For 35 years, Betty Ridge covered the news in northeastern Oklahoma. She got up in the middle of the night to head to fires, shootings, drug busts. Government officials, politicians and cops became part of her daily routine.
She met characters such as "Diamond" Dayne Henry, who could be described as Muskogee's favorite pimp; and Billy Joe Clegg, an evangelist and politician whose slogan was "vote for Clegg, he won't pull your leg." Some of the crime stories are so pathetic they're funny. There was the bank robber who wrote his holdup note on his paycheck stub. And the bank robber who took a cab to the bank, asking the driver to wait while he went inside to commit his crime. A knife named "Little Walter" became a character in itself, eventually leading to its owner's demise. But most touching of all were the victims. There was the young mother who, with her 5-year-old son, was slain by a man with a fatal obsession about her. Another mother burned to death in her home, with her four children. Her husband, who she feared and wished to divorce, was convicted of setting the fire that killed them. A 4-year-old boy was found in a pen, beside other pens of dogs at a puppy mill. A 12-year-old girl testified how her stepfather raped her while her mother watched. Deadlines tells their stories and the effect reporting on these tragedies had on her life. After undergoing a personal crisis, she found redemption, in the last place she expected. Two chapters of Deadlines have won awards for nonfiction writing in competition at Rose State College.