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.



I apologize for not updating this site for a few weeks. I've been updating my Facebook (Bill Lindstrom) and the book's Facebook site as D-Day for books to arrive became closer. I now have them and have been distributing them to museums on Grays Harbor and Mason counties. First-day and a half sales netted more than 140 sales and that doesn't count the 73 that were sold on presale. 

I will sign every book sold through my email. Hardback retail is $34.99, plus $3.01 tax and $4 postage (it's a thick book, 502 pages) $42 inclusive. Paperback (laminated) is $23.99 retail, $2.01 tax, $4 postage or $30 inclusive. Send me an email at: and I'll send you an invoice that you return with your check and address and it will be in the mail to you soon, or if you are in the Northwest, attend a book signing and save the postage. 

I have 20 book signings in Grays Harbor, Mason and Thurston counties and more to come toward Spring. 



Friday, 24th and Sat. 25th  at Duffy’s restaurant, Aberdeen, 8:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.           Tues. 28 Hoquiam Lions at Elks Lodge, Noon-2


Sat. 1  Aberdeen Library 2-4

Thu 6 Westport Library friends 1-2

Sat. 8 MIXX KXXO 96.1 F.M. Oly (tape)

Sat. 8  Chehalis Valley Museum Montesano 12-3

Sat 8  Matlock Grange 6:30 -9

Sun 9  Chehalis Valley Museum 12-3

Sat. 15  Westport Bazaar 10-4  

Tue. 18  Elma Library 4-6

Thur. 20 Elma Rotary at Elma Lanes, 7-8 a.m.

Thur. 20  Wash. St. Archives (Oly) 5:30-7:30

Sat. 22 Polson Museum (Hoquiam) 2-4

Tue. 25  Shelton library/Sage books 6-8


Wed. 3 Hoquiam Library 6:30-8:30

Thur 4 McCleary Library 6-8

Fri. 5  Mason Co. Museum  5 p.m.

Thur. 11  Wash. St. Library (Oly)  Noon-2

Sat. 13 Aberdeen Museum 1-4


Sat. 21 Lacey Library 2:30-4:30

Tue. 24 Monte Library  Noon-1






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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Latest comments

29.09 | 19:28

I have a presale on my new book. Villain or Victim? on Tornow. Deadline extended to Oct. 4. Details go to

29.09 | 19:27

I have a presale on my new book. Villain or Victim? on Tornow. Deadline extended to Oct. 4. Details go to

26.09 | 07:53

Appreciate your work.

05.05 | 20:14

Thanks John, I assume you mean the rifle propped into his body, which is on against a bench. I checked my info. The No. 19010. US 30. No mention of WCF.

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