Remembrance: Death Subverts the Holidays; a Holiday Wish

Three years ago, as we hung stockings by the chimney with care, a true-crime book with an inaccurate story about my parents’ deaths landed in stores throughout the country — just in time for the Christmas buying binge. No one in my family had been interviewed or forewarned of the book by the Seattle-based author, Ann Rule.

The book had come out of the blue, from left field, fallen from the sky. Pick your cliché. We’d been blindsided.

loren_jody_edwards_t-shirts_1977_500px

Loren and Joanne “Jody” Edwards at their bon voyage party.

For me and two of my three sisters, significant errors in the story intensified the emotional trauma, opening old wounds, compounding a feeling of loss that never goes away. Ann Rule had relied on 30-year-old newspaper articles for the “facts” in her story — newspaper articles that were riddled with inaccuracies regarding the fundamental elements of the murder investigation conducted by the FBI. The way she wrote it, it read more like an episode from Gilligan’s Island.

The story about my parents was not journalism. It was joke. But no one saw me laughing.

Ann Rule had capitalized on my family’s misfortune, yet she hadn’t contacted me or my sisters; she hadn’t cited any official documents involving the investigation. She claimed that she tried to contact my brother, youngest sister and another woman, who were on the boat with my parents, but Rule said these three had “slipped into obscurity.”

Never mind that I, too, had been on the boat, and I was there when the FBI had my brother recount the events leading up to the deaths and the events immediately following the deaths. Ann Rule could have easily tracked me down. At the time she wrote her story, my website ranked number two on Google, just below another Larry Edwards — the African-American female impersonator who performs a Tina Turner routine in Las Vegas. I doubt she would have confused us.

Rule could have asked for my assistance in contacting the others, but she did not. I also could have provided her with accurate information about my parents and the FBI investigation.

What’s more important, the story led to a further disintegration of my family — already divided into feuding factions in the aftermath of the deaths — when a niece refused to cooperate with me in responding to Ann Rule and her publisher.

spellbound_cover_10In my book, Dare I Call It Murder?: A Memoir of Violent Loss, Grief and Clarity, I set the record straight and lay out the case that prosecutors refused to take to trial. I unmask the trauma of violent loss and post-traumatic stress (PTSD) as I ferret out previously unreported facts to get at the truth of how and why my parents were killed.

But rather than relying on inaccurate, 30-year-old newspaper articles, I reveal information gleaned from the official FBI report and the first-hand knowledge I gained from my involvement in the investigation.

The book is scheduled for release by Wigeon Publishing on February 24, 2013.

Learn more about the book and sign up for the mailing list at: Dare I Call It Murder?

Survivors of Violent of Loss Holiday Memorial

Last Saturday, at the annual Survivors of Violent Loss Holiday Memorial, I joined others who have lost loved ones to violent death. We honored cherished parents, siblings, children and friends who had died needless, horrific deaths. (Pictures from the event: http://hopegallery.smugmug.com/Events/Holiday-Memorial-2012)

The irony of  the timing of the memorial with respect to the mass murder of children and teachers in Newtown, Conn., did not escape us. We each placed an ornament on the holiday tree in remembrance of the seven adults and twenty children murdered the day before by a lone gunman. We understood the trauma and grief of the surviving family members, and we expressed our fervent wish that those survivors seek professional counseling for traumatic grief and complicated bereavement.

After my parents died, I did not get any counseling. I didn’t need no head shrinker to help me cope. I just popped another beer.

But that grief and anger festered for decades, manifesting itself in PTSD. Then Ann Rule’s true-crime book came out. I not only had to read her pathetic story about my parents, I had to deconstruct it. The pent-up emotion erupted like a long-dormant volcano. My world crumbled. I could no longer hold a job.

Thankfully, Survivors of Violent Loss and its generous staff — along with my wife, Janis, who offered unconditional support — were there to lend a hand when I needed it. I hope a similar organization will be offering its services to those survivors in Connecticut. But such organizations and counselors trained in dealing with those suffering from traumatic grief cannot meet the ongoing need for such services. And those programs that do exist are typically under-funded.

Some 15,000 people a year are murdered in the United States. Others die violent deaths as a result of manslaughter and suicide. Seven to ten people can be seriously impacted by each loss, creating the potential for significantly affecting 150,00 or more survivors annually, or 1.5 million in a decade.

That’s why I’m donating a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of my book to the Survivors of Violent Loss Program — to help provide a bulwark against the grief, deep depression and rage that can result from living in a violent society like ours. I have experienced the hell the survivors live through, and it’s my hope that through such programs they learn to develop their innate resilience to persevere and find joy in their lives — provided that these programs continue to exist.

Meanwhile, each day more people will suffer the traumatic effects of violent loss and criminal death, all the more tragic for occurring near the height of what — so we are told — is the most joyful time of year.

How ever you choose to celebrate the coming holidays, I wish all of you moments of peace and merriment, and a happy and prosperous new year. And perhaps we all can take a moment to reflect on how we might come to grips with our “civilized” society’s seemingly endless parade of violent death and loss.

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About Polishing Your Prose

Larry M Edwards is an award-winning investigative journalist, author, editor and publishing consultant. He is the author of three books, and has edited dozens of nonfiction and fiction book manuscripts. Under Wigeon Publishing, he has produced six books. As author, "Dare I Call It Murder? A Memoir of Violent Loss" won First Place in the San Diego Book Awards in 2012 (unpublished memoir) and 2014, Best Published Memoir. The book has also been nominated for a number of awards, including: Pulitzer Prize, Benjamin Franklin Award, Washington State Book Award, and One Book, One San Diego. As Editor, "Murder Survivor’s Handbook: Real-Life Stories, Tips & Resources" won the Gold Award in the 2015 Benjamin Franklin Book Awards, Self-Help. For a sample edit and cost estimate, contact Larry: larry [at] larryedwards [dot] com -- www.larryedwards.com -- www.dareicallitmurder.com -- www.wigeonpublishing.com
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7 Responses to Remembrance: Death Subverts the Holidays; a Holiday Wish

  1. Ina says:

    Good article, Larry. I never realized what sadness you had to go through. I know your book will be a best seller!! Love you – Ina

  2. Linda Loegel says:

    Larry, your blog post is so timely. Although I haven’t lost anyone close through violent means, I am from Newtown, CT and what happened there is extremely personal to me. I lived there for sixteen years before moving to El Cajon. My three kids grew up in Newtown, went to Sandy Hook Elementary, and my son and one of my daughters still go to church in Newtown. My daughter works in Newtown, very close to Sandy Hook. It is still very hard to believe that my quiet little town has become a household name because of evil. My thoughts and prayers go out to the town, and its people, that are in mourning.

    And to you. I can’t even imagine what thoughts and demons you have had to live with over the years. I admire you for making your story public.

  3. Thank you for the kind words.

  4. Hello, Larry. So glad that Linda pointed me to you through her blog. My thoughts and prayers are with you and with all those suffering the aftermath of violence in our global society. I commend you for sharing your story and for supporting Survivors of Violent Program. I look forward to reading your book.

  5. Cindy Ryan says:

    Hi, Larry. I just read the Ann Rule account, such as it was, and thought ‘this makes no sense’. I looked to see if there was more information available, and lo and behold you are about to release this book! I am so sorry for your loss, and the damage to your whole family. I have lost a loved one (my dad) to a violent accident, but I think that’s different from intentional violence… I will be watching for your book.
    Cindy Ryan

    • Cindy, thank you for commenting and for your kind words. You’re right, Ann Rule’s piece of crap makes no sense. That, in part, is why I wrote my book. To explain what happened in a way that does make sense. I now hope to have to book out in May, if everything falls into place. I encountered a few bumps on the road and am still trying to smooth those out. If you want, I can add you to the book email list and let you know the status and when it’s available. I’m sorry to hear about your father. A sudden, violent death is traumatic to the survivors, even when it’s an accident. I hope you have taken care of yourself. — Larry

      • Cindy Ryan says:

        Larry, yes, please do add me to the book email list. I definitely want to have the book when it comes available. Thank you for your kind words about my father. Another thing different about our situations there is that I saw my father’s body, tho the coroner advised against it. As shocking as it was, I think it helped in the long run. Never having seen your parents’ bodies… well, there’s something different there. Might be harder to accept that it’s real, or something… I don’t know.
        Thanks for your thoughtful response, and I hope you have taken care of yourself too. I am also rather familiar, as so many of us are, with how families can be fractured! Modern times, or more likely just the human condition.
        Cindy

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