Each year, the Writers’ Police Academy reaches for the stars to offer writers the opportunity to learn and to train as law enforcement officers. The event is unique in that sessions involve hands-on training classes.

We’ve seated authors behind the steering wheels of patrol cars during pursuits. We’ve placed rifles and pistols in their hands and we’ve taught how to properly and accurately shoot them. We’ve set off C-4 charges and we’ve set things ablaze. Writers have learned to stop bleeding from gaping and blood-gushing gunshot wounds, and they’ve used battering rams to gain entry into buildings where armed bad guys were hiding.

Attendees have seen first-hand what it’s like to be involved in heart-pounding hostage and active shooter situations. They’ve seen mounted patrol officers and their horses and they’ve been on the receiving end of bites by an actual police canine (while wearing a bite sleeve, of course).

We’ve exposed writers to practically every aspect of police training. However, what we haven’t done in the past is to narrow the focus of the Writers’ Police Academy to a single, fine point, the subject matter that brings readers back to your books, time and time again—the solving of a murder.

Sure, readers love your characters and they love a well-described setting. And they love you, the writer, and your story-telling abilities. But what many readers and fans truly desire is to solve the case before your protagonists wrap up their investigations. To do so, readers need details. Many details. They need and want to see, hear, feel, taste, and touch (in their minds) every aspect of a crime scene. They want and need to experience the tales you’ve concocted and set to page, not to simply read strings of words.

In addition, your fans want to believe what it is you’ve offering as a means to take them deep into your fictional world. Therefore, the descriptions you provide must be accurate because, for goodness sake, nearly every breathing human on the planet has watched some sort of crime TV show and the cops on those programs use all of the latest tools, gadgets, and gizmos.

With this in mind, we’ve developed the most unique, spectacular, and exciting program ever offered to writers. This year, during our special event—MurderCon—we’re taking you to the source of crime-solving and crime-solving-tools and equipment—Sirchie.

Yes, we’re taking you on a tour of a large, one-of-a-kind manufacturing facility where all types fingerprint powders are made. It’s where drug testing kits are developed and assembled, and where fuming chambers are manufactured. It’s the place where, well, it’s where ideas for the latest crime-solving gadgets are conceived, manufactured, and then distributed to law enforcement agencies worldwide, whose investigators solve crimes ranging from the smallest to the most complex, high-profile murder cases.

Sirchie’s staff of esteemed instructors also train top investigators from all around the world. Sirchie instructors are the best in the business, and detectives, officers, and agents from a variety of local, state and federal agencies attend high-level sessions at the Sirchie Compound in N.C. These instructors also educate and advise investigators from state prison systems, airport security, FBI agents whose focus is on counter terrorism, and Treasury and Secret Service agents. International students come from countries ranging from Italy to Mexico and Argentina to Qatar.

Again, Sirchie is second to none when it comes to crime-solving products and training. We are fortunate to have them as our partner in this extremely special event for writers.

I’m beyond thrilled that you have this opportunity to train in a place that’s never been made available to the public. I’m also over the moon excited that you’ll attend the same training classes attended by some of the best homicide investigators in the world.

MurderCon attendees will see how crime solving products are made. Then, you’ll learn how to use those cool tools. And, finally, you’ll use the equipment in live-action settings, such as outdoors at a clandestine grave.

Anyway, we’ll release details very soon. Our website guru is working behind the scenes on a brand new website which we plan to launch on or very near to February 4, 2019. Registration for the Writers’ Police Academy’s MurderCon event opens in mid to late February.

Event Hotel

The official hotel for the Writers’ Police Academy’s Murdercon is:

Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley

4500 Marriott Drive
Raleigh, North Carolina 27612

We encourage you to make your hotel reservations by using the online reservation link (below).


Individuals may also make their reservations by phone by calling Hotel’s toll free Reservation Line, 1- 800-MARRIOT.
To receive the established Group rate, you must identify yourself as a member of the Writers’ Police Academy 2019 event when making the reservation. All reservations must be received by the group’s Cutoff Date of on or before July 10, 2019. Reservations made after the Cutoff Date will be subject to availability and the most available rate.
*You’ll definitely want to reserve your hotel rooms well in advance for this unique event! We expect the room block to fill quickly. The same for spots at MurderCon. So please, please, please be ready to sign up when registration goes live. We’ll announce the date and time very soon.

