• Rod Kackley

Make It 13 for the Golden State Killer

Claude Snelling heard something in the backyard. He wasn't sure if that's what woke him up or if he'd awakened first and then listened to the noise. But Claude knew there was something wrong.

It was two or three in the morning. Nothing should be moving. Claude and his family lived in a quiet neighborhood in Visalia, California. His sixteen-year-old daughter was always complaining, "nothing ever happens here." Of course, any teenager who lives close to San Francisco and hears about the latest happenings in Hollywood and LA would say the same thing. And they probably do, Claude had decided long ago.

It was 1975, September. The Vietnam War had ended a couple of years before, so the anti-war protests and the hard-core radicals who went along with them were gone. Everything was good. Claude was a journalism professor and public information officer at the College of the Sequoias. Getting ready to start the fall semester, he was feeling right about where he was in life.

But this early morning, something was wrong. Claude could feel it.

He crept through the house, looked into his daughter's bedroom. She was gone. Now Claude was getting pissed. Had she snuck out and was now trying to get back into the house?

Claude moved quicker. He looked outside. Good, God! There under the carport, there was a man. He was trying to kidnap Claude's daughter.

Claude was an academic, not a fighter. But now his daughter was in danger, and like any father, Claude rose to the challenge.

As he approached the man and his daughter, the girl was able to run away. The man did not run. He pulled out a gun and fired a single shot. Claude fell dead. The man rode away on a bicycle. It would take decades for police to find him.

Fast forward to 2018.

It was the Golden State Killer. Joseph DeAngelo, already accused of a dozen murders as the Golden State Killer, was charged in August with the 1975 killing of Claude Snelling.

Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward gave credit to "good old tenacious police work," for solving the murder of Claude Snelling.

And, as for the victim, the journalism professor gunned down that September night in 1975, Ward said, "He saved his daughter, became a hero to her that night and to the community."

At the time of this posting, DeAngelo, 72, has not entered a plea to any of the murder charges he faces.

Mary Eileen Sullivan’s ex-husband and new boyfriend have disappeared. Maybe the next guy will satisfy her…or die trying…

Two of the St. Isidore Chronicle’s crack reporters — Joy and her protege, Amanda -- think Mary Eileen is lying. So does a state police detective, Sean Patrick Flynn, who decides to go undercover — under Mary Eileen’s covers — to solve the mystery and put his suspicions to rest.

They must be crazy! Mary Eileen Sullivan is a successful businesswoman. Her Coffee Shoppe is a centerpiece of downtown St. Isidore. Why would she kill anyone, least of all, the men she loves?

These reporters and this cop; they must be trying to make their careers off this case, right?

However, if she is a killer, why wouldn’t Mary Eileen make sure that Sean becomes just one more of her dearly departed lovers? And why not just kill Joy and Amanda?

The Coffee Shoppe Killer is a gripping crime and suspense thriller, inspired by a shocking true crime story, with more than enough twists and turns — along with a surprise ending — to enthrall anyone who loves a good crime fiction novel.

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