End of Summer Sale: Solstice Island by Mae Clair – FREE

End of Summer Sale: Solstice Island by Mae Clair is FREE 8/31 and 9/1

Solstice Island Final

#cryptidfiction #romance #adventure 

I know summer isn’t officially over until the autumnal equinox rolls around mid-September, but by the time the calendar reads August 31, I’m already thinking fall. My husband and I will be closing our pool this coming weekend, Halloween stuff is stocked in most every store I visit, and the days are growing noticeably shorter. I live in the northeast where summer is much, much too short. Blink and it’s easy to miss. I love fall, but I thrive on summer. So…I’m lamenting the demise of my favorite season with an end of summer sale on SOLSTICE ISLAND, my breezy romantic adventure novella.

Why should you read it (other than the fact it’s like a shot of summer wrapped up inside Kindle pages)? I’m glad you asked. [Symbol]

The Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Read Solstice Island by Mae Clair:

10.  You’ll meet a hot charter boat captain trying to live down his family legacy.

9.   You’ll encounter a spunky heroine cryptozoologist, determined hot captain should embrace said family legacy and all the baggage that goes with it.

8.   You’ll be able to impress your friends with your stunning new knowledge of cryptozoology.

7.   You may find yourself struck by the uncontrollable urge to look up blurry images of strange creatures online or go on a cryptid hunt (think Loch Ness, Big Foot, and the Jersey Devil).

6.   You’ll learn why you should never ignore a craving for mint chocolate chip ice cream.

5.   The next time your boat is attacked by a rampaging sea monster, you’ll know precisely what to do.

4.   You’ll be swept up in a tale of romance, adventure, and folklore.

3.   You’ll uncover buried treasure, thwart a villain, and discover a new use for a boat oar.

2.   As a 72 page novella, SOLSTICE ISLAND makes a quick end of summer read.

And the number one reason you should read SOLSTICE ISLAND:

1.   It’s FREE on Amazon August 31 and September 1!


Can an ancient leviathan work magic between a practical man and an idealistic woman?

Rylie Carswell is an amateur cryptozoologist in search of a mythical creature, the Sea Goliath. In order to reach Solstice Island, a location the ancient leviathan is rumored to haunt, she’s forced to hire charter boat captain, Daniel Decatur.

Initially, Daniel wants nothing to do with the trip or the fool woman waving double payment in his face. Convinced she’s yet another loony treasure hunter looking for gold on the remote island, he reluctantly agrees. An embittered neighbor wants to have his charter license yanked, so the extra cash will help him stay afloat.

It doesn’t take long for Daniel to realize Rylie is after the same beast his parents were tracking when they mysteriously vanished ten years earlier. He’s avoided all links to cryptozoology ever since, but the smart and sexy cryptid hunter has him second-guessing his oath and wondering what he’s signed on for.

Warning:  A family legacy, glowing plankton and rough waters.

Mae Clair

About Mae Clair:

Mae Clair has been chasing myth, monsters and folklore through research and reading since she was a kid. As an adult, she stumbled onto the field of cryptozoology and realized there were others like her who loved speculating about weird and wonderful creatures.

Her blog, From the Pen of Mae Clair, features a weekly post each Monday where she examines a different myth or urban legend. In 2013 and 2015, she journeyed to West Virginia to learn more about the legendary Mothman, a creature who will factor into an upcoming series of novels.

As a writer, she pens tales of romantic mystery flavored with a twist of myth or folklore. Married to her high school sweetheart, Mae lives in Pennsylvania. Her passions include cats, history and exploring old graveyards.  Look for Mae on her website at MaeClair.net

You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:

Website and Blog

Twitter (@MaeClair1)

Facebook Author Page

Amazon Author Page


Sign up for Mae’s Newsletter

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Add SOLSTICE ISLAND to your Goodreads TBR

Murder Blog Is Moving – Yay!

Though I’m biting my nails to the quick, I’m very excited to announce that Murder Blog is moving to a self-hosted site. The new site, if all goes according to plan, will be the same domain: http://www.suecoletta.com. I’m adding the upgrade to redirect http://www.crimewriterblog.com to the new site too, so, God willing, I won’t lose all of you in the process.

