About Me

My name is Jane Howatt. Welcome to my blog!

For 13 years I rode shotgun with John “Jigsaw” St. John, one of the LAPD‘s most celebrated detectives, as he investigated notorious murder cases.

The collision of this ordinary suburban mom and the underbelly of evil is the subject of my book, “The Killer, the Cop and Me.”

On my blog, I‘ll post about true crime, my life and what I learned from the mind of a brilliant homicide cop.

I invite you to join me for the ride!

Archive for December, 2009

Get Cops Back on the Beat

Monday, December 21st, 2009

When I saw this article “Get police out of cruisers, back on the beat” in DelMarvNow by James White Jr. it stuck a cord because that is exactly what Jigsaw told me when I asked him what LA (or any city) could do to get a handle on crime. Bring back the beat cop! The idea was simple and smart: get cops out of their cars and onto the street where crime happens. John St. John was a beat cop before he went into Officer Involved Shootings and Homicide. He told me how important it was for him to know the families in the area he patrolled.

If a kid had a problem with drugs – the beat cop knew about it and worked with him.

If a wife had a problem with a husband who abused her – the beat cop had a chat with him.

If granny needed a ride to the doctor – the beat cop could be a taxi service.

Block by block, family by family, person by person, the beat cop knew and patroled an area and was able to interact with the community in a meaningful way. Crime statistics went down. School attendance went up. The beat cop would be a neighborhood watch/enforcer. Then how about this? Combine the beat cop with after school programs for kids (like the Boys and Girls Clubs) and maybe we would have safer streets and kids who cared about their education.

Teen Charged with Murder. Another Dexter?

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Indianapolis, December 3, 2009.  The newspaper headline reported the crime as matter-of-factly as if it were a car crash. Older brother (Andrew Conley) strangled younger brother (Conner Conley) in what started as a brotherly wrestling match. What happened next was anything but natural and normal.

Andrew Conley who “had had fantasies about killing someone since he was in eighth grade, including cutting someone’s throat,” choked his brother until he passed out. Then he dragged Conner’s body into the kitchen, put on a pair of gloves and choked him “until he noticed blood coming from his nose and mouth.” Finally, he put a plastic bag over his brother’s head, secured it with duct tape and dragged the body to his car.

Then he drove to his girlfriend’s house to give her a sweeheart ring.

If this story doesn’t seem straight out of Kafka – hold on. Apparently, the killer was influenced by the television character, “Dexter” – the glamorous serial killer. Conley told authorities killing his brother “felt just like the serial killer, “Dexter” on the Showtime channel.”

Can an impressionable youth understand the difference between a television character/situation and a real personality in conflict?  Is this television killer/hero sending a message that murder is justified? What concerned me most about this terrible tragedy was the message that behavior has no consequence.

Go ahead and “do your thing.” If you think it’s right – go ahead! You’re the boss!

When I asked the wife of serial killer Bill Bradford about the times her husband choked her, then choked his kids then the times his son choked his sister – she was heartbroken. The pattern of brutality within the family had been established. Choking another person was the norm. There might be crying and there might be pain, but pretty soon it subsided. So what were the consequences of this horrific behavior? More of the same.

The abuser got away with it. Until he got arrested for the murder of two women.

What are your thoughts on this story? How far should media go in depicting violence? I’d like to know.


Publish or Perish

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

It was never my intent after spending 13 years riding alongside Detective John “Jigsaw” St. John to receive letters from publishers that told me they didn’t like my story and they didn’t like my writing and they didn’t think my book fit their list and they already had a book like mine.

Hey! Wait a minute!

I have a cartoon on my bulletin board of Peanuts sitting on his dog house reading a rejection letter that goes: “You don’t understand! This isn’t what I expected! I expected you to publish my book! And send me a check for $75,000.”

I never felt riled up enough to jump on top of our dog’s doghouse and yell to the New York editors who turned down my manuscript, “You dumb brick heads! Can’t you see this is a masterpiece!” But I sure felt Peanut’s pain.

For all you writers out there who pound keys day and night dreaming of the magical day you get a call from your agent telling you your baby has been delivered, I am one of you.

I’ve gone to the conferences and listened to the guest speaker talking about his/her new life as a published writer. I’ve walked past the freshly printed stacks of books piled high thinking – someday! Someday!

I finally had the nerve to measure my stack of rejection letters. All totaled: one-and-a- half inches. That’s a lot of rejection letters.

But you know what? I don’t think of them as rejection letters anymore. When I read them I realize that during the time I was pounding keys and dreaming of the day my book was on the bookshelf, something else was happening.

I was slowly, ever so slowly, mastering the craft.

The words I wrote one year ago were horrible! I deserved those letters. Any publisher who would have published what I wrote when I first started sending them my work would have received his termination papers.

The road to publication is a struggle. It’s filled with pot holes and fits of temper and a few tears. But don’t give up, whatever you do. Do not give up.

Or you will perish. And your brilliant baby will never see the dawn.

Now go write!