Cracking Open A New Chapter

•August 3, 2016 • 5 Comments

I wanted to pull some cobwebs off of this thing for a moment to mention that Jan has written a manuscript pulling from her experiences and perspective while this whole story was building and unraveling. Read some excerpts on Facebook here. I have found the excerpts to be compelling thus far, and I wish her much success.

It’s no secret that I don’t maintain or visit this blog much, but I THINK I successfully changed the settings to allow comments again – Monitored by my approval. They will sit and wait in a pretty little queue until released. No time or energy for the fighting, it’s simply exhausting.

On other notes, I am reading Masquerade again for the umpteenth time…

 

 

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Her Photography, Her Therapy

•March 17, 2014 • Leave a Comment

A while back, I was in correpondence with Jan, and she shared some photographs with me that she has taken in her travels. This blog kind of blew up a few months ago, and she was hoping that posting the images would (in her words) bring some civility back to the discussion, and also demonstrate that she is not some spineless widow living out her life in the shadows spending her days thinking about Fry and Spens.

I won’t add anything further, as this post is for and about Jan. She may add any additional comments she would like.

Thank you Jan for sharing – My apologies for taking so long to post these & thanks for your patience and understanding! I truly hope that I have communicated this as you had hoped it to look. If not, please email me!

Flame Job

“A car show I went to. I told the owner I could “put a flame job on it.” He doubted me.”

Jan2

“Self-portrait of me in the vacant 100 year old hotel.”

Jan3

“Great Salt Lake (N.E. corner near the Great Spiral Getty)”

Horseshoe Bend

“This is Horseshoe Bend in Idaho. I crawled to the edge of a cliff to get it.”

W. Alan Canty Tour Blog – Some Comments

•November 17, 2013 • 8 Comments

In 2010, I published a little book review on this blog, and the photo results of a Detroit city “tour” a friend and I did based on locations mentioned in the book. She and I, and my mom who introduced me to the book, were fascinated by the story. I think our fascination was sparked mainly because this happened so close to home, and so very many of the references and places were familiar to us having grown up in the Detroit area.

Never in a million years did I ever think many people would see it. I created the blog to vent and record stories about my life in general at the time. Writing has always been kind of theraputic for me. At the time of creation of this one, I was going through a divorce. In a drunken argument one night, my ex husband called me a “dirty bar whore” in a fit of anger. I took it and ran with it. I even made a shirt that said “dirty bar whore” in sparkly silver letters and wore it around town. It was a hit. All of my friends called me “DBW” and made light of the really shitty situation.

Enough about that. My Canty blog seems to have blown up of late. I kind of neglected this blog and will use the excuse that every former blogger seems to use, “Sorry I haven’t been around, I’ve been busy.” During that time, I received comments from SO many people directly or indirectly involved in what I will call “The Canty Story”. Main ‘characters’ from the book have come by to share. (Not sure what I would exactly call those in the story ‘characters’ considering this was a true crime book, but whatever) I could not believe it!!

I have so say, I am flattered and amazed that so many people have come across that blog and took the time to write something. If you have emailed me, I apologize for not responding. I have to admit, I was unsure of my username and password when I logged in today. I got the password wrong once, but the 2nd time was a winner. I’d have to dig to find exactly what email address I associated with this blog.

I was slightly disappointed that the comments went from fascination of the story and people sharing their associations with characters in the book, to a VERY heated conversation between a handful of people. I didn’t write that blog with the expectation or intention to see people argue so fiercely. In all honestly, I hoped a few people as fascinated with the story as I was would happen upon it, and discuss their thoughts on the book.

That said, I need some time to fully read all that has happened in the comments of that blog since my last visit. Through this blog, I became Facebook friends with Ray Danford (Jr), and he tipped me off this morning that things were happening here. I Googled the blog using my phone, and skimmed through the most recent postings. Phew…

Please feel free to email if you’d like, but I must confess that I am a horrible email ‘responder’. My email address is rreneecaudill at gmail dot com. I am more likely to respond via Facebook – Savvy peeps can use this blog and the email address I just posted to put together my first and last name. Again, I apologize if you have emailed some time within the 4 years this blog has been up and now. It was not on purpose! I just don’t really check it much.

