On Christmas Eve 1976, a woman called the Lewiston Police Department and told the dispatcher she knew something about a 20-year-old unsolved murder. Police officer Monty Spears was on duty and pulled the files sparking an obsessive quest to solve the crime.
In 2009, Spears self-published “From the Hands of Vernon,” the story of how he and others worked to solve the 1956 murder of Jean Johnson, a 29-year-old found strangled in her Lewiston apartment. The second printing was recently released and Spears will be signing books around the region.
Spears, then a detective with the Lewiston Police Department, worked for a year to prove the guilt of one suspect, Vernon Choate. He and a team of others devoted regular shifts and personal time to the case. The book chronicles their surveillance of Choate and how he stalked two young women working undercover, attacking one.
Spears left the Lewiston Police Department in 1981 and worked briefly as a Nez Perce County sheriff’s deputy. He ran a private investigation and security business for a time. He and his wife, Brenda, the dispatcher on duty that night in 1976, now own the Harpster Store and RV Park on the South Fork of the Clearwater River. Spears is also the author of “Bitterroot Gold” and “The History of McComas Meadows.”
Book signings are scheduled for:
10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Dec. 12, And Books Too, 918 Sixth St., Clarkston
10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Dec. 18, Kooskia Cafe, Kooskia
1:30 to 3 p.m. Dec. 18, Village Shoppe, 158 E. Main St., Grangeville
10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Dec. 19, Kamiah True Value Hardware, Kamiah
The book is also available for purchase at Rae Brothers, Cash and Carry, Shear Magic and Irwin Drug in Grangeville; Harpster Store and RV Park in Harpster; Stites Hardware in Stites; and Clearwater Valley Harvest Foods and Dale & Jill’s in Kooskia.