Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Death by Stiletto

By Kay Kendall

Earlier this week I was brainstorming with my manager (AKA my husband) about topics for my next piece here on the Stiletto Blog.

“Eureka,” he said. “Today on the radio I heard about a woman who’s charged with murdering her lover using her stiletto. At first I figured it meant a stiletto knife. But no, it was a shoe.”  
Kay & bunny Dusty

“Perfect,” I said. “I hope I can find the story online.”  And so I began to search, typing in only these words—stiletto murder. Up popped pages and pages of articles. Naturally many citations were from local media outlets, but also from major media like CNN, Huffington Post, and People magazine.

For lots of detail about this murder, you can Google it yourself. But here is the story in a nutshell:  

Prosecutors say Ana Trujillo (age 45) was out of control and stabbed her boyfriend Alf Andersson (age 59) at least 25 times, holding him down until he bled to death. The defense says Andersson was an alcoholic drug user who was drunk and attacking Ms. Trujillo, and she “did the only think she could do.”

At least 25 times!

As luck would have it, the murder took place in Texas. Do you realize how many interesting (read bizarre) murders occur in this state? Remember the cheerleader mom contracting out a hit on her daughter’s rival for a place on the cheerleading squad? Yep, that was Texas all right.

In fact, both the stiletto wielder and the cheerleader mom inhabited my crazy, fast-growing city—Houston. Oh, it doth make one so very proud. Yes indeed. (All jokes aside, but I really do love living in Houston.)

I once read an article that said if you want to publish a bestseller, then just throw the name Texas into the title. That state name outsells any other. Again, I am so proud. Texas Chain Saw Massacre anyone? 

Seriously, it’s a good thing that I enjoy unusual human behavior, since I live where I do. There is so much material just lying all around, material for a mystery author like myself to pick up and use.

Now, I’m not going to claim that Texas has a lock on unusual behavior. Immediately other states come to mind—like California and Florida. Or cities like Chicago and New Orleans. Places where unusual behavior is more commonplace then where I was born and raised—Kansas. When all people can say about your state of birth is that a fictional character named Dorothy wore sparkly red shoes and had a little dog named Toto, you know they think your state is boring.

No one ever says Texas is boring. For good or ill, I cannot argue that fact.

Here’s why I’m telling you all this. It’s because mystery authors have a warped sense of interest in some things. I am totally curious about all human behavior, what makes people tick, as we used to say all the time. I could care less how a car runs or anything else technical. Just bores me to tears. But people, oh how endlessly fascinating they all are—we all are.

That’s the kind of mystery I like to write—when the person "who done it" seems to be a perfectly normal human being, but then snaps. I don’t care for the serial killers who everyone admits are out and out crazy. Where’s the interest, the mystery, in that?

The British writer Anne Perry has produced endless streams of who-done-its, now numbering more than 60 books that have sold more than 26 million copies worldwide. At least the first half of them featured killers who were actually nice people, driven to do the ultimate evil deed, murder.

When I first began reading her books in the early 1990s, I noted that quirk in her fiction right away. Then in 1994 a film was released—Heavenly Creatures, an early feature directed by Peter Jackson, who went on to direct the hugely successful Lord of the Rings trilogy—that let the cat out of the proverbial bag. 

As a teenager, Anne Perry had helped a friend kill her mother in 1954. Both teens were imprisoned in their home country of New Zealand, and then released five years later under the condition that they never see each other again. Ms. Perry had gone on to adopt a pseudonym and make a new life for herself. I myself sat beside her during a luncheon at which she was going to speak. (Of course we were in Houston!)

Now if that doesn’t tell you truth is stranger than fiction, I don’t know what would.


I wonder if any of you are as fascinated by this tale as I am? The teen killers did not use a stiletto. Do you know what weapon they did use to murder the mother in NZ?

For more on Anne Perry (real name Juliet Hulme, played by Kate Winslet in the film), I recommend reading these:

Kay Kendall is an international award-winning public relations executive who lives in Texas with her husband, five house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. A fan of historical mysteries, she wants to do for the 1960s what novelist Alan Furst does for Europe in the 1930s during Hitler's rise to power--write atmospheric mysteries that capture the spirit of the age.


  1. Great blog, Kay!

    And enjoyed reading your link to the Anne Perry article, too.

  2. Thank you, Marjorie! I remember as if it were yesterday (instead of ten years) when I learned about Anne Perry's dark past. I did a triple take when I read the newspaper review of the film. There's an online interview of her by famous Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin. It's here and it's good too --

  3. I en joyed your post and the linked article very much. She did a signing in the 90's in my small town, and I was very impressed. She was amusing, and brilliant. Interestingly, she had no problem speaking about evil and how she handled its effects on those it touches. A very serious woman.

  4. Yes, I agree, Lil. Very serious indeed. If you watch the video clip I noted above -- -- you will see that as well.
    The first time I saw her give a reading was before she was "outed" as a murderer, and the next time was afterwards and she was ill at ease. When someone alluded to it, she moved on rapidly to another question. It seems she is now facing the inevitable. She is quite spiritual and thinks a good deal about all kinds of moral and ethical questions. Just fascinating.