Stephen Singular’s first book, Talked to Death, set the tone for his journalistic career. Published in 1987, it chronicled the assassination of a Denver Jewish talk show host, Alan Berg, by a group of neo-Nazis known as The Order. The book was nominated for a national award — the Edgar for true crime — and became the basis for the 1989 Oliver Stone film, Talk Radio. Talked to Death explored the timeless American themes of racism, class, violence, and religious intolerance, and the critics had been alerted to a new author and an important subject:
“The book works at every level, from melodrama to murder mystery to sociology. Singular has much to tell us here, and all of it is disturbing.”
– Philadelphia Inquirer
“Mr. Singular offers a microcosm lesson in the workings of a violently racist mind… It is the story of how broadcast communications is evolving in our era and what it has cost us.”
– New York Times
“A chilling examination of American-born right-wing terrorism.”
– Chicago Tribune
A native Kansan and University of Kansas graduate, Steve was a freelance writer in New York City from 1974 through 1981, publishing articles in New York Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Psychology Today, and Inside Sports among others. In 1983 he began working for the Sunday magazine, Empire, at The Denver Post. His 1984 Rolling Stone article about Alan Berg’s murder led to Talked to Death. Since 1987, Singular has published 19 more non-fiction books that reflect a wide range of interest and diversity of styles. Twice a New York Times best selling author, he’s written three books about sports, including collaborations with NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and controversial NFL superstar Terrell Owens, and biographies of Hollywood power players Michael Ovitz and David Geffen. True crime remained the focal point of his work, but he’d begun writing less about individual crimes and more about social crimes. His 1995 study of the O.J. Simpson case, Legacy of Deception, went beneath the media hysteria surrounding these murders and connected the violent bigotry of The Order with the racist corruption inside the Los Angeles Police Department. Singular’s 1999 book, Presumed Guilty: An Investigation into the JonBenet Ramsey Case, the Media, and the Culture of Pornography, performed a similar role for the infamous child killing in Boulder, Colorado. Again, the critics were impressed:
“Veteran crime journalist Singular (Talked to Death, 1987, etc.) offers an original perspective on the sadly epochal killing of JonBenet Ramsey. Singular was in Boulder, Colo., for much of the investigation, and he methodically details its progress, acutely portraying a volatile situation. He depicts many key players, from DA Alex Hunter and various investigators to talk-radio rabble-rousers and Globe scandalmongers; he asserts that the latter parties bear great responsibility for confusing the public perception of the case and for inflaming tensions among the DA, the cops, and other factions to the point where the investigation may be stalemated. He focuses on the carnivorous mode of the mass media, particularly their lurid, immediate indictment of the Ramsey parents. Singulars perceptive exploration of the near-universal call for the Ramseys’ heads reveals the gritty power struggles and class schisms that underlie the shiny, comforting facade of the Boulder region. Unlike his dirt-chasing peers, he gives nuanced attention to an unsettling aspect of the case that he considers overlooked yet central: the gray area in which the mainstreamed commodification of childrens sexuality collides with the abuse of child pornography. JonBenet was merely one of many little girls leeringly displayed as things of beauty by the pageant industry, whose evil twin is the underground of child porn producers and collectors, hugely expanded because of the Internet. Although the author claims at points to have uncovered voluminous evidence, he incorporates few of the particulars, giving his odyssey its own patina of conspiracy theory. Singulars ultimate scenario that neither parent personally murdered JonBenet, but one parents unwitting involvement led to attempts at concealment bears consideration, but like this subtly rendered book, may well go unheard in the collective din. Without fully lighting the dark corners of an unappealing realm, Singular has produced a balanced, detailed, thoughtful
consideration of an incident usually reduced to cultural dissonance.”
– Kirkus Reviews
“The best writing about the Colorado murder case.”
“Novel, interesting, and a great read… Presumed Guilty opens the Ramsey case to a larger phenomenon [and] a shocking, disturbing aspect of American life.”
-The New York Post
“Presumed Guilty is as close to the truth as we’ll ever get in this baffling case.”
-The Arizona Daily Star
In 2001, Singular brought out The Uncivil War: The Rise of Hate, Violence, and Terrorism in America documenting the increasing dangers of the nation’s deepening cultural war. The book was published well before terrorism struck the United States on September 11, 2001, and the country had plunged into a bitterly divisive conflict in Iraq. The same themes the author had first uncovered in Talked to Death – Fundamentalist religion and intolerance, racism and violence – were re-examined in this book, but now the stakes were much higher and the stage was global. Singular was probing not just the violence itself, but its underlying emotional and spiritual causes. His 2006 book,
Unholy Messenger: The Life & Crimes of the BTK Serial Killer, goes even deeper into the convergence of distorted religious beliefs and bloodshed.
Over the last 25 years, Stephen has appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, Larry King Life, Anderson Cooper 360, MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, FOX News Channel, The Rachel Maddow Show, CNBC, ESPN, and has served as a commentator on legal cases for TruTV. Steve and Joyce were both featured on ID Discovery Channel in 2010 for the books, Charmed to Death, and Sweet Evil.
Husband and Wife Team
Since 1991,Denver native Joyce Jacques Singular has partnered with Stephen on many of the true crime books. They both have an intense interest in the psychological aspects of murder and this has shaped their work together as forensic journalists. A number of the books have focused on the intersection of religion and violence.
Over the years Joyce has attended legal proceedings, visited inmates in prison, interviewed witnesses, studied forensic data, and been involved in developing ideas for stories, photo selection, editing, creative suggestions, and re-writing. She’s added a female perspective and dimension to the true crimes books, three of which have been about women who committed murders. These include A Killing in the Family which was an NBC-TV mini-series entitled Love, Lies, and Murder; Sweet Evil, about a young Colorado Springs wife and mother, Jennifer Reali, who killed another woman; and Charmed to Death, which became a FOX-TV movie titled “Legacy of Sin.” In Anyone You Want Me to Be, the story of the Internet’s first known serial killer, Joyce was especially insightful in chronicling women who were drawn into online romances that ended with their deaths. The couple worked on this book with profiler John Douglas, one of the founders of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit in Quantico, Virginia.
In 2006, Joyce suggested that the couple visit southern Utah to investigate Warren Jeffs and the Fundamental Latter Day Saints. The FBI had just placed Jeffs on the Ten Most Wanted List. This led to the publication of When Men Become Gods: Mormon Polygamist Warren Jeffs, His Cult Of Fear, And The Women Who Fought Back. New York publisher St. Martin’s Press released the book in April 2008. Joyce had St. Martin’s send the book to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the highest ranking Mormon in American political history. Senator Reid invited the Singulars to Washington, D.C. where Stephen testified in front of a July 2008 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on crimes associated with polygamy. At the hearing, Senator Reid thanked Joyce personally for helping “getting these events started.”
After years of assisting Stephen with the books, Joyce will be the co-author of two new titles in 2015 and 2016.
In their spare time, Stephen and Joyce perform in bands around Denver. She is a lead vocalist and he plays guitar.