NEW Cover Reveal for HER LAST WHISPER #crimefiction #preorder #Bookouture

HerLastWhisper_Cover

HER LAST WHISPER:

An absolutely unputdownable crime thriller

(Detective Katie Scott book 2)

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Katie focuses her mind, trying to keep another anxiety attack at bay. The victim’s long brown hair is slick and wet, her body rigid in the grass. She looks more like a mannequin than the woman Katie had spoken with only yesterday, the woman she had promised to protect…

When a cold, naked body is discovered by a couple on a jog through the lush woodlands of Pine Valley, California, new recruit Detective Katie Scott is stunned to discover the victim is Amanda Payton – a much-loved local nurse and the woman at the heart of an unsolved case she’s been investigating whilst getting a grip on her crippling PTSD.

Weeks earlier, Amanda had run, battered and bruised, out into the headlights of a passing patrol car. She claimed to have just escaped a kidnapping, but with no strong evidence, the case went cold. The Pine Valley police made a fatal mistake…

Katie is certain the marks on Amanda’s wrists complete a pattern of women being taken, held captive and then showing up dead in remote locations around Pine Valley – and she won’t let someone die on her watch again.

But then a beautiful office worker with a link to the hospital where Amanda worked goes missing. With only days before the next body is due to show up, can Katie make amends for her past by saving this innocent life?

Totally gripping crime fiction for fans of Lisa Regan, Rachel Caine and Melinda Leigh. Nothing will prepare you for this nail-biting roller-coaster ride…

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What Readers are saying about Jennifer Chase’s Detective Katie Scott Series!

THERE WAS NO WAY I WAS PUTTING THIS BOOK DOWN!!!!!… I was literally holding my breath… I HAD TO KNOW!!!!! As for the explosive ending WOW definitely not what or who I was expecting.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

I was really wowed by it… I couldn’t put the book down and was trying to read as fast as I could so I could find out who the killer was. The ending took me by surprise… I was literally gasping for air… I would definitely recommend.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

Wow what an absolutely amazing fantastic read. I was hooked almost as soon as I started this book. I am still trying to pick my chin off the floor. I loved it from page one and couldn’t read the pages quick enough. I did not see the end coming…Awesome.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

If you read one police thriller this year make sure that it is this one… it will grip you from the start and will drag you into the story trying desperately to work out who the killer is but I promise you that you will not be able to figure it out.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘A great way to start a new series! It’s a wonderfully written roller-coaster ride. A must read!’ Book Obsessed Introverts, 5 stars

Wow!… The hairs on my head stood up with this one!’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

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Out October 21st.

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Evidence Rules: Fundamentals of a Criminal Prosecution

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Photo courtesy of thoughtco.com.

If you’re a fan of crime fiction and even true-crime stories, the issue of ‘evidence’ is usually at the heart of the story. But, what’s the deal with evidence? And how does it help a prosecutor build a case?

Well, it’s probably best to start at the beginning. A person commits a crime and then is arrested. Now, in order for the prosecution to build their case, they need evidence – and usually, lots of it. Because, in order to put someone behind bars, the jury needs to be convinced – beyond a reasonable doubt – that the defendant committed the crime. And “beyond a reasonable doubt” is a very high standard!

Here’s the basics of “evidence”

Simply put, evidence is anything that can help prove a crime was committed. And that the person who was arrested committed the crime. Evidence also helps prosecutors establish all of the key elements of the alleged crime.

For example, say a person is arrested for robbery. Well, in order to convict that perp, the prosecutor needs to establish the following four things: (1) property of another person was taken (2) from their body or in their presence (3) by force, threat or intimidation (4) with the intent of permanently depriving that person of that item.

In that scenario, evidence needs to be lawfully obtained so that the state can establish that the incident satisfied all four of those requirements.

Evidence can be a wide range of items used to prove or disprove the issues that are presented to the jury. Things from eyewitness observations to an analysis of blood spatter all fall within the category of evidence.  Timelines, phone calls, distances between people and places, and someone’s eye color can all be used as evidence.