Why am I chancing this right before Marred is set for pre-release?

Because I’m a glutton for punishment I want to do so many things that WordPress.com won’t allow. As many of you know, we’re at the mercy of WordPress.com to tell us what we can and cannot do.

That’s not okay with me anymore. Also, I can only go so far with WordPress.com. I’d need to add images to the sidebar to sell books, I can’t use a Hello Bar, or any HTML coding. With the move I can also get better SEO ratings because I’ll able to track what works and what doesn’t. The reasons are endless.

WordPress.com was my home for so long it’s still kind of sad to leave. But I’m a firm believer in looking forward, not back. In order for me to achieve my new goals I must make a change. So, I’m jumping in with both feet and hoping for the best (after hours and hours of research).

The only con that I can see is the ability to reblog, which you cannot do on WordPress.org. However, if anyone wishes to republish a post, contact me using my email or contact form, both of which can be found here.

In this post, as well as notifying you of the change I figured I’d share the new features in case anyone else is thinking of moving. If you are, here are simple step-by-step instructions on how to do it: Moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.

The best part of moving to a self-hosted are plugins. Here’s a list of some of the ones I’m going to use and what they do:

Comment Luv

I love this plugin. It’s sharing to the fullest degree. If you’re not familiar with this plugin, I’ll explain. When you comment on a post a link will appear next to your name with your latest post. So if you have a new book release, a kickass post, or even just a recent post you’re especially proud of, come by and leave me a comment. All my readers will see your link and you could get new readers. How cool is that?

Shareaholic or Easy Social Share (haven’t decided yet)

I already have share buttons, but these plugins allow for sharing buttons on the sidebar, big or small, you have more flexibility and more options. Plus, you can track your shares. Very cool.

Dig Dig

Allows a floating share bar. Not sure if the others do as well. Need to research more.

Google Analytics by Yoast

This plugin tracks your site and gives lots of information about your stats.

Yoast SEO

I just took a webinar from Mary at Write to Done about using SEO to optimize posts for first page ranking on Google. Stay tuned for an eye-opening post about how to best optimize your posts. She recommended this plugin.


Ban that spam!

Front End Editor

Checks for typos and grammatical errors. A must, in my book!

Copyright Proof

So no one can steal your content and post as their own. I’m really not worried about it, but I might as well include it.

Mail Chimp for WordPress

No brainer. It intergrades Mail Chimp with the site so I can use an actual opt-in box rather than the hassle of using an image and having readers click a million times to get to the sign-up page.

Mail Poet

This is cool. It will send you guys an email of my new posts and when I reply to your comments. Because I don’t think I’ll be in your readers anymore, I needed a way to reach you guys. You should have the option of choosing whether you receive a “digest” or “instant”. Digest would be a weekly roundup and instant is self-explanatory.

Facebook and Twitter Widgets

Post directly to FB from the site. Or add Facebook Feed to show your custom feed for your author page. There’s also a Facebook Like Box widget. Show your latest Twitter timeline.

Hello Bar

Instead of those annoying pop-ups a Hello Bar gives a call-to-action discreetly at the top of each post and page.

Social Media Widget

Posts automatically to all my social media sites.


This is really cool. You can ask your readers to add your book to their To-Read List, which raises your rank on Goodreads. All you authors want one of these, huh? Squee!

Subscribe to Comments

Allows non-followers to subscribe to comments so when I reply they’ll get a notification.

Easy Digital Download and WooCommerce

To sell books directly from site, with shopping cart, discount options, and user data. Turn your site into an online store on the sidebar. How cool is that?

Love It Pro

Because WordPress.org does not use “likes,” this plugin puts a tiny heart at the bottom of a post so you can “love it.” Awesomely adorable!

Jet Pack

This is a beast of a plugin with all kinds of features, including a social sharing. I need this in order to switch, but there are tons of other things to do with this plugin. I can hardly wait to see what they are.

WP Touch 3

To make your content mobile-friendly.

Super Cache

This plugin has more users than there are people in Costa Rico. Why? Because it streamlines your site for super fast uploading and allows you to use a static page, like I do now, turning your blog into a website as well.

