Category Archives: Uncategorized

Shaker Heights Police Are Open to Taking Another Look at Local Murders

I’m happy to report that this week I met Shaker Heights police detectives to talk about a potential link between the unsolved murder of Lisa Pruett and the 1985 double-homicides of Philip and Dorothy Porter (the subject of my book, Little, Crazy Children.) The meeting went well and they are at least cracking open the old files for another look. Fingers crossed!

David Nethers interviewed me about the progress on Fox 8.

New Season of The Philosophy of Crime!

Philosophy of Crime

The Philosophy of Crime podcast is back for Season 6 everywhere you get your podcasts. Here are the release dates:

Episode 1 (October 10): Does Diplomatic Immunity Get You Off?

Episode 2 (October 12): Why Is Bail the Worst Idea Ever?

Episode 3 (October 17): Pyschopaths and the Bicameral Mind

Episode 4 (October 19): Why Do People Confess to Crimes They Didn’t Commit?

Episode 5 (October 24): Why Are Drugs Illegal?

Episode 6 (October 26): The Boogeyman Effect

Worth the Re-read: My final Scene story.

This was my last story for Scene as a staff reporter. I’m sharing it now, as Coughlin considers a run for Ohio’s 13th Congressional District, currently held by a Democrat.


After 12 years in the legislature, Kevin Coughlin faces a criminal probe and allegations of extra-marital affairs.

By James Renner


Another accusation, not involving allegations of criminal behavior but potentially more damaging to his reputation, involves an extramarital affair. Sources say that during the summer of 2004, perhaps longer, he carried on a relationship with a younger woman. At the time she was a 24-year-old employee of the University of Akron, an attractive brunette who had worked on Coughlin’s campaign for State Senate. He was the 34-year-old, married, handsome rising star of the Summit County GOP — smart and ambitious, but also prone to blowing off campaign appointments to spend time with his girlfriend.

Read the entire article here.

Upcoming Appearances – Fall/Winter

Come see me this fall!

September 2 – Bouchercon, San Diego!

September 11 – Rodman, Ohio Public Library 6:30 p.m.

September 21 – Music Box Supper Club, Cleveland, Ohio: Doors at 5, Presentation at 7 p.m.

September 27 – Willoughby-Eastlake, Ohio Public Library 7 p.m.

October 11 – Mogadore, Ohio Library 6 p.m.

October 17 – Castle Shannon, PA Public Library

November 4 – Wooster, Ohio: Buckeye Book Fair

November 5 – Akron, Ohio Comic Con 1 p.m.

November 6 – Mentor, Ohio Public Library – 6:30 p.m.

November 18 – Cincinnati, Ohio: Books by the Banks

Upcoming Appearances, Spring/Summer 2023

I’m touring the U.S. this year and probably stopping somewhere near you! So, come out and get a signed book and say hello!

May 20: True Crime Fest Northwest Arkansas

June 10: Dallas Public Library, True Crime MiniCon

July 2: Shaker Heights – Loganberry Books, Book Launch for Little, Crazy Children 1 p.m.

July 3: Beachwood, Ohio Library 7 p.m.

July 8: Author Alley, Loganberry Books 12 noon.

July 15&16: Columbus Book Festival

July 17: Riverstone Books, Pittsburgh, PA 7 p.m.

July 18: Bookery, Manchester, NH 5 p.m.

July 19: Barnes & Noble, Colonie Center, Albany, NY 6 p.m.

July 20: Mysterious Bookshop, New York City 6 p.m.

July 24: Defiance, Ohio Public Library 5:30 p.m.

August 1: Madison, Ohio Public Library 7 p.m.

August 14: Livonia, Michigan Public Library 6 p.m.

Researching the Boy Scouts


I am currently at work, researching my next book, which will be about a death that occurred when I was a counselor at Seven Ranges Boy Scout Reservation, in 1995. It’s also about the current state of the Boy Scouts of America, which is fighting to get out of bankruptcy after a sex scandal that is exponentially greater in scale than that of the Catholic Church.

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of testifying at the Ohio Statehouse in support of HB35, which would get rid of the statute of limitations for Boy Scout sex abuse cases in civil courts. You can listen to my testimony here, around the 45 min mark.

Part of my book involves a secret society within Seven Ranges called Pipestone. If you took part in the “honors program” there and would like to share your experience, please email me: jameswrenner [at] gmail [dot] com

You Can Now Pre-Order Little, Crazy Children

My next true crime book Little, Crazy Children comes out June 27 but you can reserve your copy today, by pre-ordering from your favorite local bookstore or online at the links below.

In this riveting work of investigative journalism, the author of True Crime Addict and host of “True Crime This Week,” James Renner, explores the tragic unsolved 1990 murder of Lisa Pruett in the privileged enclave of Shaker Heights, Ohio, its troubling aftershocks, and the dark secrets teens tell—and keep.

TWIN PEAKS meets THE CRUCIBLE in 1990s Shaker Heights, the setting of LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE.

In September of 1990, in the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, sixteen-year-old Lisa Pruett, a poetry lover and member of a church youth group, was on her way to a midnight tryst with her boyfriend, when she was viciously stabbed to death only thirty feet from the boy’s home.

The murder cast a palpable gloom over the upscale community and sparked accusations, theories, and rumors among Lisa’s friends and peers. Together they wove a damning narrative that circled back to a likely suspect: “weird” high school outcast Kevin Young. Without a shred of evidence the teen was arrested, charged, and tried for the crime. His eventual acquittal didn’t squelch the anger and outrage among those who believed that Kevin got away with murder.

With a fresh perspective and painstaking research culled from police files, court records, transcripts, uncollected evidence, and new interviews, James Renner reconstructs the events leading up to and following that heartbreaking night. What emerges is a portrait of a community seething with dark undercurrents—its single-minded authorities, protective status-conscious parents, and the deeply peer-pressured teens within Lisa’s circle.

Who had the capacity for such unchecked violence? What monsters still lurk in the dark? After more than thirty years, questions like these continue to fester among the community of Shaker Heights, Ohio, still deeply scarred by wounds that remain hidden, unspoken, and unhealed.



Hudson Booksellers


Barnes & Noble

Upcoming Appearances, Fall 2022

It’s a busy fall! Come see me if you can. Click on links for more info.

September 10: Savannah Crime Expo

September 18: Fundraiser for the Nancy Eagleson Cold Case, Paulding, Ohio.

September 24: Mentor Barnes & Noble 20th Anniversary: 1 p.m.

October 8: Rocky River Readers & Writers Event 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

October 9: PNW True Crime festival

October 27: Kent State lecture, “True Crime from May 4, 1970 to Present Day)

November 5: Buckeye Book Fair