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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fighting the Devil

Ever feel like you are 'fighting the devil' - nowhere to turn, no end in sight?
An Awakenings connection and interview with Jeannie Walker,
award-winning author of Fighting the Devil
As you ponder this question, think back to generations past when the first settlers set foot on the shores of America. Think about the hardships endured before the journey, during the journey and after the journey. What about sacrifices - family, friends, loved ones - left behind or lost along the way? 'Twas not an easy task, the founding of a nation, the break from tyranny, revolution, liberation, adaptation. . .So, would you say 'fighting the devil' was a daily part of life?

Throughout history lies evidence of instances reflective of 'fighting the devil'. They exist within homes, on the streets, in the daylight and under the murkiness of darkness. Story after story has been told and/or written of encounters that endanger lives and destroy families. Some live to tell their story while others do not. Those that do survive never truly live without fear for too many hauntings shroud their very being.
As far back as recorded history, tales cast foreboding shadows, some fact, others fiction. Then, there are those limitless unrecorded messages ingrained within hearts, minds, and souls that scream to be let out but fear or lack of courage forbids the story to be told. Some perhaps find friends or relatives willing to listen while others fall on a deaf ear. Even those that listen are not ardent believers.

While you may not have been a victim or personally known someone who has endured torment, mentally or physically, there may be someone in your ancestral chain that endured the unimaginable. Someone somewhere knows! Perhaps it is a story lying dormant awaiting a moment of rebirth for a restless soul to finally find peace.

Jeannie Walker
With this background in mind, Awakenings has invited a visitor to her site today - Jeannie Walker, author of  Fighting the Devil,  True Story of Consuming Passion, Deadly Poison, and Murder.

Thank you for talking with us today, Jeannie. For people who aren't familiar with who you are, please tell us about yourself.

Jeannie: I grew up in rural Oklahoma and later Texas. Most of the reading and writing I did was in school. Growing up on a farm didn't leave a lot of time for anything else except tending to farm animals, feeding and watering the chickens, gathering the eggs, milking the cows, and feeding the pigs. Then, there was harvest time when the entire family had to pull cotton, combine wheat, and bale hay. Any spare time I got, I spent outside sitting under a big oak tree enjoying nature and reading a good book. My English teacher at Lone Wolf, Oklahoma was a big influence in my life. Mrs. Schreiner encouraged all her students to excel in reading and writing. I worked hard to achieve excellence and make straight A's because of the respect I had for Mrs. Schreiner and my other teachers in school.  
I have a lot of hobbies. I like to golf, play tennis, take walks and ride my bike. I also like to sing, read and write. I believe being in tune with nature helps me to understand how to be happy. My main love is God. My best friend is Jesus Christ. He leads me, talks with me and walks with me. When I get too weak to carry on, He carries me. That's why there is only one footprint in the sand.

Jeannie, as we share this time together, hopefully all who read will gain a better understanding of how one can 'fight the devil' and ultimately come out the winner. Is this perhaps the premise behind your writing?

Jeannie: I write because I love it. I write because I believe in truth and justice. I write because I want to reach out and tell people to keep trying, to do all they can because in the end, it is worth it and to let them know they are not alone in their struggle(s).

Would you give us a little insight into your story? I understand it is a true account of your ex-husband's murder. Is that right?

Jeannie: Yes, that's correct. I lived in Long Island, New York. On June 12th, my daughter called and informed me that her dad (my former ex-husband Jerry Sternadel) had died from arsenic poison. The very next morning I was on an airplane flying from Long Island, New York to Texas to comfort my children.  I knew my ex-husband had been murdered and I was pretty sure who murdered him. I began writing down my memories and recollections about my relationship with my ex-husband and the woman he married after we divorced. I wanted to document the past events and current events for my children and grandchildren. I also wanted to give the authorities any information I could on my ex-husband, his business dealings and his widow. 

It is sorrowful enough when any of us goes through the loss of a loved one, but to experience a murder is not Please tell us more about the murder.

Jeannie: Jerry Sternadel, was a self-made Texas millionaire. He was poisoned to death in 1990. While hospitalized, he told nurses and doctors alike that two women, his wife and bookkeeper, were poisoning him. The hospital staff did not believe his accusations and continued to let the murder suspects have access to him as he lay dying in his hospital bed.

He eventually died in the hospital while strapped down to his hospital bed with restraints on his hands and feet and tubes in every orifice. Upon his death, an anonymous caller tipped off the police.

The authorities quickly determined that millionaire Jerry Sternadel had died from arsenic poisoning.  The widow was the sole beneficiary of the million-dollar estate and a $350,000 life insurance policy. It was later learned that just before Jerry's death a teenager had visited the Sternadel ranch and became deathly ill after he drank juice that was in the refrigerator. Two years after the death of Jerry Sternadel, a bottle of arsenic was found in a storage locker rented by a woman under an assumed name.

The sheriff asked me to help with the investigation because the small county could not afford and did not have the time or resources to do extensive research. I quickly decided to become a sleuth to help solve the murder and the Sheriff deputized me over the phone. I began my research by reading everything I could about arsenic poison and its effect on a human being. I read books about people who use poison as a weapon to kill. I started contacting toxicologists, medical examiners, detectives who had solved arsenic murder cases, District Attorneys who had handed arsenic murder cases, the EPA and even the FBI in Quantico, Virginia.

It is very remarkable, Jeannie, how you managed such an undertaking. The murder alone and its effect on your children were stresses enough without taking on more. Now that you have brought the entire story to the surface and completed your book, is there any thing special you learned that you would like to share?

Jeannie: I learned a person must never give up looking for truth and justice.  Most importantly, I learned we all have to 'fight the devil' every minute of every day. 

What is your hope for readers of your story?

Jeannie: It is my hope that anyone who reads my book will come to the realization that they are not alone in their struggles, no matter how big or small. And that they have the ability to overcome and the right to become their loved one's advocate ... if necessary, to become their own, real-life Sherlock Holmes. I hope readers will realize God will walk beside them every step of the way in their trials and tribulations.

Jeannie, it has indeed been a pleasure having you spend time on Awakenings sharing such a horrific event of your life. To all my readers and followers, thank you for stopping by for a visit. I encourage you to seek more information about Jeannie's book. Yes, I have read the book and click HERE for my review, as well as others. I highly recommend it!