I-70 Serial Killer Part 2


Award-winning crime writer, Synova Cantrell, and ex-Gambino Associate, Hootie Russo discuss the disturbing case of the I-70 Serial Killer. 

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The Chillingworth Murders


It’s a tale of two judges; one a well-liked defender of the law, and the other a cold-blooded manipulator. 


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The Missing Ballerina – Jennifer Casper Ross


Jennifer Casper-Ross had achieved every little girl’s dream of becoming a professional ballerina. At the age of 19, she was the youngest to ever audition for the Greg Thompson Productions. Eleven years later she would disappear completely without a trace. What happened to this beautiful dancer?

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The Strange Death of Janice Wilhelm


One suspicious suicide in a small town may not be unusual, but five deaths within a square mile of each other? Within a year an oil boom hits Centerville, Texas and the deaths are all swept under the rug. While a handful of people get rich, the family members of the victims are left with nothing but questions.


Synova’s new book Black Gold Runs Blood Red in Texas covers a series of suspicious deaths in a rural Texas county. Could all of these deaths be a series of unfortunate coincidences? 


Janice Wilhelm was found dead by a gunshot to the neck when she was disabled and couldn’t use that arm. Her father Morris Robeson died by a gunshot to the back of the head when he had a neck injury and couldn’t shave his own face. The only man to question and try to investigate Morris’ suicide ends up taking his own life in a bizarre way. Is there a conspiracy over oil rights in this community?


Synova’s book will be available for preorder on June 1, 2021.


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Mobster Monday – Hootie Russo

It’s Mobster Monday@ Synova Ink Publishing!

This week’s post will be featuring Russo on VladTV



Interview with Anthony “Hootie” Russo

Got a bunch of haters because I interviewed an ex-gangster who is trying to change his life. Made me mad, so what does that make me want to do? SHARE IT AGAIN!!!

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Synova’s Self-Editing Tips

Pic courtesy of Unsplash Photo by Wulan Sari on Unsplash


Whether you are planning to publish traditionally or independently, you must edit your work. Some writers hire an editor to look over every social media post, book, and article they write. But what if you don’t have a full-time editor on your staff? Here are a few tips to help you clean up your work before you submit it. 

Read it aloud:

Try reading your piece out loud, and then you will notice places where you may stammer or trip over incorrect grammar or word choice. While this is a helpful tool to check your work, it isn’t perfect. Since you are the author, sometimes our minds read what we meant to say instead of reading it verbatim. If you can get someone else to read it out loud, it works even better.

Avoid Cliches:

We’ve all heard them, and it makes your work a little sloppy if you cannot come up with your own word choice. 

Avoid being too clever:

While we all know we shouldn’t use cliches, sometimes authors try to be too clever with their word choices, and the readers are left to stumble through. As an author, we must remember that the reader has a thousand distractions at any given moment. While you are busy trying to sound smart, the reader has to decide if he or she wants to keep reading. 

Don’t edit as you write:

If you try to edit as you write your first draft, you’ll find it nearly impossible to complete. Instead, let the words flow as they come to you. Then set the piece aside and let it cool for a bit before you jump right in and start editing. 

Print it out:

If you’re a child of the ’80s, you might find it easier to edit your work if you have a printed copy in front of you. While this works for a lot of people, it is only a suggestion. The important thing is to find what works for you.

Start in the chaos:

You always want to start your book with a powerful hook to hold the reader’s interest. For fiction writers, I suggest you start in the chaos and then fill in the back story later on in the book. Non-fiction writers need to find a way to hook the readers in their first paragraph. To give you an example from my career, I will tell you how I started Unorganized Crime. This book was about an ex-gangster from Chicago. Instead of starting the book when he was born and letting it read like a textbook, I chose to start the story when Sidney was 17-years-old and breaking out of prison. I then went back and added bits of his childhood throughout the book. 