Taking all of the evidence into account, the jury can then draw inferences about the crime and whether the perp was the true culprit.

Criminal vs. Civil Evidence

In both criminal and civil cases, evidence exists to establish the truth that lies somewhere between the parties conflicting versions of reality.

In criminal matters, however, the introduction of evidence needs to be weighed against the accused’s right to a fair trial. And, because of that, the rules of what evidence is allowed to be seen by the jury is much stricter in a criminal case. The reason is simple – if the evidence’s prejudicial value outweighs its fact-finding value, a person could potentially wind-up in jail for a crime they didn’t commit.

Whereas, in civil cases, almost anything that can shed light on the facts is allowed. And that’s because, only money is involved, and no one is in jeopardy of being deprived of their freedom and potentially, their life.

Who governs the rules of evidence?

The American legal system is derived from the English “common law” system, which is basically a system of laws that are shaped by court cases, as opposed to actual written laws. So, when a new court case decides something novel, all of the following cases must follow that “precedent.” As the American legal system has evolved, more and more of our laws have become written statutes.

And, for the first couple of hundred years, evidence rules were based on precedence. But, in 1975, the United States issued the Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE). Only federal courts are bound by these rules, but most state and local courts use the FRE as models for their own rules.

What all of this means is this – every court case in the United States must follow codified, written rules concerning how evidence is used.

Crime scene investigation - collecting evidence

Photo courtesy of walletweekly.com.

Types of evidence

Evidence comes in all forms, and despite fulfilling different purposes, the goal of all evidence remains the same – prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Circumstantial evidence is something we always hear on television. Basically, all it means, is evidence that provides a piece of information that strongly suggests a set of circumstances but does not rise to the level of proof positive. For example, witnesses say that a white SUV was involved in a hit-and-run. The person arrested for the crime drives a white min-van.

Same color. Large auto. But different auto models. The eyewitness testimony is circumstantial, and no one will close the book on the case based on this information. But this evidence is surely a step in the right direction. And combined with other evidence, the case can hopefully be proven.

And that is where corroborating evidence comes into play. Essentially, any evidence that bolsters another piece of evidence is considered corroborating. Let’s say, John is accused of breaking into a house because his fingerprints were found on the doorknob. Then, they find a witness who says they saw John walking around the area of the crime scene around the time of the break-in. That’s corroborating evidence.

Another form of evidence is forensic. This type of evidence can greatly help a case, but in order to be allowed, the science behind the forensics must be well-established. So, DNA and fingerprint evidence are generally accepted science, and therefore, allowed. But, for more fringe science, the court will have a hearing to determine whether the scientific evidence can be presented to a jury.

Last but not least is the infamous “hearsay” evidence. Simply put, hearsay is a statement made by someone other than the person repeating it in court.  For example, Lucy is being prosecuted for the murder of Mike. The prosecutor calls Lucy’s friend Jane to the stand. Jane then testifies that Lucy confessed the murder to their mutual friend Shirley. Since Jane did not hear the confession first-hand, this is considered hearsay.

Generally, since hearsay is second-hand information, it is deemed unreliable and generally not admissible as evidence. But, of course, just like everything in the legal system, there are many exceptions to this rule.

What’s the “exclusionary rule”

If evidence is obtained in violation of a defendant’s constitutional rights, it will not be permitted to be used in a criminal case. The most common instance of this situation is when property is seized from someone without a proper search warrant.

And that leads to the concept known as the “fruit of the poisonous tree.” Any evidence obtained after the initial violation of a defendant’s rights is now tainted and not allowed (even if the evidence is a slam dunk.) So, for example, let’s say the police have suspicion that Jack is selling cocaine in his house. But they fail to get a warrant and while searching the home, they discover a stockpile of illegal firearms. The guns will most likely be excluded from evidence, unless the prosecutor can meet one of the several exceptions.

Evidence law is a very complex system of rules that aim to balance the interests of a secure society with that of every individual’s constitutional right of due process. This topic is very broad and interesting, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on what area of evidence law you find particularly intriguing.

