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ABOUT Janine o'neill

I'm the author of Close to Home.

I was working as a newspaper reporter in Oregon when I decided to simultaneously attend law school.

At the time, my goal was to continue my career as a reporter, but for a purely legal publication or other media. Then my paper assigned me to cover a particularly gruesome murder case, and I was hooked. I no longer wanted to tell stories about inert developments in law. I wanted to tell stories about people.

That decision led to a decades-long series of serendipitous career opportunities.


First, I got a job as a law clerk in the Clackamas County, Oregon District Attorney's Office, where a mentor let me try felony cases as a third-year law student. When I graduated, I became a deputy district attorney in that office, specializing in the prosecution of crimes against children, most of them sexual abuse, at a time when the prosecution of such cases was in its infancy nationwide. It was legally challenging and personally gratifying but emotionally draining work.


After I had children of my own, I left Clackamas County to become the attorney-in-charge of a new unit at the Oregon Department of Justice that prosecuted crimes in which the victims weren't children.


In 2001, I returned to journalism as the editor of the features section at the Portland Tribune. The following year, shortly before I transferred from features to the Tribune's news department, two young girls disappeared in Oregon City, Oregon, Clackamas County's seat. Based on my legal background, particularly my previous experience prosecuting crimes against children in Clackamas County, I was assigned to help cover this story. 


After I left the Tribune, I was the first executive director of the Oregon Crime Victims Law Center, which provides crime victims with free assistance in asserting and enforcing their legal rights as crime victims. Some of my clients were children who had been sexually abused.


I also am the mother of a child who was sexually abused by a known, trusted adult.

Collectively, these experiences prepared me to write this book and shaped its direction. Why do some people became victims of violent crime, some perpetrators and some both victims and perpetrators? These are questions in which I have a tremendous professional and personal stake.


Currently, I'm coaching a high-school mock-trial team and researching my next true-crime book! I live in Portland, Oregon with my partners in crime: my husband and labradoodles, who accompany me on research road trips. I write under my unmarried name to protect my family's privacy, although I don't think the doodles care whether they're associated with serial killers.... 

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