CLINTON, Ill. (WCIA) — The authors of a new book – The Unforgiven – are talking about that story.
It’s about Amanda Hamm, her boyfriend at the time, and her three children.
Hamm, who is now Amanda Ware, and Maurice LaGrone Jr., were both sent to prison. The children drowned in Clinton Lake.
This book was four years in the making. The authors felt that the case had so many layers that it needed to be laid out.
“The real question here is whether this was a murderous plot or whether it was just a reckless act of stupidity even maybe at worst, a case of abandonment,” said co-author Steve Vogel.
That question still haunts the minds of many. It’s part of the motivation behind The Unforgiven.
“It’s a very complex story that involved a lot of criminal justice-related issues, including the issue of false confessions, the issue of child welfare court,” said co-author Edith Brady-Lunny.
Amanda Ware’s three kids, ranging from 23 months to six years old, died when their car went into Clinton Lake in 2003 off a boat launch.
Ware’s boyfriend at the time – Maurice LaGrone Jr. – was behind the wheel. Ware was in the passenger seat.
They escaped, but the children didn’t. Brady-Lunny watched the case unfold.
“It was a very tragic situation from the first moment that we learned about it,” said Brady-Lunny.
Ware was convicted of child endangerment and spent 10 years behind bars. LaGrone is serving a life sentence for murder.
“The goal, when writing the book, was to present all sides of it from a variety of angles.”
LaGrone did not testify in Ware’s case. She didn’t testify in his. The two authors feel the outcome may have been different, had both sides been heard.
“From my angle, my chair of watching it for 15 years, I really came to realize how critical the outcome can be when you have only pieces of the evidence presented,” said Brady-Lunny.
“I hope the takeaway is a better understanding of how the criminal justice and child welfare systems work in Illinois. No one thinks that they could become involved in the criminal justice system, but it’s possible for anyone at any time to do something that could be considered wrongdoing.”