What’s up for 2017 & 2018?

Wow, 2017 already. Incredible how, the older you get, the faster time flashes by. As most everyone is saying, I, too, am glad 2016 is over (good riddance)—though, I might add, there were moments for me during the year that I will cherish forever.

It’s been a challenging year (2016), with no shortage of uphill battles, publishing highs and lows, successes, failures, things to celebrate, and things to look forward to in the coming years. Overall, of course, I am grateful for being able to get up every morning and write. That is my passion: writing. Been almost 20 years now since I’ve been writing professionally and I still bounce out of bed every day at 4:30/5:00 a.m. to begin my long workday. For that alone I am one grateful sonofabitch! I never forget how fortunate I am in this regard.

 Beyond the writing, I’ve been doing a lot of development work for TV and film, with one film project in production as we speak. (More about this in the coming months—not yet allowed to announce which book the film is based on! Hollywood, go figure.)

On February 28, 2017, I’ll publish DON’T TELL A SOUL.

Cover copy: Cherry Walker was a devoted, trusting, uncommonly innocent young woman who loved caring for a neighbor’s little boy. But when she was asked to testify in court against his abusive mother, Cherry never got the chance. She couldn’t lie if her life depended on it—and it did. Cherry’s body was found on the side of a Texas road, doused with lighter fluid and set aflame.
Attractive, manipulative, and violent, mother of four Kim Cargill had a wealth of dirty secrets she’d do anything to keep hidden. This in-depth account by bestselling investigative journalist M. William Phelps takes you inside Cargill’s shocking trial—and into the mind of one of the most conniving female psychopaths in recent history—and on death row.

If there was ever a book that returns my writing back to its earlier days of straight-forward true crime storytelling, DON’T TELL A SOUL is definitely it. The things this woman did not only to her children, but her husbands and the people in her life will have you shaking your head page after page. This is a book which shows, by example, how one psychopath can wreak havoc, inflict pain and emotional suffering, on those around her and make those lives a miserable existence—and then turn around and kill one of those people, on top of everything else. 

Next up (July 25, 2017) is a project five years in the making, DANGEROUS GROUND: My Friendship with a Serial Killer.

Cover copy: In September 2011, M. William Phelps made a bold decision that would change the landscape of reality-based television – and his own life.  He asked a convicted serial killer to act as a consultant for his TV series. Under the code name “Raven,” the murderer shared his insights into the minds of other killers and helped analyze their crimes.  As the series became an international sensation, Raven became Phelps’s unlikely confidante, ally—and friend.
In this deeply personal account, Phelps traces his own family’s dark history, and takes us into the heart and soul of a serial murderer. He also chronicles the complex relationship he developed with Raven. From questions about morality to Raven’s thoughts on the still-unsolved, brutal murder of Phelps’s sister-in-law, the author found himself grappling with an unwanted, unexpected, unsettling connection with a cold-blooded killer. 
Drawing on over 7,000 pages of letters, dozens of hours of recorded conversations, personal and Skype visits, and a friendship five years in the making, Phelps sheds new light on Raven’s bloody history, including details of an unknown victim, the location of a still-buried body—and a jaw-dropping admission. Eye-opening and provocative, Dangerous Ground is an unforgettable journey into the mind of a charming, manipulative psychopath that few would dare to know—and the determined journalist who did just that.

The cover copy merely scratches the surface of what is a testament to my life in true crime, how I got here, the absolute emotional breakdown I had while interviewing this serial killer, and how what we do as work can sometimes penetrate the very depths of our souls and darken our lives. Writing this book forced me to look back. I had thought I’d tackled all of my past issues, but when you lay them out on paper, sudden realizations occur. You begin to see your life differently. I’ll never write another book like DANGEROUS GROUND. I might also say that I tell the complete story of my sister-in-law’s murder and how it rippled throughout our family, sending my brother into his own deadly hell hole. A lot of you have asked over the years about this part of my life. No stone is left unturned here. I drag every bit of it out into the open, warts and all (yes, that’s me on the pony—a photo from DANGEROUS GROUND. Sheriff Phelps!)

In December I’ll publish BEAUTIFULLY CRUEL. (No cover yet.)

Cover copy: Iowa housewife Tracey (Richter) Pittman Roberts seemed to have it all: natural beauty, three loving children, and a fairy tale second marriage to a handsome self-made businessman. But beneath the happy façade was a woman who used lies, manipulation, sex, ugly allegations, blackmail—and even murder—to serve her own selfish ends.

On December 12, 2001, police rushed to Tracey’s home after a shooting left her special-needs, young neighbor dead. Tracey claimed it was an act of self-defense. Nine gunshot wounds—and a decades-long trail of extortion, fabrication, fraud, and intimidation—said otherwise.

