Are you looking for some great true crime reads? This list of Gregg Olsen books includes all of his non-fiction writings.
He's written about serial killers, murderers, and other serious crimes in the US. His works take you behind the scenes to give you the full story of the person (or people) that committed these acts, details of the crimes, and, in many cases, what happened once they were caught.
Published: December 1st, 2019
Shelly Knotek seemed like your average everyday kind of mother and person. However, she was far from that. A parent of three girls, Tori, Nikki, and Sami would be terrified by her for years. Living on a farmhouse in Washington State, they would routinely be harassed, abused, tortured, and mentally devastated by their mother’s evilness.
And, if that weren't enough, she later would murder Kathy Loreno and Ronald Woodworth, who was renting from her. Her husband was later convicted of killer Shelley's 17-year-old nephew, who lived with them. Even though they've been convicted, there are questions about whether there have been more murders.
However, one of the reasons this book is so important is it shows how the three daughters were able to come together, overcome their horrible childhood, and prosper.
Published: April 1997
In the early 1900s, two wealthy British women heard of revolutionary new health treatment in the U.S.A. So, Claire and Dora Williamson decided to go to the Northwest to see if it would work. This treatment supposedly allowed people to use fasting as a way to regain health and become more powerful. However, in reality, the woman running it, Dr. Linda Burfield Hazzard, was a monster.
At her sanitarium, named "Wilderness Heights" outside of Seattle, patients would stay for up to months eating almost or nothing at all. This would cause some of them to die. Dr. Hazzard would be stealing their money, their jewelry, and anything else she could get from them during this time.
Written by: Gregg Olsen and Rebecca Morris
Published: July 5th, 2016
Everyone thinks that the Amish live a perfectly serene, safe, and beautiful way of life. In most cases, this is true as there have only been a few murders in the many hundreds of years that they have lived in the U.S.A. However, this is one of them.
This story starts with the family of the Weavers. There were five children, the mother, Barbara, and the father, Eli. Everything seemed perfect, and everyone was happy, or so it seemed.
However, Eli started to connect to the outside world and became intrigued by cell phones, computers, and other interacting ways. He also put ads online for sex with the nickname “The Amish Stud” and found women that would have sex with him.
At one point, he met up with Barb Raber, who had left the community, and they started having an affair. Eli decided he wanted to kill his wife and Barb decided she'd help. So, one morning, while Eli was away to have an alibi, Barb walked in and shot her in the chest.
This seems like a lot, but there is so much more to this horrible story.
Published: March 30th, 2010
Nick Hacheney was a minister on the beautiful Bainbridge Island just off the coast near Seattle, Washington. In December of 1997, his house burnt to the ground. Horribly, his wife, Dawn, was found in the ashes. This was sad enough, but the police noticed something extraordinary; Dawn's lungs didn't have any smoke in them.
They immediately realized that she must have been killed before the fire, and it was used as a cover-up to the actual crime.
As they did more and more research, they realized that he was having affairs with numerous women and that he had been tricking everyone. This includes the members of his church, his family, and his friends. As the police kept tracking him, they eventually arrested him, and he was found guilty of her murder precisely five years on the day that he killed his wife.
Published: February 1st, 2005
Located in Northern Idaho, in the Northwest U.S.A., the Sunshine Mine is regarded as one of the most significant silver mines globally. However, this book is not about the mine and the silver; it is about the fire, and the men stuck in it during this massive disaster.
It was the morning of May 2nd, 1972, and smoke started to come out of the mine shaft just about noontime. However, there shouldn't have been any way to have a fire in the mine shaft since it was so wet and had nothing to burn. However, the 173 miners were notified, and the people above ground attempted to save them.
Of the 173 miners, only 80 survived. Two of them, Ron Flory and Tom Wilkinson, could keep safe for over 170 hours before being rescued.
This book tells the story of this tragic event in incredible detail.
Published: March 1st, 2005
Morgan Reid was a beautiful little girl, but there was a problem: She was constantly getting ill, and no one could figure out why. At the young age of just nine months old, she succumbed to Sudden Death Infant Syndrome…or so everyone thought at the time.
Her mother, Tanya, was a nurse, and her husband was a respected gentleman; no one else would even think of them. They were heartbroken and devastated, as any parent would lose a baby, especially with Tanya being a much-loved nurse. However, as time went on, their son Michael seemed to be getting the same issues.
