Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Under Cover Of The Night by Diane Fanning

Jocelyn and Wesley Earnest seemed like a typical couple.  Both were professionals, athletic and well-liked by those around them.  Jocelyn was a manager at a finance company and Wesley was a school administrator.  They loved to go fishing and camping and hang out with friends.  From the outside, they seemed to have a good life.  But trouble was brewing under the surface and in the early 2000's, they separated and later filed for divorce.  Jocelyn stayed in the family home in Forest, Virginia, while Wesley got possession of the million dollar home they were building on Smith Mountain Lake, although he actually was living at the Virginia coast near the high school he worked at.

Then in December of 2007, tragedy struck.  Jocelyn was looking forward to leaving town and spending the holidays with her family.  When her friends and work couldn't contact her, one of her friends went to her house and made a horrific discovery.  Jocelyn was lying on the floor dead, the victim of a gunshot wound.  When the police arrived, they noted a suicide note.  But the investigation quickly showed that this was not a suicide but a murder.  The prime suspect and the person arrested was Wesley Earnest.

The book follows Earnest's trial.  It ended in a mistrial through a mistake made in the juror room.  The prosecutors in Bedford County, Virginia, retried.  The evidence showed that Wesley was a self-centered man, determined to have his own way.  He resented the fact that Jocelyn was moving on and that she was in much better financial shape than he was.  He had a new relationship but couldn't get past the fact that Jocelyn had moved on.  The evidence hinged on things like a fingerprint on the false suicide note, lies that Wesley had told everyone around him, a suspicious borrowing of a friend's vehicle, and the manipulations of those around him that he continued even from the jail.  Wesley was convicted and given life without parole.  He is currently serving that sentence.

Diane Fanning is considered one of the premier true crime authors currently working.  She has covered cases like that of Tommy Lynn Sells, a serial killer who killed across the country for more than two decades and who was brought to justice by the testimony of a ten-year old girl who survived an attack.  She and her work has been featured on such shows as 48 Hours, Deadly Women, 20/20, Court TV and the Discovery Channel along with various network news shows.  She is also the author of several fiction series, including one that focuses on the work of the women of Oak Ridge, Tennessee during WWII.   This book is recommended for readers of true crime.

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