W. Alan Canty Tour 2010

•August 20, 2010 • 888 Comments

Back in 1996-1997 when I was pregnant with my daughter, my mom gave me this paperback book to read. I am generally one of those types of people who does not like book recommendations, I don’t like anything shoved at me or anyone insisting I read something….but you know what? 90% of the time I do enjoy the rec. Yeah, I can be a stubborn-ass sometimes. I don’t often enjoy fiction except for a few old favorites like the old V.C. Andrews junk which reminds me of my teen years (and, by the way two winters ago, I proceeded to purchase all of the hard covers I could find on Amazon and Ebay of the Flowers in the Attic, Heaven series, and the one My Sweet Audrina book and re-read all of them AGAIN…!). I’ve been wanting to read some of those old Judy Blume books too. Most of the time, I enjoy biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, true crime, things like that.

Alright, so back to this book my mom gave me. It was called “Masquerade” by Lowell Cauffiel (clicky the linky for more info). In a nutshell, it is about a successful man by the name of W. Alan Canty: Married psychologist, resident of the affluent community of Grosse Pointe, with a prestigious Fisher Building office space, who gets involved with some Cass Corridor users. He shells out a great deal of cash to help support a young prostitute, Dawn Spens, a troubled 19-year-old woman who grew up in Harper Woods, and her late-30-something “pimp boyfriend” John “Lucky” Fry, over a period of about 2 years.  Then in 1985, after his financial support is waning and a heated argument with Lucky, finds himself killed and dismembered.

I cannot believe it’s been about 14 years since I first discovered this book….geez. Ever since the first reading, I was fascinated by the entire story. I was only 10 years old when it happened. I kicked myself for not watching the news or reading the paper much back then. I was too busy watching Three’s Company. But, I was 10.

So many references, neighborhoods, places in the book were familiar to me. Virtually everything happened in Detroit, the suburbs of, or in other spots in Michigan. All of this went down not too far from me. It all happened right around here! Even as a kid, I was frequently in Detroit and belatedly wondered if I had or have ever unknowingly come across any of the key characters in this book.

I read this book about once every year or two. A modest guess would be that I’ve read it around 7 times, but I suspect more. And, EVERY time after I finish it, I sit there wondering what ever happened to these people after the hooplah ended. I not only wondered about the main characters in the book, but about their families, the “minor” characters, the officers involved, their neighbors, Canty’s patients,  even the members of the jury… Every time I finish the book again, I find myself Googling their names, searching for any possible tidbit or information I can find.

Skip to May 2010. One of my best friends moved to Grosse Pointe. Driving from Canton through Detroit on my first visit to her new place…sailing down Jefferson Ave and passing Alter Road seeing the very obvious class line between the two cities (Grosse Pointe and Detroit, I don’t think there is a more clear difference of two cities than that Alter Road divide)…strolling down a handful of blocks…Oh my gosh! Berkshire! That’s the street that Canty and his wife lived on! And my recently-located friend’s new home is only the next street over!

I got home and pulled out my book and examined the photo of the Berkshire house, engraved it in my brain so that the next time I visited my friend, I could drive down Berkshire and see the old Canty home, and perhaps catch a glimpse of that brick driveway Canty had done so many years ago; the “antique” bricks collected by the trunkload by Canty himself from various demolition sites around Detroit.

Then, I brought the book up to my friend Amanda, the new Grosse Pointe resident. I gave her my beloved hard cover copy of the book and immediately ordered myself another one from Amazon. I found myself doing what I hate done to me: pushing a book on someone! Ha!

Reading the book, she, too, became interested in the story and the people involved. Finally after all of these years, someone else I knew personally had read the book and was able to discuss it in detail with me. I had already exhausted any other small sources of information (Amazon reviews from other readers, another book review blog about it that I found – there simply isn’t a lot of info out there and the book is not a “new & hot” and was not written at a time when people were heavily in to internet discussions like now). We shared a lot of similar questions and small theories on situations in the book…we wondered aloud together about these people.

