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Authors: Caitlin Rother

I'll Take Care of You

BOOK: I'll Take Care of You
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Highest Praise for Caitlin Rother and Her Nonfiction Thrillers
“Riveting . . . Rother presents a fascinating study of one woman's evil and greed—that ultimately leads to murder. An emotional and gripping tale from beginning to end.”
—Aphrodite Jones
“Once again Caitlin Rother gets to the heart of a very compelling story. A must-read for true crime fans.”
—Robert Scott
“Caitlin Rother hooks you from the prologue . . .”
—Suzy Spencer
“A chilling account of murder and its aftermath by an author at the top of her game.”
—Fred Rosen
“A close look at a killer . . . a deeply reported, dispassionately written attempt to determine what created a monster and predator . . . a cautionary tale and a horror story, done superbly by a writer who knows how to burrow into a complex case.”
Los Angeles Times
“Well-written, thought-provoking . . . if ever a ‘true crime' deserved a book-length study, this is certainly that crime.”
San Diego Union-Tribune
“Rother addresses the complexity and difficulty of managing paroled sexual predators. This book will be popular with fans of Rother, Ann Rule, and other popular true crime writers.”
Library Journal
“This thoroughly reported and well-written book draws a terrifying portrait of a man who was sweet and cuddly one day and a crazed killer the next.”
San Diego Reader
“The reader gets a nuanced look at Gardner, from rapist-killer to charmer with girlfriends aplenty. . . .
Lost Girls
attracts and repels simultaneously. It can leave the reader sick and seething and swept up. And sad.”
North County Times
“Rother is one of the best storytellers going in the true crime genre today. Written with the verve, pacing, and characterizations of a detective novel, combined with her reporter's eye for detail,
Lost Girls
should be on every true crime fan's bookshelf.”
—Steve Jackson
“A gripping account of the chilling disappearances of two San Diego area schoolgirls, a compelling picture of the victims' families' heartbreak . . . A must-read.”
—Sue Russell
“A frank and riveting look at the life and mind of San Diego rapist and killer John Gardner.”
—Diane Fanning
“Well researched and a quick, engrossing read, this should be popular with true crime readers, especially the Ann Rule crowd.”
Library Journal
, Starred Review
“[A] good detective story that reads like a novel set this book above most in the genre. This was one of those true crime tales that gave me chills, and that's not easy to do.”
—Steve Jackson
“With this headline-grabbing case of multiple murder, Rother skillfully tells a breathless tale of unthinkable events that no true crime fan should miss.”
—Katherine Ramsland
“Rother digs deep into the story of this horrible murder—unearthing never-before-told details of the crime, the investigation and the twisted mind of the man who set it all into motion.”
—Susan Leibowitz,
producer of
's “The Last Voyage”
“Gripping . . . Rother gives readers compelling insight to an unthinkable American nightmare. The book is frank and frightening, and it sizzles.”
—Aphrodite Jones
“Impressively reported in a forthright narrative . . . a pitch-perfect study of avarice, compulsion and pure California illusion.”
—Ron Franscell
“We've finally found the next Ann Rule! Caitlin Rother writes with heart and suspense.
Dead Reckoning
is a chilling read by a writer at the top of her game.”
—Gregg Olsen
“A true-crime triumph . . . Rother solidifies her star status.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune
“Rother is at her best.... This gruesome story is fast-paced and will grip any lover of the true crime genre.”
North County Times
“Rother brings a journalist's careful attention to detail in this chilling look into the mind of a psychopath.”
Coronado Life Magazine
“A mesmerizing story.”
Orange Coast Magazine
“A true-crime thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.”
Aphrodite Jones
“Absorbing and impeccably researched . . . a classic California noir story of passion and betrayal and death, with a beautiful, scheming adulteress at the center of the web.”
—John Taylor
“With integrity, class and skill, Rother weaves this complex story seamlessly in the page-turning fashion of a suspenseful novel.”
—M. William Phelps
“Chilling . . . Rother paints a portrait of the culture that raised Kristin, hired her, was lured by her beauty, and now must share in the dire consequences.”
—Kevin Barry,
producer for Oxygen Network's
The Kristin Rossum Story
“A lively and immaculately researched book.”
—Carol Ann Davis
“A devastating portrait . . . an unwavering look at how one young woman fantasized herself into murder.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune
“A gripping account.”
San Diego Magazine
“An absorbing page-turner, driven by well-drawn characters and a dynamic investigation.”
“A concise and riveting account of one of the most challenging but fascinating investigations of my police career.”
—Laurie Agnew,
San Diego Police Department homicide detective
“A must read . . . well-written, extremely intense; a book that I could not put down.”
—Kim Cantrell,
True Crime Book Reviews
“Excellent, well researched, well written.”
San Diego Reader
“Page-turning excitement and blood curdling terror . . . riveting, fast-paced, and sure to keep you up at night.”
—M. William Phelps
“Rother paints every page with all the violent colors of a malignant sociopath's fever. This kind of frightening and fascinating glimpse into a killer's mind is rare.”
—Ron Franscell
“A superior study of the formation of a serial killer and his lost and lonely victims.”
—Carol Anne Davis
“Shocking, chilling, fast-paced . . . a book crime aficionados will be loath to put down.”
