Killer's Cookbook Subject Of Suit

Posted: January 07, 1990

A $3 million civil suit involving a convicted murderer and a missing cookbook has been transferred to Delaware County Court because the defendant, Edward J. Reilly of Devon, lives here.

Bernard Jerry-El, 43, an inmate at the State Correctional Institution in Pittsburgh, filed the lawsuit in Montgomery County on Dec. 12 because he was incarcerated at Graterford Prison at the time.

The suit contends that Reilly took a 583-page cookbook written by Jerry-El with the understanding that he would help get it published, then either lost or stole the material.

Jerry-El is serving a life sentence for murder. He said in the lawsuit that his cookbook, titled Rare & Recent Pennsylvania Recipes, is a compilation of more than 20 years of his mother's recipes, which he termed "an heirloom."

In the lawsuit, which he prepared himself and filed through the mail, Jerry-El said he had tried to find a publisher for the cookbook since he compiled it in 1979, two years after his murder conviction.

In 1981, he wrote to an editor at Random House Inc. in New York. The editor said the company was not interested. But she suggested he rename the book, then called Unique Cook/Health Book, to something more commercially attractive.

Jerry-El renamed and revised the cookbook from 1982 to 1986. He found Reilly's name in an industry trade publication and wrote to ask him for help, according to the suit.

Reilly visited Jerry-El at Graterford Prison in April 1987, the suit says, where he agreed to photocopy the original manuscript and send it to potential publishers.

According to the lawsuit, Reilly claimed to have sent the manuscript to a publishing company in Colorado. When Jerry-El contacted the company, he found that the manuscript was never received.

The suit seeks $3 million in compensatory and punitive damages, plus an injunction "to prevent Reilly from removing funds from his accounts or selling his home or other properties until the legal action is terminated."

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