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

In the beginning…

In the beginning…

I’ve asked myself a thousand times how a simple newspaper article of fewer than one-hundred words had started my heart racing, fired my...

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Rocks and Sand

Rocks and Sand

August 31, 1984. I wrote about this trip to the Miller/Campbell crime scene in the first chapter of my book. But now that I have a blog, I...

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The Peanut Wars

The Peanut Wars

About halfway through my collaboration, lunchtime had become an uneasy truce. Most of my adult life, I never paid much attention to eating...

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The Great Frog Launch

The Great Frog Launch

August 31, 1984. I’ve never been a big fan of birthday parties, birthday cake, birthday bottles of perfume, and a day that celebrates...

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Peanut-Butter & Jelly Kid

Peanut-Butter & Jelly Kid

A few months ago, our writing group leader asked, "How many of you can pinpoint the moment you realized you had to tell your story?" One...

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Hat Squad

Hat Squad

Camarillo, California. Summer,1990. John St. John and I had been working on a chapter for way too long. I suggested we have an iced tea...

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A Writer’s Responsibility

A Writer’s Responsibility

August 22, 2020. My husband, Jim, and I are in the middle of a move. Any of you who have gone through a Bekins experience know the drill....

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