After 30 years in the business, you'd think that maybe murder wouldn't affect Ann Rule anymore. But that's nowhere near the case.
KOMO 4 News talked to the author about a couple cases that still haunt her.
"There are some that are always right there and Campbell's crimes are right there -- like I'd written it yesterday," Rule said.
Charles Campbell, for example. The name still brings a chill to those who remember his heinous crime.
The nightmare began in the Snohomish County town of Clearview. A young mother, Renae Wicklund, was home alone with her baby Shannah when Charles Campbell pushed his way into her home.
He held a knife to her baby's throat and raped her.
Campbell was sentenced to 45 years in prison.
But six years later, he was released to a half way house, just five miles from Renae Wicklund.
"Certainly the victims need to be notified that the person they're most afraid of is out and could harm them and Renae Wicklund did not know that," Rule said. "Nobody knew that."
What happens next is what haunts the author. Charles Campbell came back.
"Renae felt like somebody was watching her," Rule said. "At night, she felt like somebody was right outside, but she never saw anybody. Then she did see the tracks -- men's shoes in the snow."
Then, on April 14, 1982, Campbell broke in. This time, he not only raped and killed Renae Wicklund, he slit the throats of her 9-year-old daughter Shannah and a beloved neighbor, Barbara Hendrickson, who'd come to check on her friends.
"It was a nightmare," Rule said. "It was hard to write... a bloody scene... cruel."
Campbell was sentenced to die. For 12 years, he fought it arguing death by hanging was too cruel.
"Killers have no empathy, the kind of sadistic sociopaths I write about," Rule said. "So they really can't feel another creature's pain. However when it comes to them, that they might be in pain or locked up, then it's very real to them."
On May 27, 1994, Charles Campbell was executed. He fought all the way to the gallows. And though the final chapter was written, a killer left an indelible mark on Rule.
"I don't think I've ever written about one that is more nightmarish than that one," she said.
Giving A Victim A Voice
When Rule started writing about murder 30 years ago, she worried about focusing on people's tragedies.
In her office overlooking Puget Sound, she writes 7 days a week,10 hours a day. She now believes her work gives victims a voice.
She told KOMO 4 News many of the stories that still haunt her are those that have no ending -- when the killer gets away with murder.
"Marcia Moore was a woman who lived her whole life on another plane," Rule said. "She was into yoga, reincarnation, and into drugs that would take her mind into another reality."
Moore was heir to a fortune, a published author, and a psychic with an international reputation.
But her psychic exploration took a dangerous turn. She and her fourth husband, a Seattle anesthesiologist, began to experiment with the drug ketamine.
"She would levitate in her mind to another plane," Rule said.
From her Bothell home, Moore wrote of her experiences.
She developed a following with other psychics looking to expand reality.
Then one night, in 1979, "she just plain disappeared," Rule said. "It was a cold, cold night in January. Her husband went to the movies. When he came home, everything in the house was just as he'd left it, but she was gone."
Search teams scoured Snohomish County, but came up empty-handed.
Two years later and 15 miles away, a man clearing blackberry bushes discovered a skull. It was Marcia Moore.
"The skull had one perfect hole," Rule recalled. "As if a bullet had gone through it. No other part of her was ever found."
Moore's death 25 years ago was never solved. But Rule believes it will be.
"Eventually, if I can stay alive long enough, I'll be able to write the endings to these stories," Rule said.
Right now, she's working on her next release which should be done this spring. This one is about the most prolific murderer in our history: Gary Ridgway, the Green River killer.