Notification Bar

Because WordPress.org does not have one, I’ll have to install this plugin in order to see my notifications.

Contact Form 7

I get so many people using my contact form on the front page that I’d be remiss not to include one on my new site.

BackUp WordPress

This is really cool. You never know when problems can arise. So with this, you back up every time you publish and if anything goes wrong…voila. You’re up and running in minutes. Incidentally, you can get your backups emailed to you so they don’t take up space on your hard drive. Cool, right?

Uber Menu (premium feature)

This only costs $19., but I think it’s important to have. With this menu option you can create drop down menus, layered menus, all kinds of different menus to make navigation easy for your users.

Security Ninja

There are two. The Lite, which is free, and the regular. This protects your site from hackers. Very important. Wouldn’t you agree?

Pretty Pink Lite

This is cool, too. You know how bitly.com shortens links but turns them generic? Well, Pretty Pink allows you to customize short links for sharing, using your domain name, or anything else you want, and tracks that link wherever it goes. You can see how well a post is doing on Twitter, or any other SM site, by using this feature.

WP Google Fonts

No more paying for the custom fonts that have a limited supply and you can only use one font for certain things, like header, site title, post font. With WP Google Fonts you can choose from 600 fonts and use them wherever and whenever you want in your theme.


And this free plugin allows you to change the font in portions of your posts and pages, and/or change the color too.


Yet Another Related Posts Plugin allows readers to see related content, like you get with WordPress.com. I get many click-throughs to other posts this way, so I’d be remiss not to have this plugin.

Automattic (yup, two “t’s)

If you’re thinking of switching, you should add this plugin to ensure your WP site stays up-to-date and working properly. With one click you’re all set, and safe from hackers, too.

Plugin Performance Plugin

You can install 50 good plugins and if you install 1 bad one, your site will crawl to a stop. By utilizing this plugin, it will test your plugins to make sure they’re working for you instead of against.

There are so many other plugins that I haven’t listed here. Honestly, there’s a plugin for every need imaginable. If you’re thinking of switching to a self-hosted site, you need to be careful when choosing plugins. Like anything else, there are people looking to infect your site with malware, and they do it by offering free plugins. I’ve stuck to WordPress recommendations and ones I know others use and love.

So, I’m off to pack up and move. I’m told my site (this one) should not go down or become temporarily available while I’m implementing the switch.

Wish me luck and I’ll see you on the other side!

A Detective’s Most Interesting Case – The Conclusion

If you’ve missed part I and II of this series, you can find them here and here.

Carl Lamberth is rejoining us for the exciting conclusion to his most interesting homicide case. When we left off, Carl had a suspect who failed a polygraph, specifically the following three questions:

  • Were you present during the murder of this woman?
  • Did you participate in the murder of this woman?
  • Did you kill this woman?

What happened next? Let’s find out.


The polygraph examiner felt comfortable in his assessment that this inmate had direct involvement in the crime.

If you know anything about criminal polygraph tests, you know the actual test is only half the procedure when a person is caught lying. Next comes the interrogation and hopefully, the confession.

The polygraph examiner and I went back into the room. For the next hour we interrogated the inmate. This interrogation still ranks as one of the most intense grilling of a suspect I’ve ever been involved in as a police officer.

The inmate finally broke and confessed he was, in fact, the one who went into the house that night and killed the elderly woman. He said he had concocted the idea to pin the murder on someone else–a known acquaintance of his who he was feuding with–to get his pending charges dropped and not have to face more prison time. He planned to use the reward money for him and his wife, who was waiting in anticipation for his release.

Since it was Easter weekend, he assumed no one was home that night. There was no car in the driveway.

Note: the week before Easter, the city street department was re-curbing and adding sidewalks along this woman’s street. Fresh cement was poured in front of her house on Thursday and the driveway to her house was barricaded off for the weekend to allow the cement to dry. Therefore, she could not park in her driveway. She parked in her neighbor’s driveway.


Sometime after midnight early Easter morning he arrived at the house. The house was completely dark – no lights and no cars in the driveway or carport. He found the back door unlocked and entered the residence. He wore dishwashing gloves so he wouldn’t leave any fingerprints.

