The Spider and the Fly by Claudia Rowe

Years ago, I developed an understanding what killing is, all thanks to viewing The Silence of the Lambs at the age of six.

It is too late to confirm that I was too young to be viewing a horror-thriller film, involving serial killers, especially hearing inappropriate quotes from the film, like, “He said, “I can smell your cunt.”” 

Shunning my childhood reminisce aside – I would like to provide a recommendation to readers on a true crime, part thriller and part memoir, a book that took eighteen years to write and complete by Claudia Rowe before publication. Claudia Rowe is an award-winning journalist known for her publication in numerous newspapers, covering social issues, race, and violence; her most well-known publication by far as of now is “The Spider and the Fly: A Reporter, a Serial Killer, and the Meaning of Murder”, the five years she’d spent covering the true story about a serial killer in Poughkeepsie, New York.

In 1998, Claudia Rowe resided in Poughkeepsie, New York. While working for The New York Times, Rowe was assigned to interview Kendall Francois, a serial killer responsible for the murders of eight women. For those five years, Rowe talked to Francois to gain an understanding as to why he committed the murders. How he had hidden the corpses in the refuge of his family’s home without anyone realizing that the stench was of rotting human remains in the attic.


The first chapter included the first letter addressed to and received by Rowe; what Francois wrote to her left a very disturbing impression on me as if that he’s still alive rather than dead. There was a brief understanding of how he come off as manipulative in his words alone. The way that he’d bargain (more like intimidated Rowe) in exchange for personal information – dirty little secrets in exchange for dirty little secrets. Nothing more and nothing less. Granted, even I would find it upsetting, too disgusted that I wouldn’t dare touch the letter for weeks. When I read Kendall’s letter from the text aloud to my boyfriend, his initial response was of repulse. Creeped out.

I dug deeper to find more info to back up what I had learned from The Spider and the Fly, an online source that validates the history of Kendall Francois which led me to uncover a prolific timeframe on his personal events and experiences, his development from childhood to adulthood. Information researched and summarized from the Department of Psychology of Radford University.

Kendall Francois was born in Poughkeepsie on July 26, 1971. He had a history of being ridiculed by other children as a child for his weight and large stature around the age of 5 to 12, but later played sports and feels like he fits well in a team; in other words, he led a normal adolescent life until he graduated from high school at the age of 18. In 1990, Francois joined the US Army, but was discharged in 1994 – he then returns home to Poughkeepsie and begin attending the Duchess County Community College and worked as a janitor at Arlington Middle School where he used to attend as a boy. His first kill was on October 24, 1996. Francois was 25 when he picked up a 30-year-old prostitute, Wendy Meyers, his first victim. A conflict erupted between them with Francois believing that Meyers had ripped him off which led to him choking her to death then moved Meyers’ body into the attic of his family’s home. Two days after, Wendy Meyers boyfriend reported her as a missing person to the police. Following Wendy Meyers, more women disappeared one-by-one from 1996 to 1998. On September 9, 1998 – Francois was brought in for questioning and he confessed to murdering the missing women. Kendall Francois was charged with 2nd-degree murder. Shortly after, the bodies of the missing women were removed from the Francois residence and the corpses were kept for further investigation for two weeks by the police. Francois confessed to all eight murders in a plea bargain on August 7, 2000. The plea bargain allowed him to avoid the death penalty and Francois was sentenced to life in prison without parole on August 8, 2000. Eight counts of 25 years to life which be served consecutively plus assault charges on the last victim (Diane Franco), totaled 1 to 3 years.


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Just an ordinary working adult submerge in stories and the finer things in life.

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