I'm a Tennessee-based freelance writer with a passion for true crime, a thirst for knowledge, and an obsession with lists.
1. I’ll Take Care Of You by Caitin Rother
“Wealthy Men Only” is what the title of 25 year old Nanette Johnston‘s personals ad read and it caught the attention of multi-millionaire divorcee Bill McLaughlin, 54.
To friends and family, Bill and Nanette seemed happy. Bill lavished Nanette with vacations and gifts, including a “companion’s ring” as he hadn’t really decided whether he was wanted to marry again. And, according to a couple of people, Bill had said he was considering having his vasectomy reversed because Nanette wanted another baby.
But Bill didn’t know Nanette had a secret life. Nanette frequently flirted and accepted dates from men she met at the gym. Although she told the men about Bill, she declared him to be nothing more than a business partner who was allowing her and her children to stay at his home following her divorce from her first husband.
One of those men was Eric Naposki, a former professional football player. He and Nanette hit it off and soon became a couple who regularly traveled together, even meeting one another’s family and friends. All on Bill’s dime, of course.
Eric and Nanette had champagne dreams on a beer budget and they both knew Bill’s money was the only way to achieve those goals and he wasn’t likely to support any of them once he realized Nanette had a side dish. But if Bill died, Nanette explained to Eric, there were provisions he had made to provide for Nanette and it would surely be just what the couple needed to live their dream life.
Yet what this duo didn’t count on was the determination Bill’s violent death would bring out in his family and friends as they sought to bring his gold-digger girlfriend and her lying boyfriend to justice.
In I’ll Take Care of You by Caitlin Rother, readers will find an intensely detailed story about a woman who preyed on wealthy men, couldn’t tell the truth if her life depended on it, and wasn’t above using anyone to get what she wanted who teams up with a pathological liar who likes the good life she’s willing to provide.
I have always enjoyed Caitlin Rother’s books but I have to say this is the best one by far. There is just so much juicy information in I’ll Take Care of You from the beginning to the end. While there is a great focus on the investigation, it’s so seamlessly blended with the the story that you never experience a dull moment. And the same applies in the relatively short but still intricately told trial portion.
2. Poisoned Love by Caitlin Rother
Kristin Rossum was no different as a grown woman than she was as a child. She was never taught there was or ever mentally matured enough to realize there are consequences for your actions.
Regardless of her personality flaws, Kristin attracted the attention of a handsome young man, Greg de Villers, who eventually became her husband. The young couple begin a journey into a lifetime of happiness and wealth with Greg working as a top executive and Kristen employed as a toxicologist.
But as can be expected of someone like Kristin, soon it wasn’t enough and she was seeking more in the form of Meth and an extramarital affair with her Australian-born boss, Michael Robertson.
When Greg learned of his wife’s extracurricular activities, he confronted her and presented an ultimatum: end it or he would expose the affair and her drug use. If Greg did this, Kristin would be out of a job and undoubtedly blacklisted from working any jobs in this career field again.
Most people would either divorce their spouse or meet the ultimatum, but not Kristin. Being the dramatic brat she was, she staged a scene straight out of her favorite movie, American Beauty, complete with scattered rose petals, and then injected Greg with a large amount of the paralyzing and respiratory suppressing drug Fentanyl. Then she called 911 and claimed her husband had committed suicide.
It didn’t take investigators long, however, to learn of Kristin’s affair and drug use and couple with the financial gain she stood to make with Greg’s death, investigators quickly came to believe this wasn’t suicide. No, this was a homicide.
In an ironic twist, toxicology would prove them right.
Caitlin Rother did a superb job telling the story of a spoiled little rich girl and the murderous end of her marriage in her debut true crime of 2005, Poisoned Love. In 2011, this genre classic is being re-released with updates that’s sure to send this book back to the top of the charts.
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Readers will find extreme in-depth background coverage on the major players in this twisted tale of drug abuse, adultery and murder; from Kristin and Gregg, to the elder Rossums and the de Villers family. The well written and very organized story telling of Rother makes Poisoned Love a book you just can’t put down. And the updates give you the latest in a case that has continued to twist and turn even after the spectacular trial.
This is true crime writing at its finest. Whether you’ve read the 2005 version or not, you going to want to pick up the 2011 re-release of the book on this highly publicized California criminal case that’s been the subject of high rated episodes of Snapped and Deadly Women – but you’ll get 100x more from Poisoned Love than you get in a hour long television show, making it a must read.
3. The Officer’s Wife: A True Story of Unspeakable Betrayal and Cold-Blooded Murder by Michael Fleeman
Michelle Forcier grew up an Army brat, so it’s no surprise she was attracted to Frank Martin “Marty” Theer, a young man with his sights set on a military career. The high school sweethearts would marry a couple of years after graduation.