Here’s a sample of what you can expect to see and do at MurderCon 2019:


  • Learn proper methods to locate, identify, and collect physiological fluid stains, including the use of alternate light sources, and chemicals such as luminol and Bluestar. WPA attendees will learn how to presumptively identify the type of stain using chemical reagents. Collection and preservation methods will be reviewed based on the latest best practices for DNA.
  • Develop latent prints on porous surfaces, including paper and cardboard, utilizing iodine fuming, ninhydrin, and silver nitrate. WPA attendees will learn the proper process sequencing for the maximum retrieval of latent prints and review the chemical principles of how they work. Cyanoacrylate (“superglue”) techniques for non-porous surfaces.
  • Attendees will learn the fundamentals of fire science, recognition of fire behavior including burn patterns and aftermath, and how fire is utilized by perpetrators during the commission of violent crimes and murder by fire. This is an outdoor session with “live” burns to highlight the effects of burning various pieces of evidence.
  • Search and recovery of remains from clandestine graves.

  • Determining race, sex, and other biological factors from found skeletonized remains.
  • Differences between civilian law enforcement and military L.E. investigations, procedures, and nuances.
  • How a forensic geologist uses previously mapped data, as well as, newly sampled evidence to show the uniqueness of soil to a given geographical location, and ultimately to a suspect and victim. The usefulness of soil in linking a subject to a victim, and/or crime scene. Session taught by one of the top forensic geologists in the world.
  • Footwear and Latent Foot Impressions – hands-on exercises to search for, document, and collect various forms of footprint and shoe evidence.

And, well, there are many more super-exciting sessions and workshops, but we’ll save those for later. In the meantime, yes, these are the same classes taught to law enforcement professionals and experts worldwide!!

Instructors include a wide array of renowned experts that include a founding member of the FBI’s Evidence Response Team, FBI Special Agents, a former Army JAG Corp attorney, forensic botanists, medical examiners, toxicologist, forensic geologist, forensic anthropologist, LAPD and NYPD detectives, Bioterrorism expert, SANE nurse, Certified Fire Investigator with both the ATF and The International Association of Arson Investigators, certified footwear expert, Deputy Director of the City County Bureau of Identification (CCBI), Wake County/Raleigh, NC., forensic pathologists, one of the country’s top interview and interrogation experts, and many more.

Special Guest Speaker!

Now for the icing on the cake.

I’m pleased and honored to announce that the 2019 MurderCon’s Special Guest Speaker is Graham Hetrick, the star and host of Investigation Discovery (ID) channel’s hit television series, THE CORONER: I SPEAK FOR THE DEAD.

Graham Hetrick

Graham Hetrick is a subject matter expert on drug abuse, child death and child abuse, organ tissue donation, violent crimes, medical legal death investigation, forensic methodology, and the grieving process. He has advanced training in blood pattern analysis, crime scene management, forensic sculpting, and shallow grave recovery.

Graham advises the news media and consults attorneys on the investigative process for cases facing litigation. He lectures widely on forensic autopsy, crime scene management, and critical thinking within the investigative process. He is an adjunct professor of forensics and human anatomy at Harrisburg University School of Science and Technology.

Graham is also a motivational speaker for students and troubled youth who are trying to get control of their lives through a speech entitled “Doors.” Over the last 35 years he has written and lectured on grief and loss recovery to the medical community, hospice groups and loss recovery organizations. Graham’s upcoming book explores improving the relationship between forensic evidence collection and organ tissue donation. His case studies are featured on the Investigation Discovery (ID) channel in THE CORONER: I SPEAK FOR THE DEAD.

*Bio Source – GrahamHetrick.com

Keynote Speaker

The WPA and I are absolutely thrilled and honored that superstar author Heather Graham is joining us in 2019 as our Guest of Honor/Keynote speaker. Heather will attend many of the sessions throughout the weekend and then she’ll address the entire group at the Saturday night banquet.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Heather Graham, majored in theater arts at the University of South Florida. After a stint of several years in dinner theater, back-up vocals, and bartending, she stayed home after the birth of her third child and began to write. Her first book was with Dell, and since then, she has written over two hundred novels and novellas including category, suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult, sci-fi, young adult, and Christmas family fare.

She is pleased to have been published in approximately twenty-five languages. She has written over 200 novels and has 60 million books in print. Heather has been honored with awards from booksellers and writers’ organizations for excellence in her work, and she is the proud to be a recipient of the Silver Bullet from Thriller Writers and was awarded the prestigious Thriller Master Award in 2016. She is also a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from RWA.  Heather has had books selected for the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild, and has been quoted, interviewed, or featured in such publications as The Nation, Redbook, Mystery Book Club, People and USA Today and appeared on many newscasts including Today, Entertainment Tonight and local television.

Heather loves travel and anything that has to do with the water, and is a certified scuba diver. She also loves ballroom dancing. Each year she hosts a Vampire Ball and Dinner theater raising money for the Pediatric Aids Society and in 2006 she hosted the first Writers for New Orleans Workshop to benefit the stricken Gulf Region.  She is also the founder of “The Slush Pile Players,” presenting something that’s “almost like entertainment” for various conferences and benefits. Married since high school graduation and the mother of five, her greatest love in life remains her family, but she also believes her career has been an incredible gift, and she is grateful every day to be doing something that she loves so very much for a living.

