Pamela Everett, a lecturer in the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Nevada, Reno, will soon have her first true crime book published May 29.
Little Shoes: The Sensational Depression-Era Murders That Became My Family's Secret chronicles a California triple murder and criminal case that involved Everett's two aunts. The crime story had been kept secret from her by her family for years and that may have resulted in the execution of the wrong man. After a curious message from her father at an early age about losing two of his sisters, Everett began a decades-long research into what happened one mysterious summer in 1937, and the consequences for those involved.
"At the time, I didn't probe because I knew I couldn't," Everett said. "But years later, after he died, I began digging around with family and found the story of one of the most notorious criminal cases in Los Angeles in the 1930s."
Thanks to her experience as a lawyer and a journalist, Everett was able to approach the case from multiple viewpoints including a personal one.
"One of the challenges and beauties of my research was that I could write about the facts of the case but then I'd also remember my family's trauma; it really required me to keep those separate," Everett said.
After years shopping the book around to publishers, Everret said no one was interested in such a gruesome subject matter until the popularity of mainstream media show likethe podcast Serial and television series Making a Murderer.
"Suddenly, the publishers were knocking on our door and asking where my story was," Everett said. "True crime stories became popular again."
Everett's book title pays homage to the victims' shoes that were found at the crime scene.
"The killer took the shoes off his young victims and lined them up at the site where he killed them in this ravine in Los Angeles," Everett said. "One of the things my dad said was that he lost two sisters and they found their little shoes lined up in a row; it really stuck with me."
For those interested in obtaining an early copy, published by Skyhourse Publishing, Everett will be holding a book signing for Little Shoes Tuesday, May 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Sundance Books on 121 California Ave., and again Saturday, May 19 at 1 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble on S. Virginia St.