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Janine Latus

Journalist & Author


In April 2002, Janine Latus' youngest sister, Amy, wrote a note and taped it to the inside of her desk drawer. "Today Ron Ball and I are romantically involved," it read, "but I fear I have placed myself at risk in a variety of ways. Based on his criminal past, writing this out just seems like the smart thing to do. If I am missing or dead this obviously has not protected me..."

That same spring Janine Latus was struggling to leave her marriage – a marriage to a handsome and successful man; a marriage in which she felt afraid, controlled, inadequate, and trapped.

Ten weeks later, Latus had left her marriage. She was on a business trip to the east coast when she received a call from her sister asking if she'd heard from Amy. She was missing. After an extensive search, it took more than two weeks to find Amy's body. It took nearly two years before her killer, her former boyfriend Ron Ball, was sentenced for her murder.

Haunted, Latus turned her journalistic eye inward. How did two seemingly well-adjusted, successful women end up in strings of physically or emotionally abusive relationships with men?

Her New York Times bestseller, If I Am Missing or Dead, is a heart-wrenching journey of discovery as she traces the roots of her own – and her sister's – victimization with unflinching candor. At once a confession, a call to break the cycle of abuse, and a deeply-felt love letter to her baby sister, If I Am Missing or Dead is an unforgettable read, and Latus is an unforgettable speaker.

Latus has experienced life – galloped the beaches of the Dominican Republic, eaten her way through Kansas City – all to gather the kind of you-are-there details that make a story sing. She has coaxed women to tell her how much they weigh and why, and couples to admit how much they earn, how they spend their money, and what they’d like to do differently. She has cried along with women as they described surviving mastectomies, and wept with their family members when they did not.

Her work has appeared in O, the Oprah magazine; More; Woman’s Day; Family Circle; Parents; All You; American Baby; and the in-flight magazines for US Air, American Airlines, Continental, and TWA. She has written for and MSN Money. Her commentaries have aired on Public Radio International's "Marketplace," and she routinely speaks at conferences, workshops and press events on things as far apart as domestic violence and the joy of selecting the perfect verb. She has taught at the Missouri School of Journalism and at East Carolina University, and at writing workshops in Missouri, University of North Carolina, and Wisconsin.


A Call to Break the Cycle of Abuse

Making a Story Sing

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