Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Christopher Hightower


Providence, Rhode Island (AP)
Providence, Rhode Island (AP)
Christopher Hightower was facing a bright future. As a well respected member of the community, he taught Sunday school, counseled troubled teens and was a doctoral candidate in medicine before starting his own investment firm. But underneath that bright facade was an evilness that few had ever encountered.

On September 20, 1991, the evil inside the mild-mannered commodities broker erupted in a spate of violence that would stun the town of Barrington, Rhode Island and the nation. For on that day, Christopher Hightower went on a bloody killing spree that culminated in the brutal death of his former friend, patent lawyer Ernest Brendel, along with Brendel's librarian wife, Alice, and the couple's eight-year-old daughter, Emily.

Using a high-powered crossbow powerful enough to take down a bear, Hightower stalked his prey then shot Ernest Brendel five times with steel-tipped arrows. One of those arrows would pierce his heart. A drugged and sleeping Alice Brendel was strangled with her own scarf. The couple's daughter, a bright third-grader with an infectious smile, was buried alive. It would take five weeks of gut-wrenching searches to find their bodies.

The savage killings — and the manner in which they were committed — shocked the tiny town of Barrington where Hightower was a well-liked resident and regular churchgoer. The slayings also unraveled the tightly-knit facade he had created for himself. In the end, many in Barrington, would learn that everything about Christopher Hightower was not what it seemed.



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