UPSIDE DOWN: Madness, Murder, and the Perfect Marriage

I generally do not read non-fiction. This book review of Dr. Jerid M. Fisher’s UPSIDE DOWN is rather unique. It isn’t fair to give the review without a touch of background on the situation. The book is about a heinous crime that took place in Rochester, NY in 2009. A friend of mine was the 911 operator who took the call from Timothy Wells after he murdered his wife, Christine Sevilla.

When I learned of the book from my friend, I decided to order a copy. See if I could get it autographed by Dr. Fisher. Using what Dr. Fisher might not refer to as Sherlock Holmes skills, I tracked down the doctor (simply using Facebook), and he graciously agreed to meet with me. He signed a book for my friend, and gave a copy to me (autographed), as well. You see, I too, work at 911. I was a brand new employee at the time. But I was there that night the call was received.

With great interest, I read the book. It is a taut, but gripping tale. Dr. Fisher writes in a smooth, easy-to-follow way. He puts the murder out there, in the front. And then expertly works his way backwards from the crime, to the background, and wraps it all up in the end. Dr. Fisher took facts and made the story personal. Personable. Haunting.

Timothy Wells considered himself a fake. A Failure. A professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology (R.I.T.), he knew he’d fallen behind with . . . everything. His desire to teach, his ability to help students, his drive to remain current and relevant on his topics of study. The things that made him happiest were music (singing, and playing instruments), his wife, Christine, and their dog, Riley. The Pack.

It was how he referred to the three of them. The Pack. And that is why, when Wells knew he could no longer continue the charade, taking his own life just wouldn’t have been good enough. His wife would be lost without him. As would Riley, their dog. No. Suicide would not be enough. Timothy Wells made a decision one morning that he would first murder his wife (to spare her from the pain of learning her husband was such a failure), and then kill the dog, and lastly, take his own life. An end to the Pack. One for all, and all for one.

Problem is, the professor failed miserably even when it came to death. Except, that is, for killing his wife. There he succeeded.

UPSIDE DOWN was a gripping read. What Dr. Fisher does is almost sneaky. He paints the first quarter of the book in a different light. Is Wells simply insane? Depressed for no apparent reason? Homicidal for the sake of being homicidal? And then –and then– we get some more information. Details from witnesses, and friends that maybe the marriage Wells and Christine shared wasn’t as blissful as it appeared. And this was when the story got good.

Dr. Jerid M. Fisher is a forensic neuropsychologist, and was hired by Timothy Well’s attorney as a forensics expert during the trial. Although my meeting with the doctor was brief, I learned that he has a new children’s book due out in the fall. It will be free to military families (and featured on my blog).

I may now find myself reading more n0n-fiction, true crime books. Who knew they could be that engrossing?

Phillip Tomasso

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