James Renner is an award-winning journalist, and author of True Crime Addict, the definitive book on the Maura Murray disappearance. He also hosts the podcast, The Philosophy of Crime. In 2019, he founded The Porchlight Project which raises money for new DNA testing and genetic genealogy for Ohio cold cases. In May, 2020, James Zastawnik was arrested for the murder of Barbara Blatnik, thanks to the work of genealogists funded by the Porchlight Project.
Today I published a new piece of long-form journalism, a story about false confessions and serial murder. Hopefully, Shaker Heights police will reopen these old murders so we can finally know who killed Plain Dealer executive editor Philip Porter and his wife, Dorothy. It’s possible the killer was also involved in the murder of Lisa Pruett, five years later.
JAMES ARNOS WAS ONLY NINETEEN when he found his grandfather’s dead body. It was Sunday, May 19, 1985 and James’s mother, Joly, had become concerned that she had not heard from her mother in several days. So she sent her son, James, to check in. Her mother was Dorothy Porter, a renowned artist, who lived with her husband Philip Porter in a large house in Shaker Heights, on Lee Road near Shaker Boulevard. Philip was executive editor of the Plain Dealer in the 60s. The couple were practically Cleveland royalty.
The first two Larkey mysteries are now available on Kindle Vella, Amazon’s new short-story service that works sort of like a subscription podcast, except it’s a story you read on your phone or favorite device. Here’s the teaser for the first book, Winter’s End:
Retired FBI Special Agent Phil Larkey used to investigate the Bureau’s toughest “locked room mysteries.” These days, he just wants to investigate a good book beside a warm fire. But when a young woman is crucified on the side of a barn on a remote Lake Erie island, Larkey knows he’s the only one who can track down her killer before the ice thaws.
For my fellow true crime fanatics thirsty for something more; a more introspective, varietal look at this phenomenon we call true crime, look no further. This is the podcast I didn’t know I needed. – Kristen32
People are polarized by Renner. I get it. Just listen. – SailorFamiLee
Initially, I was really intrigued by title of this podcast but was hesitant to listen to or subscribe after I discovered James Renner was at the helm. SO … here I am, years later, binge listening to one of the most well-thought-out and thoroughly researched podcasts I’ve ever listened to. – ssoozee
I could not stop listening once I started. It went from listening at work, to the car and kept going while making dinner. – G Lunn
I’m the guest on this week’s episode of the Mile Higher Podcast. It was such a treat to get to meet Kendall, Josh, and Janelle in Denver and talk about developments in the Amy Mihaljevic case, Maura Murray, and little green men! Check it out!
I was asked to pen half of a new audio short story for my friend, Pi, and her podcast, Stories from the In-Between. It’s called BLANK, and it’s a spooky little bit of absurdity set in a world where adults possess the ability to remove parts of their face. And some covet certain features they lack themselves.
The Case of the Bones in the Barn has been solved at last, and the answer leads to even more mysteries. For our second case, The Porchlight Project assisted the New London, Ohio Police Department to determine the identify of the young woman whose bones were found wrapped up in newspaper in an old barn, there. I was personally interested because the barn was located just a few doors down from a suspect in the Amy Mihaljevic case.
The Porchlight Project funded DNA testing and genetic genealogy, which led investigators to conclude that the bones belonged to one Hallie Armstrong, an eighteen-year-old schoolteacher who died in 1881.