Despite growing up in a military household, Michelle couldn’t handle the loneliness that befalls many wives of the enlisted. When the couple was transferred to Fort Bragg on the outskirts of Fayetteville, North Carolina, Michelle did something drastic to fill the void: she began visiting internet chat rooms, when she wasn’t working at her office as a Psychologist.
It was during one of those marathon chat sessions that she met John Mickael Diamond, an Army Staff Sergeant also stationed at Fort Bragg and the two began a steamy affair; even participating in swinger parties as a couple.
As so it went until one night when Marty was home for a change and the couple had gone to dinner together, Michelle requested that Marty stop by her office so she could pick up a few items she had forgotten to bring home. As Marty waited for his wife’s return, he was suddenly gunned down.
Air Force Captain Marty Theer would never make his scheduled 4 a.m. flight.
Author Michael Fleeman writes a thorough account of the Marty Theer slaying, planned by his wife and executed by her lover, in his 2006 true crime book The Officer’s Wife. From Michelle’s marital manipulations or to plastic surgery as a fugitive, Fleeman exposes it all.
4. Bitch on Wheels: The Sharon Nelson Double Murder Case by Gregg Olsen
The woman who became Sharon Lynn Fuller Douglas Nelson Harrelson grew up in a conservative and very religious household. So much so that the wild side of Sharon felt smothered. She had to get out. And for a young girl in that era, the only way out was by marriage.
But Sharon didn’t just get married. She married and remarried. And she didn’t marry her husbands for love, but as a means to end. A means of having all the finer things in life. A way to entertain herself when things got boring. And as a reminder that she was beautiful, sexy, and desirable. Wanted.
There was at least one man though did have a place in Sharon’s heart. Gary Starr Adams couldn’t afford Sharon’s love, but it’s the one man to whom she gave it freely. There was just something about this grizzly, mountain man-like man that Sharon was returning to over and over.
Maybe his willingness to kill for her was the motivator. When Sharon had financially used up a man, Gary came swooping in her set her free by making her a widow. To a wicked woman like Sharon, it must have been proof of true love.
While Gary was the closest to true love Sharon would ever come, in the end it wasn’t enough. Nope, when all the cards were on the table, Sharon rolled over on her lover – and I don’t mean in the bedroom!
When all was said and done, it was all about Sharon; saving Sharon from a life behind bars.
Fortunately for society (and untold scores of men), cops were able to see right through Sharon’s little playacting.
Gregg Olsen exposes Sharon for the sex-manipulating, beauty queen wanna be she is (was) in his 1998 true crime Bitch on Wheels. Not some just redundant reporting of a true crime, this is a story which is unmatched by any other or some hour long television show.
From the first page, the rich detail brings the characters to life and the scenes so well described you’ll feel like you’re right there, living it. You won’t want it to end but when it does, there won’t be an aspect of Sharon’s life that hasn’t been revealed. It’s some of the best research you’ll ever see in true crime.
5. What She Always Wanted: A True Story of Marriage, Greed, and Murder by Camille Kimball
Jay Orbin was a good man. Loved by family, friends, customers, colleagues, he was not someone who could go missing for long without stirring up questions.
When suddenly in September 2004 Jay wasn’t making his usual meetings with his clients, the alarms were sounded. While everyone, including Jay’s brother and parents, were disturbed by the unanswered calls to Jay’s cell phone, his wife, Marjorie Orbin, was strangely dismissive of the uncharacteristic behavior.
In October 2004, a tub bearing a man’s torso was found in the desert. It didn’t take investigators long to learn the corpse’s identity: Jay Orbin.
Through her own unbelievable actions and words, Phoenix housewife Marjorie Orbin would be charged with the first degree murder of her husband.
Would a jury believe that she was framed by her lover who killed Jay out of jealousy? Would the case against Marjorie crumble amid the criminal wrongdoings of a lead detective?
Emmy-winning investigative reporter turned true crime writer Camille Kimball outlines the case of State of Arizona vs. Marjorie Orbin in her new book What She Always Wanted: A True Story of Marriage, Greed, and Murder.
Some of you may recall the 48 Hours Mystery episode that aired in November 2009 about this case. If, put it out of your mind because this book isn’t slanted in Marjorie’s favor – no matter how much she tried to convince Kimball otherwise during personal interviews.
I found these 289 pages to be a fast-paced, very emotion-provoking read that was well-written (not copied from a Court transcript); providing the best details without becoming bogged down in the boring “stuff.”
© 2016 Kim Bryan