***

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***

You might also enjoy reading:

9 Key Steps for a Successful Crime Scene Investigation

 

FBI Profiling of SERIAL KILLERS: 3 Notorious Cases

 

Are COLD CASES on the Rise? A Chat with Cold Case Detective and Crime Media Consultant Joe Giacalone

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Genetic Genealogy Justice: 2 Killers Arrested Decades Later

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Photo courtesy of independent.co.uk.

Killers be warned. You are no longer safe from the long arm of justice. Years may have passed since you committed your horrendous acts of violence. You may think that your evil deeds are a thing of the past. But, you’re wrong.

The dedicated women and men of law enforcement will not rest until you’re caught. And with the aid of seemingly innocuous genealogy databases – your wicked deeds are catching up to you.

Here are two killers who took innocent lives, and then went on to live somewhat normal existences. That is, until they were finally caught for their murders. And justice was rightfully served.

Justice for Linda O’Keefe…45 Years Later 

The Facts

On July 6, 1973, an 11-year old girl named Linda O’Keefe was walking home from summer school in Orange County, California. Linda was never seen alive again. One day after vanishing, Linda’s strangled, lifeless body was found in a ditch covered in weeds. Tragedy struck the O’Keefe family and the relatively peaceful, affluent area of Newport Beach.

Despite using every resource at their disposal, the police were unable to solve the killing.

Generations of law enforcement personnel worked on the case. But eventually, the case went cold.

Cold Case Heats Up

As technology evolves, so do police methods. So, within the last few years, the local Orange County police began re-investigating cold murder cases. And Linda’s murder was a high priority. Even though DNA evidence was left at the original crime scene, the appropriate technology was not available until decades later.

Police, of course, searched criminal DNA databases for a match. But this method only works when the suspect has been arrested for other crimes. In Linda’s case, law enforcement had no luck in finding a match. Apparently, the killer was able to maintain a low profile. Well, that all changed in January of this year.

The Suspect is Identified

For many years, law enforcement had a rough sketch of the man who they believed committed the murder. But, by the time sufficient DNA technology was available, the sketch was quite outdated – considering the man would now be 45 years older than at the time of the killing.

This past January, investigators found relatives of the suspect on the public website FamilyTreeDNA.com. Using their old sketch of a 27-year-old man, they narrowed the suspect field down to just one person – James Alan Neal. Police determined that he lived in the area at the time of the murder.

And using standard surveillance and other investigative techniques, police were able to acquire further DNA samples from Neal. The case was solid.

So, on February 19, 2019, police arrested 72-year old Neal, who was charged with murder, kidnapping and various other crimes.

Who is James Alan Neal

At the time of his arrest, the killer resided in Colorado with his wife of over 40 years. A father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Neal is a retired construction worker who led a seemingly normal existence as a family man. Yet, beneath the surface of his good guy facade, lurked a monster who had been running from justice since 1973.

The Outcome of Excellent Police Work

According to the office of Orange County’s District Attorney, the charges brought against Neal carry a minimum sentence of life without parole, with the death penalty remaining a possibility. Since his arrest, the killer has had other child sexual assault charges brought against him in neighboring Riverside County.

Utilizing time-tested police investigative techniques, coupled with modern DNA technology and community awareness alerts on social media, law enforcement was able to apprehend this monster 45 years after he took the life on an innocent child.

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Murder in Alaska…Caught in Maine

The Facts

On April 26, 1993, Sophie Sergie was discovered dead in a dorm bathtub on the campus of University of Alaska. She had been stabbed, shot and sexually assaulted. Sophie was a former student at the university and was simply visiting a friend for the weekend. She left her friend’s dorm room at around 9pm to smoke a cigarette and was never seen alive again.

The next day, janitors discovered her bruised and battered body. Drawing much media attention, this case was exhaustively investigated for years, but police kept coming up short. No arrests were made. And the case went cold.