As the police looked into this, they realized that Tanya had killed her daughter and tried to do the same with her son using Munchausen by Proxy.
This book looks beyond the simple story and delves into her childhood and why she became such a monster.
You would think that the Amish are incredibly peaceful and have very little violence in their community, but Gregg Olsen shows otherwise once again. A young boy nicknamed "Little Boy Blue" was found outside the tiny town of Chester, Nebraska, frozen to death on Christmas Eve.
After discovering that his name was Danny Stutzman, the police thought it was the dad, Eli Stutzman Jr., but couldn't prove he murdered him. However, he was sent to prison for illegally dumping his body.
As police looked at his history more, they realized that Eli had probably killed his son, wife, and roommate. It was found that he was heavily into pornography, drugs, and sadomasochism.
They also think that others may have been killed on his trips from his Amish Ohio community to his home in Texas. However, since he committed suicide in 2007, we may never know what truly happened.
Published: December 1993
When Bruce Nickell died from having a seizure in 1986, no one suspected anything abnormal at all. His grieving wife, Stella, collected her $175,000 life insurance, and life continued. However, as the police worked on the death, it was found that he was poisoned with capsules laced with cyanide.
Stella tried to prove it wasn't her and even went so far as to poison a random person, in the same way, to show it was just a coincidence.
So, even though it seemed apparent to the police that she killed her husband, they couldn't prove it, and the case went cold. At least that is what happened until her daughter, Cynthia, turned her into the authorities.
This book tells the story of what happened and how Stella could become the monster when she seemed so normal and like the rest of us. To find that out, Olsen delves into her childhood and what caused her to become a monster.
Published: January 1st, 1998
Sharon Lynn Nelson seemed to live everyday life in Denver, Colorado. But when her 45-year-old husband was found dead at his home, the police started to look into her past. They found something extraordinary because two of her three husbands had also died mysteriously.
The question that bothered the police was, is it possible that a loving preacher's wife could kill two men? If so, how could she seem so caring and devoted to everyone she knew. As they dug deeper into her life, they found a woman who loved money, sex, and anything else she could get her hands on.
Not only did she crave money and power, but she also craved her “Mountain Man” boyfriend, Gary Adams. As they became closer and closer, she seduced him into killing the other two husbands so they could collect the insurance and live the life they wanted together.
Published: May 20th, 2014
This one is almost too impossible to explain in a few paragraphs. Simply stated, Susan Powell disappeared and is presumed dead. Well, less simply stated is that her husband Joshua probably killed her. Add to it that he had threatened his mother with a knife while a teen, and you are just scratching the surface.
And then add that Joshua’s father, Steven, was infatuated with Susan and had over 4,500 photographs of her, including intimate ones because he used hidden cameras.
When Susan disappeared, Joshua stated he was out camping with their two sons. The problem with this alibi? It was during the middle of a blizzard, and the description of the camping areas was wrong. They found blood and evidence as they searched the house, but not enough to charge him with her murder.
At this point, many different agencies started being involved, including social services, and Joshua still had his boys with him. After a social worker returned the boys, he refused to let her in, and then the house exploded with both his boys and himself in it. His brother was supposedly part of the murder of Susan, but he hanged himself, so we will never know.
And, as mentioned above, this is just the basics of this horrible crime. It gets even more insane as you go deeper.
Published: August 15th, 1999
Mary Kay Letourneau is probably one of the most famous child molesters in the history of the U.S.A. Why is that? First of all, it is because women usually don’t molest children as often as men. Secondly, it is because she was a teacher and ended up having two kids with the boy she molested, Vili Fualaau. Even though this happened in 1996, people will instantly remember this story if you mention her name.
In this book, Olsen goes into her history, how she grew up, and why she divorced her husband, with who she had four children after five years. She first met Fili when he was in second grade and then again in 6th grade when she was a teacher. They started having an affair when she was 34 years old, and he was 12.
After having their child, she was instantly arrested and ended up spending seven years in prison. After being released, they married and had another child.
Especially intriguing are the interviews that Olsen had with Mary Kay Letourneau before she ended up dying at age 58 on July 6th, 2020.