The Real Story With Maria Elena Salinas Gives Taste Of “SAVING ANNIE”
As with most true crime television documentaries, especially involving a case with as many moving pieces and storylines as are involved in my new book, SAVING ANNIE, the creators of “Fall of Innocence” made some mistakes, got some things wrong, and barely touched on many of the facts. Prior to airing, the producer acknowledged that even at an hour, the show could only reveal the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
Having said that they did a decent job, and certainly much better than a 48 Hours take that aired last year. In particular, the questioning of the accused in the case, Stephen
Nichols, revealed his character for all the world to see. Especially telling was when Ms. Salinas asked him why when he called 911 he seemed more concerned that he was cold than the fact his girlfriend, Rhonda Casto, had just fallen to her death from a cliff. In addition to calling the question “silly,” Nichols phlegmatically explained that because Rhonda was already dead, it was more important that he be helped.
Here’s the Amazon page description of SAVING ANNIE:
In March 2009, pretty, vivacious Rhonda Casto plunged to her death from a 300-foot cliff in the Oregon woods. The only witness, Stephen Nichols, the father of her nine-month-old baby, Annie, told police investigators she slipped and fell.
Yet, Nichols’ story didn’t mesh with the facts. And some of his other actions raised suspicions as well, including just days after her death trying to collect on a million-dollar life insurance policy he’d taken out on his unemployed, 23-year-old girlfriend. What had begun with a 911 call to report an accident, quickly turned into a homicide investigation.
However, due to lackluster police work, the case grew cold. Then in 2011, Dardie Robinson, a tenacious investigator with a Portland law firm began digging into the circumstances surrounding Rhonda’s death. The law firm represented Rhonda’s mother, who believed that Nichols, 34, had murdered her daughter. She wanted to prevent him from gaining custody of Annie and the life insurance money.
What Robinson discovered, including an attempt by Nichols to throw his first wife off a high-rise balcony in China, as well as sexual assault charges, convinced her that Rhonda’s death was no accident. So began her six-year battle to ‘save Annie’ from her own father and find justice for Rhonda.
In the meantime, a parallel investigation into the case by co-authors Steve Jackson, an award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author, and private investigator Tom McCallum, posed the same questions. What really happened to Rhonda Casto on that cold, rainy afternoon on the Eagle Creek trail? And what would become of her child?
SAVING ANNIE by Steve Jackson with Tom McCallum will be published in September 2018. Pre-Order Now And Save!