"When a crime is committed, numerous questions are asked... When everything about who you are and who you love is torn apart, what have you got left to stand for?"
January 2023 | The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas.
A 1986 family tragedy propels this gripping true crime debut as a mother searches for answers in the shocking murder of her husband—and conviction of her son.
For years, Cherie struggles to overcome the consuming grief she suffers from the loss of her husband and the difficulty she faces as she attempts to forgive her son, Dwayne. The courtroom accounts of gruesome details and the shocking testimonies from experts add to Cherie’s desire to make sense of the crime. Tormented by wanting to know WHY this tragedy happened, she wonders if she could have prevented it.
THE DECISION TO KILL is an unusually personal true crime story because it is told by the mother herself and contains excerpts from letters written to her by her killer son while he is in prison. The crime reader will appreciate the rare insight this book provides into what the murderer himself describes as his “twisted mind.” The killer hints at the formation of “the decision” he made and how that one decision forever altered the course of many lives.
Dwayne’s words reveal his struggles with substance abuse, gender identity, sexual orientation, and search for faith. His ever-changing views will challenge readers to decide if there is hope for true, positive change in violent sociopaths.
From the Book
It was pitch black in the house. Even the illumination of the night’s full moon did not penetrate the home’s partially drawn curtains. The teen realized he would have to turn on the bathroom light to get a good shot. He stood in the doorway of the bathroom and briefly considered his options. He flicked the switch on the wall and the light cast a wide beam through the hall into the master bedroom. The sudden brightness caused him to blink. He paused, wanting to be sure his dad was still asleep and took a few moments to let his eyes adjust. As he had hoped, his dad slept heavily and did not stir.
Calmly, the teen stepped toward the doorway of his parents’ room ensuring his shadow would not obstruct his vision. Without hesitation, he took careful aim. The thought KILL dominated his mind. He pulled the gun tightly against his shoulder and squeezed off the deadly round. A deafening bang rang out from the single shot causing the house to shake. The teen stumbled backward, briefly caught off balance. He wavered, then regained his composure. Calmly, almost meticulously, he surveyed the final scene. He crouched down and retrieved the lone spent casing, pushing the brass shell deep into the front pocket of his jeans.
In one statement Dwayne reported, “I seen blood all over his sheets and under his pillow.” But in other interviews he claimed not to have walked around the bed to look closely at his father. In all accounts, it is certain that Dwayne did not linger in the bedroom. His mind was fixated on loading up his stuff and leaving.
Kneeling on the carpeted floor, he grabbed his dad’s suitcase from under the bed and crossed the hall into his own room. Before packing, he went outside to start up his truck, wanting to be sure it was ready to go.
He went back inside the house and tossed his personal belongings into the suitcase. Walking into the kitchen, he spotted his dad’s paycheck on the counter and looked at it thoughtfully. The $2,100 could fund his trip to Canada. He had plans to join up with the girl he had met while vacationing in British Columbia. The two had hit it off, and Canada sounded like a good place to escape to. He scrawled his dad’s name on the back of the check and purposed to stash it with his other personal property. He returned outside to the now unlocked camp trailer where his music equipment had been stored. After locating every amp, guitar, boom box, and peripheral component, he loaded each one in his pickup, hopped in the driver’s seat, and lost no time heading out. He didn’t realize that behind him, in the driveway, was the folded payroll check lying in the gravel, the money he had hoped would fund his getaway.
About the Author
A devoted reader of classics and nonfiction, Leslie was initially employed as a 911 dispatcher in California where she was immediately addicted to the unpredictability of police work. After moving to Oregon, she joined the Josephine County sheriff's department working in the dispatch and warrants division for three years. Subsequently, Leslie accepted a position as a field representative for a criminal justice computer system overseeing the needs of 17 agencies. Now retired, interest in reading, law-enforcement work, and recreational writing has resulted in Leslie fulfilling the wish of a friend who asked her to document the story of her husband’s murder. This book not only tells readers intimate details of the crime but more importantly, shares a surprising message of encouragement with those whose loved ones suffer from addiction and mental health disorders. Leslie still lives in southern Oregon with her husband and her German Shepherd Dog, Schatzi.
For further book information including a photo gallery visit website decisiontokill.com
A portion of the sale of each book supports addiction recovery.