A Texas millionaire discovers his wife and bookkeeper have stolen thousands of dollars from him. He demands the money back. A few weeks later, he is dead from some mysterious illness.
The millionaire’s ex-wife and mother of his children becomes a sleuth to help solve the murder.
Download to your Kindle (eBook)
Jeannie Walker Books
A Texas millionaire rancher discovered his wife and bookkeeper had stolen thousands of dollars from him. After he demanded the money back, he started getting sick. While he was in the hospital, doctors were mystified as to how an otherwise healthy, energetic man could become so deathly ill. The dying man told everyone within earshot that his wife and bookkeeper were killing him. The man’s wife said her husband was hallucinating from drugs the doctors were giving him. The millionaire rancher succumbed in the hospital while strapped down to his bed with restraints on his hands and feet and tubes in every orifice. After the rancher died, an anonymous caller tipped off the police.
The widow was the sole beneficiary of the estate and a $350,000 life insurance policy.
A week before the man’s death, a teenager visited the rancher’s home and became deathly ill after he drank juice that was in the rancher’s refrigerator. Two years after the millionaire’s death, a bottle of arsenic was found in a storage locker rented by a woman under an assumed name.
The millionaire’s ex-wife, the mother of his children, became a sleuth to help solve the murder. No one could have predicted the aftermath with its strange twists and unexpected results.
There was a time when the millionaire rancher, Jerry Sternadel, gave all the orders. No one dared to tell him times were a-changin'. When he discovered in May of 1990 that his wife, Lou Ann, and his bookkeeper, Debbie Baker, had stolen thousands of dollars from him, he demanded the money back by Memorial Day, threatening to have them arrested for embezzlement if they did not. He also told his wife he was going to divorce her.
A week before Memorial Day, Jerry ate lunch with Lou Ann and Debbie as he often did.
Soon after consuming his taco salad, he became violently ill, with nausea, vomiting, and severe diarrhea. He was admitted to the hospital on three different occasions between May 23 and June 12.
Doctors were mystified as to what was causing this otherwise healthy forty-nine-year-old man to become so deathly ill. Jerry did not smoke or drink and he exercised daily. During his final stay in the hospital, toxicology tests showed 4,895 mcg of arsenic in his system. Even while he was a patient in the hospital, the arsenic levels had continued to climb!
Jerry told nurses and anyone within earshot that his wife and bookkeeper were killing him.
—excerpt from Fighting the Devil
ForeWord Clarions Review
ForeWord Clarion Review
BIOGRAPHIES & MEMOIRS/MYSTERY
Fighting the Devil: A True Story of Consuming Passion, Deadly Poison, and Murder
Five Stars (out of Five)
A saga of death, abuse, embezzlement, poison, and premonitions may seem like the stuff of soap operas. However, these dastardly deeds and haunting occurrences actually happened in Jeannie Walker’s life, prompting her to pen this gripping true-crime thriller about her ex-husband’s murder, the homicide’s aftermath, and Walker’s efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Fighting the Devil: A True Story of Consuming Passion, Deadly Poison, and Murder won the deserving distinction of Editor’s Choice from iUniverse. A member of the International Association of Writers, Walker weaves a compelling tale that first grabs readers with the novel’s fiery cover, and keeps them hooked to the very last page.
Walker fought with the devil even before her ex-husband, Jerry, died at the hands of his second wife, Lou Ann, and his bookkeeper, Debbie. To be sure, Walker had to be careful around her mercurial husband: Jerry abused, stalked, insulted, raped, and harassed Walker during their marriage, and after the divorce. He also molested Lou Ann’s daughter, apparently with his new wife’s knowledge. In fact, the girl claims her mom made her perform lewd acts with Jerry. Finally, the girl calls the author, post-divorce, begging for an escape.
In a masterstoke, Walker is able to make readers empathize with the violent Jerry, because she herself, practices forgiveness and forbearance toward him. Also, even as his children, Becky and Sandy, detest Jerry’s actions, they still love their father.
Furthermore, Walker’s descriptions of Jerry’s excruciating death cause the audience to realize that even possessive assailants don’t deserve such torture. Walker additionally creates full-fledged characters out of her fragile daughter, stoic son, various valiant lawmen, and the villainous Lou Ann and Debbie.
