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James Patterson, Vicky Ward to Write Book Based on University of Idaho Murders, Skydance Plans to Option for TV

James Patterson and investigative journalist Vicky Ward are working to turn the tragic deaths of students Ethan Chapin, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Kaylee Goncalves into a non-fiction title.

In November 2022, the four students at the University of Idaho were violently killed in their homes. Dubbed the “Moscow Murders,” the infamous attack gained a rapid following online as internet sleuths on Reddit, Twitter and other platforms gathered to try and find the killer and his motive.

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The book will recount the violence that rattled the college town and the subsequent investigation and arrest of suspect Bryan Kohberger. Skydance Television is seeking to option the rights of the book as part of their first-look deal with Patterson. Story Syndicate (“Stolen Youth: Inside the Cult at Sarah Lawrence,” “Harry and Meghan”) is in final negotiations to be the production partner with Skydance on the docuseries.

Through exclusive interviews, shoe-leather reporting and court transcripts, Patterson and Ward will delve into the details of the crime, while “honoring the victims in a compassionate portrait of the lives the four lived before being tragically cut short,” they said.

“The last time a true crime story haunted me this deeply was when I covered Jeffrey Epstein in ‘Filthy Rich,’” said Patterson. “The Idaho murders have captured imaginations all around the world and I’m as caught up in it as anyone else. Because all of this happened in such a small town, there are definitely echoes of ‘In Cold Blood.’ It’s a compelling challenge, and Vicky and I are both eager to investigate further.”

Ward added, “The story of the Idaho murders is as fascinating as it is chilling. You have a small town unused to locking its doors. You have a tight-knit group of popular, seemingly happy-go-lucky, good-looking college kids. And you have an alleged murderer, who is sphinx-like and a student of crime. He knows something we don’t. What is it? While taking care not to glorify the alleged killer, how could any investigative reporter not want to unspool this deeply unsettling, horrific mystery.”

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