A Break Comes 17 Years Later

For the next decade and a half, the case was considered cold, but every so-often the police uncovered a new lead or were provided a tip by the public. To that end, investigators got a huge break in 2010.

In 2010, the police interviewed a man named Nicholas Dazer, who was a security guard that resided in the dorm where the murder occurred. Dazer had been fired for keeping a gun in his dorm room – a .22 caliber. The bullet recovered in Sophie’s body was fired from a .22 caliber handgun.

Dazer adamantly denied ever owning such a gun. Rather, he told police that the gun belonged to his roommate, Steven Downs. And that Downs owned other guns.

Suspect is Identified

DNA taken from the crime scene was tested in the late 1990s and again in 2000. But no matches were ever found in any state or federal databases. But, in 2018, a new Alaskan State Trooper was assigned to the case, and his first order of business was to submit the DNA sample to public genealogy websites. And voila! They had a familial match.

A relative of the suspect was found – it was the killer’s aunt who led police to his door. It turns out that the killer was none other than Steven Downs, the alleged owner of a .22 caliber gun.

Who is Steven Downs

Sophie’s killer had been born on the other side of the country in Maine but had attended the University of Alaska from 1992-1996. The murder took place in 1993.

Since Downs had never been arrested, his DNA was not accessible through standard law enforcement databases. Investigators uncovered that Downs had been living in Maine for most of his adult life and had been working as a registered nurse.

Alaska and Maine police worked together in securing a fresh DNA sample from the suspect. It was a perfect match. Downs was arrested on February 15, 2019 for the murder of Sophie.

Status of His Case

After his arrest in Maine, Downs was held in jail pending extradition to Alaska. The killer, however, fought his extradition for the next several months. Denying that he was the killer, Downs argued that extradition was a violation of his rights.

Eventually, Downs realized that the evidence against him was overwhelming, so he gave up his extradition fight in May of this year. He was transferred to the Alaskan authorities. He now awaits trial for the murder of an innocent young woman.

Although the circumstances surrounding these cases are tragic, it is encouraging to see law enforcement’s seemingly endless pursuit of justice. Are you aware of any similar cases solved in your area?

***

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Drones: A Valuable Resource for Law Enforcement

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When many of us think of drones, our minds immediately think of how the military utilizes the technology for intelligence gathering and precision bombing. And, although, we are technically correct, drones have become increasingly more common in other aspects of society, including law enforcement.

As the technology becomes more commonplace, costs have dropped, which has resulted in everyday people owning and using drones. In fact, if you were recently at an event with a decent sized crowd, there was most likely a drone flying above taking aerial footage for use by the police, event coordinators or a news outlet.

While drones have done a wonderful job of enhancing our exploration of the world from above, there are of course people who use drones for sinister purposes. Just like most emerging technologies, the advancement of drones is moving quicker than the laws that regulate its usage; especially when it comes to privacy.

A BRIEF HISTORY

Drones (aka unmanned aerial vehicles) have existed for over 150 years. In fact, during the Civil War, the military on both sides of the conflict used archaic forms of drone technology. Commanders would launch balloons filled with explosives across enemy lines. The intent was to wreak havoc within the enemy’s camp without detection.

In World War II, unmanned bombers were used to deliver devastation to selected enemy targets. The plan was rather straightforward – a crew would abandon a stripped-down bomber in midair, and then surrender control to a radio being operated in a trailing aircraft.

By the 1970s, American forces were using drones to conduct reconnaissance missions, detect missiles and drop propaganda leaflets in North Vietnam. By 2002, American forces were using Predator drones in Afghanistan to kill selected targets.

And, in 2007, the use of drones trickled down from military utilization to local law enforcement. Here, police in the State of Washington used a drone to locate, and eventually capture, a man accused of sexually assaulting a child.

By 2013, sales in the United States for non-military drones was anticipated to be almost $10 billion over the next decade.

HOW DRONES ARE BEING USED

As drone technology continues to evolve, there will unquestionably be more of those little robots floating through our skies. Currently, the most popular usage of drones (outside of the military) is 3D mapping, farming, weather detection, wildlife monitoring, search and rescue, and law enforcement.

