by L.J. Sellers, author of provocative mysteries & thrillers
Two recent new stories stuck in my brain, and I filed them both away for potential novel ideas. But I know I'll never use them because when the truth is stranger than fiction, you can't use it as fiction. Readers just won't buy it. But it's still fascinating, so I'll share these freaky cases involving police officers.
Lynne Benton had a longtime partner, a beautician named Deborah Higbee Benton. After many years together, Lynne underwent a gender change and became Lynn Edward Benton. The gender change caused problems in their relationship, but once they could legally get married, they did. Within a year, Lynn had lost his/her job as a police officer and Debbie had been murdered.
The case is still pending, but charges had been filed and detectives believe that Lynn hired Susan Campbell to murder Debbie. Susan Campbell has pleaded guilty, and in addition, her son, Jason Jay Jaynes, has been charged with murder. Debbie, who was horribly beaten to death, didn't do down easy, so Susan allegedly called her son to finish the job. All three—the transgendered cop, the hit woman he hired, and her son—will likely be convicted of murder.
Speculation is that Debbie wanted out of the relationship after her partner switched from female to male, and Lynn decided to kill her instead. My personal speculation is that Lynn was taking way too many male hormones.
The other case is just as strange. Gilberto Valle, a 28-year-old officer with the New York Police Department, created a document called a blueprint for “Abducting and Cooking.” His estranged wife reported the oddities she'd seen on his computer, the FBI got a warrant to search, and they uncovered several plots to kidnap, rape, torture, cook, and eat women. Yes, you read that correctly.
“I was thinking of tying her body onto some kind of apparatus,” Valle wrote to a co-conspirator in one email recovered by law enforcement. “Cook her over a low heat, keep her alive as long as possible.”
The investigators discovered files for more than 100 women on Valle's computer, with details such as the woman’s date of birth, height, weight, and bra size. Valle also made note of certain materials, such as chloroform and rope. Some of the women were his classmates from high school, and at least ten women confirmed that they knew Valle personally. A few had even dated him.
As yet, they have no evidence the officer acted on any of his plans... but I know I would feel better if they locked him away.
What real life crimes have you read about that are too strange for fiction?
PS: If you're a fan of my Detective Jackson novels, you can request an advanced review e-book copy of Rules of Crime at Net Galley.