Point of View:

Should you use only one? Should you use more than one? The answer will depend on who you ask. I suggest if you choose to use more than one point of view to at least keep each chapter in one POV. If you switch back and forth too much, it frustrates the reader, and a frustrated reader will not finish your book.

Don’t be afraid to cut out your favorite part:

When editing your work, you must be willing to cut your favorite character for the good of the story if need be.

Once you have your manuscript as clean as possible, then it’s time to consider finding an editing app and a professional editor to finish the job. I personally use Grammarly.com to clean up my work before sending it off to my editor. 

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Synova’s Get Your Book Done Now course will give you the confidence you need to become a best-selling author!

Now you can get your book written with the help of Synova’s Simply Biz Coaching Service. Synova has personally designed this course to lead you through the pitfalls of the publishing world.

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  • Synova starts at the heart of the problem; your mindset. If you do not have a success mindset in place all the schemes, business plans, and marketing in the world won’t help you.

  • Synova dives into the purpose of your writing. Why do you want to write and who do you want to write for?

  • That leads right to finding your target audience and having them in mind WHILE you write your book.

  • How to research your book (YES, Fiction books require some research too!)

  • Introduction into how to set up an author platform so when your book is ready, your marketing trampoline will be too.

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Tip from Dying Witness Breaks Cold Case – Suspect let off on technicality

Photo courtesy of Knox News Archives

A trucker was found dead in the cab of his tractor-trailer. Bullet holes riddled the man’s torso and the cab of his truck. John Constant was shot 17 times by a high-powered rifle, but there wasn’t any blood in the cab leading investigators to wonder if the hit was staged. Forty-six years later, a dying witness blows this frozen case wide open. Will the killer finally face justice?

Hollywood may be fond of happy endings, but the reality isn’t as pleasant. In this case, the main suspect was let off the hook because of a technicality. Maybe he did it. Maybe he didn’t, but we will never know because it won’t go to trial.

On April 20, the Knox News reported that prosecutors dismissed the murder charge against Max Calhoun. The witness reportedly contacted the police after talking to the victim’s family over Facebook. These messages were enough to cause concern, and the authorities requested their phones. When the phones were received, the messages weren’t there. Were they intentionally deleted, or were they so old that they had been deleted before the police were ever called? We will never know.

Here’s the problem. If talking to the victim’s family on social media is enough to destroy a murder case, I wonder how many other cases should have been dropped? How many cases? What were in those messages? Were they benign, or were they sinister? Of course, the Knox News article doesn’t dive into the reason why the messages were no longer available, but it’s sad that this 48-yr-old murder won’t receive justice now because of social media. Here’s a glimpse into this legendary murder:

John Raymond Constant, Jr. was found murdered in the cab of his truck on March 16, 1973. The tractor-trailer truck was parked near the Little Tennessee River just off Hwy 411. The driver had suffered seventeen gunshot wounds, but police quickly realized the crime scene was staged. Although the cab was riddled with bullets and Mr. Constant was shot multiple times, there was no blood found at the scene.

A witness who lived in the area recalled hearing a car with a loud exhaust come by followed by what sounded like gunfire. A few moments later, he heard the vehicle pass again. Was this man ambushed while he rested in his cab, or was the scene staged? Was the car with the loud exhaust filled with the killers, or was it the escape route after staging the scene?

Strange Side Note:

The tractor-trailer truck’s emergency flashers were left blinking. Whoever did this wasn’t too worried about being caught, or they would have hidden the truck and shut off the lights.

Possible Motive:

Why would anyone want to murder this man? It seems Constant was starting to keep records of the shipments he was hauling. These shipments included bootleg cigarettes and black market items shipped by the local chapter of the Dixie Mafia. Family members claim John had been threatened and had decided to go to the FBI with his records.

Within a few months, outside investigators were brought in to form a task force since there were rumors of involvement by prominent citizens in the local community. Investigators wondered if this case could be tied to the Ray Owenby murder in June of 1973. The two men were good friends, and both were murdered three months apart.

