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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
April 11, 2001     Feather River Bulletin
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April 11, 2001

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essive, RIJProgressive, Record: Reporter Wednesday, April 11,2001 N I I ier Metcaif ping cases in the late 1980s. Perfect Murder." hitting home for me was when ties demanded to be heard in in many respects, he said. Two young brothers, by the And, what appeals more to I learned that Michael book form. Keller isn't certain what his he windshield wipers last name of Menendez, were Keller about true crime ver- Franklin was going to be ar- In the course of the trial,next book will be about. He is back and forth fight- charged with murdering theirsus murder mysteries? rested in a sexual assault case Keller said he spent about 400 receiving pressure to write ]ck winter rain, Dave parents in August 1989. Keller "With true crime, it is un-in San Jose," Keller said. hours. He then added another something about the 1981 Ked- osed the white compa- was there, along with teams of fathomable that real live peo- 400 hours or so in doing re- die murders, in which three upward toward Bucks other journalists and televi- ple that you can encounter The case search. "The writing was the people died, and a young girl the scene of a snow- sion crews, to cover the case. can be so cruel, so out of their Local law enforcement easy part," he claimed, was abducted. Her remains accident. It was bitter While the sensational trial minds, that they can do badknew that something wasn't were later discovered at :i "i: and his journey end- captured and held his inter-things to other people," Keller quite right following the inci- Reta Oraor ,, Feather Falls. :! summit. Making the est, he realized at the time, said. dent that took Ronna Keller's first chapter in,, An And, he is considering a to turn back, rather that this wasn't the case for "True crime also mirrors Howard's life, Keller said.Almost Perfect Murder, fo- book about Hawthorn High :! dithga way to head onhim to base a book upon. journalism," Keller said about "This was not an accident,"cuses on the Reta Orner case. School in Southern Califor- :i.) accident site, Checking out the sea of re-the process of investigation was their determination. That woman, a seemingly nia. To Keller, that school ; little realized he was porters covering the case, he and detection. Factors leading up to the no- mild-tempered housewife, vividly reflects the vast behind a murder spotted at least two individu- tion involved the fact thatwho lived in the Feather Riv- changes that have taken place four years later als who were there for no oth- The law weather conditions weren't er Canyon and had attemptedduring the last quarter centu- be the subject of his er reason than to gather infor- Keller has a profound re- the type that a person would to murder her husband with a ry. a k" mation to write books, spect for the law and its normally take his family for a gun blast to his body while he He would also like the op- Its Almost Perfect Mur- Keller continued to wait, process. "It's the only arena joy ride in. Franklin seemed slept, proved interesting until portunity to write a biogra- s the story of what has eventually moving on to left in public government with so distraught over his wife's the Franklin case burst upon Ph eller's book is now avail- e known locally as thePlumas County and other op- some integrity left," he said. death that it wasn't believ- the local courts. kit tlin murder case. portunities And as Keller "The law shows that things able. And he was getting a "I was tempted to make my able at The Bookshelf in Quin- Lttlesr the story of Michael " ' cy and High Sierra Books in waited, it gave him the chance can still work in this coun- tremendous amount of insur- firs!, chapter the second chap- see thlin, a man in his mid-to indulge in a growing pas- try." ance money, from a relatively ter, Keller explained. But his Portola. to. ho murdered his wife, sion for reading some of the Keller enjoys working with new policy, from his wife's reasoning for including theA book signing is scheduled The HOWard, during a win- top authors in the true crime attorneys, and revels in the death, information about the Ornerfor April 24 at 2 p.m. in the alley Rat!on at Bucks Lake. field, intelligence he finds in them, I kept checking back at the case, was to "create kind of a Coburn/Variel Home next is a s book follows the especially defense attorneys. DA's office all the time," time perspective." Reichle door to the Plumas County ere as they unfolded, be-Libvmty of crime "They're pretty smart peo: Keller said, as the months was just finishing up one in- Museum. Additional informa- kscapesranklin was suspectedKeller didn't intend to ple--good conversationalists,' slipped past. tense murder trial when thetion is available at book- balle ng his wife by drown- amass a collection of true he said. "In this community, Eventually, Franklin;with Franklin case emerged, as tl 'r in an icy stream for crime