It came as a surprise, but not really a shock, that true crime author, Ann Rule, passed away on Sunday at the age of 83. She made her home in the state of Washington, but she was known around the world for over the better part of three decades for her amassed amount of books she wrote on crime cases.
Ann was a lovely woman, and although I never had the pleasure meeting her— we had previously corresponded via e-mail in the early millennial years. There was a case that took place right here in my city of Garden Grove back in March of 1985. Teenager Cinnamon Brown stood accused of murdering her step-mother, Linda Brown, and it was a case closely followed here in town, around the country and even the world. If You Really Loved Me was her book about this case. If you’re a reader of hers, by chance, and you have not read this particular one, and/or not known much about the case— you may wanna stop reading at this point due to spoilers. Standalone, whether you know the case or not, the book is really well written and has so much vivid details that it’s an awesome read no matter your familiarity.
Cinnamon’s father, David Brown, and her aunt (also Linda’s sister), Patti Bailey, were the actual orchestrators of Linda’s murder of which, although, Cinnamon did commit, wasn’t wholly her fault. Cinnamon basically sat on ice for several years in the California Youth Authority while David and Patti roamed free and made a bountiful life off of the disbursements from Linda’s insurance policies. It wasn’t around 1990 or so when Cinnamon finally caved and revealed the truth. It was around that time, the trial, that this case received intense media attention. Sitting in court almost every-single-day was Ann Rule, along with her daughter, Leslie Rule, listening to testimony, taking pictures and copious notes.
In early 2004 I emailed Ann the picture of the Ocean Breeze house, as it appeared then, and she wrote back that it looked just like it did back in 1990 when she traversed the street, taking pictures for her book. She shared with me that the picture of the front of the house, that’s in her book, she swore that a female ghostly-figure was looking out the window at her. It was implied as possible the spirit of Linda Brown, but the photograph just showed the window with no one there. Makes one wonder.
If you really want a good summary of everything— here’s a decent piece, with pictures, published by the Daily News earlier this year.
The reason this book hits close to home for me is that the house Linda was murdered in, 12551 Ocean Breeze, was a home that my family had first lived in as original owners. My grandparents bought the home in 1954 and stayed there for twenty years. Barely anybody moved in or out during that era and all of the neighbors remained the same; most of them recall vividly of what happened in March 1985. Many people interviewed in Ann’s book are those I knew from growing up and including many Garden Grove Police personnel I got to know when I was a police explorer scout back in the mid-90s. Hearing first-hand recollections of that case was, and still is, very surreal to me.
Ann Rule was a very, very good writer. Just the opening chapter alone of If You Really Loved Me, essentially from the first page, Ann had won me over. In what would probably take me an entire chapter, on describing the essence of Orange County, and my family’s old neighborhood, Ann did it all on a single page…
This case, and Ann’s book on it, is something that always circles back around on me. One example was a criminal justice course I had at Golden West College in 1998. Our instructor came in one day and basically said “Today… we’re gonna talk about a case that shocked the world.” He began talking about the night of March 1985 and he struggled on a couple points only to find me— raising my hand— helping him with it.
“Oh you’re really familiar with this? You had to have only been a kid when it happened!”— he said.
Then he learned my “connection” so to speak— which I really do not call it that. But what was going to just be an afternoon of class instruction about the case turned in to several days of analytical discussion amongst everyone in class.
Within the past year or so someone linked me to Krystal Brown, David and Linda’s infant daughter. She and I communicated a bit and to my surprise I was able to clarify some fuzzy details for her about the case. She’s hit 30 by now and works really hard for herself. As it is now known, her dad, David Brown, died last year in prison. Krystal was the receiver of his personal effects and essentially his cremains. Many do ask— what’s happen to— and how is— Cinnamon. I can only say that she is happy and doing well and is a mother to beautiful children. No, I do not know her, but let’s just say that she is doing alright. The limelight is not her thing, and rightfully so, and that is best respected as much as anyone would want after many tragedies in one lifetime.
A lot of feedback here from just one of Ann’s books and she wrote MANY. Her books leave her readers wanting more and curious about any updates. Ann kept a website and it is chock-full of great information— including updates on her many books. Her daughter, Leslie, was her right-hand person, and if not for Leslie— Ann would have been lost in her literary and fan world. Leslie Rule is also an accomplished author and her website can be found here.
Ann Rule— thank you.