Walker skillfully integrates primary sources into her narrative, such as testimony and depositions. She uses direct dialogue whenever possible. These techniques lend a chilling immediacy to the story, while simultaneously heightening the suspense. Moreover, the inclusion of prophetic dreams and signs into the tale, is done in such a believable way, that the reader never doubts the existence of these omens. Walker’s spine-tingling accounts of these unexplained phenomena, convince readers that this tale does indeed have supernatural elements. When Walker has a vision of something evil, the audience has no doubt that she is, in fact, fighting the devil.
The inclusion of photos—many of which Walker snapped herself—exemplify the humanity of the characters in this drama. The pictures of Jerry restrained in the hospital, and Walker at his open casket, are particularly harrowing. The black-and-white snapshots underscore the eeriness of the whole affair. Readers who enjoy suspense, strong female leads, and crime drama, like Law and Order, will cling to every word of Fighting the Devil. Those with weak stomachs are warned that this book contains graphic descriptions of slow death by poison. Read this nail-biter with the lights blazing!
True Crime Book Reviews
TRUE CRIME BOOK REVIEWS True Crime From a First Hand Account
Review by Kim Cantrell
Some said that Jerry Sternadel lived like a rat, and deservedly died like a rat.
Considering his multiple affairs, his shady business dealings, his unconscionable ways of using his children as pawns in divorce actions, and the accusations of molestation (Jerry claimed it was a consensual affair) with his stepdaughter, I can’t disagree with them. Jerry was a man who was possessive, controlling, and outright mean at times. But according to some, including his ex-wife Jeannie Walker, he was trying to make a change for the better in the last few years of his life.
But he’d never get a chance to really prove the changes before his current wife, Lou Ann, and her friend Debra Baker would murder him with arsenic poisoning. It would take several years and a lot of investigative work before even one of the parties to his murder was brought to justice. And you’ll be surprised at who became the defendant and who spent time lounging on a beach in the Bahamas.
Initially I was suspicious of Jeannie Walker’s intent in telling the story about her ex-husband’s murder, wondering if she was an ex-wife just looking to jump into the spotlight with her 2010 true crime book titled Fighting the Devil: A True Story of Consuming Passion, Deadly Poison, and Murder. Yet the more I read, the more I came to realize that Jeannie Walker was doing what she was doing because of and for her children - without them, Jerry may have just been written off as another case of karma.
Of course, it’s also obvious that once Jeannie got started, it snowballed into a big mystery that demanded to be solved. And it’s one heck of a story to tell!
Let me put it to you this way, there’s a lot of information about the case of Jerry Sternadel’s murder in Fighting the Devil. At times it gets a bit weighted down and you think, “What’s that got to do with anything?” But just hold on, because it does have everything to do with it and the bigger picture.
When readers open this book, they can’t go in looking for the svelte writing found in many books that’s went through tons of editing, Jeannie Walker writes the story like she’s talking to an old friend; very personal, a style that makes you feel as if you’re a close confidant, not a voyeuristic reader.
Fighting the Devil is the only book available on the Jerry Sternadel murder committed by Debra Baker and his wife, Lou Ann (allegedly, at this point). So if your curiosity is piqued about the case, add it to your reading list today!
Beyond the BookShelf
BEYOND THE BOOKSHELF
Jeannie Walker (Author) is the ex-wife of murdered millionaire – Jerry Sternadel. Together with Sternadel’s family – They believe that the bookkeeper – Debra Lynn Baker did not act alone and that his current wife, Lou Ann was just as involve; however, Debra Baker was the only one convicted of Jerry Sternadel’s murder and received 10 years probation and a $10,000. That was in 1994. However, she continued to break the terms of her probation, so her probation was revoked and she was sent to prison in 2002 for 10 years.
This book has good writing that chills the reader’s blood. The very first page grabs the reader’s attention. It is a well-written narrative nonfiction about a horrific crime. The dialogue sounds authentic and natural. It has a good description of the Texas setting and surroundings. It is engaging and keeps the reader’s interest throughout. All in all, the book is well executed and a pleasure to read. Once you start reading, it is hard to put down. It is an extraordinary and awesome book. Everyone should get it and read it. It received a Five Star rating from ForeWord Clarion RevieWS.
Although you have to wonder what the author’s motive is – it soon becomes clear that THIS MURDER is a mystery that demands your attention. WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO JERRY STERNADEL?
Want to review or comment on this
Click here to login!
Need a FREE Reader Membership?
Click here for your Membership!