Searching through the kitchen and den, he heard a noise, a woman’s voice coming from the hallway. He quietly went back to the kitchen and found a large kitchen knife in the dish drainer rack, then made his way to the hallway and confronted the elderly woman, who was now halfway up the hall.

She screamed, spun, and bolted. He pursued her, catching up with her in her bedroom.

He stabbed her once in the back. She fell to her knees. However, she regained her footing and fled past him, back up the hallway.

He gave chase.

As she hung a right toward the front door she fell again. She rose to her feet and sprinted toward the front door.

He caught up, stabbing her two more times in the back as she clawed at the interior side of the front door, trying to unlock the deadbolt.

She collapsed on her stomach directly in front of the front door.

Grabbing the woman by her ankles, he pulled her away from the door and flipped her onto her back. She was gasping, reaching for him.

He knelt beside her and stabbed several more times–he could not remember the number, but it was 5 times according to the autopsy report–until she quit gasping and moving. Even though she was dead, her eyes remained open, which “freaked him out”.

Knife in hand, he escaped out the back door. He said he never meant to kill her, but that he panicked when she screamed.

He drove out to the local lake and threw the knife in the water. Later, he showed us where. But when a police dive team searched the lake, they were unsuccessful. Either he was wrong about where he threw it, or he lied about what he did with it.

The inmate was charged with First Degree Murder. A trial date was set.

He pled not guilty and recanted his confession.

During the trial, all our evidence, including his signed confession, was entered into evidence. I was on the witness stand one full day, primarily being drilled by his defense team, who said I and the polygraph examiner had coerced the confession.

The trial lasted a little over a week before being handed over to the jury. At the end of two days, the jury advised the judge they were hopelessly deadlocked 8 to 4. Eight guilty votes to four innocent votes.

Due to a hung jury, the judge declared a mistrial. The District Attorney’s office stated they would re-try the case.

Meanwhile, my SBI partner and I were contacted by an assistant prosecutor. Some of the seated jurors were willing to discuss the case.

I remember speaking with one of the jurors who voted innocent. He said, “I felt like the suspect was guilty from the beginning, but I wanted to see some physical evidence that connected him to the crime scene – like fingerprints.”

I asked, “Do you recall my testimony when I stated the suspect said he wore dishwashing gloves?”

“Yes, but I still wish you could have found some anyway.”

Go figure!

One day I received a phone call from the DA’s office to come by their office.

Upon arrival, I was advised the suspect, through his attorney, was willing to accept a plea bargain to Second Degree Murder, with the possibility of parole. Second Degree Murder carries up to 40 years in North Carolina.

I was advised they were going to make the deal.

I wasn’t happy with their decision, but what could I do? I learned long ago once a criminal case goes to the Judicial System my job is done, other than testifying in court, if necessary.

The suspect pled guilty in Superior Court to Second Degree Murder and received a sentence of 25 years with parole possibilities. In my mind, not nearly enough prison time for the crime he committed. But my job was done; it was time to move on to the next investigation.

He ended up serving 23 years. He was released in 2010 – 3 years after I retired from law enforcement.

http://www.suecoletta.comTheDevil'sSin [514130]

I investigated many homicide cases during my 12 years or so in our Criminal Investigation Unit. Later, I was promoted to Sergeant and supervised the Major Crimes Unit for 6 years or so.

Remember the earlier case I mentioned with the scissors in the chest?

I supervised that case and worked with another investigator to help solve the murder. The case was tried as a Capital murder case. The suspect was convicted and given the death penalty. In 2001, the suspect was executed by lethal injection.

Sometimes justice is served.

I was also fortunate enough to be involved with another investigator on a rape investigation where DNA evidence was used to convict a repeat rapist. It was the first case in North Carolina to actually go to trial and DNA evidence was used in the defendant’s conviction.

All these cases were interesting, but none topped the Easter weekend murder investigation I worked for so many months. All together we put over 9 months of “pounding the pavement” into this investigation before the case was finally “cracked.” The time spent was well worth it and although I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending – I’ll take it!

I saw a lot of horrible crimes in my career. But in the same context I found these crimes interesting and exciting to investigate, and I was glad to be involved in the process.