And, of course, criminals are using drones for all types of nefarious activities, such as stealing personal information from above, smuggling drugs, illicit photographs and assaults.

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LAW ENFORCEMENT AND DRONES

Since 2016, the amount of drones being used by law enforcement has doubled.  Wisconsin, California and Texas are the states that have the most public safety agencies utilizing drones.

Police are using the technology to take aerial photographs of car accident scenes, to search for missing persons and murder suspects. One area where drones are particularly helpful is during a mass shooting. Utilizing the drone’s birds-eye view, police can track the movement of every single person involved in the tragedy. This way, cops will know where to deploy appropriate personnel and resources during and after the incident.

One drawback of drones is the issue of privacy. On one hand, it is extremely helpful to have a sharp aerial view of the world. But, on the other hand, critics are quick to point out that these drones should only be used for specific reasons, as opposed to a general spying on people.

And, in that regard, most police departments wholeheartedly agree that the drones shall only be used for emergency purposes.

5 SITUATIONS WHERE DRONES ASSIST LAW ENFORCEMENT

Active Shooter

An aerial view will enable police to pinpoint the locations of the shooter, victims and escape routes. From that vantage point, law enforcement will be able to assess the scope of the situation and deploy officers accordingly.

Crime and Traffic Accident Scene Analysis

Photographing crime and accident scenes from an overhead angle greatly reduces the amount of time needed to capture the entire scene from the ground, using multiple angles. Additionally, the aerial view can capture both the scene at large, as well as smaller areas. This will enable the scene to be examined in a more precise manner using a computer as opposed to on the ground in real-time.

Surveillance

Drones will eliminate some of the headaches that go along with stakeouts. The drones can move about and surveil places where a person or fixed camera cannot. Additionally, in large open areas, it is difficult to conduct proper surveillance without being noticed. A drone, however, can conduct this type of operation with ease.

Crowd Monitoring

Large events like concerts and sporting events require a lot of manpower in order to ensure safety. But, with a drone, police can quickly assess a large area and send assistance where needed. Areas that are quiet and not a security concern can be left unmanned with just a drone overhead acting as watchful eye. This way, the areas that truly require personnel will be adequately staffed.

Bomb Inspection

Although bombs are generally diffused by ground-based robots, an aerial view of the situation enables police to assess the whole location prior to sending in people and robots. A full threat assessment can be conducted in the air, thereby eliminating the potential for loss of life and property.

Drones will continue to grow in popularity and usage. And with that, the government will assess how to maintain freedom of use while curtailing any intention of using drones for criminal activities. Laws surrounding drones are essentially in their infancy. It is going to be very interesting to see how much of future will be impacted by drones. What is your biggest concern regarding drones?

***

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Policing the Future: 7 Key Challenges Facing Law Enforcement

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Photo courtesy of pinterest.com

As the world rapidly approaches the year 2020, one thing is apparent – the future is upon us. Technology is moving at a rapid pace, the earth’s climate is shifting, and the global population continues to skyrocket.

With all of these changes, society and its institutions must adjust to the new realities. Especially when it comes to maintaining law and order in a world rife with shifting norms and rules.

Here are 7 challenges that law enforcement agencies will be forced to address in the coming years.

Civil Unrest

It’s no secret that globalization and societal unrest are at the forefront of current events. Protests and riots are commonplace throughout the world. And when police are confronted with these issues, many departments are ill prepared to handle such large-scale disturbances. Especially because many of the disturbances are orchestrated by well-equipped professional organizers

Unfortunately, many law enforcement agencies do not address training for crowd control until they are thrust into the situation. Experts recommend that officers receive training right before an event and annually. This gives them the opportunity to adjust to new riot tactics, inspect their tactical equipment and become more comfortable dealing with massive crowds.

Data Focused Law Enforcement

Since the US has a decentralized policing system (approximately 18,000 different police departments), it has been a challenge for many departments to shift to a system based upon hard data, as opposed to one built strictly upon politics, local values and tradition.

