Angela Dove MA ’00 had no idea she was going to appear in a recent edition of The National Enquirer. “A friend of mine sent me an early morning e-mail congratulating me,” Dove said. “I e-mailed her back and said, ‘Thanks, but I think you’re mistaken.’”
She wasn’t. Dove, whose true crime memoir “No Room for Doubt: A True Story of the Reverberations of Murder” was published by Penguin Group last year, drove directly to a grocery store and thumbed through the national tabloid. “I found the article and stared at it. Then the cashier and I stood there reading it together,” she said.
The article, titled “Justice is Served,” recaps the story of Dove’s stepmother, Debi Whitlock, murdered in their Modesto, Calif., home in 1988; the case was unsolved for nine years until Whitlock’s mother, Jacque MacDonald, brought forward an informant. MacDonald, now a victim’s advocate and television host in California, brought relentless media attention to her daughter’s case until she finally secured justice.
“Jacque’s determination was what finally persuaded me to write about my stepmother’s murder,” Dove said. “I knew she had found answers for our family, and I hoped her story could serve as a blueprint for other families who still need their answers. That was going to be the only subject matter of the book, but it grew in ways I could have never foreseen.”
Once Dove began research, she discovered the amazing body of evidence police had amassed against her father during the first several years of the investigation. “Seeing that case through the detectives’ eyes, I realized they had no alternative but to believe he was guilty. Suddenly I understood why he, too, had died so tragically. And I realized he had a story to tell in this book.” Dove’s father, Harold “Rocky” Whitlock, died in a one-car accident in 2001.
Dove continues to be surprised by the attention her book has garnered. During the last year, she has traveled across the country, speaking to groups of survivors and victims’ advocates. She has guest-lectured for a graduate research course in WCU’s English department, taught by her former faculty mentor, Mimi Fenton. “It was a blast to talk about the importance of solid research, and to remind these students that what they are learning has unforeseen importance in their future lives,” Dove said.
“We all go through hard times,” she said. “If my experiences can somehow help others, then I feel that’s a worthwhile pursuit.”