Archive for November, 2008
I’m going to leave this up through a day of left-overs. We are having a meeting this afternoon with the folks from Just Write Sites, our site buider and host, about the site upgrades and the online police academy classes. We’ll keep you posted with the details as they become available.
We’ll be back on our regular schedule Monday morning. I hope everyone has enjoyed a wonderful holiday weekend.
We’re working out the details for the online classes and should have schedules ready soon.
Karen E. Olson is the author of the Annie Seymour mysteries. The fourth in the series, SHOT GIRL, is available now. She is also working on a new series with a tattoo shop owner in Las Vegas. THE MISSING INK will be out in July. She was a longtime print journalist and now edits a medical journal part time at Yale. She lives in the suburbs of New Haven,Connecticut, with her husband, daughter, and two cats.
I was never a police reporter like my protagonist Annie Seymour. But I did deal with cops on a regular basis in a couple of the towns I covered, when I went to the station to check the daily log. Lots of mailbox vandalism, a few break-ins, some obscene phone calls. Two adjacent towns I covered didn’t have a local police force. They relied on the state police, which had a barracks about half an hour away and a couple of resident state troopers who spent a lot of time driving around farmland.
I covered two murders in my six years as a reporter. Neither of them was a mystery.
The first was the most interesting in that it was a love triangle. An airline pilot was dating a woman with a rather jealous ex. He’d even called the cops to say the guy was stalking him. The cops told him to get a gun. So he did. Unfortunately, one night at a local watering hole, the ex confronted the pilot in the parking lot and threatened him with a broken beer bottle. The pilot took his gun out of his car and shot the guy. Then called the cops and waited for them to show up. Although there was a trial, he got off on self defense. I can’t remember what the woman looked like, except she was blonde. Of course.
The second murder was in one of the towns without a police force. A kid shot his father over a pack of cigarettes. Yeah, over cigarettes. They took the kid away and he ended up in juvenile court. Which meant no story for me because those records are sealed.
Probably the most interesting murder, however, in my whole career wasn’t one that I covered but one that I edited. I was on the night copy desk, and one of our sources called to say a girl had been stabbed and left in the street in New Haven. We sent the police reporter out, and he came back with the story of a dead Yale student. We didn’t have the whole story for days, and it finally turned out that she’d been a graduate student and the only suspect in the case was her thesis adviser, a professor. Suzanne Jovin’s story was fodder for a Law and Order episode, and a huge expose in the New York Times Magazine. But the professor was never charged because there was no physical evidence, and her murder today remains unsolved.
The Jovin case was not the basis for my first book SACRED COWS, but it influenced it. Around the same time, there was a story about a prostitute who’d been found dead in the middle of York Street after falling from a high-rise balcony. The guy who owned the apartment from where she fell was a then-state representative who’s now dead. The paper covered the story, but only half-heartedly, and then the story disappeared. I wondered if she’d been a Yale student, too, if the story would’ve been pursued a lot more vigorously, like Suzanne Jovin’s.
I like giving Annie bigger stories to cover than I did (one of my front page stories at the Bristol Press in Bristol, CT, was about the first traffic light being installed in Burlington, and my very first newspaper story was an interview with the Deep River dog warden). I’m living vicariously through her, because in her world, the murders are always over something bigger than cigarettes and the murderers don’t wait for the cops to arrive.
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This blog post was supposed to be online a few days ago, but I was quite ill and just couldn’t hold up my end of the bargain. I’m sorry it’s so late, Karen.
Please, please, please go out and buy Karen’s new book. She’s a wonderful writer!
We here at The Graveyard Shift have been toying with the idea of teaching an online course in Police Procedure and Crime Scene Investigation. I’m curious if there’d be any interest before I start this massive ball rolling. Some of the classes that could be available are:
Interview and Interrogation
How To Think Like A Detective
Police: What They Do and Why
DNA: From Collection Through Testing: It’s Not A Perfect Science
Weapons Retention and Disarming
Undercover Investigations: What’s It’s Like To Live Under An Assumed Identity
Crime Scene Investigations
Autopsy and Embalming
Defensive Tactics For Writers
I’m also going to be teaching a Writers Police Academy at the gym in my house beginning in January. Anyone in the New England area who’s interested in attending please contact me. I need a virtual show of hands. We’ll be holding an open house in the near future (complete with refreshments) where I’ll be discussing the available classes. I’ll also be giving a presentation that’s an overview of the course. This will be a one of a kind course, not the usual writers conference class. I’ll also be offering hands-on classes in subjects such as, crime scene fingerprinting, evidence collection and preservation, and arrest techniques.
I’m anxious to hear your thoughts, suggestions, and ideas.
Older Woman: Is there a problem, Officer?
Officer: Ma’am, you were speeding.
Older Woman: Oh, I see.
Officer: Can I see your license please?
Older Woman: I’d give it to you but I don’t have one.
Officer: Don’t have one?
Older Woman: Lost it, 4 years ago for drunk driving.
Officer: I see. Can I see your vehicle registration papers, please.
Older Woman: I can’t do that.
Officer: Why not?
Older Woman: I stole this car
Officer: Stole it?
Older Woman: Yes, and I killed and hacked up the owner.
Officer: You what?
Older Woman: His body parts are in plastic bags in the trunk if you want to see
The Officer looks at the woman and slowly backs away to his car and calls for back up. Within minutes 5 police cars circle the car. A senior officer slowly approaches the car, clasping his half-drawn gun.
Officer 2: Ma’am, could you step out of your vehicle please! The woman steps out of her vehicle.
Older woman: Is there a problem sir?
Officer 2: One of my officers told me that you have stolen this car and murdered the owner.
Older Woman: Murdered the owner?
Officer 2: Yes, could you please open the trunk of your car, please.
The woman opens the trunk, revealing nothing but an empty space.
Officer 2: Is this your car, ma’am?
Older Woman: Yes, here are the registration papers.
The officer is quite stunned.
Officer 2: One of my officers claims that you do not have a driving license.
The woman digs into her handbag and pulls out a clutch purse and hands it to the officer.
The officer examines the license. He looks quite puzzled.
Officer 2: Thank you ma’am. I’m sorry, but one of my officers told me you didn’t have a license, that you stole this car, and that you murdered and hacked up the owner.
Older Woman: Bet the liar told you I was speeding, too!!!!
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* Thanks to my good friend, Bill, for sharing this bit of humor. Bill was my neighbor when we lived in the Seattle area. He’s one of the truly good guys in this world.