Announcing today’s release of Women In Crime Ink author Diane Fanning’s ninth true crime book, A POISONED PASSION: The True Story of a Young Mother, Her War Hero Husband and the Marriage that Ended in Murder, from St. Martin’s Press.
Michael Severance was a 24-year-old native of Maine, stationed in Abilene, Texas, where he served in the Air Force as a C-130 crew chief. He survived five tours of duty in the Middle East and then he married Wendi Davidson.
Wendi, a native of San Angelo, Texas, was a graduate of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M, setting up a new practice in her hometown.
Wendi and Michael exchanged vows the same month that their son was born. But till death do us part had a very short shelf life. In less than five months, Michael was missing under very suspicious circumstances. It took nearly two months to find his body in pond in the middle of an isolated ranch.
A POISONED PASSION goes beyond the crime itself, exploring the people and events that transformed an excellent student raised in a rural environment into an inmate serving twenty-five years in a Texas prison for the murder of her husband.
Did Wendi’s controlling mother, who despised her new son-in-law, influence the tragic events? Did the location of the area have an impact on Wendi’s actions? And how did her profession create the groundwork for murder?
In her review, domestic violence expert, Susan Murphy-Milano wrote: "In my 20-plus years working with crimes of passion, I am always interested in the mind of the person behind the crime. For me, it is a learning tool to save lives. Very few writers have the insight and gift to take a true story and make it one hell of a page turner. In my opinion, Diane Fanning does just that in A POISONED PASSION."
Fanning followed the investigation from its beginnings as a deserter investigation by Air Force personnel to its evolution into a full scale murder investigation by several law enforcement agencies including the Texas Rangers. The story culminates with Wendi’s collapse in the courtroom and an ugly child custody battle where local sensibilities appeared to have a greater influence on the outcome than the best interests of a child.
While Fanning was writing the book, Wendi’s father, Lloyd Davidson urged the author: “Do your best to sift lies from the truth.” Fanning worked to honor that request, looking at every facet of the story from the forensics of the case to the lives of all those impacted by this senseless crime.
The two people who stirred her heart the most were the two youngest harmed by the murder—Tristan Davidson and Shane Severance. Tristan, Wendi’s oldest son, had never had a father in his life until Michael Severance walked into his life. Tristan was only three years old when he lost Michael to death and his mother first went to jail on charges related to Michael’s murder. Shane, Michael and Wendi’s son, was only five months old when his life was turned upside down.
No matter the forces that conspired to create this situation, the end result is the same. Michael Severance, a young man who served his country well and grabbed life with both hands is dead. A family in Maine staggers under the loss. Tristan, a sweet little boy, lost the only father he had ever known and now has to grow up without a mother. And Shane, the most innocent victim of them all, will never clutch his father’s hand in his own, will never hear his words of encouragement and praise, and will never grow and mature in the light of his guidance. Instead, he is spending much of his life in the home of people who despise his father and make excuses for his father’s killer.
That, by any measure, is not justice.