People ask why I write about cold cases. The last few weeks brought the issue to the forefront and I thought I’d share.
In the last few weeks I have had two tips come in on two different serial murder cases I have written about. I get tips at least monthly, if not more often. They seem to come in batches, which begs some sort of scientific study. When I get tips I pass them onto the authorities. I do this because I’m not one of the Scooby Doo Gang out solving mysteries. The crimes get solved and go to trial when the authorities do their job and investigate.
I don’t share names or even what the tips are with the public so please, don’t ask. Again, that’s for the investigators to do. You have to remember that with some of these tips, people feel their lives might be in danger. They may be right, it is difficult to say. While most of the cases my daughter and I write about are old, that doesn’t mean that the killer(s) want it resolved. I protect my sources, but at the same time, if you call me, I will pass on the info to the police.
One tip, I finally heard from, was a dead end. It is pretty rare that the authorities tell me if it is a good tip or a dud. It was very nice that they followed up with me. I think for the person that reached out to me, and her family, it was welcome news.
The other person with a tip not only contacted me but the authorities and it sounded promising…very promising. Time will tell.
Someone asked if I ever felt I was putting my life at risk. The short answer is yes. I am sure that most murderers don’t want attention drawn to their cases…and that’s what we do as writers. My daughter/co-author and I do take photos of the crowds at our speaking events because there’s a chance that the killer is sitting in the audience. I’ve even shared some with law enforcement, because you never know… I have had one person we outted as a suspect show up at a book signing once, though he didn’t have the nerve to come up to us and confront us. I recently had someone threaten me over the phone.
Remember though, we tend to write about crimes from the 1960’s-1980’s. That means that a 25+ year old killer then would be in his 60’s now. So while there are times I am reminded that I could be in danger, I am picturing someone trying to chase me down driving a Rascal or with a walker.
There have been times when cars have parked in front of our house for hours at a time, only to speed off when I approach them. There have also been some plain white-panel vans with government plates that have parked out there…so I presume the good guys are nearby.
People that cover true crime; authors, podcasters, bloggers, reporters, we all take a calculated risk when we start poking into cases. It’s not glamorous by a long shot. Still, we do it because we can help the authorities with new tips and leads that might lead to a conviction.