When I met Weston DeWalt, he said "Nice to meet you, Petrea Celeste."
Celeste is my middle name. I don't use it much, and it's not exactly all over the web. I said so.
"I'm a researcher," he said. No kidding.
Gary Weston DeWalt is a Pasadena author who came to worldwide notice in one of the most compelling stories to hit recent Los Angeles headlines. It began when his imagination was sparked by a single sentence he'd read about a boy who went missing near JPL in 1957 (on my 2nd birthday). Tommy Bowman was never found. DeWalt's idea was to write about how that loss affected Tommy's family over the years. But his research led him deep into a complicated tale involving bulldozers, bad men and even, peripherally, Charles Manson.
Mostly, though, DeWalt came across more and more unsolved cases of missing children, and all those children pointed their fingers at one man: Mack Ray Edwards.
The Pasadena author with a penchant for research helped solved a case that had gone cold more than 50 years ago. And along with LAPD Detective Vivian Flores, DeWalt may have unearthed even more crimes and at least one more criminal. The full story hasn't been told. Yet. DeWalt and Flores are writing the book.
Weston is no stranger to headlines. In 1997 he co-authored The Climb with Anatoli Boukreev, partly in answer to charges made against Boukreev in Jon Krakauer's bestseller, Into Thin Air about the 1996 Everest Disaster. The Climb sparked controversy which DeWalt had to answer because Boukreev died tragically soon after publication.*
It's a delight to converse with Weston DeWalt. He's smart, engaging, well-read and full of stories, some about his research. And after an hour or so it becomes clear that though crime and controversy may intrigue him, it's the people who hold his deepest interest. He cares about Anatoli Boukreev, who saved lives on Mt. Everest then didn't live to fully answer charges against his character. He cares about Eldon Bowman, who after fifty years has experienced little closure regarding the loss of his son. He cares about Detective Flores, who worked so hard on the case of the missing children. It has affected her career, DeWalt says. "It's affected her whole life."
There's more to know about Weston DeWalt, but this post is getting long. I know how Weston feels when a subject just grabs you.
*(I recommend Wikipedia as a beginning, not an end, to research.)