Beloved true crime writer Ann Rule dies

by: KIRO 7 STAFF Updated:

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NORMANDY PARK, Wash. - True-crime writer Ann Rule, who wrote more than 30 books, has died.

Rule lived in Normandy Park, Washington. Her daughter says she was 83.

>> See her best sellers here

Daughter Leslie Rule wrote on Facebook that her mother died peacefully on Sunday night.

"She had congestive heart failure and many other health issues," Leslie wrote. "She got to see all of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren when they visited her at Highline Hospital."

Ann Rule was a true crime writer best known for "The Stranger Beside Me," about serial killer Ted Bundy, as well as her book about child murder Diane Downs, "Small Sacrifices" -- among many other titles. 

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Rule said she was fascinated by killers' lives, going back to their childhood to find clues about why they did what they did.

At the time she began writing true crime, it was a genre entirely dominated by male writers, according to her publisher Gallery Books.

“By deciding to focus her books on the victim, Ann Rule reinvented the true-crime genre, and earned the trust of millions of readers who wanted a new and empathetic perspective on the tragic stories at the heart of her works,” said Carolyn Reidy, President and Chief Executive Officer of Simon & Schuster.   “She will be remembered not only for her many books, but also for her ongoing and tireless work on behalf of victims’ rights.  We are proud to have been her publisher for many years, and we will miss her.” 

After attending numerous workshops on crime topics from DNA to arson, local law enforcement, the FBI and the Justice Department started turning to Rule for her expertise on serial murders.

She aided the Green River Task Force as that group sought another Seattle-area serial killer, passing along tips that her readers shared. She wrote a book about the case, "Green River, Running Red."

Rule, who has written of more than two dozen New York Times bestsellers, recently told CBS News' "48 Hours" she couldn't help but write about the Russel Douglas case."Russel was a young fellow in his 30s quite bright -- just about to get his Master's degree. ... And he really seemed like the last person to be murdered. And it became -- such a mystery," Rule said. " And in -- in the end they found, what I would think, were unlikely suspects."

Rule was born in 1931 in Lowell, Michigan, to a schoolteacher and a football, basketball and track coach. They moved around a lot when she was a kid, traveling from Michigan, to Pennsylvania, Oregon and California because of her father's coaching career.

She earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Washington in creative writing, with minors in psychology, criminology and penology.

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