NEW YORK — Family and friends of former fashion writer Christa Worthington, who was murdered in her Cape Cod home last year, blasted a forthcoming book about the victim and the investigation Thursday and said they are looking into legal retaliation.
Speaking on behalf of some family members and Amyra and Clifford Chase, the legal guardians of Worthington’s daughter Ava, their lawyer Monica Kraft in Truro, Massachusetts, said they are “dismayed by the victimization of Christa, her daughter and the Worthington family” in Maria Flook’s “Invisible Eden: A Story of Love and Murder on Cape Cod,” to be published Tuesday by Random House’s Broadway Books.
They are also exploring the possibility of having Cape & Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe, the head of the ongoing investigation, removed from the case. O’Keefe shared crime scene photos and detailed information about the case with the author, and has apologized to the family for his disparaging remarks about the victim in the book
Flook and Random House executives could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The victim’s cousin, Jan Worthington, an emergency medical technician whom Flook writes “fell apart” and was “of little use” at the crime scene, declined to comment for legal reasons. Other subjects in the book said they were misquoted but requested anonymity. They said they did not want to do anything that would publicize the book.
Others were more candid. Freelance writer Steve Radlauer, a friend of Christa Worthington’s, said his 15-minute interview with Flook resulted in a series of misquotes. But he said he is most upset about how Flook painted Worthington as a “a nymphomaniac and serial adulterer who comes from a long line of them.”
“This is a potential Jayson Blair scandal for Random House. This 145,000-word book could easily be proven to be filled with many, many fabrications,” said Radlauer. “In a way, this is worse. He was making stuff to [fuel his addiction.] Here, Maria Flook seems to have a real agenda to make Christa look bad and to assassinate her character.”
The book has reignited media interest in the case. “The Today Show,” The New York Times, People, “48 Hours” and “CBS Early Show” have lined up interviews with the author, a Random House spokesman said earlier Thursday in an e-mail. To avoid any conflicts, The Times has John Leland working on a piece for Sunday’s Styles section instead of his colleague, Vanessa Grigoriadis, who penned a cover story about the murder for New York magazine and is mentioned in the book, according to people interviewed by Leland. Jan Worthington, a proven writer, said her screenplay about her cousin for Lifetime is moving forward.
Tony Jackett, the married man who fathered Worthington’s daughter, said his attorney sent a certified letter to Random House to alert them to inaccuracies in the book. Among other things, he said he never spoke with Flook about his sexual relationship with Worthington, but the author describes some in detail.
“Many things in there are inaccurate. I think she went hunting for quotes from other people’s heresy and gossip. She took too many liberties delving into someone else’s life,” Jackett said in a telephone interview. “I felt like I had been reincarnated while I’m still alive. She does a job on everybody.”
Radlauer, who once had a couple of books published under Random House’s Ballantine division, said he is “angriest at Random House. She’s egregious but they picked her out of their Rolodex because she lived there. No one bothered to ask, ‘Is she capable of writing a true crime book?’”