Ray Owenby was shot while clearing land for development in Spring City, TN. He was shot four times but still managed to drive the bulldozer a mile down the road to find help. He collapsed upon arrival. No suspects emerged in the case, but the similarities made police wonder if there was a connection.

Investigators believe John Constant was killed the day before his body was found and was transported to the location. Witnesses would emerge early in the investigation that seemed to corroborate this theory. Constant was seen at a garage in Etowah owned by H.B. Calhoun. Another man claimed to have seen John Constant and two men at a car wash in Etowah on March 15. While the witness washed his car, he heard something like firecrackers, and then a truck drove away with someone slumped in the seat. The witness was put under hypnosis, and a few new details emerged. The driver was Marvin Ray “Big John” Pittman, and the other man was supposedly Harold Buckner.

Big John Pittman was a drifter and worked as a hitman for the Dixie Mafia. He would eventually be murdered in his home in Tampa, Florida. His body was found on June 5, 1975. He had been shot once in the temple and left for dead.

Harold Buckner’s story doesn’t have such a quick ending. Buckner would be arrested in September 1982 after a witness came forward on their deathbed. Buckner had just run for Sheriff and lost and claimed it was a politically motivated arrest. It would take a year, but the charges were eventually dropped due to lack of evidence. To this day, Buckner claims he was framed, and the investigation was nothing more than a “witch hunt.”

After the deathbed witness statement and the subsequent events, the case sat dormant for decades. Richar Fisher, former D.A., told reporters that he always believed several people had a hand in the murder plot against John Constant. If something didn’t come up soon, everyone would be dead.

Although the case went cold, the victim’s family believed they knew the murderer from the beginning and fingered Max Calhoun (son of H.B. Calhoun). John’s two brothers threatened the Calhoun family within weeks of the murder, and eventually, a protection order was placed on them.

“I am confident in my mind that you set my brother up to be murdered.” – Harold Constant to Max Calhoun.

Now we may never know if Calhoun was responsible for the death of John Constant. If Calhoun isn’t the killer, hopefully, they will find the ones responsible before this case is forgotten in the annals of history.


Further Reading:


middle Tennessee mysteries


The daily times

advocate and democrat



Order Your Copy Today!

Deep in the heart of Dixie lies a hidden evil. It’s tentacles stretch from state to state, from county to county. The Dixie Mafia has produced infamous outlaws, bank robbers, and murderers. The story contains tidbits from each of their lives and even includes the story of a famous sheriff, but this book is not about them.

Silenced by the Dixie Mafia is about a big sister who has fought for answers for over five decades. It’s about a father who was an ex-alcoholic turned into a gambling addict. A father’s decisions would lead to the death of his disabled son and eventually lead to his own demise. Now left alone to find answers and make sense of the chaos is a brave little southern belle named Phyllis.

Tying back to the ambush of Sheriff Buford Pusser on August 12, 1967, this story will change history as we know it. The world knew nothing about the Dixie Mafia until the murders of Judge Vincent Sherry and his wife Margaret in 1987. This public assassination brought this band of ruthless criminals into view, but the truth was still hidden until the death of the Andersons.

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Each week Synova & her team of guestbloggers highlight an obscure cold case. Synova works directly with the victims’ families to give them a voice and to generate leads for law enforcement. The potential viewership currently sits at 500,000!

Help Synova’s team reach a million people with these cold cases. Together we can solve some of these cases.

As a way of saying “Thank You” when you sign up for Synova’s true crime newsletter, you will get her Grim Justice eBook as a free gift! Please help us reach out to more people in our search for truth.


The Death of Dan Anderson


What would you do to protect your baby girl? Lt. Dan Anderson would be 97 years old today, but his life was cut short by members of the Dixie Mafia. His story ties into some of the most infamous Dixie Mafia murder cases. His daughter has been fighting for justice for over half a century. 


Read more about Dan in Synova’s Book: Silenced By The Dixie Mafia: The Anderson Files



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