I guess my mentor sums it up best:

“I know, my dear Watson, that you share my love of all that is bizarre and outside the conventions and humdrum routine of everyday life.” ~ Sherlock Holmes “The Reigate Puzzle”


http://www.suecoletta.comConnect with Carl on Twitter @CarltonLamberth






Thank you, Carl!

Looking for a way to commit (fictional) murder? Go here for a taste of my “50 60 Ways To Murder Your Fictional Characters” and receive your FREE copy.

A Homicide Detective’s Most Interesting Case – A Suspect Emerges

“Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.” ~ Sherlock Holmes “The Sign of the Four”

Not a bad idea, Mr. Holmes!

If you missed part I, you can find it here. We’re joined by Carl Lamberth, a retired homicide detective, who’s been discussing his most interesting “on call” case.

http://www.suecoletta.comTheDevil'sSin [514130]

In all my years of police investigation I’ve investigated cases of all stages of solvability. Some cases were like dominoes…each piece neatly falling into place one after the other; some were like a giant jigsaw puzzle…all the pieces were there, but the difficulty lay in finding which pieces which fit together. After two months of searching for all the pieces to this case, I was beginning to believe all the pieces were not on the table and the puzzle would never be finished.

This murder created wide public attention. Both print and TV news media continuously asked for updates on the case. I was pulled off my other investigations and told to focus solely on this case. I was even pulled off the “on-call” schedule.

I worked hand in hand, day in/day out, with a state SBI agent. A typical day for us began around 7:30 – 8:00 AM and would end anywhere between 9:00 – 11:00 PM. We became a good team, good working partners.

As the reward to solve this cases reached $7,000 (a lot of money for the mid 1980’s), phone tips quadrupled in number. We followed up on every one of the tips. A lot of time and effort went into examining these follow-ups. And every follow-up required a typed report for the case file. My case file was growing thicker every day. This was back in the day before desk top or laptop computers. We used an instrument most likely foreign to the techie generations of today – it was called an IBM Selectric typewriter!

Unfortunately, all tips would lead nowhere. It became very frustrating to go to work. My chief would routinely call me into his office wanting updates, and I had l little in updates to offer. I even began to feel like he was starting to doubt my investigative abilities.

Two months or so into this investigation, I was headed into work when I was summoned over the radio to respond to a homicide crime scene in the same general neighborhood where the murder I was investigating occurred. Arriving, I met with the “on-call” investigator, who had responded to the scene.

He told me, “We’ve got another one.”

An elderly female was found stabbed to death in her home by family members. The similarities in the two cases seemed obvious:

  1.  Both victims were elderly females who lived alone (in my case the victim’s son technically lived at home but he was never there, his drug problems kept him elsewhere).
  2.  Both victims were stabbed to death.
  3.  Both victim’s homes were ransacked, robbery appearing to be at least part of the motive.
  4.  The two victims lived in the same neighborhood within a 3 block area of each  other.

As you can imagine, the news of this second homicide sent shockwaves through the community and city. A suspected serial murderer appeared to be on the loose, preying upon unsuspecting elderly women.

To say “the shit hit the fan” is an understatement.

As I stared at the victim and the crime scene, a cold chill shimmied down my back. Had my lack of investigative skills caused this poor woman to meet an untimely death? Now, I was even more frustrated, to the point of being downright angry.

Upon closer observation, I couldn’t help but note obvious differences between the two cases. Unlike the first victim, this lady was far from wealthy. Also unlike the first incident, forced entry had been made into this victim’s residence. And finally, unlike the first victim, this lady, although murdered, did not receive the amount of violence present in the first case. These differences were noted, but the similarities were too obvious to ignore…at least for now.


Similar to the knife.

The autopsy would reveal this woman died from three stab wounds to the neck and upper chest. The aorta artery was severed by one of the stab wounds–the fatal wound. The knife used was 3 to 4 inches in length at best and maybe ½ inches or so in width. A good size pocket knife, or maybe a steak knife.

