinney and Kirk Anderson in the 1970s, Delano adds some insight into the workings of the British press and photographers, which had a field day with this story. He also explains a bit about Mormonism and what members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believe. He includes snippets from books about Mormonism as well as articles about McKinney.
In addition to her obsession with Kirk Anderson, Joyce McKinney was also preoccupied with Wayne Osmond and the Osmond family. Delano actually includes some quotes from Olive Osmond, the late matriarch of the famous Osmond clan. Evidently, Joyce McKinney tried very hard to soil the Osmonds’ squeaky clean reputation. McKinney tried to pass herself off as squeaky clean herself, but thanks to digging done by the press, McKinney was revealed to be anything but a typical Molly Mormon. Delano includes some of these juicy revelations in the book. Apparently, McKinney now denounces Mormonism and considers it a cult. Some of her quotes may be very offensive to Mormons.
The whole thing is presented in a very gossipy, tabloid way that I have no doubt will be very titillating and entertaining for some readers. After all, it’s quite a juicy story that had a lot of Britons wagging their tongues back when it was current news. Even today, it’s an amazing story that is almost too weird to be true. Delano mostly treats McKinney like an oddball character rather than the criminal and liar that she is. I will admit, though, that many people probably see her that way, rather than someone who ought to be avoided. She has actually been rewarded for her criminal misdeeds and, in fact, did try to profit from the story back in the 1970s. What’s more, according to Delano, this case supposedly caused a number of Britons to investigate Mormonism and later become members of the church.
That being said… as titillating and fascinating as this story is, part of me was rather disgusted by it. Let’s face it. There’s a huge double standard when it comes to men and women, particularly regarding sex crimes. Had Joyce McKinney been a man who had kidnapped a sister missionary back in the 1970s, she would have certainly been prosecuted and, if convicted, might even still be in prison. No one with any class would be acting as if this case were a big joke. As it stands now, the seriousness of McKinney’s crime has been reduced to locker room fodder. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Kirk Anderson, who had made it very clear that he wasn’t interested in having a sexual relationship with Joyce McKinney. He was a victim of sexual assault and kidnapping, yet people behave as if he should have enjoyed the experience. Few people would have taken that attitude if he were a woman in the same compromising position.
I do think that Anthony Delano did a good job writing this book, even if it is billed as the “ultimate tabloid story” by Trashfiction. It is well researched and entertaining to read. Though I feel sort of ashamed for enjoying this book, I think it’s worthwhile reading for those who are interested in this case. At the very least, Joyce McKinney is a fascinating character, particularly for those who are interested in true crime or psychology. My money is on her having at least one, possibly two character disorders.
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