December 5, 2014
|Victoria Hester, LPN, co-author of The Murder of Maggie Hume
At 23, Victoria Hester is a licensed practical nurse at The Villa at Suffield Meadows assisted living facility in Warrenton, Va., and will soon start nursing school at Germanna Community College to get her RN. She also has a 5 year old at home.
So naturally, she decided to write a book that would require a week-long trip to Michigan and many long hours of research and writing. “I like being busy,” she said. “I don’t do ‘rest’ very well.”
Turns out, the months of work have paid off. The true crime book she wrote with her dad, Blaine Pardoe, The Murder of Maggie Hume, is in its second printing, and made the New York Times Best Seller list (for Crime and Punishment books) for October 26, 2014. That’s a very big deal.
Victoria said she got more than she bargained for when she agreed to write about a 33-year-old murder in Battle Creek, Michigan. Not only did she and her dad develop a closer relationship during the collaboration, she learned some invaluable lessons about writing and researching, and some others about life, family and pain that never goes away.
The Murder of Maggie Hume tells of the story of a young woman who is brutally murdered one night in her own bed. Her boyfriend is a prominent suspect, but when it is discovered that a possible serial killer was living in the same apartment building the night of the murder, a new wave of inquiries begins.
The case is still marked as unsolved, and the authors refrain from expressing their opinions, but express hope that the book will lead to new leads and an eventual conviction. “Maggie and her family deserve that,” said Victoria.
While poring over police reports and talking to people close to the investigation, Victoria said that she and her dad came to feel very close to Maggie Hume. “Here was this girl, about my age, killed for apparently no reason. It bothers me that she never got justice.”
One of Victoria’s goals was to encourage readers to get to know Maggie, a fun-loving, attractive, small-town girl, the daughter of a popular high school teacher and coach. Victoria said, “I wanted to make the facts and interpretations we were learning though the police reports more readable. Police reports are very hard to read -- like nurses’ notes -- lots of abbreviations.
“Everyone we met while researching the book was still very invested in this, still emotionally attached. We kept the family in the loop with what we were doing. They asked us not to speak to Maggie’s mom, and her dad had passed away, so her brother John was the spokesman for the family. John came to one of our book signing events. He told us he liked the book. It meant a lot to us that he approved of the way we handled it.”
The book signings and other events to market the book were exciting, but terrifying, said Victoria. She and her father did TV and radio interviews, lectures and book signings. “We were on the front page for three days in a row in Michigan, but the public speaking was nerve wracking,” said Victoria.
She said that the mayor of Battle Creek, one of the prosecutors, many of the police officers and a judge all came to the events, as did the woman who was living in the apartment where Maggie was killed. She also said that the prime suspect in the case, Maggie’s boyfriend, also came to one event. “He didn’t talk to us, but I recognized him from photographs.”
Investigating every detail of the case made Victoria realize that violence against women was very different in the 1980s than it is now. “Domestic violence is much more out in the open now. We know the warning signs and there is more support for women now than there was then. There was in incident before Maggie died where her boyfriend was seen choking her, but nobody saw that as something to be worried about. If that had happened today, it may not have gone unnoticed.”
What’s ahead for the new author? Nursing school for sure, and perhaps a novel.
Victoria said she will keep working at The Villa for now. “I love it here. I can’t imagine a better place to work. Every nurse here has great skills, and I love working in geriatrics.”
For more on Victoria, visit her blog at : http://victoriapardoe.wordpress.com.