In Colbert, Georgia, on June 5, 2000, local amateur bodybuilder, 38-year-old Doug Benton, disappears. Two weeks later, Benton is found shot and ‘stabbed,’ his body encased in cement inside a cattle trough, dumped on a remote stretch of farmland. Local law enforcement—with help from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation—launch what is later alleged to be a ‘targeted’ investigation, focused on one of their own—local deputy sheriff, 36-year-old Tracy Fortson, Doug Benton’s girlfriend.
As evidence piles up (perhaps too conveniently), just two days after Benton’s body is discovered Tracy Fortson is arrested and charged with his murder. Yet questions of her innocence and a ‘botched’ investigation emerge.
Investigative journalist M. William Phelps interviews Tracy Fortson, getting her incredible account of ‘cover-ups’ and ‘coercion.’ Phelps and Fortson, however, combatively collide at one point, with Fortson alleging Phelps is targeting her.
In his genre-bending first-person narrative style of investigative reporting, Phelps unlocks the eccentric persona behind Tracy Fortson, spending close to a year interviewing her, fleshing out Tracy’s controversial story of what happened. Tracy’s exclusive account will not only shock readers, but cast doubt on the facts of the case, putting ‘Southern Justice’ from America’s past under a contemporary light.
In his first full-length, original true-crime book for WildBlue Press, Phelps delivers a hard-hitting, unique reading experience, immersing readers in the life of the first female deputy in Oglethorpe County, Georgia, who claims a sexual harassment suit she filed against the sheriff led to a murder charge.
Is Tracy Fortson guilty or innocent? Read and decide.
“A gripping, no-hands-barred work of investigative journalism.” – New York Times Bestselling Author Steve Jackson
From The Book:
In December 2016, I began sending former Georgia deputy Tracy Fortson new questions about various aspects of her case. Namely, a belief of mine that Tracy was … hyper focused on what she saw as a conspiracy to convict her of murder. One of her main contentions throughout this process of agreeing to be interviewed has been that many of the people involved in her case lied—that, in effect, either collectively or by themselves, conspired to make sure the evidence lined up to convict her. I need to always question this sort of accusation because, for one, just about every convicted murderer I have interviewed makes it; and two, the chances that so many law enforcement officers got together to falsify and plant evidence to frame a person for murder is, to me, as far-fetched an accusation as there could ever be. I mean, were there mistakes made in Tracy’s case? Surely. Were parts of the investigation compromised? Absolutely. Were speculation and opinion put forth during her trial that might have been misconstrued as fact? No question about it. But for me, I have to ask: Did several law enforcement officers walk into that courtroom and lie to make sure Tracy Fortson was convicted?
…Tracy and I got into what was a heated email exchange over the holiday season 2016. By the start of the New Year, after trying to work through our difficulties and differences of opinion, I received this:
Sorry. But I don’t believe that you are looking out for my best interests. I no longer wish to participate in your project and request that you do not include any of my personal information, i.e. emails, documents, letters, or any other correspondence relating to my case or my personal life, in your book, if you decide to write one. Respectfully, Tracy Lea Fortson
And that was how it went: One step forward, five steps back–and there we were once again at a stalemate….
From The Author:
The woman at the center of this book, Tracy Fortson, a former deputy sheriff, will not like everything she reads about herself and her case. Moreover, Tracy’s supporters will find fault in some of my reporting. This is inevitable. I cannot stop it. Yet I do want to acknowledge … that within this story—seeing how at its core lies the challenge of believing that overwhelming circumstantial evidence and questionable forensic evidence is enough to convict and the idea that a cover-up took place seems more and more likely as you begin to dig in—is the first time I have encountered a murder victim’s parent siding with the person convicted of his murder. That, alone, is something we need to take note of and keep in mind as we go through this case and try to understand what happened. In addition, I could not have written this book without Tracy’s input and the months of prison interviews I conducted with her. Tracy is an enigma. At first, I had a hard time believing anything she said. Yet, as time moved on and I learned more about her, I began to understand that the truth is sometimes not always what it seems.