In about ten days, true-crime readers from across the globe can become acclimated with a tiny western Iowa community that captured the national spotlight a decade ago: https://wildbluepress.com/dixies-last-stand-john-ferak-true-crime/
This was a murder case that ultimately generated incredible public awareness on hot-button topics such as domestic violence and murder in self-defense.
How big a deal was the murder case involving Dixie Shanahan?
It was one of the hottest stories in 2003 and 2004 when I tracked the murder case as a journalist for Nebraska’s biggest newspaper, The Omaha World-Herald.
Iowa’s largest newspaper, The Des Moines Register, also chronicled the case in strong fashion as did several television stations from Omaha and Des Moines.
Months before the trial, The Los Angeles Times, one of the country’s prominent papers, sent a reporter to Iowa to bring Dixie’s controversial murder case into the national spotlight.
Months later, Court TV broadcast the Dixie Shanahan trial proceedings into the homes of cable viewers across the country.
The New York Times ran an article alerting millions of readers around the world of the Iowa jury’s verdict.
In wake of the verdict, Leonard Pitts Jr., a Pulitzer Prize winning nationally syndicated newspaper columnist at The Miami Herald, wrote multiple columns referencing the circumstances of Dixie Shanahan.
Season four, episode five of Snapped, a popular television series, recreated the Dixie Shanahan case, in 2006.
Now for the first time, readers of true crime will finally have the opportunity to read about the key facts surrounding the events and circumstances that shocked a quiet community of less than four hundred in rural, western Iowa.
DIXIE’S LAST STAND: WAS IT MURDER OR SELF-DEFENSE? includes numerous several recent in-depth interviews with key people involved in the case — details and statements that have never been reported in the press, particularly those comments from long-time Iowa Assistant Attorney General Charles Thoman, who prosecuted the murder trial.
It’s my sincere hope that police chiefs, detectives and patrol officers who live as far away as Montana and Maryland will also be drawn to reading this Iowa mystery and intriguing story plot that surrounded the sudden and unexpected departure of life-long Shelby County resident Scott Shanahan.
As I finished up writing DIXIE’S LAST STAND, I contemplated the idea of dedicating this book to someone. In this case, as readers will find out, it did not seem like a good idea to dedicate DIXIE’S LAST STAND to murder victim Scott Shanahan. Then it dawned on me: bring some attention to those law enforcement investigators who worked their tails off to find Scott and bring his case to a successful resolution in the criminal justice system.
Working as a sheriff’s deputy in a remote county or small town can have its share of investigative drawbacks. But when duty calls, small-town cops and detectives are expected to perform on just as high of a level as those detectives who are working everyday murder cases in cities like Chicago, Detroit or Milwaukee.
So that’s what I did.
DIXIE’S LAST STAND: WAS IT MURDER OR SELF-DEFENSE? Is dedicated to those small-town law enforcement investigators who vigorously pursue the truth and justice even when constrained by circumstances and very limited resources.