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Nelson J. Zoch

In All His Enemies, Nelson J. Zoch methodically weaves together the elements of this fascinating tale. It's a true crime story that reads like a novel: a saga of murder, betrayal, and twisted family loyalties

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A veteran of three decades in the Homicide Division of the Houston Police Department, Nelson J. Zoch is well qualified to write about police procedure and murder. Working closely with the detectives who investigated the murders of Sherry and Sharon Easley, as well as the officer who worked the aborted kidnapping of Jon Easley's college roommate, he has traced the elements of a true story that is far more fascinating than many crime novels. In the tradition of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, Zoch has brought a nonfiction tale to fascinating life.

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Nelson Zoch has gone down in HPD history as the dedicated chronicler of the Department’s line of duty heroes by paying close attention to the minutest details – much like the Homicide lieutenant he was for many years.

Zoch, now retired and living near his hometown of Giddings, has penned a police novel spotlighting one of those many unique whodunits he either developed as a detective or oversaw as a lieutenant. The late-breaking tome makes an impressive site on a bookshelf alongside Zoch’s previous effort, Fallen Heroes of the Bayou City, his impressive tribute to those fellow officers who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Entitled All His Enemies, Zoch’s novel recounts the violent criminal activities of one Jerry Easley. Easley stabbed his first wife to death in 1969 and “got away with it” for the better part of two decades before storied Homicide detective Dan McAnulty – who spent 20 years as an investigator with the Harris County District Attorney after his HPD retirement – started putting the pieces together. Zoch recalled that the 1969 death of Sherry Easley was very frustrating to HPD Homicide detectives. “I wasn’t in Homicide but I knew the detectives,” the retired lieutenant recalled for the Badge & Gun. “They were frustrated. They knew that the ex-husband, Jerry, killed her but they were unable to prove it. “They worked on it a long time and arrested him but couldn’t make the case. These guys were mentors to me and others. Dan McAnulty was actually trained in Homicide by one of these men. Dan had made some contacts from the DA’s office when assigned to Special Crimes out of the HPD chief of detectives office.”

Like any good Homicide detective, McAnulty never forgot the unsuccessful pursuit of the man his mentors knew whodunnit but couldn’t find the necessary proof. Then another violent event refreshed the trail that led to Jerry Easley. He had married a second time to a woman named Sharon. “When Sharon Easley, the second wife, disappeared in 1985, McAnulty began getting some phone calls from people who thought this was highly suspicious,” Zoch said. “He researched the old case and started a new investigation on her case.”

Now then, you’re going to have to buy the book and find out more details to learn whether or not McAnulty and the good guys of the world solved the murder cases and made sure that the real culprit went to the slammer.

You have to realize that when a real detective (lieutenant) is writing fiction about a real case, he has to take the proper precautions. For instance, author Zoch was asked if he changed everybody’s name and required readers to figure out who was who. “I changed all the names except the crook, the two murder victims and the investigators,” Zoch replied. “Everybody else’s name was altered, like they say, to protect the innocent.”

The novelist also was asked about the title. “Throughout the book he (Easley) had trouble with people constantly,” he said, “Anybody who had business with him became his enemy. He was retaliatory and vengeful. Everybody seemed to be his enemy. He commented in civil court lawsuit testimony in cases he filed that the justice system didn’t work for him, so he dealt with people his own way. And he did.”

First wife Sherry was stabbed to death but second wife Sharon met a much more gruesome death. We will learn that McAnulty benefitted from the emergence of DNA evidence that was non-existent in the first case and not readily available by the year (1985) in which the second murder took place.

How, you might ask?

The answer remains the same – pick up a copy of the book and learn the answers.

When the subject comes to solving a murder case or any complicated police mystery, one must appreciate the Central Texas town of Giddings. This place is where the Zoch brothers grew up with the determination to become successful in their life’s undertaking. Nelson Zoch followed his two older brothers to HPD. Now both deceased, they were Capt. Leroy Zoch and Detective Herman Zoch. Nelson graduated the Academy in 1968 and got to Homicide as soon as he could, first as a detective, then as a lieutenant. The Easley double wife-murder case took a turn in the right direction when McAnulty called Zoch one night from the DA’s office, saying he needed some help from Homicide “even though the murder was from 1969.

“He informed me of everything that was going on and I thought it was a very interesting story,” the lieutenant recalled. “My opinion is that he’s the most thorough investigator I knew in that era. He helped Johnny Bonds solve the Wanstrath triple (murder).” This case, one of the most intriguing in HPD Homicide history, was the subject of a true crime book, “The Cop Who Wouldn’t Quit,” by Rich Nelson, a one-time police reporter for the late Houston Post. But that’s another story.

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