Friday, December 21, 2012

When Cops Are Crazy

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.

This first one happened in my home state of Oregon. Female police sergeant 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.


  1. Gruesome! Truth is definitely sometimes stranger than fiction, LJ! Thanks for sharing these weird, unsettling stories!

  2. Geez, I hope they can at least get that cooking cop some help. And take away his gun, and all sharp objects. In my SinC group, we often talk about how we couldn't write about some real events because no one would believe us.

  3. There was a recent arrest of a kid in the Denver area who murdered and dismembered his mom, and then went driving around with her body in the back of his SUV.

    Then there's at least one about a father who takes his daughter and locks her in the basement for years and years, fathering several children with her. And the mother just cooks and cleans in some kind of world of denial one floor up.

  4. Yikes. Maybe we shouldn't be teaching our children to trust police officers...

  5. Those are weird stories, and quite fascinating. These and others like them would be interesting to read compiled in a true-crime book.

  6. I can see the attraction of 'true crime' and 'stranger than fiction' crime stories, but when I'm writing my novels, I always like to start with pure fiction and then add in something that may be true, but, well, can we ever be sure - For instance, my new book on Smashwords about kidnapping David Cameron, our UK Prime Minister, has a walk-on part for his younger brother. Does the PM even have a younger brother? Well, I was just thinking he MIGHT have....


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