Country Christmas Bazaar at GH Pavilion, Elma

Get "Villain or Victim?" for friends, relatives for Christmas

Author Bill Lindstrom will be selling and signing his book "John Tornow: Villain or Victim?" Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 18-19 at the Elma Country Christmas Bazaar. This is huge. I'm so thrilled. More to come.

EdVenture group at the Travers
Rich Travers ready to sing John Tornow ballad for us.
Bill, Dana at memorial
Kicking back at the Travers.
Bill Lindstrom signing book for Marlene
Group photo at Tornow tombstone

Wonderful day touring Tornowland

Talking Tornow at the Travers

We had a terrific day with the EdVenture group from Grays Harbor College touing Tornowland on July 22. Seventeen "students" (two couldn't make it), plus two drivers, Dana Anderson and Bill Lindstrom as guides went to the Victims' Memorial, then Matlock store for break and snacks, on to the museum at Mary Knight School in Matlock, where Jackie (Tracy's mom) told us all about the museum and what it has to offer; then off to the Grove Cemetery, where Tornow, his mother and father are buried, along with the Bauer twins and their sister, Mary, who died in an abortion; then off to see the Bauer's homestead, where we heard about what transpired there where Henry and Minnie Bauer (John's sister) lived with their four children: the twins, William and John, Mary and Lizzie; then to Rich and Tracy Travers' home for a barbecue of pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans and cole slaw with brownie and ice cream for dessert; chilled out for a while and heard Rich sing his John Tornow ballad; Dana also read his two Tornow poems; all who attended (and those who couldn't make it, but paid) received a signed book from Bill Lindstrom; hung out at the beautiful setting overlooking the Satsop Valley toward the river and Bauer property; stopped to take a photo at the Tornow homestead where the shed in back is the lone structure still standing from when John was there; drove through Montesano and at the corner of Pioneer and Main, saw the El Rancho restaurant, which used to be the Montesano Hotel and cafe; across the street the Beehive (not there in Tornow days), but was where Giles Quimby (credited with killing John) ate his last meal in 1948 before walking out to cross the street to his home at the hotel and was hit by a car. He died a month later. Weather was fantastic, and a great time was had by all

John Tornow, the movie? Step 1

There's something magical about tramping around in the snow and ice at the Tornow Victims' Memorial on a brisk winter day. Makes you wonder how John was able to endure two of the worst winters ever in the area in 1911-1913. When you are doing it with a guy who might possibly elevate the story to the big screen, it's more enjoyable. At noon yesterday, I met the man who wants to write a potential movie script based in part on my book. Eight hours later, after visiting all the Tornow sites, we were still talking. He has the same zeal for this project as I do, and as many of you. I can say step 1 in a likely five-year project was a resounding success. I can't reveal much, but I will say he has connections with one of the biggest names in Hollywood, and he is absolutely on the same page as I with respect to how to portray Tornow, the man. Stay tuned.

Hardcover photo by Bob Dick, design by Amy Ostwald, shows Tornow (aka Justin Madanifard) in the forest during the re-enactment videoed by Mark Woytowich in 2013. Small image shows the 3 Lathrop great-grandsons at the memorial dedication in 2013.


Bill Lindstrom Author "John Tornow: Villain or Victim?"

August 2014 

Murder. Incest. Sex. Intrigue. Implausible situations. Enigma. Unsolved mystery, a century later.  “Victim or Villain?” is the true story of events a century old. It sounds trite, but it’s true: you can’t make this stuff up.

John Tornow’s family follows the early American dream as they emigrate from Germany in the late 1800s and wend their way to the Olympic Peninsula’s Satsop Valley. Young John is fascinated with the deep virgin forest as we follow him through his youth and early adult years. He is a deadly shot and his skill with a knife is practically unmatched. John is big, strong, fit and increasingly reclusive. He is not someone to trifle with in town. In the Satsop Valley wilderness of 1910, John is either a peculiar loner or an apex predator. Or both.

My Godfather, Lem Nethery, was an early Grays Harbor homesteader, timber cruiser and close friend to my father, Malcolm. “Uncle Lem,” also was one of the folks detailed to bring out Tornow’s body after he was shot and killed in the upper Wynooche Valley. I heard the legend of John Tornow dozens of times as Uncle Lem told me the story every time we visited.  John Tornow grew up with me.

As is often the case with a legendary story, many memories are suspect. In John Tornow’s case a whole lot is suspect beginning with his own family. A botched abortion and subsequent trial in which no one seems capable of telling the truth, a questionable trip to an asylum, greed over assets left by deceased parents set the stage for John. He becomes more reclusive and seemingly unstable as his family self-destructs. The deep woods become his refuge from the family’s bizarre actions.