Ten years after the crime, Tracey’s case finally went to trial in an explosive courtroom showdown. In a searing exploration of the criminal mind, bestselling investigative journalist M. William Phelps traces the saga of a psychopath who hid in plain sight—until her wicked ways caught up with her.

That’s one of Tracey’s many mugshot photos. She is, no doubt, one of the most notorious psychopaths I’ve written about. There is no other person on the planet like Tracey and BEAUTIFULLY CRUEL cracks her entire life open and shows, by Tracey’s own behavior, just how “cruel” human beings can be. I’ve never had more behind-the-scenes access to a case in my career. The book is being legally vetted and edited as we speak. I’m overwhelmed by the amount of psychotic behavior by one person—who has seemingly fooled so many in her life, including family and friends.

I’ve written a bona fide thriller based on some of my cold cases, (wt) THE OTHER GIRL. My agent is now finding the right home for the project. This is my “break out” thriller, I am certain. It’s something I’ve wanted to do—trying and failing in the past—for a long time. We’ll see where it all goes.

Television & Film Projects:

For TV and film, I have several projects in the works. I’ve been saying this for quite some time, I know. But I need to point out that what I do is not your typical TV fodder, so finding the right concept and the right space for my ideas is not always easy. It’s coming, please don’t worry. It just takes a lot of time, planning, developing, and pre-investigating to get on air the type of programming I like to produce and can be proud of when done.  

I wish I could say more about all the television projects I am involved in, either as producer/creator or presenter/host, but I hate to talk about things in the development stage. (I also despise the tease aspect of how this all sounds—that’s certainly not my style, but it is what it is, I guess you could say.)

There is so much junk on TV today sold as “true crime,” it makes me work harder at creating unique and quality true crime TV, a series I can take pride in when I am out on the road and in post-production. I see so many “Dark Minds” knockoffs on TV today, it makes my head spin. It’s actually flattering that, without getting any credit, John Kelly and I kind of started a true crime TV trend in the realm of cold cases and hands-on investigatory, so-called unscripted television.

My aim has always been to raise the bar, not come in underneath it. That said, creating quality nonfiction television take a tremendous amount of time, effort, thought and (pre)investigation prior to even becoming an idea.

The film in the works, of which I am executive producing, is with a wonderful company, Synthetic Cinema International. Synthetic founder/producer Andrew Gernhard and his right-hand man, Colin Theys, have taught me more about film-making over the past 18 months than I could have ever learned in years of working in the business. I see a bright, prosperous future here, a long working partnership—that is, as soon as we get this first film in the can and completed. 

Andrew and Colin are full of passion for making films. Andrew has schooled me on the business of producing and we’ve become great friends in the process. I’m lucky and fortunate. Very grateful. (There’s Andrew [Bad Santa] and I at Synthetic’s 2016 Christmas party—he looks a lot angrier and menacing than he really is, trust me; and below that, Colin Theys [one of my favorite people!] and I talking on set of a Synthetic film shot in Connecticut last summer.)

Making films is a tricky business. All the stars (no pun intended) need to align for a film to get made—then, when you’re in it, you need to forget about the business end and focus on making the best film you can with the amount of money budgeted. There is so much competition today. It’s no wonder, really, anything of any quality gets made. I am extremely fortunate to have met and now be working with Colin and Andrew—Synthetic makes high quality films on budget. I’ve met and worked with so many in the business over the years, spent time in Hollywood, and met lots and lots of film producers making empty promises they never keep, etc. These guys are top notch. I have a lot of respect for them, their entire crew, and what they do.

I’ve filmed many more SNAPPED episodes and other true crime TV commentary spots (even one for a Japanese true crime series—incredible, huh, the reach of true crime today) which will air in 2017. Also, we’re gearing up to begin filming season 10 of DEADLY WOMEN. Wow, what a milestone. (Take that, Homicide Hunter! LOL. Just kidding, Kenda. You really have a great success there with your series and I am extremely happy for you and Investigation Discovery.)



Thank you, all of my readers and TV viewers and social media fans, for an inspiring 2016—all the comments and kind remarks and well wishes, I try to read them all. Each one of you means so much to me. There are so many true crime choices today. The fact that you rely on me for some of your true crime is overwhelmingly humbling.   

I am so grateful for all of you. I mean this. You are my true inspiration to continue doing what I do. —Sincerely, MWP, January 5, 2017

PS: Please don’t forget about your local foodbanks–they need your donations: canned goods, pasta, money (whatever you can give). Post-holiday, when everyone (understandably) slips from being in the giving mode, is when foodbank donations tank hard. Be generous and thanks for helping.

