Jane Howatt

True Crime Writer

My life as a housewife and mother was ready for a change. The boys were eight and ten, and my husband was devoted to his career as a physician. The time had come for me to follow my dream and write.

The journey took an unexpected turn one morning when I read a newspaper article about how Detective John “Jigsaw” St. John had just won a medal for solving a major murder case. Here was the story I wanted to write. After several phone calls, he finally agreed to meet me.

For the next thirteen years, he led me into a world I imagined existed only in crime novels: dingy motels, scary crime scenes, startling autopsies, and maximum-security prisons. Along the way, I grew to know and be fascinated by not just murder business, but a man whose compassion for victims, passion for justice, and unmatched sleuthing ability earned him the LAPD’s Badge Number One.

The Cop & Me

Detective John St. John was a nationally recognized serial murder expert. He not only solved over one-thousand murders but also worked on twelve serial murders, including the Trash Bag Murders, the Freeway Killer, the Elderly Women murders, and was one of the original detectives on the Black Dahlia case. When we met, I was a neophyte writer, a woman half his age who’d never seen a dead body. Slowly, as I earned his trust, he led me into Dante’s Inferno, where I learned much more about life than death. Both of us were forever changed.

The Killers & Their Victims

They were young adults with their lives still ahead of them. Steven was sixteen, Tracey was fifteen, and Shari was twenty-one. John took me to each of their crime scenes, introduced me to mothers whose stories I chronicled, and the District Attorneys who prosecuted the Bill Bonin and Bill Bradford cases.

Blog

Best Man in a Bow Tie

Best Man in a Bow Tie

The detective who worked with John on the Bradford case – a hard-working, diligent, bachelor –finally found the girl of his dreams,...

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Jigsaw Takes Jane to the Bradford Crime Scene

Jigsaw Takes Jane to the Bradford Crime Scene

I’d been editing and re-editing, filling up wastebasket after wastebasket trying to write just the right words to describe the Mojave Desert crime scene where Bill Bradford murdered Tracey Campbell and Shari Miller.

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Jigsaw Takes Jane to the Miranda Crime Scene

Jigsaw Takes Jane to the Miranda Crime Scene

Camarillo, California. 1982. Detective St. John and I sat across the kitchen table from each other– a glass of iced tea for him and coffee for me – and the LAPD Homicide Manual off to the side. The plan was, for him to give me a tutorial on crime scene investigation techniques before taking me to the Miranda crime scene in downtown Los Angeles he supervised during the Freeway Killer investigation in 1982.

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Grandma Kay and Momdog Tour the Hermitage Museum 

Grandma Kay and Momdog Tour the Hermitage Museum 

Today was the day we’d come to Russia for – to visit the Hermitage Museum and the seventy-four paintings (a major trove of French Impressionist paintings from a German collection) stolen from the Red Army and been hidden for fifty years in the Hermitage. This exhibit was opened to the public for the first time on March 30, 1995 and titled “Hidden Treasures Revealed”.

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Momdog and Grandma Kay meet Veronica and Igor

Momdog and Grandma Kay meet Veronica and Igor

The gloomy, grey sky seemed to follow my laborious trek to the stalled baggage claim carousal. Grandma Kay – always the efficient traveler who once hailed a New York cab driver with the flourish and theatrics of an opera diva – told me to wait by the carousal while she flagged a taxi. I tried not to think about the sunny skies of California, my husband who I was already missing, our three dogs and the cozy office I’d left behind.

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