August 1-4, 2019

Raleigh, N.C.

Sirchie Compound and the Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley

*Please make your calendars for this unique opportunity. In the past, the WPA event has sometimes sold out within the first hour after registration opens. Due to the nature of MurderCon’s unique training sessions and high level of behind the scenes type of instruction that’s typically for law enforcement eyes only, we anticipate spots filling quickly. The same for the event hotel. I strongly urge you to make your reservations as soon as possible.

It’s a new year and soon I’ll be the proud owner of a brand new, shiny left hip. Yes, tomorrow is surgery day.

I’ve endured a couple of years dealing with pain that grew increasingly worse as the days passed by. Routine tasks and chores eventually became difficult to perform, at best. Things I enjoyed eventually became an impossibility—biking, hiking, kayaking, yard work. Even sitting at my desk to write now sometimes hurts badly enough to bring a tear to the eye.

I made it through the 2017 and 2018 Writers’ Police Academy and all the walking it entails, but it was tough, especially the event in 2018. I finally gave in and simply sat in the lobby or in the office areas. I caught rides to workshops that were easily within walking distance when I was able to do so back in the day.

I’d called on the assistance of Virgil, my trusted cane and new friend who now never leaves my side, while maneuvering and limping through airports during the trip to Green Bay and subsequently to Delaware. Airport officials provided a wheelchair when I could no longer make it to a gate or down a jetway. But while at the WPA, Virgil took a break. Couldn’t show that crack of weakness. It’s a guy/cop thing, I suppose.

The painful hip also caused me to go missing during nighttime mingling and networking at the WPA. It prevented me from hanging out with everyone in the bar area. I was unable to participate in many aspects of the event(s). By the end of the day I was in agony. Basically I was AWOL from an event I started and host.

Fortunately, the WPA, thanks to a wonderful and extremely hardworking all-volunteer staff—Linda Lovely, Howard Lewis, Cheryl Yeko, Denene, our fantastic group of core instructors who travel with us wherever we land, a host of other volunteers, and the outstanding staff and police academy instructors at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC), the WPA flowed as smoothly as melting butter.

This says a lot considering the enormity of the event. The WPA is a massive hands-on conference to plan and produce and to do so while in constant pain would’ve been impossible. So I thank everyone involved for taking nearly the entire load from my shoulders.

The 2019 WPA, as many of you know, is a special event—MurderCon—and will be a different format from our previous ten years. We’re extremely excited to have the opportunity to host the event at the Sirchie training facility just outside of Raleigh, N.C.

Sirchie, was founded in Philadelphia, in 1927, to provide fingerprinting materials. Then, approximately 30 years ago, the company started training the experts who used their products. Now, each year, over 700 law enforcement professionals receive training at the Sirchie campus.  These experts come to Sirchie from  sheriff’s offices, local and state police agencies, federal agencies, state prison systems, airport security, FBI agents whose focus is primarily on counter terrorism, and Treasury and Secret Service agents.

Yes, writers will definitely receive the exact same homicide investigation training as those law enforcement officers/investigators.

“When writers graduate from MurderCon, they’ll have the knowledge to describe what really happens—and doesn’t happen—in a homicide investigation. When MurderCon attendees leave, they’ll know what it feels like to conduct an investigation.

Having first-hand experience will allow them to portray crime scene details realistically; and it will let them share with their readers how it feels to investigate a homicide. ”

~ Dyer Bennett, vice president of Sirchie’s Product Development and Training.

So today I’m sitting in a recliner, a new one we purchased to allow me some post-surgery comfort, listening to the buzzing of saws and the in and out flow of contractor foot traffic as they try to finish our bathroom. I’ve also been working with Sirchie and hotel officials today to plan and coordinate the 2019 event schedule.

Now, during a break, I’m thinking about tomorrow when, at this time of day, my faulty hip will be in a hospital garbage bag waiting for disposal while a new manmade hip is in its former location.

I’m truly anxious for the surgeon to rid my body of the intense pain I’ve experienced, especially over the past few months. And I know Denene is anxious to no longer have to put my socks on my feet (I can’t reach them), take out the trash, go to the grocery store, pick up Virgil after the seemingly thousands of times a day I drop him and, well, to not have to wait on me hand and foot.

And, I’m anxious to tell you about what happens “After Midnight.” Yes, in addition to the super exciting MurderCon, another BIG surprise is on the way!

So, the next time you hear from me will be after I’ve returned home from the surgery. Until then …