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 January, 2010

The Psychopathic Mind: What Went Wrong?

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

I invited four friends to my home for an all-out, free-for-all analysis of one aspect of my book: The Killer, The Cop and Me. Our intent was to grapple with the motives, the personality and the psychology of the killer – Bill Bradford.

Included in the group were (1) an actress/screenwriter who had edited portions of my book proposal (2) a writer who had met John St. John and written a screenplay based on the story (3) a PhD neuropsychologist whose area of expertise was psychopathic behavior and (4) another writer working on a memoir. We gathered around the table armed with notepads and a chart and timeline of Bill Bradford’s personal and criminal history.

The basics: Bradford’s aggressive behavior began at age 13 with an assault on a neighbor’s 12 year old daughter. He was counseled and released from custody. Two years later, he was arrested for indecent exposure when he jumped naked out of a tree and tried to grab a girl who was standing under the tree. His descent into a life of unspeakable crimes had begun.

The five of us tossed around plausable explanations for Bradford’s hatred of women. My psychologist friend spoke up, “Bradford killed for release. The tension and conflict inside him would build and build until he was ready to explode. Then he would rape and kill. He would go into a rage that transcended his ego. His character was so fractured he was unable to gain fulfillment or joy or release from his attacks so he needed to destroy all sexuality of his victims – to dehumanize and objectify them – so they would become almost non-human. As his attacks became less rewarding hey became more vicious.”

I asked, “What was he searching for?”

Cheryl thought for a moment than said, “Bradford was searching for the keys that would unlock some emotion, some memory that was good and safe. When he failed to find those needs, he struck out. He struck out again and again until there was no stopping him. That is, until St. John arrested him.”

The depth and tragedy of Bill Bradford and what his victims endured, quieted us.

The Beat Goes On

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

When Ventura Star Free Press reporter, Kim Gregory, settled into a chair across the kitchen table for an interview about my odd-couple, 13 year ride-along with Jigsaw John, I was ready. There were photos spead from one end of my oak table to the other. There was a stack of notes, Shari Milller’s “To Do” list and Jigsaw’s 50th anniversary invitation. My head was filled with Jigsaw stories and the complex details of the Bradford case that had consumed me for years and coffee was brewing. I felt like an actress who had studied her lines for “Hamlet” and the curtain was about to rise. I had been given the opportunity to tell a story that is a huge part of who I am.

This was my chance to connect with readers in a deep and meaningful way.

When Kim asked how I met St. John, I half-expected the cagey detective to come out of nowhere with: “That’s not exactly how it happened, Jane. Here’s my take.” When she asked what it was like to meet the snitch who gave St.John the break in the Freeway Killer case, I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to hear St. John’s growling voice behind me: “I couldn’t believe it when Jane walked into Scott Fraser’s apartment with a homemade quiche. And to boot, she served it on china plates. Scott was best friends with a serial killer! He lived in a hole-in-the-wall apartment, was dressed in a white t-shirt covered with holes and was used to hot dogs for dinner.” I realized in the middle of the interview how much I missed Jigsaw’s vibrant, edgy, arger-than-life world.

Pretty soon, Kim and I were chatting like sorority sisters planning the upcoming weekend. But the missing voice was Jigsaw’s. Jigsaw would have dazzled her with his Irish charm. WOWED her with his gift for storytelling. Touched her with his warm humanity. The extra seat at the table should have been his and I missed him.

It is up to me to bring Jigsaw to life for the readers with my words. I promised him I would do that. That is exactly my plan. http://www.vcstar.com/news/2010/jan/16/the-beat-goes-on/?partner=RSS

Train Leaving the Station for Writer’s Conference

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

I’m ready to come out of my writing cave. My office looks like the inside of a broom closet. I can’t find anything – not the last chapter I wrote, not the checkbook, not the scrap of paper I told my self I could not lose or I would go to jail. I need to get out into the sunshine for more than Vitamin D.

I need to commiserate with other writers and talk about our dysfunctional characters, our passion for writing and our devious strategies for luring publishers to our submissions.

I need a big dose of those workshops that last all night so I can listen to other writers read from their works-in-progress, marveling at their talent and their willingness to travel miles just to connect to other writers and agents/editors who can help them make their dreams a reality.

The San Diego Writers conference is a gem. Last year I attended some sparkling workshops where I learned how to increase dramatic tension (Phyllis Gebauer’s “Read and Critique”); a thoughtful workshop titled “How to Tell What You Really Want to Write”; a hilarious workshop led by two cops titled “Law and Disorder”; and a grab bag of workshops that made all of us think more deeply about the craft we love.

I will share my two favorite group leaders – Lynn Vannucci – who now edits my work like a finicky neurosurgeon and Marla Miller who conducts a top notch workshop on marketing.

I invite others to come along for the ride. You won’t regret it.