The body of Anita Andrews, the owner and bartender at Fagiani’s Cocktail Lounge in Napa, California was found in her bar …
… raped, beaten, and stabbed to death in a bloody frenzy. She’d last been seen alive the night before talking to a drifter who sat at the end of the bar, playing cards and flirting with her. But the stranger, along with Anita’s Cadillac, had disappeared. Unable to locate a suspect, police investigators sadly watched the case grow cold over the years.
Meanwhile a month after Anita’s murder, young Michele Wallace, was driving down a road in the mountains near Crested Butte, Colorado, when she gave two stranded motorists, Chuck Matthews and a man named Roy, a ride. Dropping Matthews off at a bar in Gunnison, she agreed to take “Roy” to his truck. She was never seen alive again, nor could a massive search of the mountains locate her remains. The trail leading to her killer also ran into deadends.
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Fourteen years later, Charlotte Sauerwin, engaged to be married, met a smooth-talking man at a Laundromat in Livingston Parish, Louisiana. The next evening, her body was found in the woods; she’d been raped, tortured, and her throat slashed. The police suspected her fiance, Vince LeJeune, though he proclaimed his innocence to anyone who would listen. Meanwhile, the man from the Laundromat couldn’t be located.
The three murders would remain unsolved, eating at the hearts, minds and lives of the women’s families, friends and communities. Then in the early 1990s, a rookie Gunnison County sheriff’s investigator named Kathy Young began looking into the Wallace case and identified a suspect named Roy Melanson, a serial rapist from Texas. SMOOTH TALKER is the story of Melanson, his depredations, and the intrepid police work that went into bringing him to justice.
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From The Preface of SMOOTH TALKER:
He’s just a fat old man rotting away in a Colorado prison.
Terrified that he’s going to die behind concrete walls, steel bars and concertina razor wire, he spends his days filing appeals and writs in a never-ending stream of bullshit and lies. But he’ll die in prison. If not that one, then another, or another; they’re lined up like graves in a cemetery waiting for him. And there’d probably be others if someone wanted to go through the effort of making him pay for all the death, despair and ruined lives he’s caused. Just an evil old monster waiting for final justice.
But back in the day he’d been a charmer with his blue eyes and that soft south-Texas drawl. Not particularly handsome and already losing his hair by his thirties, but boy could he spin a tale. The Good Samaritan who’d offer to help with a flat tire, or clear some brush, or fix an applicance. Or just tell a good yarn about the places he’d been, the things he’d done. A smooth-talking son of bitch … a real lady killer.
From The Author:
Those readers familiar with my book NO STONE UNTURNED: The True Story of The World’s Premier Forensic Investigators will recognize the story of Michele Wallace and Melanson’s role in her death from a chapter in that book. However, SMOOTH TALKER fills in the gaps of the Wallace case and puts it into context with Melanson’s other murderous deeds, painting a complete picture of this evil man and his impact on his innocent victims living and dead.