Career Update

Exciting things happening this coming year, 2016, and into 2017.

First up is the Hiccup Girl book, ONE BREATH AWAY, scheduled for February 23, 2016 release. I’m so proud of his book. I wanted to take a look at the celebrity-driven culture we live in and what it does to the human spirit when a child is plucked out of her life and thrust into the media spotlight, used (and truly abused) by a troll-driven internet culture of uncaring vultures.

Not saying Jennifer Mee is innocent of all crimes, mind you. But I wanted to explore how her life turned into such downward spiral of darkness and negativity and serious crime. I was able to do that and much more, exposing many exclusive aspects of this case and Jennifer’s life never reported. 

On Sale Everywhere Feb. 23, 2016
On Sale Everywhere Feb. 23, 2016


I have been working on a project for nearly five years that I am going to be announcing soon. It involves my work on “Dark Minds,” my sister-in-law’s murder, and a host of other personal issues, all of which are connected to my true-crime work. Don’t mean to be cryptic about it here, but I need to button up a few details before the big announcement.

Thank you, all of my readers and TV viewers and social media fans, for an inspiring and fantastic 2015. I am so grateful for all of you. I mean this. You are my true inspiration to continue doing what I do.

Sincerely, MWP, January 9, 2016

PS: Please don’t forget about your local foodbanks–they need your donations: canned goods, pasta, money, whatever you can give. Post holiday, when everyone (understandably) slips from being in the giving mode, is when foodbank donations tank hard. Thanks for helping.

No, I haven't taken up rapping ...
No, I haven’t started rapping …


Check out this cover for a book coming in late 2016!

IF YOU ONLY KNEW - Fall 2016
IF YOU ONLY KNEW – Fall 2016


And this re-issue of LETHAL GUARDIAN, coming spring 2016.

Lethal Guardian (2)

* * *

End of the Year OP-ED

Merry F***ing Zombie Christmas, ‘A**Hole’!

M. William Phelps

Like many, I’ve been sorting through and grappling with my feelings re: San Bernardino, Planned Parenthood, Charleston, Paris, (and the senseless murders of young black men across the country), not to mention a host of other pointless acts of gun violence and mass homicide over the past decade or more. I live about an hour from Newtown-Sandy Hook. I’ve given talks in town. I’ve seen the inherent agony on the faces of residents that is, I’m guessing, fixed for eternity.

Homicide in the largest city—Hartford—closest to where I live is beyond out of control (30 murders this past year alone), same as it is in Chicago and Baltimore, and so many other towns and cities across the nation. Respect for law enforcement (and people in general) is at an all-time low. Too many place zero value on human life anymore. I see this in my work every day. We live in a volatile world, where violence seems to be the first and only answer, as well as the quickest response to everyday problems and anxieties.

Then we come to the presidential race. One name dominates—this in the face of bigotry, hatred and rhetoric, as opposed to honor, integrity and a need for real change. Whenever we think Donald Trump will not utter another insane comment that is all at once insulting, bizarre and unilaterally contradictory to our core American values as a People, there he is stumping somewhere, bellowing his racist and, truly, near psychotic vitriol. The guy will say anything to get a headline. And when he does, we are right there giving him another microphone.

I write about narcissists. I have studied these people for well over a decade. Trump could be their posterchild.

There is enough negativity throughout the world and in this great country of ours already to feel anxious and upset. The simple fact that a bigot, narcissist and borderline sociopath like Trump can lead the polls in the Republican race for president is enough in and of itself to keep most grounded people up at night. Seriously: think about it. Imagine Trump running the country. We are being laughed at all over the world as it is, simply for his presence in the race.
“We’re really enjoying this over here,” an Aussie friend of mine emailed.

America has become “The Truman Show.”

It’s quite disturbing to me that we have come to the point where Donald Trump is considered a savior to a mass population of American voters. All those people slaughtered in Paris, fourteen of our own murdered in California in the name of terror—and this man’s answer, the potential leader of the free world, is to block Muslims from coming into our country. He claims to be qualified for the presidential palace and yet he is not smart enough to know that 99.9% of our intelligence sources fighting terror are Muslim. Philly mayor Michael Nutter said it best just recently when asked his opinion of Trump: “He’s an asshole.”
Then you have this Cincinnati couple that has constructed what they are calling a “Zombie Nativity” scene in their front yard—and, of course, so as not to waste the effort and get the most attention they can from their behavior, they documented it all on their Facebook page.

CNN, FOX, and the like park in front of their house and go live.

