Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The True Story of John Raymond "Woody" Woodring

Woody Meets Bonnie

Woodring and Bonnie first met during the winter of 2004, at a country and western concert in Tennessee. The two hit it off well, and afterwards, they went to a bar and talked over drinks. Woodring was charming, and Bonnie quickly took a liking to him. She knew nothing of his lengthy criminal record, which by now included arrests for domestic violence, possession of marijuana, simple assault, trespassing, forgery, theft, and disorderly conduct.

John and Bonnie Woodring
John and Bonnie Woodring

Over the course of the next few weeks, Woodring would call or visit Bonnie on a regular basis. She felt smothered at first. However, against her better judgment, she brushed those feelings aside and soon fell deeply in love with him. Just six weeks after their initial meeting, Woodring proposed marriage to Bonnie. Not ready to jump into a commitment, Bonnie told him she was not ready. Not yet anyway.

Eric Rudolph and Pamela Smart
Eric Rudolph and Pamela Smart

Woodring did not let Bonnie's rejection get him down, and he continued to see her on a regular basis. When the two were not indulging in their shared love of photography, Woodring divided his time between his studies at Western Carolina University and his fascination with true crime. Woodring had a lengthy criminal past of his own, and he had spent time in both civilian and military jails. He could relate to inmates, and he eventually began to correspond with some of America's most notorious criminals. His favorites were Eric Rudolph, David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz and seductress Pamela Smart. Woodring's hobby became an obsession, and he eventually decided to write a book about his correspondences.

David Berkowitz
David Berkowitz

Within his manuscript, Woodring included unedited transcripts of the letters he received, along with a description of the crimes each person committed. Woodring also provided details about his own life and crimes. In one chapter, he wrote that he would often research crimes on TV by watching "Lifetime, CourtTV, A&E, and several others."

Woodring sent off copies of his completed manuscript to several publishing houses, certain someone would jump on the chance to publish it. However, the poorly written manuscript was rejected every time.

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