Waxing Brazilian … a new edition

Ponder the enigma of a writer who can’t read the words he’s strung together. No, I’m not having a stroke. I simply cannot speak, read, or write Portuguese. And that’s the language of the newest translation of my 2016 book MORGUE A LIFE IN DEATH, with famed medical examiner Dr. Vincent Di Maio. O SEGREDO…Read More…

Every generation has its bogeyman

Excerpted from The Crime Buff’s Guide to Outlaw Los Angeles (2017, WildBluePress)   Every generation has its bogeyman. Before 1969, maybe it was Adolf Hitler. After 2001, Osama bin Laden. But for those 30 or so years in between it was unquestionably an aspiring musician, deeply damaged outlaw, and hippie Svengali named Charles Manson. On…Read More…

Explore Outlaw L.A. with us at True Crime Uncensored

Listen live at 2pm Pacific time on Saturday, June 10, by clicking here. Where better to kick off the new CRIME BUFF’S GUIDE™ TO OUTLAW LOS ANGELES than at the Los Angeles-based True Crime Uncensored radio show, hosted by the legendary Burl Barer.  Los Angeles is where America’s dreams and nightmares got all tangled up. Sunny days dissolved…Read More…

MORGUE nominated for Edgar!

This morning, the Mystery Writers of America announced that MORGUE: A LIFE IN DEATH, by Dr. Vincent Di Maio and Ron Franscell, is among the nominees for its prestigious Edgar Awards as one of the five best true crimes of 2016. “It’s always a humbling moment when a life’s story is considered worthy of re-telling,” co-author…Read More…

Whistling in the graveyard

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” —William Faulkner So the would-be mass murderer at Ohio State University this week was apparently inspired by the hateful words of American-born cleric Anwar al Awlaki, al Qaeda’s most powerful recruiter before he was obliterated in a US drone strike in Yemen in 2011. A few years ago, I…Read More…

A season of slaughter is coming

Where I grew up, you learned the smell of rain coming, and could damn near tell the exact day, maybe the exact moment, the seasons changed. Well, a dark season lies ahead. In 2009, in the earliest, scariest days of the Great Recession and the uncertainty of a new presidential administration, I predicted an uptick…Read More…

There’s pain and love. Then there’s painful love.

Some stories are about love, and some are about pain. But painful love stories like the star-crossed romance between Annie Beatrice McQuiston and Claude “Cowboy” Henry started long before they met in a whorehouse on a humid night in Depression-era Texas. EXCERPT Joe Calloway died naked in a Louisiana rice field, trembling with terror and…Read More…

A dark night, long ago and far away

Every crime writer has heard this little heckling voice, usually from the cheap seats, but sometimes from inside his own head. It isn’t always loud, but it’s often piercing. Tragically, today is the 43rd anniversary of a monstrous crime against two of my childhood friends in the small town where we grew up: Two young sisters were abducted…Read More…

Vincent van Gogh: Suicide or homicide?

Among the historic, infamous, and heartbreaking deaths we explore in the brand-new book MORGUE: A LIFE IN DEATH (St. Martin’s Press) is the presumed suicide of the troubled genius Vincent van Gogh. Presumed. When van Gogh’s latest biographers, Pulitzer-winning authors Steven Naifeh and the late Gregory White Smith, were perplexed by the evidence, they eventually…Read More…

How many murder victims can you name?

Because you’re here right now, it’s safe to assume you’re fairly conversant in matters of mass- and serial-killing. You know your Mansons from your Bundys, right? Well, it’s Monday and you’ve got a tough week ahead, so here’s something fun—in a macabre sorta way—to distract you from your nasty, binge-watching obsession with “Making a Murderer.”…Read More…

Can you spot the killer?

      Winston Mosely murdered New York bartender Kitty Genovese in an infamous 1964 knife attack that raised questions about the role of bystanders in crime. When he died in prison this week at age 81, his old mug shot (far left in the lineup above) was splashed across the Internet and  we all thought simultaneously, “Yep,…Read More…

‘Lost’ pieces of ‘The Darkest Night’

Tomorrow, THE DARKEST NIGHT celebrates eight years since it was first published in paperback. Almost immediately it became a bestseller and readers continue to find it in great numbers today. It’s not because I am an extraordinary storyteller, but because this powerful story of two girls’ terror moves anyone who hears it to want to…Read More…

Digging up Lee Harvey Oswald

Here is an excerpt of my upcoming book MORGUE: A LIFE IN DEATH, which explores the most historic, infamous, and heartbreaking cases of renowned medical examiner Dr. Vincent Di Maio. In this “clear, gritty, and enthralling narrative,” Dr. Di Maio and I guide the reader into the inner sanctum, behind the morgue door, to tell his fascinating life story…Read More…

The Black Dahlia dissected again

Today, it’s been 69 years since Elizabeth Short’s grisly parts were discovered in a vacant Los Angeles subdivision, sliced cleanly in half and posed lasciviously. This obscure waitress suddenly became far more famous in death than the Black Dahlia (as we know her now) ever dreamed in her brief life. Breathing, she was just another pretty face. In chunks…Read More…

What would be your last meal?

Your last breath is only a few hours away. The governor isn’t going to call. People are gathering outside to cheer your death. The Death Row chaplain has run out of prayers. The clock is ticking like a time bomb. You have one final decision before your life is over: what will you eat for…Read More…

Voices in my head

Every crime writer has heard this little heckling voice, usually from the cheap seats, but sometimes from inside his own head. It isn’t always loud, but it’s often piercing. My 2008 true crime, The Darkest Night, enjoyed a revival on bestseller lists when its long-awaited digital edition was released last year. This intimate story of…Read More…

16 Pages of Shocking Photos! (Did you peek?)

WARNING: Some morgue and crime-scene photos appear in this essay. Funny story. Not long ago, I was telling a fascinating little yarn about the autopsy of a deranged killer whose body was riddled with more than 200 bullets after pursuing police cornered him at the end of one of modern America’s bloodiest massacres. Then my…Read More…

Crime buffs only!

If you’re into true crime and history, you’ll love Ron’s Crime Buff’s Guides! There’s no better way to explore the crime history of places like Texas, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Maryland than following your GPS to the scenes of a thousand crimes. Coming in 2016—Outlaw Los Angeles!Read More…

We’ll always have mass murder

This essay was written just two days after the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in 2012. It appears anew here now, with only minor updates. —RF This is America, dammit, and we have a God-given right to fool ourselves. The bodies of dead children hadn’t even been cleared from the classrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary before…Read More…