The search for justice

LEFT: an image of Jean Larson, the second wife of Clarence Larson (right). Jean was last seen in Tracy in October 1980. Photo at left courtesy NamUs; photo at right, Tracy Headlight Herald file photo

Time might have washed a dark mystery from the minds of Tracy residents, but author Pat Lubeck is determined to find some answers and thus bring justice and closure to a long-forgotten family

By Per Peterson

Patricia Lubeck wants to know what happened to Martha and Jean.

For longtime Tracy residents, the name Clarence Larson certainly rings a bell — likely one with an ominous tone. And Lubeck has been working for months on a book that she hopes will shed light on what happened to Larson’s wives, Martha, and Jean, nearly 60 and 40 years ago, respectively. Lubeck wants nothing more than to bring justice and closure for Jean’s daughter, Olivia, by attempting to answer what some might believe are unanswerable questions.

“Most people feel that Martha’s death was no accident and that Jean didn’t suddenly disappear,” said Lubeck, an author of four books. “ By writing the book, it might bring people forward who know exactly what happened to Clarence’s two wives. It is my hope that we can solve this case. Another reason I’m writing the book is because I enjoy writing stories of early crime in Minnesota. The Larson story is a big part of the history of this area and needs to be documented for future generations. It’s all about getting to the truth and bringing justice for Martha and Jean.”

Lubeck, who believes the Larson story is a major part of the history of this area and should therefore be documented for future generations, said she enjoys the research it takes to pen books like this — she calls it an adventure, like searching for lost treasures. And, of course, there are peaks and valleys that come with doing extensive research.

“It’s exciting when you discover something that you never thought you’d find, but also frustrating when important documents have been destroyed,” she said.

Lubeck said there are two main parts involved with writing a true crime story: gathering evidence (or what’s left of it) and maintaining accuracy in a story, while making it an interesting read.

“It’s a very hard task; many revisions along the way before you get it right,” she said. “But all of this is worth it, if my readers enjoy reading a good mystery and learn a bit of history in the process.”

Lubeck, who started her latest project in 2017 and spent time at the Above The Fold Publishing office looking through back issues of the Tracy Area Headlight Herald, said the hard part to starting the process is determine where to start searching for evidence — that’s where the detective inside comes out.

“A detective gets a good lead on something and that leads to another area and it goes on from there,” she said. “I meet so many people along the way that lead me to some amazing discoveries. And I keep searching for pieces of the puzzle; sometimes it takes years to put it all together. Once I’ve gathered a mountain of information, I go through it many times to get a feel for the characters and the story.”

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.