As trust in our institutions has been declining, it is imperative that police departments transition to a more transparent, evidence focused approach. Such strategy would rely less on traditional methods and instead would be based upon analyzing and assessing data provided by state-of-the-art technology and highly trained crime analysts. And in using such data effectively, our departments would begin to have a more stable, uniform approach to crime deterrence, prevention and enforcement.

Emergency Response Technology

In recent years, the emergency response systems of law enforcement agencies have come under attack. This is mainly due to the lack of available technology being deployed, resulting in fatal human errors. Well, that will become a thing of the past, as police departments roll out technologically advanced 911 systems.

These systems will include Artificial Intelligence capabilities, thereby eliminating some of the issues that arise from improperly trained people. New emergency infrastructure is being built and tested throughout the country, which will allow communication hubs to receive photos, text messages and videos from people reporting emergencies. Not only that, but social media integrated platforms will be installed in police vehicles. This advance will allow police to cast a wide net when deciphering, responding to, and investigating emergencies.

Virtual and Digital Evidence

The age of technology is upon us. And our reliance on tech will continue to expand in the coming years. Law enforcement is already preparing for the explosion of the “Internet of Things (IoT),” which is the interconnection of computing devices embedded in everyday items. IoT devices range from door locks, to watches, to eyeglasses – and, in the near future, to just about anything we use.

As IoT becomes more prevalent, police will be dealing with much more virtual and digital evidence. This, in turn, will force departments to establish new protocols for storing, substantiating the authenticity of, and preserving such evidence. This effort will be a monumental undertaking, both logistically and financially. And this massive task will expand into new territory as the digital age expands into virtually every aspect of our lives.

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Photo courtesy of latimes.com

DNA Technology

Of course, DNA analysis will continue to be at the forefront of criminal investigations. And, the technology used to perform these analyses is moving in a fascinating direction.

Examples of emerging DNA tech are methylation analysis, which detects non-visible genetic markers that are unique to a specific individual, and phenotype prediction, which can tell investigators about a suspect’s specific visible characteristics, such as dimples, shape of nose, etc.

Experts believe that in the near future, police will be able to use to DNA samples to determine a perp’s habits, addictions and personality traits. These developments will certainly assist in significantly narrowing potential suspects and aide in decreasing the chance of wrongful convictions.

Officer Trauma

Many law enforcement agencies have been slow in making progress in an effort to better assist officers who are recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The stigma associated with PTSD has begun to wane as scientific studies continue to demonstrate that many officers have suffered, and continue to suffer, from PTSD. Officers are constantly risking their lives and involved in traumatizing, high adrenaline situations. So, it’s no wonder, that a good number of law enforcement personnel experience PTSD.

Over the next decade, state and local lawmakers will work with police departments to ensure officers are offered adequate PTSD related disability pension and workers’ compensation benefits (for those unable to recover.) Such measures will ensure that these brave men and women receive the benefits that they so richly deserve.

Opioid Epidemic

One thing is apparent – our society cannot arrest its way out of the opioid epidemic that’s destroying both rural and urban communities. Fortunately, law enforcement attitudes have begun to shift, and must continue to shift, with respect to the root causes of the problem and the solutions.

Many departments are engaging in proactive, community-based programs which aim to prevent overdose deaths, improve the safety of neighborhoods and increase the trust between police and the public.

Police departments will have to implement cutting edge policies in order to deal with this very serious problem. The current system is not working, so the need for innovative approaches is desperately needed. One thing is for sure, and that is – interagency cooperation is necessary in order to prevent the epidemic from continuing to spread like wildfire from city to city, and town to town.

The world is changing at a pace never before seen. Police departments are at the battlefront of these changes, in that they must anticipate and adapt accordingly so that public safety is not compromised. Can you think of any other challenges that law enforcement will certainly face in the near future?

