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 coroners report, any eyewitness, or person’s 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 person’s 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.
Blurb for The Crime of the
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.
October 4, 1982, started out as an
ordinary autumn evening, for this mined-out Appalachian region in southeastern
Ohio. The sticky summer was gone. The ground was blanketed with gold and red
leaves, and the last full moon before All Hallows’ Eve, was complete. A cosmic
cycle said to stir passions in some, anger and rage in others.
was just around the corner. Homes were elaborately decorated with Paper-Mache
witches and goblins, as carved pumpkins of all sizes sat on porches and in
yards, made even creepier with lit candles.
Yes, it would have been an average
evening, if not for two unnerving events. First, the arrival of the notorious
motorcycle gang, The Devil's Disciples. The group frequented The Home Tavern, a
sordid bar on the corner of Gallagher and Motherwell. According to police
reports, having a thirst for alcohol, the bikers and their sweaty, leather-clad
women produced numerous problems while in town. Calls from residents,
concerning fistfights and disorderly conduct, flooded the police station.
Locals reported spotting some members of the gang roaming the streets as the
reports of vandalism kept the police busy.
Originally the Depot Hotel, The Home
Tavern, sat directly across the street from a twenty-five acre “infamous”
cornfield. A common place for knife-fights, pot parties, and hanky panky from
all ages. Running through the cornfield was the murky and meandering Hocking
The second incident, involved sex,
lies, lust, and murder as gunfire emanated from the opposite end of the
cornfield. The sounds of shots echoing from the nearby cornfield was such a
common sound that it caused them little concern.
What shortly followed was a frantic search for two
missing sweethearts, 19-year-old Shane Shoemaker, and 18-year-old Babette
Lloyd. Chief White immediately posted an announcement in that day’s newspaper,
stating the “public was invited” Lt. Phillipes was put in charge of that search
The meeting sight was the old Kroger building on Round
Street, near the home of Shane Shoemaker. At 4 pm., despite being a chilly and
windy day, sixty to seventy people showed up for the search. Among the crowd,
were Babette’s mother and stepfather, Nancy and Richard Lloyd, the local news
team, deputy sheriffs, city police, and officers from the Masonville Vocational
Jones was also present. He now represented the Shoemaker family, who were out
of town. He used this time to tighten the noose around the stepfather’s neck.
What took place within a few hours became
legendary for the close nit community.
At 5:45 pm., Chief White used his walkie-talkie, to radio
Lt. Phillipes, who stayed at the command post with Richard and Nancy. Only a
few short words were needed.
found something, but we don’t know what it is,” said the chief.
What searchers found . . . was unthinkable.
Just 150 yards north of the railroad trestle spanning the
Bottle Neck River, Sheriff Reynolds and one of his deputies reported “something
entangled in debris,” near their small boat.
The officers initially said they believed the object was
an animal carcass. Once it was dislodged and floated down
stream, they realized it was human. Both torsos
were reportedly snagged against brush along the riverbank. Both torsos were
nude and so badly decomposed, officers said they were unable to determine their
The remains were pulled to shore and coroner Rausch was
summoned to the riverbank. Many searchers, upon leaving the crime scene, were
overheard by reporters asking one another “Are the authorities looking for one
killer or two?”
After his initial examination of the bodies, the coroner
said he was unable to rule on the cause of death. What he did say, was that if
one man committed both murders, it was “during a great rage” and by someone
with something “very personal” against one, or both, of the victims.
The discovery of the bodies shocked and silenced the
group of volunteers. Some remained silent, while others were seen conversing in
hushed tones, telling reporters they “expected the search to turn up nothing.”
When officers carried a body bag from the river, Lt.
Phillipes approached Nancy and Richard, who he described as “the quiet couple.”
He claimed Richard calmly asked, “Is it them?”
Lt. Phillipes reluctantly admitted it was two
individuals. He claimed Richard then asked, “Are they all chopped up?”
Phillipes said he was shocked by that comment. He claimed
when he asked Richard why he would ask such a thing, he said Richard claimed to
be psychic. Phillipes said he was taken back by the man’s “strange statements
and unemotional attitude” of the discovery of two murder victims. He said
Richard then suggested officers should search the adjoining cornfield.
Note: All names have been
changed to protect the innocent and guilty.
Website: Books and Paintings
Other books by JoAnne:
Murder Most Foul-a
Poems About Life, Love, and
Everything in Between
Loves, Myths, and Monsters- a
fantasy anthology available April 24
Twisted Love-a biography true
crime anthology available in May
detective/mystery novella anthology