Arizona said Debra Milke was a baby killer.

Phoenix Homicide Detective Armando Saldate testified she “confessed” to having her four-year-old son murdered when he thought he was going to see Santa. In 1990, she ended up exactly where most thought she deserved–the only woman on Arizona’s death row. So how did she become, in 2015, the second woman in American history to walk off death row a free woman? How did she become the nation’s 151st Exoneree–innocents who once faced the death penalty? This compelling investigative work by one of Arizona’s most acclaimed journalists takes readers inside the case–inside the prison, inside the evidence, inside the breakdown of justice, inside the legal tenacity, inside the heart and mind of Debra Milke.

thedeadgirlinavacantlot – Chilling yet sadly timely

“Jana knows where the bodies are—in real life!–and she spares no one in this explosive, inside look at the underbelly of a sordid story.”
—Bob Boze Bell, True West executive editor and author of a dozen books on western icons.

Phoenix investigative reporter Joya Bonner knew nothing about the world of sex trafficking—or the ugly status her city held in this filthy underground. But then her 15-year-old honorary niece went missing in Phoenix. And a 13-year-old from her hometown in North Dakota disappeared. And there was that pitiful dead girl in the vacant lot. As Joya rushed in to help—naive, scared, repulsed, frantic, but determined—her world would never be the same again.

This is a work of fiction. The major characters are created from the author’s imagination—with the exception of Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin. They really did create a media empire that began with the New Times of Phoenix; they really were arrested in the dead of night by Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s goons; they really did create that Congress calls an “online brothel.”

The story woven around these characters will shock you to your core.

Available on Amazon:

thedeadgirlinthevacantlot by Jana Bommersbach


Jana’s first true fiction novel was published by Poisoned Pen Press in February, 2016.

It is set in Phoenix, Arizona and the fictional Northville, North Dakota, where the casserole served at the Catholic Church after every funeral is called “funeral hotdish.”

We’re introduced to Joya Bonner, a North Dakota girl who’s migrated to Phoenix, where she’s a feisty, relentless investigative reporter for the weekly, Phoenix Rising.

Her current focus is Mafia bad-boy Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, who’s been hiding out in Arizona under the Witness Protection program, until…..

So what does Sammy have to do with Joya’s safe and secure hometown in North Dakota?

Why does Joya have to rush home to save her Dad from a vindictive sheriff?

Orders are available through Amazon.

IF YOU READ GERMAN – The Case of Debra Milke

You could be the first to read Jana’s non-fiction biography and investigation into the case of Debra Milke–the Arizona woman who spent 23 years on death row before being released in March of 2015.
Germany’s prestigious Droemer-Knaur Press is publishing the book in March, 2016 :”A Stolen Life–23 years Innocent on Death Row; The Case of Debra Milke.”

American publication is still pending.

Cattle Kate

Jana’s Debut Historical Novel

The Century Old Legend was Stronger than the Truth

      Cattle Kate is the only woman ever lynched as a cattle rustler. History called it “range land justice” when she was strung up in Wyoming Territory on July 20, 1889, tarring her as a dirty thief and a filthy whore.

But history was wrong. It was all a lie.

Her real name was Ella Watson. She wasn’t a rustler. She wasn’t a whore. And she’d never been called Cattle Kate until she was dead and they needed an excuse. She was really a 29-year-old immigrant homesteader, lynched with her husband by her rich and powerful cattle-baron neighbors who wanted her land and its precious water rights.

Now, on the 125th anniversary of her murder, the real Ella comes alive in Cattle Kate to tell her heartbreaking story. Jana Bommersbach’s debut novel bares a legend central to the western experience.

Click to Order from Amazon

Download the Cattle Kate Media Kit

A Squirrel’s Story

What Would You Say if You Could Speak Squirrel?

      Shirlee Squirrel needs a safe nest for her babies, far from the clutches of a menacing black cat! When she moves into a birdhouse designed to house wood ducks, she and her children create a cozy home in a North Dakota backyard. Raising her children under the watchful eye of the nice man and woman—Rudy and Willie—whose yard they inhabit, Shirlee teaches young Sammy and Sally everything gray tree squirrels need to know. Retold by award-winning Arizona journalist Jana Bommersbach, Shirlee’s true story speaks the universal language of love. The book includes curriculum and activity guides that are perfect for home and classroom use—providing an entertaining and enriching learning experience. Whether readers speak cat, squirrel, or people, Shirlee’s message speaks to the heart!

Purchase this book on Amazon

Visit A Squirrel’s Story Website

BONES IN THE DESERT: The True Story of a Mother’s Murder and a Daughter’s Search

Loretta Bowersock and her daughter, Terri, were a devoted duo who ran the multimillion-dollar “gently used” Terri’s Design and Consign furniture store based in Tempe, Arizona. Both were well known from their television commercials, and Terri was repeatedly honored as an outstanding young business woman. They seemed to be living the American Dream—starting with nothing but achieving fame and riches. And then Taw Benderly showed up, answering an ad for a room available for rent in Loretta’s home. Over the course of two decades, he would take over both women’s lives. Terri had no idea just how much Taw was in control when her mother went “missing” just before Christmas in 2004. Taw said she’d just disappeared on a shopping trip to Tucson, but police quickly realized the truth—Taw had murdered Loretta and hidden her body somewhere in the vast Sonoran Desert of Arizona. As law enforcement closed in, Taw hung himself—not even leaving a note to tell Terri where her mother’s body could be found. As Terri and hundreds of others searched the desert, she also discovered the gross extent of Taw’s treachery. What she found was a living nightmare of buried secrets about elder abuse and domestic violence.

Jana’s debut book,

“The Trunk Murderess: Winnie Ruth Judd,”

was nominated for the prestigious Edgar Allan Poe Award and won Arizona’s only literary prize.
The Truth About an American Crime Legend Revealed at Last


     Poisoned Pen Press of Scottsdale, Arizona has republished Jana Bommersbach’s acclaimed “The Trunk Murderess,” that rips the lid off one of America’s most salacious and disturbing crime legends.

Since the 1930s, Winnie Ruth Judd’s name has been cloaked in mystery and questions: did the beautiful young girl really kill her best friends; did she really cut them up into pieces; did she really do all this alone?

Jana answers all those questions in a skilled probe that won Arizona’s Don Bolles Award for Investigative Reporting.  Her book was then recognized as one of the nation’s five top non-fiction books in 1992, when it was nominated for the prestigious Edgar Allan Poe Award.  It also won Arizona’s only literary prize.

Here’s How the Book Begins

Available on Amazon!

Ruth Judd told Jana “You did a good job”

Ruth Judd told Jana You did a good job

When originally published by Simon & Schuster in the fall of 1992, “The Trunk Murderess” won acclaim from across the nation:

  • Provocative…” The New York Times Book Review
  • “Bommersbach skillfully recaps the entire story…” Publisher’s Weekly.
  • Jana Bommersbach has beautifully re-created the society (of Depression-era Arizona)”…Los Angeles Times.
  • Like a good lawyer, Bommersbach builds a powerful circumstantial case”The Arizona Republic
  • Bommersbach takes a fresh, in-depth look…She makes a convincing case….” San Francisco Chronicle
  • The book uncovers some ugly truths about one of the copper state’s dirtiest secrets…” Los Angeles Daily News.
  • Well-researched…” The Flint (Mich.) Journal
  • “Let this be your warning: once you start reading, it will be difficult to put down.” San Mateo Times
  • “…a thorough job of investigative reporting.” The Milwaukee Journal

The Trunk Murderess was selected as the 2010 ONEBOOKAZ, sponsored by the Arizona State Library and Archives!!!

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