I’ve never been good at following rules. While all of my friends were keeping fingers crossed to avoid the draft during Vietnam I joined up. In high school I was voted “person most likely to go to prison.” They were almost right. I did go to prison. But it was as a Sheriff Deputy transporting some of my classmates to Indiana Dept. of Corrections.
The Sheriff’s Department was fun for a while, but I kept getting in trouble for tracking down felons using the computer system. The Sheriff and the Prosecutors were unhappy that I had used their entire years extradition budget by locating felons in other states, and having them arrested. But it all turned out okay because the Evansville Police Department was impressed that I could find someone–sometimes even in another country–by using our antiquated computer system.
So, I was hired by the police department where I immediately became a detective. Over the next twenty years I worked in Bunco Fraud, Violent Crimes, Juvenile, Sex Crimes, Burglary, and ended in Homicide.
While working Bunco Fraud, I caught a squeal (that is what an investigation is called) that started with a subject kiting money between banks, turned into a possible stolen check, that turned into a possible missing person, that turned into a multi-state manhunt for the perpetrator, Joseph Weldon Brown. (I call him by his full name because that’s what you do with serial killers.) I caught up with Brown in Lebanon, Ohio, where he ultimately confessed to killing the missing person, dismembering her body, and spreading body parts over three counties. He eventually pled guilty to this murder and in prison he strangled his cellmate to death. He was bored, so his cellmate was ‘bored to death’. Get it?
While I worked in investigations I attended hundreds of specialized schools, became a hostage negotiator and a handwriting expert among other things. I attended the U.S. Secret Service Academy in Glenco (Brunswick, GA).
I spent most of my career working third shift to keep a low profile (out of sight, out of mind). This shift gave me a chance to burn off stress by writing and publishing an anonymous underground newspaper. The Monkey Boy Gazette was written as a roast of fellow officers, politicians, or anyone that fell into my sights. I remained cloaked in darkness for seven years until the PD launched an investigation after I wrote an uncomplimentary article about the Mayor.
So, after ceasing the newsletter I learned that my Gazette was being circulated at Quantico (the FBI Academy) and mailed to other law enforcement agencies including the U.S. Secret Service Academy in Glenco, Georgia.
During my time in investigations I worked many high profile cases including some political hot-potato cases and a serial killer. My last case involved an investigation of a top ranking officer (a very popular officer by the way) that ended with my wanting to arrest the Mayor for Obstruction of Justice. But it all turned out okay. For them.
I, however, was transferred to riding a desk, no radio, no car, no computer, and I was given no cases to work. In other words, I was put in a corner. “Nobody puts baby in a corner!” as Patrick Swayze would say. So, in a moment of insanity fueled by desperation, I tested for Sergeant to protect myself.
After I made Sergeant I was approached by the Chief of Police who asked me to go to Internal Affairs. It turned out I wasn’t being investigated by them. What he meant was he wanted me to run the IA Unit. The Chief said, “You might as well take it. Everyone already hates you.” I guess he thought that it would save time in alienating almost everyone I knew.
In 2006 I’d had enough. Internal Affairs is the elephant graveyard of police work. I had gone back to college in 2004 and earned a Masters Degree in something useless, but it would help me get another job. I had taught as an Adjunct Professor at a local college and when I retired from the PD I was hired as a full time professor.
I wrote BLOOD TRAIL in 2005 (the true story of the serial murders of Joseph Weldon Brown) for Kensington Books and later was privileged to write the beginning fiction police stories that are the current Detective Jack Murphy thriller series.
I prefer to write fiction over true crime. In 2010, my first novel, The Cruelest Cut, introduced detective Jack Murphy and his partner, Liddell Blanchard. The Jack Murphy series takes place in the small town of Evansville, Indiana. The series continued with the release of the 2nd installment, The Coldest Fear. The 3rd installment, The Deepest Wound, will be released in April, 2016 with two more novels, The Highest Stakes and The Darkest Place, to be released in late 2016 and 2017.
I’m available to speak to your book club or writer’s group by contacting my publicist, Michelle Forde, at Kensington.
I’m a member of Mystery Writers of America, California Writer’s Club, International Thriller Writers, and a contributing editor for The Big Thrill webzine.
And this is the end of my story. My personal history is that I’m happily married, with a daughter, two grandchildren, two baby dogs, a hot tub, a view, and a bottle of 17 year old Ardbeg Scotch.
Reading is the first step to education. Happy reading.