Please welcome back JoAnne Myers as she talks today about writing true crime stories.
Hello Joyce, it is nice to be back. Also, I will be awarding two people who comment each a print book of their choice. The choices are: Murder Most Foul-a detective/mystery, Loves, Myths, and Monsters-a fantasy anthology, Wicked Intentions-a paranormal anthology, Flagitious- a crime/mystery anthology, The Crime of the Century-a biography true crime, Twisted Love:12 cases of love gone bad-a biography true crime anthology, and Poems About Life, Love, and Everything in Between.
Writing True Crime
First you must pick an interesting crime. I specialize in homicides in my home state of Ohio. Routinely reading newspapers will help the writer find murder cases. Find a homicide that has numerous good elements that will hold one’s interest.
Next you must start the investigation of your chosen crime. To find my information, I read newspaper reports of the homicide. I searched court documents for witness reports, and courtroom testimony. I interviewed witnesses. Persons who either were present when the crime occurred or had after the fact information. Try to locate the victim’s family members, and see if they want their side of the story told. If the case goes to trial, the Defense’s job is to discredit the victim. To portray the deceased as the “bad guy.” This type of mud-slinging does not sit well with loved ones of the victim. Give them a chance to speak for the deceased. Anyone who was involved with the case, will have something of interest to report. Don’t forget to locate the reports of the arresting officers and the homicide detectives. Try to locate the coroners report, any eyewitness, or persons who reported hearing an altercation or gunshots.
Keep abreast of updates, and read everything written about the case. Build a relationship with the law enforcement officials who are involved in the case. I personally live in a very small town, where most persons know one another, and many have relatives or close friends who are involved with law enforcement. Attend the trial and speak to everyone you can about the criminal, the victim and prosecution and defense witnesses.
Last but not least, sit down and write. Now it is time to tell the story of the crime. Hopefully you will find most of the information you need in your copious notes–if not go back and get the answers you need. Never throw away any notes or information concerning the case. Not even after the trial is over, and the story is written. Most convicted felons apply for numerous appeals, which take years to dissolve. Some cases never seem to end; The Crime of the Century was such a case. When the accused was found guilty and sent to prison, he and his attorneys, who always believed him innocent, continued fighting for his freedom. That blessed event came after the convicted spent five years on death row. He was cleared with DNA, but it still took nearly thirty years to find the true killers. If you want your true crime novel to be believable, you can’t fudge the facts.
Blurbs for “Twisted Love” 12 cases of love gone bad
It’s a chilling reality that homicide investigators know all too well: the last face most murder victims see is not that of a stranger, but of someone familiar.
The End of Autumn-To keep from paying child support for his three children, Rodney Williams, plots with his parents to kidnap his estranged wife, 25-year old Autumn, in broad daylight. This 2011 crime shocked the small community of Logan, Ohio.
Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing-In 2011, 53-year-old Russell Strothers, and his teenage accomplice find their victims through Craigslist and strike with calculating and deadly force.
A Senseless Killing-This 2010 case uncovers how a 40-year-old likable barmaid was lured to her death after she rejects her young admirers sexual advances.
The Death of Innocence-This 2011 murder case involved 4-year-old Marcie Willis, and her evil stepmother 25-year-old Cheryl, from the small bedroom community of The Plains, Ohio.
The Girl Not Forgotten-This cold case took 26 years to solve, but brought justice for 13-year-old Holly Buford, and put serial rapist, 40-year-old Stanley Snead, behind bars.
The Possession-When 29-year-old Valerie Harris severs the penis of her sexually abusive father, it makes national news in 2007.
Home Town Hero-When deaf students are murdered in the prestigious Rose Brick College of the Deaf in 2008, everyone is shocked when discovering the killer is one of their own.
Horrible Sin-When 42-year-old Fortune Teller Sally Vu and her 21-year-old daughter Veronica are discovered murdered and physically desecrated, in 2001, evidence points to revenge and a spell gone wrong.
All For the Family-In 2003, as a way to erase her 22-year-old husbands criminal past, 19-year-old Molly Abbott devises a ghoulish and desperate strategy.
Thicker Than Water?-When 52-year-old Kim Michaels is found dismembered inside her burned out home in 1996, officers find the crime more confusing than a jig saw puzzle.
Mail Order Murder-The last thing the beautiful Russian mail order bride Anna dreamed of in 2001, was being murdered by her controlling and older American husband.
Where’s Christopher?-When four-year-old Christopher Ellis goes missing, numerous excuses and an odd odor emanating from the backyard in 1991, raises eyebrows.
Excerpt: WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING
Hoping to land a farm job and move close to his family, Jay Davis, then forty-seven, met his interviewer and walked with him through the autumn-colored woodlands of southeastern Ohio on November 6, 2011, at around 7:30 pm.
Everything went fine, said Davis, until he heard a curse word from the man who he knew as “Buck,” and then the click of a gun. He whirled around to find a pistol stuck in his face. He shielded the blow by knocking the firearm from its shooters hand, before running for his life.
Stumbling several times, while being fired upon, Davis raced through the thicket and hid in a creed bed under a tree for several hours; until he felt it safe enough to go for help. He feared bleeding to death he later told police.
This bizarre story was uncovered when a Noble County couple heard a knock on their farmhouse door. They were shocked to discover the terrified and bleeding South Carolina man pleading for help.
Immediately the victim was aided by the farm owners, and the authorities notified. Paramedics arrived, and the man was transported to the area hospital with a bullet wound to the right elbow. After interviewing the man in his hospital room, officials with the Noble County Sheriff’s Office, discovered that he had recently responded to an ad on Craigslist for a job on a Ohio cattle farm.
According to the victim, he had earlier that day met up with an older man who introduced himself as “Buck”, and a much younger male, who he was told was Buck’s nephew. The three ate breakfast in Marietta, paid for by “Buck”, before driving to the alleged cattle farm. Once there and according to Jay Davis, “Buck” told him the road to the cattle farm was closed due to a landslide and they needed to walk to the property through a heavily wooded area. A walk that nearly ended with murder.
I have been a long-time resident of southeastern Ohio, and worked in the blue-collar industry most of my life. Besides having several novels under my belt, I canvas paint.
When not busy with hobbies or working outside the home, I spend time with relatives, my dog Jasmine, and volunteer my time within the community. I am a member of the International Women’s Writing Guild, Savvy Authors, Coffee Time Romance, Paranormal Romance Guild, True Romance Studios, National Writers Association, the Hocking Hill’s Arts and Craftsmen Association, The Hocking County Historical Society and Museum, and the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center. I believe in family values and following your dreams. My original canvas paintings, can be found at: http://www.booksandpaintingsbyjoanne.com
Other Available Books:
Murder Most Foul-a detective/mystery
Wicked Intentions- a paranormal anthology
Loves, Myths, and Monsters- a fantasy anthology
The Crime of the Century- a biography true crime
Poems About Life, Love, and Everything in Between
Flagitious-a crime/mystery anthology
Other places to find Jo Anne and her books: