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Waiting for LeBron (From “The Comeback” by Terry Pluto)

Book Excerpt

From The Comeback: LeBron, the Cavs & Cleveland, © Terry Pluto. All rights reserved.

This excerpt describes the tense time while Cavs owner Dan Gilbert waits to learn whether LeBron will choose to return to Cleveland or go elsewhere.


Dan Gilbert was worried.

The man who started a mortgage company called Quicken Loans hates to wait. And he hates to feel that everything is not in control.

But it can be argued that Gilbert had been waiting for four years for a chance to bring LeBron James back to Cleveland, four years to “make this right,” as the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers characterized his relationship with LeBron between 2010 and 2014.

It was the morning of Thursday, July 10, 2014. This was four days after Gilbert had talked with LeBron in what I called the “Kitchen Table Meeting.” That’s because it took place at the kitchen table of a home in the Miami area. It was the first time Gilbert and LeBron had spoken since The Decision.

“I really thought it went well,” said Gilbert.

The meeting was on a Sunday, July 6.

Monday came, no decision.

Tuesday came, no decision.

The days, the hours, even the minutes seemed to crawl by for Gilbert and the Cavs.

They kept wondering, “What does LeBron have to think about? It’s Cleveland or Miami, he knows both situations very well.”

But anyone who knows LeBron knows something else. LeBron is careful. LeBron does his homework. LeBron takes time to consider every angle. LeBron wanted to make sure that wherever he played in 2014–15, he had a chance to win a title.

Now, it was four years later. Now, LeBron had been to the NBA Finals four years in a row with Miami, winning two titles. Now, he was 29 bearing down on 30 years old . . . not the 25-year old who had left the Cavs in 2010.

LeBron was still in his prime, still the best player in the game in 2014. But he also knew that he had already played 11 years in the NBA, and more of his career was over than was to come. He wanted more titles. He needed more reasons to return to the Cavs other than that he loved Northeast Ohio.

* * *

The Cavs kept in touch with LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul. They boldly made trades to clear even more salary cap room. Paul was friendly, “but he made no promises,” said Gilbert. As time passed, the Cavs felt very good about their chances with James on some days — and very worried at other times.

After hearing nothing on Monday . . . Tuesday . . .

There was news on Wednesday. LeBron and Paul met with Miami Heat President Pat Riley.

The Cavs became nervous. Very, very nervous. LeBron respected Riley. It was Riley who recruited LeBron to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Heat in 2010.

LeBron left the Wednesday meeting and made no promises to the Cavs or Heat.

Then came Thursday.

LeBron runs a skills camp for young players. He was in Las Vegas for that. Wade showed up. They talked. Then LeBron left with Wade, and they took a flight to Miami.

Why was he going back to Miami with Wade?

LeBron had left Las Vegas with Wade. But Rich Paul was staying in Las Vegas. The Cavs were in Las Vegas because they had a team in the Las Vegas Summer League.

That Thursday evening, they had a meeting with Paul. LeBron was not there. He was with Wade.

“Rich spent about two hours in our suite,” said Gilbert. “I was almost interrogating him, wanting at least a hint about what they would do. He wouldn’t show us any of their cards. He kept saying they were ‘in the decision bunker.’ So I tried to at least find out when they’d make the decision — and he would not say when, either.”

Gilbert thought it could “go on a few more days.”

But on Friday, July 11 — about 12 hours after his meeting with Paul — Gilbert’s phone rang.

“LeBron’s coming home,” Paul told the Cavs owner.

Gilbert asked about how to announce it. Paul said, “It will be on the Internet in about 30 seconds.”

That’s when James revealed his decision in a Sports Illustrated letter written with Lee Jenkins.

Right then, everything changed for the Cavs.

[End of excerpt.]

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Excerpt from “The Comeback” by Terry Pluto — About this Book

Book Excerpt

From The Comeback: LeBron, the Cavs & Cleveland, © Terry Pluto. All rights reserved.


The moment I read the essay, I knew I had to write a book about the return of LeBron James to the Cavaliers.

The essay was written with Lee Jenkins in Sports Illustrated. Some people told me they thought Jenkins really wrote it, and that he basically put the words in LeBron’s mouth.

But most people told me, “I read it and I cried.”

I’m talking about guys.

I’m talking about fans who were outraged when LeBron left the Cavs in 2010 for Miami, announcing it during the infamous “The Decision” show on ESPN.

I’m talking about people who said they’d never forgive LeBron for what he did to the Cavs and Northeast Ohio.

Not all of them were so open, so forgiving.

But most were, because they sensed the same thing that I did — LeBron was sincere.

“Who am I to hold a grudge?” LeBron wrote.

He was discussing his meeting with Cavs Owner Dan Gilbert and how they worked out their differences, setting up his return to the Cavs in the summer of 2014.

I quickly realized there has never been a story quite like this in the history of sports — at least, not Cleveland sports.

Here’s the greatest player of his sport at the time. And the player is from Northeast Ohio — from Akron. And he had left home to work elsewhere — like so many Northeast Ohio adults have done.

But part of him longed to go home.

Part of many people from Northeast Ohio longs to come home. I know. They write me . . . a lot. Email after email about Cleveland sports. They talk about how stories online make them feel at home.

People from the rest of country don’t get it. They never will.

Why would LeBron want to go home? Why would he want to return to a team that had the worst record in the NBA in the four years when he was gone? Why would he want to play for an owner who ripped him in an inflammatory email? Why would he want to live and work in Northeast Ohio when he can live and work somewhere else?

But we know why.

We know the hold Northeast Ohio has on us.

We know something else — the team that wins a title in this town will be legendary.

LeBron knew it, too.

As a kid, he said he was a Dallas Cowboys fan. He wore a New York Yankees cap. He insisted he was from Akron, not Cleveland — and said there was a huge difference.

But as he aged, LeBron began to understand. He never sold his house in Bath after signing to play for the Miami Heat. In the offseason, his home base remained home — Northeast Ohio.

He owns houses in different parts of the country, but this would always be home.

And there was something else.

Unfinished business.

It’s become a cliche . . . so many times, so many players supposedly have “unfinished business.”

But that was reality for LeBron James and Northeast Ohio.

Even if he never won a title, it was going to be a remarkable story.

While I’m not on the Cavaliers beat for the Plain Dealer, I write about them a lot in my job as a columnist. Nearly every Sunday, there are two pages of “Terry’s Talkin’ ” notes in the Plain Dealer. They cover all three teams. I talk to officials from each team virtually every week for notes.

I develop relationships. I interview people for on-the-record stories from the Plain Dealer.

Not long after LeBron returned, I began collecting material for a book — and saving interviews.

By the middle of the 2014–15 season, I started writing a few chapters. When LeBron carried a battered Cavs team into the 2015 NBA Finals, I seriously began to research and outline a book.

So this is not a quick book that began with the Victory Parade to celebrate the Cavs’ title. The actual writing was over a period of 18 months.

In fact, when the Cavs were tied 2-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals with Toronto, I asked a few friends, “If they lose this series, what should I do about my book? Maybe I should hold it for another year.”

But the Cavs came back to win that series. And they came back from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Finals. And suddenly, I had to finish the book because I had the ending of all endings . . . one I always wondered if I’d ever have a chance to write.

A Cleveland team won a title in my lifetime as this became the comeback story of all comeback stories in the history of Cleveland sports.

[End of excerpt.]

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Excerpt: “Speaking of Murder” by Les Roberts – Chapters 2–3

Speaking of Murder, by Les Roberts and Dan S. Kennedy

[Excerpted from the book Speaking of Murder, © Les Roberts. All rights reserved.]

Click here to read the previous excerpt.

Chapter Two

K.O.

K.O. had never been inside a luxury hotel like the Renaissance. He’d overnighted at motels, and in Iraq and Afghanistan, his week-long army leaves to Cairo and the United Arab Republic had been spent in third-rate hotels catering to the U.S. enlisted military. So when he and Milan climbed the sweeping staircase into the main lobby, he was struck by the lavish decorations, the ornamental drapes, and the beautiful fountain at the front of the lobby, carved by a master sculptor from flawless white marble from the same quarry in Italy that Michelangelo used to sculpt the statue of David.

Outside the day was gray autumn, but the sweeping view of Public Square, including the looming Soldiers and Sailors Monument, the Old Stone Church, and a slim peek at the entrance to the busy Horseshoe Casino right next door, caught K.O’s attention.

“This is some hotel. You come here frequently, Milan?”

“A few times. We’ll be here a lot if this convention job works out.”

K.O. said, “What about this job? We aren’t cops or bodyguards. When we see something wrong about Tommy Triller, do we run and tattle to the teacher?”

“The guy paying our bills can tell us what he expects. His name is Fesmire. Reeve Fesmire.”

K.O.’s eyes opened wide. “Someone really named him Reeve?”

Milan said, “I doubt he picked it out himself.”

K.O. continued looking outside. “Look at all those people out there. It’s like a carnival.”

He turned to watch Swati Sathe approach, this morning in a gray skirt and a white blouse. She juggled a short stack of files in the crook of her arm that looked like they might drop all over the floor at any moment.

“Are we late?” Milan asked.

“No, Mr. Fesmire was early—and he’s twitching already. Come on, I’ve set up a meeting room on the second floor.”

They took one of the elevators up, then followed her down the hallway to a meeting room named after a forgotten long-ago governor of Ohio.

At the small conference table sat an annoyed man Swati introduced as Reeve Fesmire, the executive director of the GMSA. Bad comb-over, horn-rimmed glasses, a moderately expensive but wrinkled suit, and a nose crinkled in distaste as though something had died three days ago in his handkerchief pocket.

No handshake, which always told Milan something, as did the contemptuous look. “Are you kidding me, Swati? Is this your added security?” Fesmire snapped. “They don’t look very impressive to me.”

“They’re the best,” Swati replied. “I researched before I contacted them.”

Fesmire looked both men up and down as if they were low-rent hookers in a Tijuana brothel. “They don’t look like they’re the best. A father-and-son team?”

Milan said, “Mr. Fesmire, we aren’t father and son—and if you continue talking about us like we’re not here—just like magic, we won’t be here. Abracadabra.”

“Is this how you apply for a job?” Fesmire asked. “Is that how it works in Cleveland? Or is it just you?”

“How about,” Milan continued, “you tell us what you want us to do for you—and if we think it’s a good idea, we’ll hang around. If we don’t like it, we’ll tell you we’re not taking the assignment.”

Swati leaned on the back of a chair. “Cool down, gentlemen. This convention is nearly on top of us; let’s not start off on a bad footing. Let’s discuss what’s mutually beneficial for everyone.”

Milan and K.O. gave it a few moments’ thought before sitting down across the table from Fesmire.

Swati asked, “Shall I order some coffee and rolls for you?”

“Tea for me,” Milan said.

“Tea,” Fesmire muttered. “Jesus!”

She went to one end of the room and quietly ordered breakfast snacks over the phone. Then she smiled as she sat down on Milan and K.O.’s side of the table. “Mr. Fesmire, why don’t you explain to Mr. Jacovich and Mr. O’Bannion exactly what you do—and then tell them what you want from them.”

Reeve Fesmire primly folded his hands in front of him, like a grade-schooler. “The GMSA is the oldest and largest association of leading speakers—and the most successful speakers’ bureau as well. Nowhere else can you find such a spectacular and diverse array of great public speakers. Most companies or groups searching for entertainment that informs can’t just call up a speechifier and make a deal. We’re the go-between with a large staff that marries the right speaker with the right client, audience, and venue, and works out the contract.”

“And they all talk about one form or another of self-help?” K.O. asked.

Fesmire leaned back in his chair and sighed, impatient with explaining something he thought everyone should know. “If you have a large corporation, and you want a speaker at an event, you’d want your employees to learn something, to be inspired. Of course, some speakers are amusing as well—but that’s frosting on the cake.”

“And your agency takes a percentage?” Milan asked.

“Movie stars, millionaire athletes, best-selling authors—their agents all take a percentage off the top. Why shouldn’t I have the same benefit?” His smile turned smug. “I put together the agency for speakers, and every year I hold this convention and showcase. Speakers from all over the world compete, fight to secure an opportunity to sell their books and courses and entice people to sign up for one of their programs or retreats. Especially Tommy Triller’s weekend, where everyone pays a high fee for the Firewalk Experience. To walk barefoot, confidently, over a bed of hot coals.”

K.O. was incredulous. “What?”

“That’s Triller’s thing—people walking over hot coals. Supposedly it proves mind-over-body ability, that every ordinary Jack or Jane has extraordinary powers. I suppose—and this comment doesn’t leave this room—it’s sophomoric. But it sells.”

“Why do you need extra security?” Milan said.

“The hotel security will generally keep things in order,” Reeve Fesmire said, nodding at Swati. “City police officers will be present in case there are drunken squabbles, arguments over who sits where, crowd-control issues—but, unfortunately, there aren’t enough cops in Cleveland to fill the job properly. Your responsibility—assuming we come to an agreement—is to watch over the famous speakers, the really big ones, to keep them safe from the fans.” He chuckled. “And from each other.”

K.O. found that hard to believe. “There’s bad blood between them?”

Swati spoke up. “Like in any other business, it’s a question of who’s on top. Who is Number One? Who makes the most money? Who gets the best convention opportunities?” She covered her mouth with her hand again to hide her smile. “And who’s the most famous?”

“My guess,” K.O. said, “would be Dr. Ben Mayo.”

“Perhaps,” Fesmire said, “except that, forgetting TV for a moment, Tommy Triller makes the most in-person appearances, sells the most—resources. Gewgaws. He makes twice as much money as Dr. Ben. Did you ever see that really successful documentary they called The Secret Power? It was huge! Aired in every big city in America and in Europe, in theaters and arenas. Now it’s on cable TV all the time. It made Triller so damn famous! People credit him with starting the whole firewalking thing to unleash his clients’ secret power. He’s gotten thousands of people to do that.”

K.O. said, “Nobody burned their feet?”

“Triller says no, because they’ve freed themselves from their hang-ups and found their power—thanks to his training.”

“A miracle?”

Swati said, “I see no miracle about walking barefoot over hot coals—especially if it costs me seven thousand dollars.”

“That’s an expensive way to toast your toes,” Milan said. “Speaking of money, Mr. Fesmire—are you making us an offer?”

Fesmire shifted in his chair as if it were uncomfortable. “It’s important. In some ways these star speakers are children, with giant, demanding egos—and Tommy Triller has the most giant ego of all of them. My reputation, my entire business depends on him being—managed carefully. Since Ms. Sathe recommends you highly, I’m prepared to be extremely generous.”

“How generous?”

“It’s just the two of you?”

“You’re looking at my entire organization,” Milan said.

Fesmire played Beethoven on the tabletop with his fingers, considering it. Milan stayed silent, poker-faced, tapping K.O. under the table with his foot to make him keep quiet. Finally: “Three and a half days, from Thursday morning until Sunday noon, I propose a fee of fifteen thousand dollars.”

Milan did the math in his head, dividing by total hours—not as big a number as it sounded. But it was a good number. To K.O., it seemed a very big number.

Milan said, “Agreeable.”

“It’s a damn good thing,” Reeve Fesmire said, “because I wouldn’t pay you a nickel more.”


Chapter Three

Milan

Tobe and I had eaten dinner at Nighttown, about three blocks from my apartment, and had returned for a postprandial drink so we could spend some time with my dog, Herbie. I’d never owned a dog, and wound up with Herbie because his original owner died unexpectedly when I was on a case. Adoption from a shelter would have been unlikely, as he was the least attractive dog I’d ever seen—a combination of a mini-German shepherd from the neck up, and a Welsh corgi body for the rest of him. So I brought him home with me. After a year, I find myself becoming more attached to him every day, which is why Tobe and I spend more time in my apartment on the Cedar-Fairmount triangle in Cleveland Heights than in hers, which is on the West Side near the lake. Herbie wags what there is of his tail almost constantly and looks up at me with unconditional love. I feed him regularly and walk him three or four times a day. Often, I take him with me to my office so he doesn’t get lonely.

Nevertheless, Herbie is a world champion gas-passer—so if you meet him in person, try to stay upwind.

Tobe and I sipped on Courvoisier. Before her, I’d never bought a bottle of Courvoisier in my life. I laid out our meeting with Fesmire that morning for her, since it involved her police department. Finally she said, “When a big convention comes to town, Cleveland cops crawl all over the joint. Why do they need you?”

I picked up a VIP list and several pages I’d printed from Google. “There are big-deal names on here who need to be nannied while they’re in town.”

“Nannied? Washing out their undies, or finding them hookers or something else?”

“You know who Dr. Ben is?”

“I’d rather get a root canal than watch his television show—but sure, I know who he is,” Tobe said. “Is he the big-deal name?”

“One of them. Then there’s Tommy Triller.”

“The walking-on-fire man who starred in that Secret Power movie rip-off? What does he do for an encore? Change water into wine?”

“Whatever it is, he’s only slightly less rich than the Sultan of Brunei.” I scanned the list. “How about Dr. Lorelei Singleton?”

Tobe shook her head. “I’ve heard about this Dr. Lorelei, but I’ve never seen her.”

“Well, she’s no physician or psychologist—she doesn’t even have an honorary doctorate in anything.”

Tobe laughed. “ ‘I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV.’ That’s one way to make a buck.”

“She makes her money by hating gays, abortion, atheists, and putting down just about everyone who calls her show with a problem. She’s not the richest speaker at this convention, but she does OK, writing books about everything she hates, and knocks down about twenty grand every time she goes somewhere to give a talk.”

“Hell, I could earn twenty grand in one night,” Tobe said. “Robbing a bank.”

“These so-called celebrities all cheerfully loathe each other—jealous with a capital J. Most speakers on the second or third level, or even lower, hate them, too.”

“There’s a difference,” Tobe pointed out, “between jealousy and envy. You’re envious when other guys try to hit on me—but I don’t think you’re jealous.”

“Not when they see your badge, I’m not. Maybe you’ve even arrested this next guy,” I said, putting another sheet of paper on top. “Street killer turned millionaire hip hop star—Hy Jinx.”

“Never heard of him,” Tobe said, “not being a rapper fan.”

“His real name is Hakim Washington—a native Angeleno. By the time he was eighteen, he was a maven in a powerful drug gang that had weekly shoot-outs. Google says Hakim killed not only a rival gang member, but an eight-year-old who happened to be standing on the sidewalk.”

“Could they prove it?”

“The local D.A. went after him for Murder One, but his lawyer was better.”

Tobe sighed. “Drug dealers always afford the best lawyers—and the little shit walked, too! Why’s he making self-improvement speeches? Found Jesus, did he?”

“Bingo. He rapped all week long and preached in a neighborhood church on Sundays, until somebody told him he was more motivational than religious and hooked him up with the GMSA.”

“They still call him Jinx?”

“Calling him Hy Jinx draws bigger crowds than Hakim Washington. He just shows up, gives a forty-minute talk, and hangs around all weekend selling his books and his albums. So this convention is stuck with him—and K.O. and I are stuck with Tommy Triller.”

“You have movie stars at this piss-up, too?”

“John Wayne was a movie star. Everybody since him is a wannabe. No, our biggest film name is Siddartha West. She’s been in movies forever.”

“I read she’s into Ouija boards and tarot cards and astrology—and every day she throws three pennies in feng shui so she can learn about her own existence, if you can believe that. She swears she’s living her eighth life already. Does that mean she only has one life left to go?”

“Nine lives are for cats, Tobe. She gives spooky, woo-woo talks, telling people to take control of their next life as well as the current one. It pays her more money than the movies. I read this all on Google.”

“So you’re telling me that now I can just look up all my murder suspects, and Google will tell me the right one to arrest?”

“That’s why,” I said, “you have private eyes.”

“They’re paying you a lot?”

“They made a generous offer—and supplying hotel rooms for us for all three days of the convention.”

“I can’t believe you want me spending three nights at the Renaissance with you while you float through the hallways looking for would-be assassins. We did that hotel-buddy stuff last year in Ashtabula County. That was enough for me.”

“That was a crappy motel. This one is elegant.”

She frowned. “Seriously—extra round-the-clock security sounds like Triller expects trouble.”

“There’ll be some. Micro-mini celebrities are targets for the love-struck and the wannabes. Besides, if there wasn’t any trouble, I’d be out of business.”

[End of excerpt.]

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[Excerpted from the book Speaking of Murder, © Les Roberts. All rights reserved.]


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Excerpt: “Speaking of Murder” by Les Roberts

speaking-of-murder-hc

[Excerpted from the book Speaking of Murder, © Les Roberts. All rights reserved.]

Prologue

Milan

Do you ever get the feeling that you really need help?

I don’t mean help to open a jar of peanut butter, clean your garage, hold the ladder while you clean the gutters, or tell you what ingredient is missing when you’re cooking pasta sauce from scratch.

I don’t even mean if you’re elderly and some Boy Scout helps you cross the street, as wonderful as that might be.

No—the question is, do you need help to be a better human being so you can make more money, a lot more money, get promoted, be more successful, be more popular, make friends, get laid, or find The One and fall in love and make it stick?

Thousands of people—salesmen, athletes, ministers, ex-politicians, fading movie stars, academics and others—have become motivational speakers, metaphysical thought leaders, life coaches, self-appointed gurus, personal performance trainers, even cult leaders. They are ready to help change who you are—as long as your pockets are deep enough or your credit card limits are high enough to pay them well for their time.

Some are members of SHAM, the Self-Help and Actualization Movement; others, of the Get Rich Fast crowd. They crossbreed. Many you know by name—from real TV shows or bought-and-paid-for infomercials, public appearances, best-selling books, CDs, and lapel buttons and photos and bumper stickers, souvenirs and bobblehead dolls.

The Movement, so-called as if it were holy, might have gained its first foothold in America almost a century ago, when Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, became a blueprint for those losing their way on the path of life, and in need of scattered Hansel-and-Gretel breadcrumbs to help them on their journey.

I read that book as a teen, thinking the answer was far too simple for such a long book. I offer it without charging you an arm and leg: If you want to win friends and influence people, stop being an asshole.

Why am I talking about this industry, which earns nearly ten billion dollars every year? Because recently my business company, Milan Security, did a job for the GMSA—the Global Motivational Speakers Association, chock-full of the few who can successfully give self-help speeches.

The GMSA holds its major convention in a different city each year. A third of the speakers talk professionally for a living—sometimes a most handsome living, especially if they appear regularly on television, raking in six-figure speaking fees once only reserved for former United States presidents. Their shtick is telling everyone how they can become uber-rich, famous, popular, or adored. The other two-thirds are wannabe speakers and gurus hoping that if they just brush shoulders with superstars, some magic might stick to them. More likely, it’ll be bullshit rubbing off.

Most speakers tell you how to be successful in business, in life, in sports, and in love. Of course, if they just flat-out told you not to be an asshole, and you listened to them, they’d all be out of business.

Their most recent GMSA whoop-de-do was held in Cleveland, which is why I got involved—hauled on board for an entire weekend and getting paid nowhere near what top-rung speakers earn for fifty minutes’ work—to augment the security of the venerable Renaissance Hotel, looming over Public Square. It’s one hundred years old, within walking distance of Lake Erie, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Cuyahoga River that twists and turns its way through downtown, and just steps away from the Horseshoe Casino. The facilities are spacious and pleasant, the rooms clean, with the most spectacular views either of the square itself, the Cuyahoga River, or the lake, and close to some of the Midwest’s best restaurants.

My assistant came along with me. He’s Kevin O’Bannion, preferring to be called K.O., both for his initials and for his ability to score knockouts frequently whenever he gets physical with others who only look bigger and stronger than he does. That’s one of the reasons I keep him around. He fights better than I ever did, and if he happens to get tagged a time or two, his youth heals him quickly. Thirty years my junior, his teenage captivity in juvenile detention and three army combat tours in the Middle East taught him to handle any situations that might arise.

The Global Motivational Speakers Association is rife with self-anointed superstars, desperate wannabes, and a scruffy crew of never-gonna-bes all milling around the hotel, along with the glassy-eyed attendees looking for the fairy dust to change them from losers in business and life into wealthy entrepreneurs because they’re told nobody, but nobody, works for someone else—hoping some maven notices them, buys them a drink, or takes them to bed.

Or perhaps all three.

When hosting a large convention of celebrities and hangers-on, the Renaissance Hotel goes through a great deal of planning and preparation before anything happens.

And that’s where I came in.


Chapter One

Milan

Ask Americans what they’re afraid of, and one fear is head and shoulders above the others. Not heights, snakes, germs, fire, claustrophobia, the dark, or even the terror of lack of sanitation that sends you outside behind a bush rather than daring to sit down on a public toilet.

Most people are scared stiff of public speaking.

It doesn’t frighten me—six foot three and two hundred thirty pounds on a good day—but then I rarely speak to more than six people at one time. I’m a private investigator, emphasis on “private.” I’m also discreet, if you need someone quietly poking around in anything you’re too nervous to examine on your own.

I was explaining all this nervousness of speaking in public to my “significant other.” I call her that because we aren’t married, so I can’t say “wife” or “spouse,” and at our ages, there’s no way we can refer to one another as “boyfriend and girlfriend” without sounding like teenagers on a corny TV sitcom. In any event, her name is Tobe Blaine, and she is a homicide detective sergeant with the Cleveland Police Department.

The evening after I’d been interviewed for the job, Tobe and I were having dinner at Corleone’s, on the West Side, a restaurant situated at one corner of a strip mall. Just driving by it, you’d never know how elegant it is inside, nor how good the food is. Both the manager and the waitress greeted Tobe by name, so I knew she’d been there several times before.

Corleone’s also boasts a superb wine list.

I’m not yet a wine-drinker. For most of my adult years I was a beer guy—Cleveland is one of the best beer towns in America—until Tobe came along and started introducing me to beverages with which I’d had little or no experience. Single malt scotch, hand-tended bourbon made in very small batches, and gin martinis that are delicious but too hard to handle.

“I don’t understand,” Tobe was saying. She had little problem with martinis and was sipping hers, garnished as usual with a lemon peel twist and not the standard olive. “When hotels have big conventions, they have their own security department, and if they need more, they hire local police departments to look out for them, so nobody gets totally shitfaced in the bar and then trashes their room like they were twenty-year-old rock stars.”

I said, “They have celebrities coming, too.”

“Kanye West?”

“Who?”

She snickered. “I forgot you never even heard of the Kardashians, so you sure wouldn’t know Kanye West.”

“I do know who the Kardashians are,” I said. “I just can’t tell them apart.”

“Nobody can,” she said. “So the P.D. protects the peasants who show up there to spend money, and you take care of the big shots who make the money?”

“Something like that.”

“Interesting job, Milan—kissing the tushies of famous celebrities. I only have to butt heads with stone-cold killers.”

“Lucky you, Tobe. Whoever butts heads with you loses.”

“That,” Tobe Blaine said, “is why I get the big bucks.” She opened her menu. “I’m starved. Let’s eat.”

We had a great dinner, but I kept running over in my head the meeting I’d had that morning in my office with the head of security at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel.

Her name was Swati S. Sathe, a handsome fifty-ish woman of East Indian descent who had a classy hairdo and subtle but attractive make-up, and if she’d ever smoked a fifty-cent cigar in her life like the hotel dicks in old movies used to, I doubt anyone ever saw her do it.

“I was a police detective in India—Bangalore,” she said when I asked how she wound up with her present job. “When my husband and I moved here for his business, I applied to the Renaissance Hotel. They were interested in a security boss, and the position sounded easier to handle than a city of more than five million people.”

K.O., seated at his desk near the window, observed, “Nobody ever said Cleveland is easy.”

She looked at him. “That’s why I’m here. The Global Motivational Speakers Association’s having its convention here next month, with some of the biggest names in the business. We expect at least two thousand people, and we’ll need extra support.”

“Are you expecting trouble, Ms. Sathe?”

“I’m expecting there won’t be any trouble, thanks to extra security.” She cleared her throat. “If you take this assignment, Mr. Jacovich, you’ll have to watch some of those prestigious guests more closely than others.”

“Why is that? Have any of them had death threats?”

“If you’re famous,” Swati Sathe shrugged, “really famous, there’s always a small fringe group that hates your guts, mostly because of your success and their lack of it. The biggest name scheduled to show up,” she said, removing a list from her jacket pocket, “is Tommy Triller.”

I said, “He’s a singer?”

That made K.O. laugh. “Have you been living in a coal mine, Milan? Tommy Triller is a motivational speaker. He’s huge!”

“Nobody made any speeches in my coal mine, K.O.”

Ms. Sathe hid her smile with her hand. “Triller has written fifteen books, he’s made six yearly half-hour infomercials that air everywhere, and also a few real TV specials a year. He packs tens of thousands of fans into seminars all over the country and in Canada, too, and sells five- and seven-day retreats, coaching programs, and other events where there are all sorts of inspiring things to do—and he charges about seven thousand dollars to be there.”

K.O. looked disappointed. “No T-shirts?”

“Tons of them with his picture on them,” Ms. Sathe said seriously. “Also buttons, bumper stickers, photographs, ballpoint pens, and sayings of his, framed or on plaques that are supposed to magically change you from a washout into a superhero. The celebrities want to create a feeding frenzy—a stampede to the vendors’ room at the Center to draw convention-goers with money to them like moths to a flame. It’s all meant as a transformation.

“I’m wondering, Ms. Sathe,” I said, “how you came to us for what’s little more than bodyguarding. There are plenty of companies in town that provide that.”

“Frankly, the company we’d contacted first chose to bow out.”

“Why?”

She shrugged. “I didn’t ask why. I started looking around for a replacement—and it’s you.”

“Again, why us?”

“Frankly, a high-up in your police department highly recommended you.”

“A high-up? Not the police chief?”

“No, Mr. Jacovich. They turned me on to someone in the homicide division, and she gave us your name.”

“Detective Sergeant Blaine?”

“No—someone higher up than that,” she said. “Lieutenant McHargue, I believe.”

That caught me off-guard. Lieutenant Florence McHargue, Tobe’s boss, wouldn’t recommend me for anything except a one-way ticket to Timbuktu.

“And you want us for all four days?” I said.

“That’s correct.”

“And,” K.O. broke in, “to pay special attention to Tommy Triller?”

“He’s the one speaker who is most successful—he banks approximately a hundred million dollars annually.”

“That’s more than I make in a week,” K.O. said. “For selling T-shirts?”

“For selling hope,” Ms. Sathe said, “and marketing skills. And T-shirts.”

I said, “Is this extra security all about him?”

“For the most part. He’s asked the convention for extra security—and nobody has explained why to me.”

“If I made a hundred mil a year,” K.O. said, “I’d want extra security, too.”

“True,” she said, checking her list again. “But there are others. You have a TV set—so you know who Dr. Ben is.”

Naturally I knew who Dr. Ben is. Doesn’t everybody? Dr. Ben Mayo, sporting a gleaming pate and overdoing an old-boy yahoo drawl, has his own eponymous daily TV show, now in its twelfth year, featuring an endless parade of guests whining about their problems, hoping that within sixty minutes he’ll identify the cause of their misery and pompously pronounce a four-sentence cure that makes them feel better about themselves so they can go home and sin or suffer no more. This is the driving force behind his inspirational self-help books, courses, web sites, apps, and YouTube videos, and his fees for endorsing everything from weight loss pills to rehab centers to used cars.

Mayo, with a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina and a doctorate from Michigan State, had been a psychologist for several years, zeroing in on marriage issues. But once battling his way onto television and with the multi-millions he pockets annually, he now deals with business entrepreneurs whose careers are threatened, hotshot salesmen stuck in no-sell slumps, obnoxious neighbors with barking dogs, meddling in-laws, drugs and booze and anorexics and bulimics, dysfunctional families, out-of-control children, and people who weigh nine hundred pounds and can’t haul themselves out of bed.

I said, “Will Triller and Dr. Mayo need more protection than the other two thousand attendees?”

“Everyone calls him Dr. Ben,” she went on. “He and Triller are the biggest celebrities in this particular field.” She made a note on her paper. “I’ve brought you a complete list of the attendees and a separate list of—”

“The big shots?” K.O. asked.

“Mr. O’Bannion, there are many so-called ‘big shots’ in this group if you happen to be in the self-help business.” She studied K.O. “You don’t look like you need any help.”

“Mr. O’Bannion,” I said with more weight than necessary, since his under-thirty smart-assness gets on my nerves on a daily basis, “needs all the help he can get—but not from spending his last nickel on snake-oil salesmen.”

“Maybe,” Swati Sathe said, “but you won’t be paying them; they’ll pay you.”

“I thought the hotel was hiring us.”

She shook her head. “Triller asked the Global Motivational Speakers for extra security—and since the organization’s headquarters are in Minneapolis and nowhere near Cleveland, they asked me to do their legwork.” She raised her eyebrows. “Asked isn’t quite right. They’re bringing a lot of business to this hotel, so they demanded we find someone. But you’ll be working for them, not us—watching over the biggest of the big shots.” She picked her purse up and pushed her chair back from across my desk. “The executive director of the GMSA will be in town the day after tomorrow to meet you. He’ll be more specific.”

“About what?” K.O. asked.

“About everything,” Sathe said, “including how much he’s going to pay you.”

* * *

The Cuyahoga River—Cuyahoga is an Indian word meaning Crooked River, which means it’s the Crooked River River—flows right by my second-floor office in The Flats. During all but the worst weather, enormous ore boats navigate the hairpin turn where my building is, Collision Bend. It’s so named because in the old days, big boats heading in opposite directions to and from Lake Erie, nearly a mile farther north, would often crash into each other. Now, though it’s infrequent, they still do.

My view encompasses where the Cleveland Indians play baseball, Progressive Field, which used to be called Jacobs Field, more popularly “The Jake,” and the Quicken Loans Arena, “The Q,” where the Cavaliers play basketball, which was built as the Gund Arena. I miss the old “Jake” name, as everyone else does—and most still call it that.

It’s a good idea they changed the Gund Arena’s name, though. Saying “Gund Arena” aloud, quickly, always sounded like a sexually transmitted disease.

I was at the window enjoying the brightness of mid-October when K.O. came out of the john. “Ever been inside the Renaissance Hotel?” I said.

“Never had a reason to go there.”

“Well, you’ll get a good look at it the day after tomorrow.”

“Will I have to wear a tie?”

“Wear what you want—if you prefer looking like a bum.”

“Well, you hardly ever wear a tie.” He slid behind his desk. “But considering your ties, I wouldn’t blame you.”

He’s correct; my ties are awful. Tobe Blaine gave me a beautiful Jerry Garcia tie for my birthday, but so far I’ve had no occasion to wear it. Tomorrow might be its lucky day.

Tobe and I have been together for a year and a half—my longest romance since my marriage, which ended badly a quarter century ago. It works because she understands that what I do for a living sometimes gets sticky. She’s a Cleveland cop, but unlikely to be involved in the GMSA’s annual get-together. Her area is murder.

And nobody ever gets murdered at a GMSA convention—unless they get talked to death.

Click here to read more chapters.


[Excerpted from the book Speaking of Murder, © Les Roberts. All rights reserved.]


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Charles Ramsey on his role in the rescue of Amanda Berry from the home of Ariel Castro

Dead Giveaway, a book by Charles Ramsey: The Rescue, Hamburgers, White Folks, and Instant Celebrity . . . What You Saw on TV Doesn’t Begin to Tell the Story . . .

Dead Giveaway, a book by Charles Ramsey: The Rescue, Hamburgers, White Folks, and Instant Celebrity . . . What You Saw on TV Doesn’t Begin to Tell the Story . . .


Excerpted from the book “Dead Giveaway,” © Charles Ramsey and Randy Nyerges. All rights reserved.


[This excerpt begins in the late afternoon on Monday, May 6, 2013, after Charles Ramsey left his local McDonald’s at West 32nd Street and Clark Avenue and headed to his home at 2203 Seymour Avenue, next door to Ariel Castro.]

I rolled up on my house and parked my bike on my porch. I went in the house, took a seat on my couch, and took a bite into that juicy Big Mac. Life was tough, but it was good.

And then something happened that would change the lives of so many people in so many ways . . .

Sitting there, burger in hand, I heard a sudden banging from next door. At first I didn’t know what to make of it, and I wanted my sandwich. But the banging continued. It got louder. Then I heard a woman’s scream—the blood-curdling scream that you would hear if a kid got run over by a car.

“SOMEBODY HELP!”

Children playing on the street froze. Then more cries for help. I thought I’d seen Ariel go off to work, so I had not a clue as to what was going on. I looked outside and saw this Dominican dude, Angel Cordero, run across the street and onto the sidewalk. Without putting down my sandwich I ran to the sidewalk where Angel was standing.

BANG BANG BANG.

“Who the fuck is that?” I asked Angel.

“I don’t know,” Angel said, “but I’m not going up there.”

I knew that Angel and Ariel didn’t like each other, not for anything specific other than Angel was Dominican and Ariel was Puerto Rican. I guess that made them something like natural enemies within the Hispanic world, I don’t know.

“Ok, I’m gonna check it out,” I said. “You watch my back.”

Big Mac still in hand, I ran up to Ariel’s porch while Angel stayed behind. There was this young, attractive white woman, wearing a white tank top, clutching a child, lodged behind the storm door, banging and screaming.

“Get me out of here! Get me the fuck out of here!” she shrieked.

I was stunned. I had believed all this time that Ariel lived alone. I had never seen anyone over there other than him, other than the little girl I thought was his granddaughter. I figured this was some sort of domestic violence thing, a situation I was all too familiar with.

I stood on the porch. “How the hell did you get in there?” I asked this frantic woman. She had squeezed her left arm out from behind the storm door and was in no mood for a conversation.

“Just get me outta here!” she yelled.

I grabbed the storm door handle and yanked. Then I noticed the door was locked shut from the inside. I gave a couple more yanks, but that door wasn’t going to budge. The girl gave the bottom panel a few meager kicks.

“Get the fuck back, bitch,” I yelled. “I’m gonna kick the door in.”

So I kicked that bottom panel with everything I had. Nothing. I picked my leg up and kicked it again, beating in the bottom panel of the aluminum door but not all the way. In my mind I knew I better act fast—not because it was time to be a hero, but because I was taking my own life into my hands. What do you think would have happened to me if a neighborhood of Puerto Ricans saw a scary-looking black dude trying to kick down the door of one of their fellow countrymen? I gave it one more size 13 kick and the panel broke inward. The girl crawled out and onto the porch, where I reached down to help her up. She got up, clutched onto me, then turned around and reached back through the busted bottom panel. The child was crying hysterically. The woman then pulled the diapered child through the bashed-in storm door. It was a little girl about six years old. She was screaming in terror.

But I recognized her! It was the little girl I had always believed was Ariel’s granddaughter.

Ariel spent a fair amount of time working on his cars and motorcycles in his backyard. He never cleaned up the oil or antifreeze that leaked all over the place. This little girl played with two oily dogs, a Chihuahua and a small white poodle, in Ariel’s grimy back yard. I had always wondered why I only saw the little girl and never her mother or father.

“Can you shut this kid up?” I said, more annoyed than anything.

“She just wants her daddy,” the girl said.

“Well then call the motherfucker!” I yelled.

“Ariel is her daddy,” she said.

Now I was really confused. Ariel had a kid? And who was this pretty little white girl and how did she get here? Nothing made sense.

The girl turns to me and says, “Call 911. I’m Amanda Berry.” At first, the name didn’t ring a bell. It sounded like she said Linda something. My cell phone was sitting in my living room, so I told her to follow me. We stepped inside my house, and I spotted my phone. I picked it up and handed it to her.

Amanda looked at the phone in bewilderment. Little did I know she had been locked down in there for 10 years. Little did she know how to operate a touch-screen cell phone.

“I don’t know how to work this,” she said, still panicked, her daughter still screaming. I took the phone and punched in the three numbers, putting through a call that would literally be heard around the world. My language was coarse, but in a panic situation like this I didn’t have time to refine my King’s English.

The 911 operator answered, and I let it fly.

“I’m at 2207 Seymour, West 25th. Hey, check this out. I just came from McDonald’s, right? I’m on my porch, eating my li’l food, right? This broad is tryin’ to break out the fuckin’ house next door to me. So, it’s a bunch of people on the street right now and shit, so we like well, what’s wrong? What’s the problem? She like, ‘This motherfucker done kidnapped me and my daughter and we been in this bitch.’ She said her name was Linda Berry or some shit, I don’t know who the fuck that is. I just moved over here, bro.”

“Sir, sir, sir, sir. You have to calm down and slow down,” the dispatcher said. “Is she still in the street?” Sorry to say this, but that operator was a fuckin’ moron. I wasn’t yelling or screaming or talking over him.

“Yeah, I’m lookin’ at her. She callin’ y’all. She on another phone.”

I had told Amanda to call 911 herself because I was convinced that the police were going to think I was some screwball crazyass, especially after dealing with that moronic operator.

“Is she black, white, or Hispanic?”

“Uh, she white. But the baby look Hispanic.”

“Okay, what is she wearing?”

“Uh, white tank top, light blue, uh, sweatpants. Like a wife-beater.”

“Do you know the address next door? That she said she was in?”

“Yeah, 2207. I’m lookin’ at it!”

“OK, I thought that was your address.”

“Nah, I’m smarter than that, bro. I’m telling you where the crime was.”

(At this point, the dispatcher asked for my name and phone number. When the Cleveland Police first released the 911 tape, this part was not edited out. Later, after the world had already heard it, most media outlets bleeped that out.)

“And the people she said that did this? Do you know if they still in the house?”

“I don’t have a fuckin’ clue, bro. I’m just standing here with my McDonald’s.”

The dispatcher asked if she needed an ambulance. I asked Amanda, and she said to send everything.

“She in a panic, bro. I think she been kidnapped so, you know, put yourself in her shoes.”

“We’ll send the police out.”

“There you go!”

I’m gonna say this here once and only once. There have been several people on the news and on the Internet who said Angel Cordero ran up to the door and kicked it in. Others said this lady Aurora Marti, who lived across the street, ran up to the porch. They’re all mistaken or fuckin’ liars. Their motivation? Hard to say, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some were trying to weasel in on reward money. If anyone has any question, just ask Amanda Berry: Who kicked in your door, the Dominican guy or the black guy? In fact, Cleveland Police detective Andrew Harasimchuk asked Amanda that very question. Here’s what he said later, at Ariel’s sentencing hearing in August:

“She was able to open the main door of the home, then the storm door. The screen door was locked and she couldn’t open it.

“She began banging on the glass and calling for help. At this time a man and a woman from across the street came to Ariel Castro’s yard and while there in the yard, a man from next door also came over and was up on the porch and began telling Amanda to kick out the bottom panel of the door.”

Case closed.

[End of excerpt.]

Charles Ramsey’s book Dead Giveaway is available in paperback and as an ebook from all major retailers. More information and samples here.

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It has Been 25 Years. Do you think Amy Mihaljevic’s Killer Can Ever Be Found?

Amy: My Search for Her Killer, a book by James Renner: Secrets and Suspects in the Unsolved Murder of Amy Mihaljevic

amy-sc
Twenty five years ago this week Amy Mihaljevic disappeared from Bay Village, Ohio, but investigative journalist James Renner hasn’t stopped trying to solve the mystery behind her murder. He believes that someone may have information that can solve the puzzle and they may not even know it. In this sample chapter from his 2006 book Amy: My Search For Her Killer, Renner breaks down the final hours of Amy’s life before she is last seen in a parking lot across from the Bay Village police department. He believes that details such as these may encourage someone to provide the information that investigators may need to solve the crime.

Minute by Minute

The day Amy was taken, Bay Village was enjoying an Indian summer. Though it was late October, a balmy breeze cut off Lake Erie. It was the last breath of summer warmth before the world fell cold again until spring.