* * *

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PUBLICATION DAY! Little Girls Sleeping: A Detective Katie Scott Thriller #NewRelease #Crime

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Good Morning! It’s publication day–finally! I’m so very excited to announce that LITTLE GIRLS SLEEPING is now available in all formats. So grab your coffee, turn on all the lights, lock the doors, and jump into Detective Katie Scott’s investigation in Little Girls Sleeping. Think you can guess the killer? Try, I dare you.

Thank you to everyone at NetGalley and Goodreads for leaving feedback and reviews.

***

He looked down at the little girl, sleeping peacefully, her arms wrapped around a teddy bear. He knew he was the only one who could save her. He could let her sleep forever.

An eight-year-old girl, Chelsea Compton, is missing in Pine Valley, California and for Detective Katie Scott it’s a cruel reminder of the friend who disappeared from summer camp twenty years ago. Unable to shake the memories, Katie vows she won’t rest until she discovers what happened to Chelsea.

But as Katie starts to investigate, accompanied by her loyal ex-military dog, Cisco, the case reveals itself to be much bigger and more shocking than she feared. Hidden deep in the forest she unearths a makeshift cemetery: a row of graves, each with a brightly coloured teddy bear.

Katie links the graves to a stack of missing-persons cases involving young girls—finding a pattern no one else has managed to see. Someone in Pine Valley has been taking the town’s daughters for years, and Katie is the only one who can stop them.

And then another little girl goes missing, snatched from the park near her home.

Katie’s still haunted by the friend she failed to protect, and she’ll do anything to stop the killer striking again—but can she find the little girl before it’s too late?

Compulsive and gripping crime fiction for fans of Lisa Regan, Rachel Caine and Melinda Leigh. Katie Scott’s first case will have you on the edge of your seat and gasping with shock.

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What readers are saying about Little Girls Sleeping:

Believe me when I say that you are in for a thrilling read!… I could not put it away. Can highly recommend!’ Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars

Really wowed by it… I couldn’t put the book down and was trying to read as fast as I could so I could find out who the killer was. The ending took me by surprise… I was literally gasping for air.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

Wow!The hairs on my head stood up with this one!’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

A nail-biting thrillerI was gripped from page one, through each twist and turn… until I reached the climax which was shocking and totally unexpected.’ Netgalley reviewer, 5 stars

‘It was addicting, captivating and had me reading into the night.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

A chilling read with plenty of twists the whole way through! Cannot wait for the second book.Goodreads reviewer

Truly an amazing book. The storyline flowed, the characters were engaging, and I could barely tear myself away… Highly recommended!’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

I read it in one sitting and could not put it down. A real page turner. I really enjoyed her writing and the scenery just came to live. I would have no hesitation in recommending this book.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

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DNA Forensic Files: 1970s Murder Cases Solved in 2019 #ColdCases #DNA

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Photo courtesy of bernews.com.

Over the past several years, the use of DNA and genetic genealogy to solve decades-old murder cases has grown dramatically. Combining cutting-edge technology with increased access to innumerable genetic databases, investigators are able to arrest killers who have roamed free for way too long.

Although most would agree that the resolution of these cases is a positive development, there is a negative aspect for some families. And that is – the memories of the brutal murder of a loved one are once again brought to light. Despite the resurrection of horrendous feelings of loss, the victims’ families are generally grateful for justice finally being served.

Here are two cold murder cases in which the investigation never ceased, and the killer was eventually identified.

Central Coast Murders

California’s Central Coast is a quaint, picturesque region located between the bustling areas of San Francisco and Los Angeles. Dotted with peaceful towns set against the backdrop of the state’s exquisite coastal landscape, this area is known for its relaxed vibe. Unfortunately, though, even the most tranquil areas are sometimes rocked by horror.

Although these murders took place over 40 years ago, the cases were only recently solved. The first murder occurred on November 17, 1977 in the sleepy town of Atascadero. The victim was a vibrant 30-old year woman named Jane Antunez. On that day, Jane was headed to her best friend’s house. The problem is, Jane never made it to her friend’s home. And was never seen alive again.

