On June 12, 1999 Fredric Dannen reached out to Anthony Melendez at the Polunsky Unit,  Livingston, Texas.

Dear Tony,

I’d like to come see you in connection with the book I am researching.  Your stepfather suggested that if there is a slot open on your visitors’ list,  you might be willing to include me.  This would make it easy.  I’m sure I’ll want to visit with you on a number of occasions, if that is agreeable to you.

If you can’t include me on your visitors’ list,  I’m pretty sure I can get permission to see you at least once through the TDC press office.  Could you write back and let me know how you’d like to handle this?

All the best,

Fred Dannen


Anthony Melendez did visit with Dannen who had begun investigating the Lake Waco Triple Murder along with the Juanita White case and others.

Melendez went to prison when he was in his twenties.  He has been incarcerated since the 1980’s and his taste in magazines and things of this world are very simple 1980’s tastes and wants.  Blue Bell ice cream,  Big Red soda,  and a penchant for “true crime” books.  He loves true crime and asks for books often.

On March 1, 2000  Melendez receives another letter from Dannen.  It is obvious that Melendez wants to know what Dannen is doing and what his plans are.  It is also obvious that Tony has asked for some reading material from Dannen.

March 1, 2000

Dear Tony,

Sorry it’s taken so long to write back.  Please note my change of address from New York city – I have officially relocated to Austin, and now have a Texas driver’s license.

I did offer to help you obtain some reading matter, and I’m happy to get you the two year subscription to ROLLING STONE.  Early in my career,  I actually published an article in that magazine.

You’ve been asking yourself why I’m pursuing this book project, and what I hope to get out of it.  There is no simple answer to that question.  I spent several years writing about criminal justice for THE NEW YORKER, and felt it was time to tackle something more ambitious than just another magazine piece.  I do hope to make money off this project in the long run, and with George Bush running for president,  I think the commercial prospects for a book concerning Texas and Capital punishment are good.  I think a book of this kind will enhance my reputation as a serious journalist.

Do those answers satisfy you?  If not,  tell me.

Yours truly,



How many of you read Rolling Stone magazine?

Didn’t Fredric Dannen and Walter Reaves tell Michael Hall with TEXAS MONTHLY that their work on this case had nothing to do with the death penalty?

It is sad that these letters are 16 and 17 years old and that Dannen got Tony’s hopes up and then he (Dannen) dropped the ball.

Everyone has used this case and Anthony Melendez to make their historical reputations and monies.  It is clear that Dannen has no idea who Melendez is and although Melendez has asked him for reading material,  Dannen sends Melendez a TWO year subscription to Rolling Stone,  a  magazine that Melendez probably has never heard of and what he really wanted was true crime but,  obviously,  Dannen must push his own tastes on poor Tony.









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