by: Kathryn Casey
Publisher: Avon Books: www.avonbooks.com
Copyright: 2002, ISBN: 
reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, March 15, 2005
Summary: Very well written crime report with enough detail for the reader to form an opinion of what contributed to the murder of Susan White at the hands of Kenth McGowen.
In a world where doing “the right thing” is consensus opinion and doing “wrong” is simply individual perspective, you have people like Kenth McGowen who continually slither across the line of socially responsible behavior until they do something monumentally wrong, like take another’s life. McGowen was a law enforcement officer in the Houston, Texas suburb of Olde Oaks. The life he took was that of Susan White.
Author Kathryn Casey provides a sketch of the lives of White and McGowen that almost forces the reader to weigh the pathos of the seemingly minor decisions people make and their cumulative impact.
Kent McGowen’s entire rationale for existence, in his mind, was to be a police officer. He was initially rejected when he applied to the Houston Police Department but was finally accepted in October 1985. In 1989 his commission as a Houston Police Officer was pulled because of a supposed death threat from Colombian nationals. The usual spiel: he was on to a “big” drug bust and the Colombians wanted to stop him. The department determined that there was no death threat and that McGowen had engineered the entire episode by having a friend of his father’s make a threatening phone call. While on the Houston PD, McGowen acquired a reputation as an exaggerator, a woman hater, and an officer not trusted by his fellows. These were the dominate traits he took into the Houston Police Department and the traits he left with. His stint with the Houston PD was to be the zenith of his law enforcement career. Author Casey picks up the pattern and allows the reader to follow it through two other law enforcement jobs before he ends up as a contract officer in Olde Oaks.
Casey portrays Susan White as excessively devoted to a son going through the usual angst of adolescence. A tall, stylish blond, separated from her second husband and trying to get her life back on track, White was already stuck in a pattern of defending her son. Defense was a reflex. Hanging out with other teenagers without responsible direction or guidance, it was inevitable that the son, Jason, would have an encounter with McGowen, the super-cop. The encounter was minor. But what came out of the encounter was an apparent fixation by Susan White that McGowen was out to “get Jason”.
White told friends and acquaintances that Kent McGowen was, in effect, stalking her. Yet, there is only one incident in the book in which author Kathryn Casey brings the two together prior to the killing. At the time, Susan White had purchased a gun and one of the many police officers she knew was at her house showing her how to handle it. McGowen stopped by during his normal patrol. However, a friend of White’s says that White met McGowen in the spring of 1992. He pulled her over for speeding and instead of giving her a ticket, asked her out. The stalking of White by McGowen supposedly started from that point and Susan White came to believe that McGowen was targeting her son Jason in order to get to her.
Kathryn Casey builds a very strong, credible scenario detailing the reason things happened as they did in August 1992. Jason was arrested by McGowen for transporting a stolen gun. A warrant was issued for Susan White for threatening the confidential informant McGowen used to set up the bogus gun sale. In serving the warrant, McGowen said that White aimed a gun at him and he was in fear for his life. He shot her. It came out at McGowen’s murder trial that White could not have been pointing a gun due to the position of her body when struck by the three bullets from McGowen’s gun.
Other than the one eye-witness account of McGowen being in Susan White’s home when another officer was showing her how to use the gun she purchased and substantial word-of-mouth recounting by White’s friends that she and McGowen had exchanged words, there is nothing factual indicating that McGowen and White knew each other. As a reader, shifting fact from conjecture, the proverbial bottom line is that McGowen used his authority as a law enforcement officer to manufacture a situation in which Susan White lost her life. In serving the warrant for White’s arrest, if McGowen had permitted another officer to actually enter the house, Susan White probably would be alive. That’s the bottom line.
A WARRANT TO KILL is not a must read book. But it is very well written and does force you to ponder the consequences of those little decisions which seem important only for the moment.