It’s here! My new true crime thriller, Little, Crazy Children is now available in hardback, audiobook, and Kindle, wherever books are sold!
For readers of Ann Rule and Gregg Olsen, a riveting new true crime book from the acclaimed author of True Crime Addict and creator/host of the podcasts True Crime This Week and The Philosophy of Crime, as he explores the unsolved murder of 16-year-old Lisa Pruett in the real life town of the bestselling novel Little Fires Everywhere for a painstakingly researched account of a senseless and heartbreaking tragedy and the people who were pulled into its aftermath.
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.
Do you want to write a true crime book? Here’s everything you need to know to make it happen, from “Picking the perfect case” to “Marketing and Publicity.” Learn how to interview witnesses and the best ways to organize your work into a compelling narrative.
How cool is this!?! The Porchlight Project is featured in the new edition of Kent State Magazine.
Renner put out a message on Facebook asking for help; it was answered by Alexa Doutt, a director of advancement at Kent State. The two met at a coffee shop in West Akron—and the idea of the Porchlight Project was born.
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!
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.