—Simon Read
Also by Caitlin Rother
*Lost Girls
*Poisoned Love
My Life, Deleted
(By Scott and Joan Bolzan and Caitlin Rother)
*Dead Reckoning
Where Hope Begins/Deadly Devotion
(By Alysia Sofios with Caitlin Rother)
*Body Parts
Twisted Triangle
(By Caitlin Rother with John Hess)
Naked Addiction
*Available from Kensington Publishing Corp.
and Pinnacle Books
Kensington Publishing Corp.
All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.
I learned about this case in May 2009 while I was on the phone with Sergeant Dave Byington, of the Newport Beach Police Department (NBPD), for
Dead Reckoning,
my book about the murder of Tom and Jackie Hawks by Skylar and Jennifer Deleon.
Byington's team of detectives did such a thorough job with the Hawks case—a complex investigation of murder for financial gain, resulting in five defendants and three trials—that I decided to follow some of the same players as they went after the killers of multimillionaire entrepreneur William “Bill” McLaughlin. This case turned out to be just as intriguing, with two defendants and two trials. It also featured the same prosecutor, Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy, and one of the same defense attorneys, Gary Pohlson.
But this case is somewhat different from others I've written about. First, it's a cold case, which started with a two-pronged fraud-and-homicide investigation in the mid-1990s, the homicide portion of which was resurrected in 2008.
Even though Bill's murder occurred nearly two decades ago, this case is a sign of the times even more today—not just in Southern California, but across the United States, where the pressures to appear unnaturally wealthy, to beautify ourselves with cosmetic surgery, and to win success at any cost only seem to be growing stronger.
Nanette Anne Maneckshaw Johnston Packard, the woman who stars in this true-crime reality—which reminds me of an episode of
The Real Housewives of Orange County–Gone Bad
—should be the spokesmodel for the greed and epidemic of materialism that have plagued our nation for years and have put so many into the throes of crippling debt.
Because of the passage of time, the sheer volume of legal and financial information at my disposal was really quite extensive. Bill was an accomplished businessman who had a complicated asset portfolio and was also fighting a protracted legal battle; his killers had fifteen years after his death to live their lives—spending money, getting remarried and divorced, and having more children, before they were arrested.
To help me flesh out the story, I went through the NBPD's early investigative reports and every court exhibit from both trials. In addition to incorporating police witness interviews, I also did many of my own interviews with key players as I explored Nanette's psyche and her family history. By honing in on the dynamic between her and her series of men, my goal was to pinpoint and illustrate what made this woman so attractive and so successful in conning Bill and the others. (Someone joked to me, “What, does she have gold [genitals] down there?”) I also wanted to get to the bottom of why this case didn't get prosecuted back in the 1990s, a major issue raised by the defense in both trials.
I used official sources wherever possible to re-create the scenes in this book. I also drew from people's memories to write approximated dialogue, cross-checking sources wherever possible. Some dialogue was edited for storytelling purposes, but no text was created, embellished, or exaggerated. Any errors are unintentional.
I wasn't able to talk with Nanette, but I was able to paint a telling portrait of this mercurial femme fatale, partly
of the lies she told to the men she seduced, manipulated, and victimized, frequently painting herself as a victim and her past boyfriends and husbands as monsters. I am including these allegations only to show how she operated, not for their truth. Based on the fact that she is a convicted killer and has admitted to theft, forgery, and fraud, I assume that most, if not all, of her accusations are false, because she is a proven and vindictive liar.
Her first husband, Kevin “K. Ross” Johnston, whom she repeatedly characterized as a sexual deviant and accused of all kinds of illicit behavior, categorically denied that he'd done any of the bad acts she'd claimed.
“I am not those things. They are all false,” he told me. “I'm just an additional victim to her manipulation.”
I tried but could not reach her second husband, John Packard. K. Ross said he's been told by someone close to John that John no longer believed any of the negative things Nanette had said about K. Ross because she'd accused John of many bad acts as well, and John knew they weren't true. It was just her MO.
I investigated the contents of Nanette's résumé, crosschecked many of her stories, and gathered the firsthand observations of her lovers, including her third husband, Billy McNeal, and ex-boyfriend Tom Reynolds, to track the evolution of her motivations, sexual prowess, and crafty deception.
Eric Naposki was far more accessible than Nanette. I sat down with him twice in an Orange County jail for nearly seven hours. He is an incredible storyteller, so I wanted to include the colorful tales he told me about his life before, during, and after Nanette. However, because his stories involving the crime changed so many times during the investigation, I wanted to tell readers up front that I crosschecked his other tales with news reports or public documents wherever possible. But, obviously, I couldn't confirm them all. His college and the National Football League gave me only limited information, so many of his experiences from those years and during his two marriages came directly from him (other than what I took from his divorce files). Where I felt it was important to flag quotes he gave me directly, I marked them with a double asterisk**.
I used pseudonyms for two characters in this story to protect their privacy: Bill's former HemaScience business partner, whom I called Jacob Horowitz, and Eric's partner in Midnight Moon Productions, whom I called Juan Gonzales.
I live in San Diego, so researching this book required quite a bit of out-of-town travel. I repeatedly drove to Santa Ana to attend the trials and sentencing hearings, did numerous interviews, took photos of relevant landmarks, and went through many court records. I also flew to Oakland, California, and to the East Coast to do court research, driving all over Connecticut to read Eric's divorce files and to see where he was living when he was finally arrested.
All in all, I found this to be a fascinating case, even more compelling because the NBPD and Orange County District Attorney's Office never gave up on it. I hope my readers agree.
BOOK: I'll Take Care of You
12.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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