Alumnus compiles crime stories
Not many people know the story of Donald Miller, the only known serial killer from MSU.
At least, that’s what MSU alumnus and author R. Barri Flowers thought when he included the story in his new crime anthology, “Masters of True Crime: Chilling Stories of Murder and the Macabre.” The anthology is a collection of works from the true crime writers in the business and one of more than 60 titles Flowers has under his name.
Flowers said he knew he wanted to become a writer since he graduated from MSU with a master’s in criminal justice in 1980.
“I always had an interest in the criminal mind and what drives some people to commit crimes and other people to remain law abiding citizens,” Flowers said.
Although his anthology is a collection of more than a dozen authors, Flowers chose to add his own contribution — the story of Miller, a former graduate student in the 1970s.
“As far as I’m aware, he’s MSU’s only known serial killer,” Flowers said. “His story had not really been told like other serial killers like Ted Bundy and John Gacy.”
Flowers said Miller murdered and sexually assaulted four young woman during the 1970s, including his ex-fiance.
Camille Kimball, author of “The Trophy Wife” in Flowers’ anthology, said as a fellow writer, she has a great respect for Flowers as a visionary professional and considers him a “writing machine.”
Kimball said as an author, she tends to read between the lines. When it came to Flowers’ story in the collection, she said she could tell he had a personal connection to the story.
“His passion as a writer came through, and I admire that very much.”’
Putting the true crime together became a family project when Flowers’ wife, Loraine, became as involved as the collection’s editor.
“It was very interesting reading all the true crime stories and making sure that all the I’s were dotted and the T’s crossed and looking at everyone’s various different writing styles,” Loraine Flowers said.
As someone who has been personally and professionally acquainted with Flowers for several years, author Gary C. King said he feels Flowers has the ability to tell a story based on his extensive research and present work without embellishment.
“When reading his work, it is clear that he has an extensive knowledge base in police procedure, forensics, criminology and, of course, storytelling,” King said.
Like many other authors, Flowers said he likes a happy ending.
“I’d say that my favorite part is coming to the resolution to see what happens when all is said and done,” he said. “Hopefully, the culprits have been captured and put behind bars.”