books. Many he read be- they're good people. They his sexual assault charges 'There wasn't time for anyone According to Keller, a por- ezes insurance policy, cause he was genuinely inter- have something at stake against him, would end up in to say 'good job' and pat him tion of the proceeds from this All thetlows the trial as Keller ested in the cases; others he here." court in Plumas County. Buton the back and he was al- book will go to Camp McCum- :ent to d it for Feather Pub- read because the author s When asked about the pub- that didn't mean Keller hadready immersed in the next her, a summer program for I newspapers, and his knowledge and style appealed lic perception that lawyersfound the subject of the book one." children with diabetes. Ex- Vallquent research on some to him. don't follow the letter of the he had waited for. And then, But, Keller had another rea- plaining, he said that as a ; and ost "n .portant charac- John Douglas, a FBI profiler law, but look for loopholesthe right evidence came. Inson for including Orner. Itmember of the Quincy Lions, woivea in Franklin andamong other trades, "tells that will enable them to have December, 1999, "that s when I was a similar scenario. Here the organization supports the Iki s past and the trial, these really great stories," cases dismissed, or to win became 100 percent certain,was a person that planned out camp, and Ronna Howard was on 01 as Keller PUlled out of Ke,H, er said. with in court, Keller said, "I That's when Franklin's de- the murder of her spouse, a diabetic. tiringpmmit parking lot at After him, there's a big fall don't see them as loop holes, fense attorney made the mo-And the third reason was ;an be!Lake and drove back to- off. There are some people Their job is to represent their tion to disqualify the DA."that Orner's story tells about town, he Wasn't caughtwho are good at producing client to the best of their abili- Seemingly undisturbed by the uniqueness of the case, Pear thoughts that at lastbooks, but the narrative's not ty and sometimes it's ugly " trip muncl the trial he was . the turn of events, Reichlebut with the twist that, de- board gethe! for, he was heading particularly good," Keller ex- Keller went on to explain hung tight, and Keller knewspite the complexities of that tin Z. ,. rd comfort plained, that television shows such as then that if anyone could con- case, when the Frank!in case meets ,xperilnrst, I didn't l ow this Some of the authors, such as "Law and Order," and some vict Franklin of the murder, emerged, it was ' a you e preface 1be book,,, Kell Ann Rule, a former cop, write others, tend to show a skewed he was the person, haven't seen anything yet," The Feather River College h: AS about cases that personally in- view of how the law is han-When asked if Keller be- situation. Board of Trustees invites the terest her. There is little dis- dled. lace Perfect Murder." "It lieved that, at any point, Re- public to its monthly meeting v restCesmeed like ,a, tragic acci- cretion about the subject. To ichle might lose the case, he Availability Thursday, April 12, at 3 p.m. , crossa losed Keller's mind, this is a lazy Franklin unfolds replied, "I didn't even think of One of the best things about in the Learning Resource Cen- approach, especially for some- With a growing and devel- that--didn't consider winning covering the Franklin case ter at FRC in Quincy. The pub- w: I vdrin one who has a lot of access to oping interest in the law, and or losing, but just the job of and then writing about it for lic is welcomed at the meeting criminal information, a grasp for true crime and its great are two primary rea- st, Cor Keller's interest in ,. 1) the mayor of Beverly : Theand 2) one of the most Y Publicized murder tri- lens: 1980s. was vlng his days as a re- eratut for a Beverly Hills N,: T Per, one man came to ever speciat influence on way of thinking. May- Tanenbaum, an at- COVered the Bey- City Council, he be- with Tanen- that association de- became aware of an author. One was a true crime captured Keller's also made Keller given the right right set of circum- he could write a book one Tanenbaum better. didn't immediately for some part of the where there was trial taking place. to wait and listen. And found himself in the of the most grip- Our Since about 1990, Keller said elements, Keller started his own true crime library watching the events sur- has become quite extensive, rounding the Franklin case unfold. True versus mystery While District Attorney While Keller now prefers James Reichle remained par- the realism of true crime, he ticularly quiet about the case, does have time for a good especially in the early stages murder mystery. Patricia of investigation, Keller said Cornwell:and.theextensive re- he kept checking back with search she puts into her his office to see what inves- works attracts his attention, tigative efforts were under- "James Patterson's style I way. "try to emulate ton certain de- The case as a murder trial, gree," Keller said about hishowever, seemed relatively writing style in "An Almost remote. 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