Look, whether you are a believer—on most days, I am—or an atheist—I know plenty and they are great people—this Zombie Nativity scene must be offensive and insulting, not only to your intelligence, but for the mere fact that it shows how out of touch we are today with the sensibilities of our neighbors, their core beliefs, and the world as a whole. You want to build a shrine to zombies inside your house and worship it in your living room, drink beers and laugh about it, have at it. But when you put something like this on your front lawn, doesn’t it say that you are in desperate need of attention—i.e., your millennial narcissism in need of a fix—and that you could give a rat’s ass about hurting people, not to mention destroying the warm and archaic image of Christmas most children have?

I watched Obama’s address regarding San Bernardino and our supposed war on terrorism from the Oval Office on December 6 with great hope and anticipation, only to be made to feel as though the man was, once again, currying favor, looking to coast out the final year of his last term in office, with as little disruption to his agenda as possible. Like most, I’m fed up with the Republican/Democrat blame-game.

Thousands of soldiers have lost their lives in the Mideast, as far back as the 1990’s. Tens of thousands of families have been greatly (and forever) affected by those deaths, with additional thousands of troops maimed and disabled while fighting inside combat zones. These men and women are heroes. They are the blood that runs through the veins of this country. I recall being on a plane once coming home from a “Dark Minds” shoot. Sitting in front of me was a 40-ish-year-old woman, her husband, and a young girl about eleven. The woman held a small picture frame on her lap the entire trip. She would caress it, outline the photo with her finger, staring blankly. It was a photo of young man in uniform. The woman had a look on her face of utter despair throughout the entire trip; a pallid sheen that spoke of the great loss she was never going to get over. The young girl was doing her best to hold herself together. The father was tough, strong-willed, I could tell. They spoke softly to each other. They stared out the little oval window at times and kept themselves busy playing cards and other mindless travel games.

As we drew closer to our destination, a stewardess walked up and spoke with the family. Before walking away, the stewardess shook her head. “Okay, thank you,” she said.

Moments later, the captain came over the loudspeaker and said something to the effect of: I just want say that it is an honor for me to be able to be transporting home [the soldier’s name] body for his family, who are with us today on the flight. If we could all take a moment and silently appreciate and pray for this family, honor [the soldier’s name] service to our great country.

This family was transporting the body of their child back from where they had picked it up, after he was killed in Afghanistan.

We could argue all day about the so-called War on Terror, all the death—including the boy whose family I sat in back of—from combat over the past four or five presidential regimes, and if those deaths were or were not for the greater good of our country, or if we were there for the right or wrong reasons. I am not going to go down that road here. But as we sit down for ham and turkey this holiday season, guzzling egg nog and unwrapping our iThings, do we not now need some leadership in the face of ISIS? A military who can kick ISIS’s ass, dismantle and destroy this organization of tyrants and psychopaths, more than we ever have? Has not what we’ve seen over the past few years alone with homegrown terror—Boston Marathon, et al—been enough to warrant the total annihilation of these monsters and their supporters?

I don’t want to see more kids die. I don’t want see more families on planes bringing home their dead babies. I don’t want to see kids maimed and disabled. Yet we bill ourselves as the ultimate super power; the leader of the free world. Is now not the time to step up and fill those shoes and actually be that leader? What other alternative do we have? We, with the help of others, have destabilized that entire Mideast region, which has allowed ISIS and the like to flourish. That’s a fact.

We cannot just snip the head of the dandelion. We need to pull it out by the roots, or it will just pop back up again in the spring. Maybe where we expect it to, or maybe in a place we never imagined.

It’s also time to show more respect for people of all races, creeds, colors, religions, professions, beliefs, and so on, here at home. Every time we turn around, either some idiot on social media or a total ass running for president is looking for more attention—total views, clicks, likes, whatever. We live in PC world where everything seems to offend someone these days. And yet when true offenses and insults and racism is out there in front of our faces, it seems all we do is give those people more media attention. It’s disgusting and alarming. It shows how shallow and desensitized to human emotion we have become.
I’m a big believer in kicking ass where and when ass needs to be kicked. It’s time we shined our shoes and put both feet forward and stopped mucking around with idle talk.

It’s nothing but hot air and bullshit.

Fulton Sheen, regardless what you think of him or his faith, made a point decades ago we all need to digest and revisit—which I will simplify and secularize (so as not to offend anyone!) here: “A nation always gets the kind of politicians it deserves. If a time ever comes when [we] … have to suffer … it will be because for years [we] thought it made no difference what kind of people represented [us] in Congress ….”

As another Aussie friend once said to his then fifteen-year-old boy, who was whining about a walk they were on, how tired he was and that he wanted to get back home: “You need to harden the fuck up.”

Well, to be quite frank, we all do.

Merry Christmas.