The next step was inevitable: The Canty Tour. I skimmed through the book and made notes on various areas, places, locations, addresses, and then we had the beginnings of our tour outline. On a sunny, hot July day almost 25 years to the day of Canty’s killing, we sat at Small Plates downtown and, GPS on-hand, mapped out our “tour” over our Small Plates lunch and a couple of beers.

And so began “Canty Tour 2010”. Being 25 years later, many of the locations, homes, businesses have long-since been demolished or closed. Disappointing indeed, but to be expected.

Here are our photos from our “tour”, and my disclaimer that some of the exact locations were unknown, so we took photos of the general area, not knowing whether we were correct or not. If anyone out there happens upon this blog and cares to make a correction or add any information, by all means please feel free to do so! I have had a minor (morbid?) obsession with this story and case for many years and would welcome any additions anyone would care to offer.

The Temple Hotel, site of Canty’s first paid “encounter” with then-prostitute Dawn Spens:

Homewood Manor, where Dawn and John “Lucky” Fry lived in the Cass Corridor -Side and front view…now surrounded by fence and razor wire:

Supposedly Dawn’s “favorite corner” according to the book, at 2nd & Peterboro:

Now-closed Charlotte Lounge, which was formerly the Gaiety Bar, the site of the bar altercation mentioned in the book between Al and another patron at the pool table when John went to the restroom. That night Al was probably sporting his steel-toe boots and “Cadieux Bar” jacket that he had made at a Grosse Pointe sporting goods store…his “outfit” to fit in around the Cass Corridor? :

Chung’s Restaurant, now closed (and torn down maybe? this was just painted on a wall, so we were not sure if this was the actual building of the restaurant). Al supposedly loved to eat here, and supposedly had his 50th birthday dinner here alone, the same night as his first encounter with Dawn Spens, while his wife Jan was in Arizona staying at her parents’ home recovering from a bout of mono:

White Grove Restaurant…still open and functional….mentioned a handful of times in the book:

Detroit’s fabulous Fisher Building ~ Where both Al’s and Jan’s offices were located (they moved from the 9th to the 10th floor, or vice-versa, shortly before Al’s murder. As many times as I have read this book, I should know this, but I get the floors mixed up):

The GPS took us here for all of the Clayton Street addresses. Clearly the GPS either steered us wrong, or the homes have since been torn down. John and Dawn lived briefly on Clayton, I believe in John’s sister-in-law Janet’s home (widow of John’s brother Jim who supposedly committed suicide during everyone’s trip down south to TN to visit John’s father, Pete Fry. And well, technically I don’t think Jim & Janet were married, but you get the picture) and turned the Clayton house in to a “trick pad” for a while. The chapter of the book opened with John kicking out the sister-in-law’s boyfriend Ike for punishing his twin niece and nephew in inhumane ways. I always found it ironic how he would kick this guy out for the good of the children, yet turn around and make the place a prostitute flop house and drug source with the kids still living there:

We tried to find the “Morrell Apartments”, but we are not sure whether or not we were successful. This was the only apartment-type dwelling in the area mentioned in the book, off of Morrell Street. We only assumed, and could be wayyy off:

Behind the wooden fence is where the Casper home was supposed to be located. We were severely disappointed to find that it has been torn down. My mom mentioned that it had not been torn down, but she has not been by the location in years. The Casper home was where W. Alan Canty suffered several blows to the head with a baseball bat by John “Lucky” Fry, and was then dismembered with a Ginsu knife in the bathtub….later his body parts were disposed of in various locations in Michigan (I-75/Joslyn Rd exit I believe, and up in Alanson at Dale “Frank” McMasters home, and some others in the actual Detroit area). The book has a photo of the tiny home when it stood:

The area off of Federal St on the south side of Detroit near some railroad tracks, where Alan Canty’s Buick Regal was found stripped and burned:

Historic Elmwood Cemetary in Detroit. It was closed when Amanda and I got there, so we returned the next day:

The Canty plot at Elmwood:

W. Alan Canty’s final resting place. Amanda and I wondered if anyone ever stops by to visit Al here:

Final resting places of Canty’s parents, Gladys and Al Sr:

Al and Jan’s “Tudor-Style” home in Grosse Pointe as it stands today, a.k.a. “The Big Tudor” as it was phrased often in the book:

