Most of us have been touched by murder. Even without a direct connection to a homicide—even if you don’t personally know a victim or a killer, or are not connected to the criminal justice system on either side--“six degrees”--and probably fewer—separate most people from a murder. How many degrees separate you from a victim of 9/11? A school shooting? A home invasion? A hit-and-run? A domestic disturbance gone bad?
John and I are not involved in criminal activity, we do not live a high-crime area, and none of our friends are murderers, yet we are directly or indirectly connected to a number of homicides.
My father-in-law, a policeman on IPD for twenty years, worked his share of murder cases as a patrolman and a detective. Also, as a rookie cop he was involved in the Elder Avenue shootout--a mental patient shot eight officers before police returned fire and hit him twenty-eight times.
My father, a physician, once worked as the Marion County deputy coroner. He kept a gun from a homicide case as a souvenir.
My brother-in-law, a lawyer for the Indiana Attorney General’s office, argued death penalty cases before the appellate court for many years.
An in-law’s father served on the Manson jury.
Two professional colleagues on opposite sides of the country were murdered in cold blood.
I took piano lessons a few doors away from where a yuppie lawyer murdered his wife and stuffed her in the ironing board closet.
A neighbor killed his ex-wife, her father, and a policeman, and wounded her mother and blinded another officer after a police stand-off at his ex-in-law’s home--which happened to be across the street from the house John lived in when he was young.
My parents knew many of the parishioners of the church of a minister and his wife who were axe-murdered after Christmas Eve services.
A house a few doors down from a home a realtor once showed us was later purchased by a man who killed his wife and baby and stuffed them in the freezer in the garage.
A policeman-colleague of my father-in-law was murdered; the case was never solved. He lived across the street from where we live now.
I covered a murder trial as a reporter.
A co-worker’s baby-sitter also watched the children murdered by serial killer Stephen Judy.
A dear friend’s mother was murdered by home invaders in Zimbabwe.
John and I were witnesses in a murder trial after we were almost victims ourselves—we escaped the killer by a clever twist of words.
Closest to home—literally--was the murder-suicide in the house next door. It happened twenty feet away from us as we slept in our bed.
Is it any wonder, then, that I write true crime and mystery stories?