A Liar, a Murderer and Events that Give Us Pause

Janet Cooke and David Gore

Sometimes events in your life give you pause.  Last week marked two such events for me.  One was from the past and the other was current.

First, the past.

I was hired in 1980 by legendary journalist Bob Woodward at The Washington Post to work on what was unofficially called “The Holy SH*T” squad. We were a young, eager team of reporters who were supposed to write stories that made our readers exclaim “HOLY SH*T” when they picked up their morning newspaper.

It was a great time to work at The Post because the newsroom was run by Ben Bradlee, one of the finest editors in history and a wonderful boss. I also made two life long friends while assigned to the squad:  Mike Sager and Walt Harrington. Walt had an influential career at the Post before leaving to write several critically acclaimed books and become a professor and dean at the University of Illinois. Mike works today as one of the nation’s top magazine reporters on staff at ESQUIRE and also has authored several highly reviewed books. Both are skilled writers.

Mike and I were reporters on the squad, Walt was an editor, but the most infamous reporter was Janet Cooke, a beautiful, talented and determined writer who wanted desperately to get promoted to either the national or foreign staffs, which were considered the ultimate jobs at the paper.  Some of you might remember what happened next.

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Russ Lemmon: Hero For Victims’ Families

(Click  on picture above to see video)

Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers columnist Russ Lemmon wasn’t looking for a crusade to lead two years ago when he happened upon a memorial notice in the newspaper placed by a grieving mother named Jeanne Elliott.

But when he telephoned her to ask about the tribute in honor of her deceased daughter, the veteran writer not only found a compelling story, but also a cause to champion.

Carl Elliott Jr., and Jeanne Elliott told Lemmon that their 17 year old daughter, Lynn, had been abducted, raped and murdered by Florida Serial Killer David Gore.  She was one of his six victims, all of whom suffered horrible deaths. Only one brave girl, who was only 14 years old at the time,  survived after he abducted her.

Lemmon began tracking down other family members. He listened to their stories and, more importantly, he began writing a series of columns about them. He became especially close to the Elliotts. 

Gore had been sentenced to death nearly thirty years ago, but no one seemed to care.

Why? Lemmon asked. 

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Before You Quit Your Day Job


Things authors hear:

“I just bought a copy of your book, so you should be getting a little something extra in your paycheck this month!”
“I can’t wait for our library to get your book so I can read it.”
“Is writing books all you do?”
“I’ve got a great idea. You can write it and we can split the money.”
“People tell me all the time that I should write a book about my life.”

A poll recently showed that more than 80 percent of Americans believe their life story is worth a book and more than 60 percent believe they could write a book.
The most common question I get is, “How much money do you make?” Apparently, etiquette doesn’t apply when it comes to authors.

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Outraged By The Serial Killer Whisperer, Governor Puts Murderer on Fast Track

A few weeks ago, Florida Governor Rick Scott had never heard of death row inmate, David Gore.

But Scott has heard about little else from the outraged residents of Vero Beach since the publication of my new book, The Serial Killer Whisperer.  In it, Gore openly boasts about how he abducted, raped, tortured and murdered two women and four teenage girls in the 1980s in that scenic beach community.

On Friday, Gov. Scott put Gore on a fast track to be executed.  Clearly, he now knows the serial killer’s name.

Gore could be put to death as early as March 1st.

I certainly didn’t write my book to get Gore executed. But Gore’s letters, which are printed verbatim in the book, clearly set off an emotional firestorm.

“[I] had absolutely NO mercy. You said you read on the computer where it said one victim was fed to the alligators. That was true….” Gore bragged in one letter to his Las Vegas pen pal, Tony Ciaglia.

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Dive Into the Minds of Monsters with The Serial Killer Whisperer Website

The Serial Killer Whisperer Website - SerialKillerWhisperer.net Screenshot

Have you ever thought what you would say to a murderer? What do you talk about knowing they have taken the life of someone else? Where do you even start?

For Tony Ciaglia, it was obvious: you talk about their crimes, their motivations, and their remorse (or lack of it) for the horrifying acts they’ve committed. After suffering a traumatic brain injury from a WaveRunner accident, Ciaglia found himself fascinated with serial killers and began writing to them.

The story of Ciaglia’s correspondence forms the crux of my dad’s newest book, The Serial Killer Whisperer, just recently released last week.

And now I’m excited to announce a new webpage all about the book where you can read an excerpt, reviews, and even pick up your own copy.

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Day Begins With Glowing Reviews!

My new non-fiction book, The Serial Killer Whisperer, is being published today, which means that after months of waiting and hard work, the book will go on sale and be judged by professional critics and readers.

I was thrilled that my morning began with two strong endorsements.

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