I, a Squealer by Richard Bruns

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Richard Bruns is the author of I, a Squealer, a non-fiction book published in March 2018. Learn more about the author, his book, as well as ratings and reviews on the latter.

Richard Bruns is the man who turned Charles Howard Schmid Jr. aka “The Pied Piper of Tucson” into the authorities and was the star witness for the prosecution in the cases against Schmid.

He wrote his firsthand account at the time of the trials in 1966 through 1967. Once finished, he packed the manuscript away like a time-capsule. He was ready to close this chapter of his life.

Fifty years later, his daughter’s have uncovered the manuscript and have convinced him to release his side of the story.

Bruns is a retired teacher and continues to reside in Tucson, Arizona.

To contact Richard visit his website at: https://www.iasquealer.com/


Firsthand account uncovered after 50 years sheds new light on the “Pied Piper of Tucson” murders

In November 1965 Charles Schmid, nicknamed the “Pied Piper of Tucson” by Life magazine, was arrested for the murders of three teenage girls. It was Schmid’s friend and confidant, Richard Bruns, who blew the whistle that resulted in Schmid’s arrest and conviction. After months of keeping Schmid’s secrets and fearing his friend’s psychopathic tendencies, Bruns finally came forward to the authorities.

Two trials would follow, resulting in a death sentence for Schmid for the murders of sisters Gretchen and Wendy Fritz, and a life sentence for the murder of fifteen-year-old Alleen Rowe. As the trials unfolded, Bruns documented his firsthand account in a written manuscript. Once finished, he packed the manuscript away like a time-capsule. He was ready to close this chapter of his life.

Now, fifty years later, the manuscript has been uncovered and is being published for the first time. This isn’t a book of memories distorted after years of passing. Rather, this was written in 1967 when the events were fresh and vivid in Bruns’ mind. Several books have shared the Charles Schmid murder cases, but none have been from an insider. Here, Bruns takes you into the scenes and events from a view never seen or heard before.

Reader’s Favorite gives I, a Squealer 5-Stars: A fascinating and disturbing account of Bruns’ friendship with, and ultimate betrayal of, serial killer Charles Schmid. It also includes police photos and newspaper clippings during and after the trial, and has received plenty of praise. This is not without reason. It is a gripping tale told in a straightforward manner and personable voice. -K M Steele

5-Star review from Foreword Reviews: Richard Bruns’ “I, a Squealer” promises and insider’s account of the “Pied Piper of Tucson” murders. As intriguing as this narrative is, the more compelling story lurks within the relationship between the “Squealer” and the “Pied Piper.” Published fifty years after it was written, this tale is fueled no less by its teller’s compassion than by the killer’s deplorable deeds. -Linda Thorlakson

Publisher’s Weekly compares I, a Squealer to John Gilmore’s Coldblooded

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  1. The discovery that a person you considered to be a close friend had begun to murder local girls in cold-blood, and seemingly relished the task, is an impossible scenario to imagine. For Richard Bruns, he didn’t need to imagine for in 1965 his friend Charles Schmid revealed himself as a serial killer. The roller coaster ride that followed saw Bruns argue with his inner conscience and sense of moral right and wrong in a battle of how to handle the situation he had found himself in. Charles Schmid, who became known as the ‘Pied Piper of Tuscan’ was stopped from killing more innocent women because of the actions of Richard Bruns. I, a Squealer is the publication of the manuscript he wrote in 1967 recording in expressive detail the real story of Charles Schmid and how his complex relationship with him deteriorated as his friend’s mind continued to spiral out of control. In an honest and gripping account, I, a Squealer gives a rare opportunity to read an insider’s view. It provides a thought-provoking read that is absorbing from the very first page.

  2. I, a Squealer: The Insider’s Account of the Pied Piper of Tucson Murders by Richard Bruns is a fascinating and disturbing account of his friendship with, and ultimate betrayal of, serial killer Charles Schmid. Bruns wrote the account after the events leading up to Schmid’s arrest, which gives it a feeling of immediacy and urgency that may not have been present if it were told after many years had elapsed. Bruns takes the reader with him as he discusses his fear and anxiety in the face of Schmid’s deteriorating mental health. After Schmid confessed to killing three girls and implied that Bruns’ ex-girlfriend, Kathy, should also die, Bruns became obsessed with protecting her, and eventually had a restraining order filed against him for stalking and was ordered to move to Columbus, Ohio to live with his Grandmother.

    While it doesn’t make sense at first that Bruns continued a friendship with someone he believed had murdered defenceless girls, it becomes clear that Schmid had an ability to hold people and bend them to his will. Bruns describes the Schmid he befriended as a charming, popular, good-looking guy whom everyone wanted to know. It seems when Bruns was sent away from Tucson, the break from Schmid’s company was enough to make him realise he must tell the police about his friend. When Schmid was arrested, he claimed Bruns was the murderer, and it seemed that many in the community shared his belief: rather than being commended for getting a killer off the street, Bruns was ostracised. I, a Squealer by Richard Bruns also includes police photos and newspaper clippings during and after the trial, and has received plenty of praise. This is not without reason. It is a gripping tale told in a straightforward manner and personable voice.

  3. I, A Squealer is a memoir originally written in 1967 by Richard Bruns. Bruns was a close acquaintance of Charles Schmid, the serial killer known as the Pied Piper of Tucson, and the memoir is an account of how Bruns discovered the truth about Schmid’s activities and eventually found the courage to go to the police and turn his friend in. While Bruns did not intend to publish the memoir, several fictional portrayals showing him in a bad light encouraged his daughters to convince him to tell his side of the story.

    In order to maintain the authenticity of the memoir as originally written, Bruns had it proofread for errors but not edited. Consequently, there are occasional words and phrases which might seem dated, but they are easy enough to understand in context. I found this deliberate choice really helped me to get into the ‘feel’ of mid-sixties Tucson and the prevailing attitudes among the youth of the time, primary among which was the ethic of never ‘squealing’ on one’s mates.

    It may well be incomprehensible to many readers of this book that Bruns didn’t turn Schmid into the authorities earlier. Schmid comes across like a Charles Manson, someone whose personality was so powerful he generated a type of force field around himself which drew others into his orbit. As one of those closest to him, Bruns seemed to have been both terrified of and hypnotised by Schmid. Combined with his conditioning not to ‘squeal’ on his mate, he stayed silent far longer than many would find conscionable.

    This was an absolutely fascinating insight into the mind and daily life of a serial killer. The only book I can compare it to is Ann Rule’s The Stranger Beside Me, her account of discovering her personable friend was none other than infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. Bruns’ emotions run a similar gamut to those Rule described; shock, disbelief, denial and a sense of misplaced guilt – both wondered if they should have noticed something sooner, should have said something earlier.

    Bruns was very young when he wrote the original memoir and there are some gaps in the narrative. An appendix at the end of the book, which includes an interview with Bruns at the time of final publication, fills in some of these intriguing gaps and should not be overlooked.

    This is a fascinating read from a point of view very few people can legitimately claim; that of close acquaintance with a serial killer. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in the true crime genre.

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