Tips on How to Write True Crime

Tips on How to Write True Crime

Books and Paintings by JoAnne  Website

First you must pick an interesting crime. I specialize in homicide cases from 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, or witnesses 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 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, such as the victim, the 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 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.

Blurb for 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.

Excerpt for “The Crime of the Century” What Instructor Dorothy Rogers told the officer turned the investigation upside down and shed a new light on a seemingly non-alarming incident?

A petite redhead with green eyes, Dorothy was divorced with one grown daughter. She volunteered her free time at the local Pet Orphanage, a non-profit organization that placed abandoned or neglected dogs and cats within new homes.

She described Babette “a good student,” who at times had difficulties concentrating on her studies. Babette was determined to receive high grades, said Dorothy. Babette knew her smarts and her natural ability at mastering computer programming was her ticket out of Rolling Hills.

Shane on the other hand, seemed content in staying the “small-town” boy. His choirboy manners were a hit with the ladies and especially with Nancy Lloyd…in the beginning. Nancy would come to dislike Shane, as much as she disliked every boy Babette dated. “I felt sorry for Babette and befriended her,” Dorothy told the officer.

Dorothy described three letters Babette sent her depicting sexual and mental abuse instigated by Richard Lloyd. The letters talked of Babette wanting to run away, but she was afraid her stepfather would find her and punish her. Richard Lloyd threatened each boyfriend Babette had, and forced Babette to accompany him, alone, on camping trips, where he regularly seduced her, then “rewarded her with money or new clothes.”

Babette wrote of Nancy being aware of the attacks, but refused to acknowledge them, or stop them; claiming Nancy cared only about her marriage. The allegations of sexual abuse would be debated at length. Some found the rumors empty, since Richard and Nancy had the reputation of being “energizer bunnies,” when it came to sex. Some felt why would Richard want other women, when Nancy was “ready and willing”. Others felt the rumors were true, automatically believing the young voluptuous Babette, due to her age, and being raised by the likes of Nancy and Richard.

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 from “THE END OF AUTUMN”

  March 22, 2011, could have been just an ordinary Tuesday evening for the small industrial town of Logan, Ohio, population 7,152, if it were not for the glass-shattering screams of a female, emanating from the alley next to the Bancroft National Bank in downtown Logan.

The first witness was a twenty-one-year-old named Richard. He told police he was walking in the area of the bank when he saw a girl curled in a ball on the ground, with two grown men standing above her, Tasing her. When he got approximately one foot away from the woman and the men, a woman driver yelled to the men that someone was behind them. Richard was then pepper-sprayed by one of two male attackers when he tried to intervene. He raced off to an adjoining fitness center.

A woman named Rachel, who was outside the fitness center, called 911 to report that a man was pepper-sprayed while attempting to help a woman who had been attacked. According to Rachel, Richard was in severe pain when he ran up to her while holding his eyes and yelling for help.

Richard gave descriptions of the attackers as being two large dark-haired men, with the driver of the white Buick or Crown Victoria being an older female, with “bleached blonde,” hair.

Bob, an architect working in his upstairs office in the adjoining building next to the alley relayed that he had heard the commotion and told the persons to “keep the noise down.”

At the same time, two female joggers witnessed a young woman being shoved into a white Crown Victoria. Reportedly, they were near the same bank as was Richard, when they heard a girl scream and heard a Taser go off. They proceeded to cross the alley, beside the bank, noting that as they neared the commotion, the woman being Tasered, seemed to be in a violent struggle with her attackers.

The joggers, too, described the young woman as screaming while two men stood over her with a Taser. The men were dressed in black and had ski masks covering their faces. The woman on the ground wore her hair in a ponytail, which they described as being a dirty-blond color. Then a woman’s voice from the driver’s seat yelled, “ ‘Get the hell in the car.’”

From there, the joggers witnessed the victim tossed into the back seat of the vehicle, which then frantically sped away. The woman driving the vehicle was “frenzied” and “the blinkers and turn signals” were being used erratically.

After talking with Richard, officers located the area of the attack. The victim was no-where in sight, but what was found was one car in the bank parking lot, the back of a phone, a box of Tic-Tacs, a used container of Mace, a Mountain Dew bottle, a ball cap and a set of keys on the asphalt. Found in soft soil behind a hedge, said one officer, were what appeared to be foot and knee prints as “if someone lay in wait.” After checking with the bank, officers found it unlocked and entered. Inside the bank, all they found was an iPod lying on a counter.

Not until 11 o’clock that night did police identify the kidnapped victim as twenty-five-year-old Autumn Renee Williams. The green-eyed Culinary Arts student, who stood five-foot-four, was reported missing by her mother and stepfather, Candice and Mark Stevens, when she failed to return home around 9:30 that evening after her cleaning position at the Bancroft National Bank.

Shortly after arriving at the bank, seeing no sign of Autumn, the Stevens’ contacted the Logan Police Department. Two different officers then responded. From Mrs. Stevens, authorities learned that Autumn was a mother of three, and involved with a tumultuous pending divorce with her estranged husband of six-years, twenty-six-year-old Rodney Williams.

The center of the couple’s disagreements was custody of their three children, all under the age of five. According to Candace, Rodney did not want to pay child support for three kids.

JoAnne Myers

I have been a long-time resident of south eastern Ohio, and worked in the blue-collar industry most of my life. Besides having a four book contract with Melange Books and a two book contract with Black Rose Writing, I canvass 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 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 books along with my original canvas paintings, can be found at:
Books and Paintings by JoAnne Website

Images used for the article can be viewed on their copyright sites by click the image except.
Alan Cleaver Crime Scene Flickr

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First you must pick an interesting crime. I specialize in homicide cases from my home state of Ohio. Routinely reading newspapers will help the writer find murder cases. Find a homicide that has numerous good elements...

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