Just like the first case, the murder weapon was not present at the crime scene. Unlike on TV crime shows or Hollywood movies where we see knives sticking out of their victims, I can only recall one time where I responded to a stabbing to find the murder weapon was left in the victim’s body. In that case, it was a large pair of scissors buried up to the handle into the victim’s chest. Even so, this victim’s throat was also cut from ear to ear and the suspect fled with the knife.

It’s also been my experience to be fairly rare to actually recover the knife used in a stabbing death. Suspects usually carry away their bladed weapons and discard them, never to be found again.

Crime scene analysis revealed little information of evidentiary value on this case. But unlike the first homicide, a promising suspect was established early on. Stolen property taken the night of the murder was recovered. Witness interviews led to a person of interest. A short time later, he would be confirmed as our suspect, someone we in the police community knew well due to his local criminal activity.

Although not officially assigned to this second homicide, I worked with two investigators from our department who were assigned this case. Probable cause was soon established and warrants were obtained for this subject, charging him with murder. There was only one problem. Our suspect had fled the state, headed up north to the New Jersey area where he had family. New Jersey authorities were notified and luckily, within a few weeks he was located and arrested. He was extradited back to North Carolina to stand trial.

As for my case, the hope was to somehow link this suspect to my murder case. Unfortunately though, no physical evidence connected him. And there were those damn differences that kept going through my and my partner’s minds.

Did we have a serial murderer in the making, or were these two crimes a terrible coincidence?

Back in North Carolina, our suspect from the second homicide “lawyered up” right away. If he was the suspect, I’d have to solve my case without an interview and/or confession.

Several more months passed without any positive results. My SBI agent partner and I “pounded the sidewalk” in search of any way to connect the jailed suspect to our investigation.

My case was getting “colder” by the day; I prayed for a break of some kind.

At the time, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation had a unit called the Murder Un-Solve Team or M.U.S.T. Unit. This unit was made up of four top-notch SBI agents with numerous years of experience and expertise in homicide investigations. This unit was assigned to look into my murder case and assist in solving the crime.

I had mixed emotions about these guys coming in and scrutinizing everything we had done. But, if a few more pairs of eyes and minds could help solve the case, it would be worth it. As it turned out, these agents were great to work with. After a week we were all on the same page with a common goal and mission.

However, after about a month they were about as frustrated as we were. They agreed the suspect in the second murder probably was not the attacker of my victim, based on my observations (stated above). The MUST unit’s policy was to review a homicide case for overlooked or mishandled clues, wrong deduced assumptions, or any other misguided conclusions. If none were found, and if their services were not beneficial, they moved on to another case.

So, they moved on.

Though relieved to hear our case was spot-on as far as our investigation, we still had no suspect. I was pulled off special assignment and given a full case load again. My partner returned to the SBI and worked other investigations. However, whenever something would arise concerning the murder case, we’d drop everything and check it out.

One day in November, 1986, I received a phone call from the SBI agent. “Do you want to take a trip to the mountains?” he asked.

The city I worked for is in the foothills of the western North Carolina Mountains, maybe an hour’s drive to the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Appalachian Mountain range. Now, I love the mountains and am always looking for a reason to head up to “Heaven’s steps,” but I was confused as to why he’d asked me this.

Apparently, his supervisor received a phone call from the warden of the state prison in that area. An inmate claimed to have valuable knowledge which would solve our case. Needless to say, we piled in the car that day and headed up the mountain.

We first met with the prison warden, who told us an inmate in his unit was incarcerated on two breaking and entering charges and awaiting trial on a third, as well as a forgery charge in our county. He’d contacted the warden, advising he had information on a murder—our murder!

First, we interviewed the inmate’s cellmate to see what, if anything, he’d told him. He said the inmate told him he knew who killed the elderly woman found on Easter Sunday. He said this inmate claimed he knew who committed the murder and was willing to testify if his new charges were dropped and he received the $7000. reward.

Next, we interviewed the inmate, who claimed before he was sent to prison, an acquaintance confided that he murdered the woman on Easter weekend. He said his friend thought the house was empty when he entered to burglarize the residence. He said his friend killed the woman after she awoke to find him in the house and confronted him.

This inmate offered a lot of details about the murder. One thing the police try not to do is divulge too much detail to the media in press releases concerning high profile cases. So, it was interesting that he had so many details.

