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Michael Varnado

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Michael Varnado began his 30 year career as a law enforcement officer while still a student at Southeastern Louisiana University.  He joined Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office; ultimately becoming a detective.  He is the detective famous for solving the murder case on which the movie “Dead Man Walking” is based.  His first book, “Victims of Dead Men Walking” is a response to the movie (and the book from which it is taken).  Detective Varnado presents a very different picture of the killer and justice.  His second book, “Soft Targets: A Women’s Guide to Survival,” uses actual case histories as a means to advice women on how avoid becoming the victim of a crime.

According to the book description of Soft Targets: A Woman's Guide To Survival, “Violence against women and girls has reached epidemic proportions in America. Now, a twenty-year veteran detective shares hard-won lessons from the front line of crime-scene investigation. Using actual case studies from his own career, Detective Michael Varnado advises women on how to avoid becoming a 'soft target' for violent predators. The book also includes hot lines, Web sites, and other resources for crime survivors.”

According to the book description of Victims of Dead Man Walking, “This is the true story of the rape and murder of Faith Hathaway by Robert Lee Willie and Joe Vaccaro. Detective Mike Varnado provides a vivid eyewitness account of the investigation into her murder. Varnado was only twenty-five when he discovered Faith Hathaway's body. Finding her killers and bringing them to justice has been one of the most important endeavours of his life. But for Varnado, Faith's family, and the citizens of their quiet Louisiana community, the nightmare did not end with the capture and conviction of the murderers. While on Angola's death row, Robert Lee Willie was counseled by Senator Helen Prejean, who wrote about him in her best-selling book, Dead Man Walking. He also served as the primary model for the character played by Sean Penn in the Academy Award-winning film version of 'Dead Man Walking'. As Willie and his story achieved world-wide notoriety, Faith Hathaway, her short life, and her brutal death were almost forgotten by everyone but those closest to her. Victims of 'Dead Man Walking' reminds readers of an aspect of the death-penalty debate that is too often forgotten -- the innocent victim of crime, the victim's family, and the police officers, lawyers, judges, and ordinary citizens called upon to perform difficult but necessary roles in the pursuit of justice.”

Soft Targets: A Woman's Guide To Survival
Michael L. Varnado  More Info

Victims of Dead Man Walking
Michael L. Varnado  More Info

About the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office

According to the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office, “The Sheriff's Office Patrol Division has the responsibility of enforcing the laws of the state, both criminal and traffic, throughout Washington Parish including all municipalities even though the cities of Franklinton, Bogalusa, Angie and Varnado have their own police departments. Washington Parish encompasses approximately 670 square miles.  The Patrol Division is manned by 28 full time deputies, including those in supervisory capacities, who patrol the Parish around the clock 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.

There are several categories of calls that require the dispatch of at least two deputies. This is done, primarily, for safety concerns not only for the deputies responding but for citizens as well, especially domestic disputes or reports of a fight in progress. In fact, in all cases where a crime is reported to the 911 Center as being “in progress,” two deputies are dispatched for precautionary reasons. Arrival at a scene will determine whether a deputy can be released to take other calls or, as does happen from time to time, additional deputies are needed.”

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