Jane’s dead body was found in the backseat of her car, just down the road from her house. She had been sexually assaulted, and her throat had been slashed.

Sadly, while the community was still grappling with the killing of Jane, the body of 28-year old Patricia Dwyer was found less than two months later. Found in her home with stab wounds to the chest, Patricia was also a victim of sexual assault.

After some careful investigating, the police determined that the murders were linked. And there primary suspect was Arthur Rudy Martinez. The investigation revealed that he was an ex-con who was new to the area. He had done prison time for rape and attempted murder. Police believe that Martinez had discovered the women at a nearby bar, which was a popular local hang out.

Even though the police were confident that Martinez was the killer, there was no direct evidence linking him to the murders. Martinez eventually left the area, and moved to Washington, where he again committed rape and was sentenced to life in prison.

In a shocking turn of events, Martinez escaped prison and lived under an assumed name for over 20 years in Fresno, California. Then, in April 2014, Martinez turned himself in to authorities (for the prison escape). This wasn’t an act of contrition. Rather, Martinez did this because he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and was looking for state funded healthcare.

Two months later, Martinez died in prison.

While all of this was happening, local police never gave up hope on solving the murders. Using an outside detective who specialized in cold cases and had significant experience with the nation’s many DNA databases, investigators found a familial match of the DNA secured from the original crime scenes. The match was from a California convicted felon who was related to Martinez.

Eventually, police tracked down an old girlfriend of Martinez, who provided investigators with a razor left behind by Martinez. And that razor resulted in an exact DNA match. Combining evidence gathered from 40 years ago coupled with witness testimony and the DNA match, the investigators found their killer. Although he was already dead, the police and the victims’ families had some closure.

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Photo courtesy of sfgate.com.

The El Dorado Killings

Nestled in California’s immaculately beautiful Sierra-Nevada Mountains, the county of El Dorado is generally known for its hiking, skiing and relaxed atmosphere. But the area is also known for the late 1970s unsolved murders of 16-year old Carol Andersen and 27-year old Brynn Rainey.

Anxious to finally solve these murders, as well as other unresolved cases, the local district attorney’s office set up a forensic task force in 2007. The goal was to solve the 60 cold cases that were haunting the community.

Fortunately, the task force was successful in resolving some of the county’s lingering cold cases. Namely, investigators were able to identify local real estate agent Joseph Holt as the killer who took the lives of Carol and Brynn.

By way of background, the events began in July 1977 when Brynn disappeared after leaving work around 2 a.m. at a casino in Nevada – just over the state line. About a month later, her naked body was found partially buried at a local equestrian center. Due to the decomposed nature of her body, police were unable to determine the exact cause of death.

Then, almost two years later, Carol vanished on her way home from a party at a local ski resort. Several hours later, her battered body was found on the side of the road. Investigators opined that she had been bound and strangled. Both victims had been sexually assaulted.

Holt was not a suspect during the initial investigation. There was no known connection between Holt and the victims. Investigators believe these murders were random and sexually motivated.

Utilizing evidence from the original crime scenes, investigators were able to match the two unknown DNA samples from both victims’ bodies. But this breakthrough didn’t happen until 2017. At this point, the police finally were able to connect the two murders. Unfortunately, the DNA did not get a match in any criminal databases, but it did find a match on a public genealogy database.

The familial DNA match led police to three deceased brothers, one of whom was Holt. Thereafter, police were able to locate Holt’s son, who then provided investigators with an old toothbrush. After 41 years, police found their killer.

The DNA from the toothbrush was an exact match of the DNA found on both victims’ bodies. Not only did police solve these two murders, but the investigation resulted in another police department solving a 1975 shooting of a delivery man. That’s right, Holt was responsible for that violent crime as well.

Although both of the victims’ mothers passed away before this case was solved, the remaining family members are grateful that they finally have an answer to the painful question which lingered for over 40 years.

 

The bittersweet resolution of these tragic events demonstrates that the pursuit of justice is relentless. Do you know of any recently solved cold cases?

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