We took the inmate’s statement and left, advising him we would be back in touch soon. On our trip down the mountain, my partner and I discussed our latest lead. Our conclusion was, this inmate knew too much about the crime. He seemed to offer more and more details—accurate details–especially when pressed after we displayed doubts. By the time we reached the bottom of the mountain, we were convinced this inmate was most likely present at the crime scene that night and may even have direct involvement in the murder.

We decided not to divulge our suspicions. A few days later, we traveled back up the mountain for a second interview. We told him we believed him, but needed to confirm his story. We asked if he’d take a polygraph. He agreed.

The following week we obtained a writ to have the inmate transferred from the state prison to our county jail. On the day of the polygraph test, my partner and I waited in anticipation in a separate room. After about an hour and a half, the SBI polygraph examiner walked into our room.

The inmate failed the test. Deception present in his answers to the following relevant questions:

  • Were you present during the murder of this woman?
  • Did you participate in the murder of this woman?
  • Did you kill this woman?

How did this case turn out? Tune in for the exciting conclusion.


Connect with Carl on Twitter @CarltonLamberth






A Look Into A Detective’s Most Interesting “On Call” Homicide Case

I have a special guest for you today. Carl Lamberth spent 30 years of his life writing….not novels – police reports!

During his time as a police officer he wrote every kind of police report there is. From simple traffic crash reports as a young uniform officer in the Patrol Division to the more complex and detailed homicide and other major crime investigative reports during his almost 12 years as a plain clothes investigator in the Criminal Investigations Division.

Over to you, Carl…


My career in law enforcement began in 1977.  Right out of college I was hired by my hometown police department. I retired in 2007 with 30 years of work experience in many areas within this police department. When I started writing novels I decided to incorporate my experiences in police work into my stories. Each novel has a crime drama element to it. My second novel in particular has a detective element to it as the story evolves.

Like all new cops, I started as a rookie officer in the Uniform Patrol Division of the department…a street cop. By the mid 1980’s I was promoted and transferred to the plain clothes Criminal Investigation Division assigned to the Major Crimes Unit.

As a detective (or Criminal Investigator – which was the department’s title for officers in this unit), I was assigned to work major crimes, which included burglaries, robberies, rapes, serious assaults, and murders.

Although the normal assigned working hours for Criminal Investigators was between 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday; as would be expected assigned criminal cases for investigation would require at times unusual and long hours in order to track down and locate victims, witnesses, or suspects.  Also, as part of our work assignment, investigators were each placed on an “on-call” schedule for a week at a time, subject to being called out after hours to investigate any major crimes occurring in the city during non-office hours.

TheDevil'sSin [514130]

I will never forget my first call out. 

On a wintry night, the second day of my on-call week around 3:00 AM, I was awakened by the phone ringing. Dispatch advised me to respond to a crime scene where a garbage dumpster behind a store was on fire.

The body of an unknown male was found inside the dumpster burned beyond identification. This discovery was made after the fire was extinguished by the fire department.

Not having a lot of arson experience, I contacted the State Bureau of Investigation for assistance and one of their arson investigators responded to assist in the crime scene.  That night, I heard the term “crispy critter” for the first time; SBI agent’s slang name for this unknown victim.

One thing I learned as a cop is that all police officers develop a warped sense of humor. This twisted wit serves as a kind of emotional defense mechanism to help deal with the constant tragedy and violence most cops see on a routine basis. This humor may pop up at any time to help cope with a horrific situation or scene.

The only time you will not see this joking around is when children are involved.

To make a long story short, there was no foul play involved in the burning body found in the dumpster. The victim was a homeless person who accidentally set himself on fire while smoking in the dumpster he used for shelter. More than likely he was smoking a cigarette and fell asleep, or passed out from alcohol use. The cigarette set him and the trash he was using for warmth ablaze.

As the SBI agent put it, “Smoking in bed can be dangerous!”

However, my most interesting “on-call” response came on an Easter Sunday afternoon.  I was called out to a homicide scene of an elderly woman found murdered in her house. When the victim didn’t show for sunrise church service, her best friend who lived one street over checked on her.