A little after 6 a.m., Amy awoke and dressed herself. Sweats again. She picked out green pants and a pale green sweatshirt with lavender trim. She brushed her hair and slipped on her favorite earrings, silhouettes of horse heads rendered in turquoise, mounted on gold studs.

On the way out the door, Amy put on a white windbreaker; it was still a little chilly first thing in the morning. She slipped on a pair of black riding boots, laced up the front. She slung a blue denim book bag with red piping around her shoulders, having recently grown too old for that silly koala backpack.

Outside, she climbed onto her blue antique bike and met up with Kristen Balas and Katy from down the road. Together, they pedaled to the middle school.

Amy sat at her desk in Ms. Stewart’s classroom before the 7:50 a.m. bell.

The students’ schedules were abbreviated that day thanks to an assembly at the nearby high school. Amy and her friends climbed onto buses for the short ride. Olivia Masiak, who was new to Bay Village but had become fast friends with Amy, sat alone as the other students stepped inside.

“I remember you, you’re Liv! I haven’t seen you in such a long time!” Amy shouted, pretending that they had just been reunited after twenty years. Amy was always play-acting with her friends. She slid into the empty seat next to Olivia. They sat next to each other at the assembly and listened to officer Mark Spaetzel talk about the dangers of strangers. (Masiak and several other students remembered the talk taking place at the high school assembly; Spaetzel, though, recalls giving it in Amy’s classroom at the middle school.)

Later, Amy ate spaghetti for lunch in the school cafeteria.

For many of her classmates, the school day was nothing special. Events meshed together with the days and years that came before. It’s hard for most of them to recall when they last saw Amy alive.

Renee Moran later told a reporter that she thought Amy had been oddly quiet the whole week. Elizabeth Jeffers remembers talking to Amy near her locker sometime on Friday, though she cannot pinpoint a specific time. Kristy Sabo recalls passing the door to Amy’s classroom and seeing her friend scribbling on a piece of paper.

Classes let out that day at 2:10 p.m. for the fifth-graders. Normally, Amy would reclaim her bike from the rack, but this day she left it behind.

“Can I walk with you?” she asked Olivia Masiak, as she jogged up beside her.

“You never walk this way,” said Olivia. (Amy would normally have been on her bike.)

“I’m meeting someone,” Amy answered. “I’m meeting a friend.”

A few minutes later, they crossed in front of the shopping plaza.

“This is where I’m at,” Amy said.

A classmate named Haley Pritchard, walking a few steps behind them, watched Amy dart over to a black van. It looked like Amy knew the owner of the vehicle. But then, Amy stepped away and walked toward Baskin-Robbins. She did not go into the ice cream shop. She stood outside, swinging around a pole, keeping her head down, apparently lost in thought.

Across the street, almost every cop in Bay Village was assembled for a weekly staff meeting called by Chief William Gareau. A few patrol cars remained on duty. Around 2:30 p.m., one of those cruisers pulled into the plaza.

Outside Bay Lanes, a group of older kids nervously watched the officer approach. Dan Monnett, Nicky Kline, Jill Prochaska, and Dave Kotinsley were skipping last period, enjoying the last perfect afternoon of the year. The cruiser stopped in front of the gang, and the officer stepped out to give them a stern talking-to. Avoiding the cop’s eyes, Dan looked over to the girl in front of the ice cream shop and watched her swing around in lazy circles.

Less than twenty feet from Amy, Jim Kapucinski loitered outside his barbershop, surveying the parking lot. Not that there was much to see. His business was empty, as was everyone else’s, practically. There were only five vehicles parked there, and those probably belonged to the employees of the other various shops. He casually monitored the teens standing by Bay Lanes.

A fifth-grader named Julius Holinek was in the plaza, too. He was the second eyewitness that Maddie did not want to name. And he also watched Amy twirl around. However, it’s hard to say exactly where he was standing. Though he witnessed Amy’s abduction, he has remained silent about the crime. As of this writing, he was living in Florida, having graduated college as a star football player. He did not respond to repeated interview requests. His parents said the experience was too troubling for him to remember. But he was, after all, able to live his life.

It was around 2:45 p.m. when Maddie approached Baskin-Robbins.

“Amy!” Holinek called out. It sounded like a taunt to Maddie, so she watched him to see if he might bother Amy. And she watched as a well-dressed man in a beige jacket walked up to her instead. He leaned forward and whispered something in Amy’s ear. He put his arm around her and led Amy away.

Must be her dad, Maddie thought.

Ten minutes after 3 p.m., Amy’s brother Jason arrived home. He called Margaret’s desk at Tradin’ Times and told her Amy was not there.

A few minutes later, Margaret’s phone rang again. It was Amy. Margaret assumed Amy was calling from home. Amy told her mother she had stayed after school for choir auditions. But she seemed odd, as if she was rushing the conversation along. It so unnerved Margaret that she packed up her things for the weekend and left work early.

Margaret pulled into the driveway on Lindford Drive at around 4 p.m. Jason was there. She soon realized Amy had never been home. She also realized Amy must have lied to her, though she couldn’t understand why. It wasn’t like her. Maternal instinct kicking in, she rushed to the middle school. Amy’s bike was still in the rack. It was a detail that terrified Margaret. It seemed to suggest something terrible. Things were off-kilter. This was not routine, not normal. She had never known Amy to lie.

Later, Margaret would learn it was only the promise of surprising her with a present that caused Amy to make a series of poor choices that day.

From school, Margaret drove to the police station and relayed her feelings to Officer Barbara Slepecky. Slepecky did not waste time treating Amy as a runaway, which is standard protocol. She believed in Margaret’s instincts. Somehow she knew this was the real deal.

A call went out to officers in surrounding towns at 5:58 p.m. The call included an incomplete description of Amy.

Mark Mihaljevic, unaware of the growing storm that would batter his life, arrived home from work at 6:30 to find his family fractured. He spent the rest of the evening scouring Bay Village with a friend. He drove his car down every street between his house and Holly Hill Farms, between the school and Huntington Park. He trampled through ravines and woods, calling his daughter’s name in all directions.

At 11 p.m., thanks to the efforts of Jeanne Silver—then Jeanne Sabo—Amy’s face was broadcast on the local news channels. Ohio was introduced to Amy Mihaljevic for the first time.


Excerpted from the book Amy: My Search For Her Killer, © James Renner. All rights reserved. You can follow James Renner’s updates and read more about his other books on his blog at www.JamesRenner.com.