I wrote the first edition of NO STONE UNTURNED: The True Story of the World’s Premier Forensic Investigators in 2001 and it was published a year later. I’d first met several of its members a few years earlier while working on my first true crime book, MONSTER. They’d been working with Detective Scott Richardson, then of the Lakewood Police Department, to help find the clandestine grave of murder victim Cher Elder and recover her remains.
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At the time, this merry eclectic band of scientists, investigators and law enforcement officers (retired and active) were little known outside of the law enforcement agencies who had turned to them out of desperation, hoping to find these hidden graves and assist in the apprehension and prosecution of killers.
I was intrigued by this “many-headed Sherlock Holmes,” as one of the group’s founders, Jack Swanburg, liked to refer to them–their science and their skills, how they approached each case, their growing number of successes, their sense of justice; but I also came to appreciate their humanity and how important it was to them to bring resolution to a victim’s family by returning a loved one’s remains to them.
These were not just cases to them, not just “problems to solve” in the way of scientists. They felt deeply, sometimes perhaps too deeply for their own emotional well-being, and invested themselves as well as their abilities in the pain and suffering of others. I developed a profound respect for them as people, and many remain my friends to this day.
I was even honored in June 2013 to join NecroSearch members, Clark Davenport, Mick Swindells, and Brook Schaub when along with Peter Sarandinaki, the founder of S.E.A.R.C.H. (Scientific Expedition to Account for the Romanov Children), we traveled to Perm, Russia. Peter had originally contacted NecroSearch in the late 1990s to help with his search for the remains of two of the Romanov royal children (that story is contained in NO STONE UNTURNED). With our new Russian friends we spent more than two weeks looking for the remains of the Grand Duke Mikhail Romanov, the tsar’s brother, and his secretary, who were murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918 and buried in a secret grave somewhere in the countryside. My job was essentially to bore several thousands of holes in Mother Russia with a pole so that dog-handler Swindell and his cadaver dog, Sam, could come along and sniff for old bones. We were unsuccessful at that time, as was the team that returned last summer; we’re returning again in June with high hopes of finding the murdered pair.
I was honored still further when in November 2014, the members of NecroSearch voted to make me an honorary member. So I get to sit in on meetings in which police agencies present cases and ask for the group’s advice and assistance, and then listen to the strategy as the group plans its missions, which for a crime author is eminently fascinating (though I am sworn to secrecy).
I’ve received my share of awards throughout my career as a journalist and an author, but I have to say my most prized moment was accepting honorary membership in this group of fine human beings. It is with great pleasure, therefore, that WildBlue Press for the first time be published an updated and revised eBook edition on April 28, as well as an audio book.