She found the back door unlocked. Upon entering the house, she discovered her friend lying dead in the living room–stabbed numerous times.

I arrived to a scene of numerous uniform officers who had secured the residence. When my supervisor and our unit’s crime scene technician arrived, an initial check and survey of the residence was made.

I observed a complete–and I do mean complete–and total ransacking of the house. All cabinet drawers were standing open, furniture turned over and moved, closet doors were opened, etc.

The unknown suspect or suspects were obviously looking for something.

The victim was lying supine in a rather large pool of blood near the front door, in the foyer/front entrance way. The front door was locked. There was blood spattering along the walls of the long L-shaped hallway, which led from the living room area to the bedrooms. Small amounts of blood were also noted in the victim’s master bedroom, on the carpet and one wall.

We decided to request the assistance of the State Bureau of Investigation mobile crime lab to assist in the crime scene investigation. Upon arrival, the SBI crime scene technician made the decision to ask for additional crime scene help from the main crime lab in Raleigh, NC.

A major crime scene analysis was undertaken in hopes of finding any and all physical evidence. The crime scene investigation would take several days on site to complete.

Keep in mind, this was back before DNA evidence had become a tool for law enforcement. Our biggest hope was to find latent fingerprint evidence or other trace evidence left by the suspect or suspects.

As it turned out, most latent print evidence would be accounted for as belonging to the victim, or people who had legitimate access to the residence. All blood evidence was typed as the victim’s. Physical evidence would not lead to the identity of the murderer or murderers.

The autopsy report revealed the woman had been stabbed 8 times with a large knife, estimated to be 7 to 8 inches long and at least 1 inch in width.


Similar knife used in the homicide.

She was stabbed 3 times in the back and 5 times in the front chest area, several stab wounds penetrating the heart.

Based on the on-scene Luminol testing for blood, a scenario was developed as to what probably happened that night.

The first stab wound occurred in the victim’s bedroom, probably as the victim attempted to exit the room, escape her assailant.

She ran up the hallway and hung a right toward the front door, where she apparently fell to the floor, transferring a small amount of blood onto the carpet and receiving a carpet burn on her left knee. She got up and made her way to the front door when her assailant caught up to her, stabbing her two more times in the back.

She fell to the floor, on her back. Her attacker then stabbed her 5 times in the chest; a very gruesome end to a sweet lady on Easter Sunday.

Note: During our search of the residence we did observe a dress the victim planned to wear to church on Easter morning. Neatly laid out on the bed in the guest bedroom, she would instead be buried in the dress.

Our investigation would reveal street rumor beliefs that this woman kept a large amount of money in a home safe; money she obtained through the previous sale of a local community grocery store after her husband died.

In truth, however, although the woman was somewhat wealthy and lived in one of the nicer homes in the neighborhood (which had slowly deteriorated through time into a lower economic community), she did not have a safe, nor keep large amounts of cash at home.

A motive of possible robbery was established.

The victim had a grown son who still lived at home. He had a criminal record for various drug related offenses and was rumored to be hooked on cocaine (powder cocaine was prevalent back in those days as the drug of choice). Obviously, he became our first suspect. However, it would be determined he had an ironclad alibi for the time of his mother’s murder.

Our attention then turned to known drug associates of the son. Nothing concrete could be developed on any of them. We were back to square one.

One thing I learned about murders is there are basically two types: the “smoking gun” type, which means a known suspect is developed if not immediately at least within the first 48 hours due to witnesses or other facts. The second is the “who-done-it” type in which no immediate suspect is known or developed within the first 48 hour period.

This case definitely fell into the “who-done-it” category.

Two months into the investigation we still had no suspect or suspects. However, we would soon believe our luck had changed with a development in another murder case…

Would this be the break we were looking for?

Stay tuned for part II.

http://www.suecoletta.comI’ve always been a dreamer. Retirement life has given me a lot more time on my hands….more time to dream.

To quote someone who knows a thing or two:  “Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.” – Napoleon Hill.

I didn’t give up and here I am – a published writer!

And I’m writing again…but not police reports – novels!

Connect with Carl on Twitter @CarltonLamberth