Claudia Whitsitt Recounts Infamous Michigan Murders and Ongoing Perils of Campus Life in Her Book, “The Wrong Guy”

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Whitsitt's debut novel is a cautionary tale for women on campus to avoid becoming a victim.

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"Young women face more dangers than ever: increased alcohol consumption, spiked beverages, casual sex, and driving after drinking. A recent study of college freshmen, published in The Boston Globe."

Just as Claudia Whitsitt enrolled at Eastern Michigan University, the perpetrator of one of the most horrifying crimes in U.S. history hit the campus – the infamous Michigan Murders – was finally arrested.

Between 1967-69, six University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan students were murdered by John Norman Collins. The case brought up the issue of campus security and the danger of naivety among new co-eds – issues that continue to be in the public spotlight and of concern to law enforcement officials today, thanks to recent campus shootings and incidents.

“I hope to instill in entering freshman the importance of being careful and being safe on a college campus,” says Whitsitt, the author of “The Wrong Guy,” a murder mystery set in conjunction with the Michigan Murders. “Young women face more dangers than ever: increased alcohol consumption, spiked beverages, casual sex, and driving after drinking. A recent study of college freshmen, published in The Boston Globe, found that women were about 50% more likely than men to surpass their daily and weekly limits set by the National Institutes of Alcoholic Abuse and Alcoholism. This increased drinking puts women at risk not only for health problems, but also makes them more vulnerable to sexual predators.”

Whitsitt has been on the rise as a major force among mystery authors, because of her preference for basing her stories on true-life situations.

In “The Wrong Guy,” the protagonist, Katie Hayes, an incoming freshman and the naïve product of a Catholic upbringing, arrives on campus with her Nancy Drew mysteries. Soon, she meets the man of her dreams, Bobby Kirsch. Life becomes perfect until she attends the funeral of her high school sweetheart’s father. Soon, Katie’s roommate and now closest friend falls into the hands of a crazed kidnapper. Once her roommate is recovered alive, Katie finds herself in the middle of the investigation—considered a possible suspect.

During the investigation, another abduction and murder occurs. The victim is Katie’s treasured suite mate. Before long, Katie begins to understand that she is the intended victim. Her Nancy Drew persona takes over; she becomes caught up in her zeal for justice, and puts more than her own life at risk. The book races toward a dramatic and surprise ending, closing the circle of violence that has plagued Katie and her friends.

Whitsitt describes "The Wrong Guy" as “a Nancy Drew mystery on steroids, but her central message is strong and firm: Young co-eds needs to be more vigilant than ever, and well aware of the possibilities that can put them in harm’s way. She wove that message into "The Wrong Guy" by basing Katie on her own college experience, and delivering her message for today’s reading audience.

“I experienced firsthand the fears of negotiating a campus where coeds lived with the constant worry of a predator’s existence within their community,” she said. “I attended countless meetings about safety. We were warned at every turn that there was no assurance we were safe just because a suspect was behind bars. We carried mace on our key rings, were taught to weave our keys between our fingers (in order to be ready to defend ourselves), and advised never to travel alone on campus. It was a tense time, and not the “typical” college experience.

“Because of my college experience, I became more alert, and probably more concerned (freaked out!) when my own daughters went off to college. Some of the issues I tackled in the book might have been a message for them as well.”

Besides the deeply serious, real-life scenarios from which she departs, Whitsitt is a lifelong fan of detective, crime fiction, and murder mysteries. “I’m intrigued with figuring out people’s motivation for their behavior,” she says. “Whether it’s a current news story, a 48 Hours episode about a past crime, or a weird case where the details don’t add up, I’m all about it.”

Whitsitt, who lives with her husband in Michigan, is also the author of "Identity Issues". Her next novels, "Two of Me" and "Intimacy Issues", will be published later in 2013. She recently retired after 37 years as a Special Education schoolteacher. She also is a presenter at the semi-annual Southern California Writers Conference.

For more information on "The Wrong Guy", or security and safety issues concerning incoming freshmen, contact Whitsitt at (734) 429-7841, or visit her website at

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Robert Yehling

Claudia Whitsitt

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