Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mystery Authors, What Real Life Mysteries Have Touched You?

So many of us write about missing people, murders, suicides, other mysteries, but how many of us have had any real mysteries in our lives?

Years ago, when hubby and I lived in a neighborhood filled with police officers and their famiiies we often partied with, we went to a poker party at the juvenile officer's house down the street. At the time, poker parties, even those in private homes were illegal. (How anyone could enforce that law, I do not know.) Except for hubby and me (hubby was a Chief in the Navy at the time) was a police officer or officer's wives. One man who came was from a neighboring city's department.

I'm sure I didn't play cards or bet as I don't play poker--though I don't really remember. There was lots of laughing, joking, eating and drinking.

While the officer from the neighboring city was playing cards, his wife was murdered in their home. Needless to say, he was the primary suspect despite his airtight alibi with a lot of witnesses.

The next day we were all questioned as to when he'd arrived, how long he'd been there, when did he leave.

Finally, the investigation proved that the killer was an escapee from a nearby mental hospital and the murder was random. Of course I used the incident (without the poker party)in one of my earliest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novels, Bad Tidings.

We also had a suicide in the family, a cousin's husband. She was suspect for about five seconds until the investigating officers learned he recently received a cancer diagnosis.

Any of you out there have a real life mystery you lived through or touched your life?



Sunny Frazier said...

In the '80's I lived in a small apt. in Fresno. My neighbor was an Iranian man who said he had been a high-ranking officer of the Shah. Yeah, right. He said the CIA was getting ready to send him back to overthrow the Ayatollah.

60 Minutes did a piece on a man who had locked students in a movie theatre and burned the building. They showed my apt. complex. I went out to the mailbox and yes, it was my neighbor. He'd left town the night before the news hit and students were swarming the complex looking for him.

I was a newspaper reporter, I called my TV friends and gave an interview. I knew where he told me he was going, but I didn't give out that info. Then I spent several nights at a friend's apartment.

Yes, I lived next door to a mass murderer. But he was nice to my cat.

Kathleen A. Ryan said...

Such an interesting post, Marilyn. What a sad story about the officer's wife. It's strange to find yourself so close to a real-life investigation like that, and you all became witnesses.

Sunny's story is wild, too! You just never know! In hindsight, you begin to realize how close you might have come to real danger.

As a former police officer, I've had several connections to mysteries. On patrol, I interviewed a garbage carter about one of his trucks being tampered with (he was being pressured by other garbage carters that didn't want him cutting into their business). He and his business partner were shot down about a week later at their place of business.

Before I joined the police academy, I was an eyewitness to a grand larceny. The detective took me to HQ, where I met with the forensic artist, looked at mug shots, gave a statement, etc. It was an interesting introduction to my job before I even joined!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Sunny and Kathleen what fascinating stories. I suspect most of us would rather not be involved with any real life mysteries no matter how much we like to write about them.


Jean Henry Mead said...

My husband's 19-year-old niece was murdered some years ago and we suspected that it had been Ted Bundy because she had long brown hair, a cherub face, and had been strangled and dumped in the North Platte River. She left behind a baby daughter. It was especially tragic for us because she had come to live with us when her mother died while she was still in elementary school. No one was every arrested for her murder.

Kathleen A. Ryan said...

I have to jump back in after reading Jean's comment...I am so sorry for your loss. How tragic, in so many ways. I'm sorry that no one was ever arrested for her murder. I bet you're right, it might very well have been Bundy. I can't begin to imagine the heartache your family has endured ~ you have my deepest sympathy.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Oh, Jean, what a sad story. So easy to write about such stuff, so horrifying to live through it.

My heart goes out to you.