The frequently-mentioned “antique” bricks Al liked to collect from demolition sites, eventually turned in to a driveway at their Grosse Pointe home. The book mentioned that Jan even buried a couple of his beloved bricks with him:

Amanda first, then me – being stupid at a bar after the first day of our tour and trying to pose like Detroit Homicide Inspector Gil Hill in his “actor photo” posted in the book. Gil landed a roll in 1984’s Beverly Hills Cop movie with Eddie Murphy:

This photo somehow ended up being uploaded with the rest so I left it. These are the beers we picked up from a party store on Jefferson about a mile from Grosse Pointe. You won’t find them individually priced like this in Grosse Pointe I’ll bet!

And there concludes our Canty Tour 2010. When writing this blog, I tried my best to be somewhat respectful considering the situation…in the event that one day anyone still alive who was involved with this story, having  such a prominent role in it such as Dawn Spens, or those who un-knowingly had their lives turned upside-down such as Jan Canty, ever happens to run across this online somewhere. In the information I’ve been able to find online over the years…I’ve gathered that Lucky Fry died in prison of hepatitis, Cheryl Krizanovic went on to have 2 children with Frank McMasters and she also passed away of hepatitis or some sort of past drug-use-related health complications years later. Of course we know Alan Canty Jr, is no longer around to tell his story. Rumors online are that Dawn Spens cleaned up and is living a “normal life” now. And where is Jan? Jan, in my opinon, was the ultimate victim in the whole thing. What little I gathered about her character in the book, she is and was a strong, intelligent woman. I mean, I kind of feel like I “know” these people; But really, how well can you get to know someone you’ve never met through one book that is not their personal biography, and only has a few scattered chapters and tidbits of information on them? There are so many questions left unanswered, many gaps in what these people did on a daily basis when their lives did not pertain specifically to Al, Dawn and John. I remember a passage in the book even, it went something like, “…but Al’s visits were only one hour of a 24-hour day in the life of Dawn Spens and John Fry….” (will get the actual correct quote on the next read!)

Is everyone happy and living life now? How did they manage to go on after all of this? How long did it take for the pain to finally subside a little? I’ll bet this case still haunts each and every one of their minds every single day. I hate to drudge things up and dwell on the past, but the fact is, a book was written – Bringing this case to homes everywhere, sitting right on my chest as I lay in bed or on my couch, unable to put it down.

I leave you with one piece of advice – if you read this and like it, check out House of Secrets, also by the same author Lowell Cauffiel. Not a Detroit crime story, but an Ohio one. It will then lead you to start wondering what ever happened to all of the Sexton family children…and the cycle will start all over again (beginning with Google searches!).

Enjoy!

 

5/14/14:

As the author of this blog, I have currently closed the comments. Temporarily, maybe. If anyone else would like to pick at each other, type profinaities and insult each other, you may now choose a spot on the internet other than my blog comments to do so.

This blog has had some positive connections of people related to the case, and also connections of those not related to the case, but intrigued by it. I get it – this is a very personal subject for those written about in the book and that some of the things posted IN my blog or IN the comments section can be tough to read. The fact is, a book was written and humans will be humans. Who are we to judge what intrigues and interests someone else?

I believe there are over 1,000 comments in this section, and I would like to say I had the time to go through all of them again. Unfortunately, I do not, but I would hate to hide all of them in one swipe of a hand. Eventually though, I would like to filter out all of the garbage to allow mainly comments from those in the book, those closely related, and those interested in discussing the case, to remain.

Believe me, I don’t feel as though I am doing some sort of special service to society here. I simply read a book and wrote a blog. My feelings and thoughts on the book’s “characters” have evolved and changed a lot since this blog was originally written and since I have corresponded privately with a handful of those individuals – and those individuals know how to get in contact with me if you would like to. -RC

 

8/4/16:

Comments are available again but will be moderated. It’s taken me a couple of years, but I am finally getting around to cleaning up some of the old comments. This blog blew up at a really bad time and honestly, I wanted nothing to do with it. Please feel free to contact me if you would like, I will do my best to respond when I can. (rreneecaudill at gmail)