Saturday, May 30, 2015

Writing True Crime by JoAnne Myers

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 that 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 that 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 coroner’s report, any eyewitness, or people who reported hearing an altercation or gunshots. 
Keep abreast of updates, and read everything that was 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 citizens know one another, and many have relatives or close friends that are involved with law enforcement. Attend the trial and speak to everyone you can about the criminal, the victim and prosecution and defense witness.
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 with, 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.

The Crime of the Century-a shocking true story      
The residents of Rolling Hills, a hamlet in southeastern Ohio, were horrified when the dismembered bodies of two missing teens were pulled from the local river. Multiply suspects surfaced, but only one was railroaded, Richard Allan Lloyd, a known nudist and hothead. 
What began as an evening stroll turned into what found only in horror films, and dubbed ‘the crime of the century’. 18 year old Babette, a voluptuous beauty contestant and horsewoman, and her 19 year old boyfriend Shane Shoemaker, a jealous and possessive unemployed printer, were last seen crossing a trestle bridge. Within fourteen days, their mutilated torsos and severed heads and limbs were unearthed, suggesting satanic cult activity.
With an investigation smeared with contradicting statements, and a botched crime scene, investigators built a flimsy case against Richard Lloyd. The three-week trial was based on police corruption and ineptitude, fairytale theories, and forensic mishandling.
This heinous crime shattered the sense of security for Rolling Hills, destroyed two families, and forever scarred the town. This story is a detailed account of finding justice for Babette and Shane, and of one man’s perseverance to gain his freedom from death row.


Once the teenagers’ photographs hit the front page of the local and neighboring newspapers, the public bombarded the sheriff’s office and Police Department with phone calls. Many claimed seeing the kids in various places, and of hearing “gunshots and strange occurrences” around the cornfield during the suspected time, which initially was 5 pm., to 6:30 pm, Monday evening.
After weeding out the crackpots and those wanting money for their information, authorities had some worthwhile leads. One being fifty-four-year-old Ernie Brooks.  An admitted alcoholic and illiterate, Ernie was toothless, with stringy grey hair and lazy blue-eyes. He had lived on the banks of the Bottle Neck River since 1974.  
He claimed while in his sleeping bag in the bushes on the riverbank at first light, he “was woken by a noise, or the misty rain falling.” When he opened his eyes, he saw a man within arm’s distance of him, engaged in “some-kind of activity.” He stayed quiet and watched the man walk up the bank and leave the vicinity, never seeing him again. 
Ernie described the individual as “being over six feet tall.” Dressed in “dark green coveralls or army fatigues” with a “brimmed hat” rolled to a point in the front. Ernie said the point was so pronounced, it reminded him of the three cornered hats from revolutionary days.
When Ernie’s description of the man on the riverbank was released, business owners Jane and Dan Fox and Kyle Nix, became alarmed. All three agreed it fit the description of their employee, twenty-six-year-old Keith Leonard, an unlicensed butcher by trade. The trio described Keith, as a “strange person” who told “bizarre stories” of himself, and lived an “alternative lifestyle.”  Many claimed Keith as “weird,” but that did not stop them from drinking Keith’s beer, smoking his cigarettes or using his drugs whenever he had any.

About the Author 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, 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:

Other books by JoAnne:
 "WICKED INTENTIONS" a paranormal/mystery anthology
"LOVES', MYTHS' AND MONSTERS'," a fantasy anthology
“MURDER MOST FOUL” a detective/mystery
“TWISTED LOVE” 12 cases of love gone bad
“FLAGITIOUS” a 4 crime/mystery anthology

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Order your copy of “The Crime of the Century” by JoAnne Myers here

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