Then it all goes south. John’s beloved twin nephews, John and William Bauer, are shot, killed and buried. Circumstantial evidence clearly indicates John. He becomes the chief, no, the only, suspect and from that day forward is hunted by posses and bounty hunters. A novice crime writer could sniff out at least two or three legitimate additional suspects. Two deputies are later murdered and the manhunts intensify, yet John never is charged with a crime. Tornow, meanwhile, shadows the men looking for him and steals food and clothing from settlers and receives handouts from those who have known him as an odd, but decent, man.

John survives the next two years by being better at woodcraft than those paid to find him who, themselves, are very good. The odds, however, are not in his favor and he eventually is killed, taking two more deputies with him. Those two sentences cover an incredible story of survival of the fittest, woods skills by the best in the business, good luck, bad luck, and, in the end, tragedy that leads the reader to wonder, “Why? Why did all this have to happen to an unfortunate human being and the brave men who did what they were paid to do?”

Author, Bill Lindstrom, does a masterful job of leading us through the Tornow family’s life and times, the daily routines and tragedies that create the story that endures to this day. Bill spent a lifetime researching multiple versions of events. He found himself reading century-old court documents, transcriptions, contemporary news articles, interviews, all needed to produce the best account possible of our friend, John. Bill left no stone unturned to tell the story as best it can be told. He added dialogue so we can follow the family, the lawmen and a reporter, not just the tragic events. It is one of those books that, when you must put it down, makes you want more. When it is done, you want to go back and change it to make a better ending. Alas, we can’t do that and the ending is well known to all: John is gunned down in a brutal shootout in which two other decent men are killed, too. Bill does the job he must do to bring us the facts as best as they can be determined through diligent research, even if we don’t like them.

Bill Lindstrom’s thorough research cannot dispel the multiple riddles left behind. Who actually shot the twins? Did Tornow really shoot Deputies Elmer and McKenzie? Did Tornow stay in the upper Satsop and Wynooche drainages or did he venture to one or more of the places where people swear they saw him? Was John sent to an asylum? If so, was it done to access his wealth? Was John responsible for the never-explained disappearance of several folks who ventured into his country never to be seen again? John was a prudent investor, viewed with envy by family members. What happened to his substantial holdings, his bank accounts?

Lindstrom does his best to answer the questions. He can’t answer them all. We are left to form our own opinions of the man. I choose to believe Tornow murdered his nephews in a case of mistaken identity. Further, he likely murdered Deputies Elmer and McKenzie. But I don’t know that. Neither does anyone else and there are several plausible alternatives. Remember, Tornow was never charged with, much less convicted of a crime.

I also believe, had Tornow been left alone, he would have become one of those peculiar people at the fringe of society ─ and civilization in those days ─ who would have died of natural causes having caused no harm.  But, instead of being a footnote in history, John Tornow left a huge footprint and at least seven dead men. Bill Lindstrom tells a great story which I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Malcolm R. Dick, Jr.

Shelton, Washington








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Bill Lindstrom | Reply 24.11.2017 12.12

At OS lecture about 35 there, 3 sales; at Elma bazaar. phenomenal 46 sales.

Bill Lindstrom | Reply 24.11.2017 09.53

On my next trip to state library, I'll see if I can find ancestral info for Giles.

Greg Quimby 24.11.2017 10.59

Thanks Bill. How did your event/book signing go ?

Bill Lindstrom | Reply 15.10.2017 11.38

I talked to, but didn't know your dad. If you want to talk more, use email I can only write two lines here.

Greg Quimby | Reply 14.10.2017 16.56

Hi Bill Giles Quimby was my great great uncle, I believe you knew my dad William Quimby. Heard the story many times from my grandfather Frank and my dad. Greg

Greg Quimby 24.11.2017 08.25

Hi Hunter your grandfather's name doesn't ring any bells for me, is he from the Grays Harbor area in Washington ? Related to Giles Quimby ?

Hunter Quimby 24.11.2017 01.52

Yeah high Greg I'm Hunter Quimby and I would like to know if you know Jack P. Quimby because he is my grandfather

Bill Lindstrom | Reply 13.06.2017 10.02

Thank you Kyle. It is an intriguing story, one we will probably never fully know or understand.

Kyle Hoiland | Reply 13.06.2017 09.15

I grew up in Grays Harbor & fished the Wynoochee & Satsop frequently & heard the stories as a kid. His story still intrigues me to this day.

Carla Salter | Reply 08.03.2017 13.31

We are interested in selling this book in our bookstore at
The Coastal Interpretive Center. Can you tell me where to buy wholesale?

See all comments

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Latest comments

24.11 | 12:12

At OS lecture about 35 there, 3 sales; at Elma bazaar. phenomenal 46 sales.

24.11 | 10:59

Thanks Bill. How did your event/book signing go ?

24.11 | 09:53

On my next trip to state library, I'll see if I can find ancestral info for Giles.

24.11 | 08:25

Hi Hunter your grandfather's name doesn't ring any bells for me, is he from the Grays Harbor area in Washington ? Related to Giles Quimby ?

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