At a Glance: Dateline, Dr. Phil and Local Coverage of ‘The Savage Murder of Skylar Neese’

Published by Daleen Berry on


If you’re an author living in today’s warp-speed world—unless you’re one of those reclusive J.D. Salinger types—you’d be crazy to turn down an opportunity to go on NBC’s Dateline or Dr. Phil. Well, even if you are a reclusive type, unless you have a rich uncle handing out greenbacks so you can do nothing but huddle over your computer and write that great literary masterpiece, you’d still be crazy to turn it down.

I say this because that elusive “fifteen minutes of fame” everyone talks about seems to have been whittled down to a minute or less, and it’s no secret: as fast as the world is turning these days, what was once news five minutes ago is now being used to line your kitty’s litter box. You either need the story of the year, a viral video, or a major marketing campaign, to have any hope of competing with hundreds of other stories each day.

Coauthors Geoff Fuller and Daleen Berry

Geoff and I were pretty sure we had a major news story when we learned Skylar Neese’s two best friends killed her. When we heard the basis for their motive—“we didn’t want to be her friends anymore”—we knew we did. Then, when our brilliant literary agent, Katherine Boyle managed to get three publishers to vie for the rights to this story, we figured it would only be a matter of time before the major networks came calling. (Turns out one of them, NBC, already had.)

As a result, we didn’t turn down those opportunities. Working with our publisher, BenBella Books, and our publicist, Michael Wright, we were thrilled to appear on two top-rated TV shows. This is not just a cautionary tale, as Dr. Phil said, it’s a heartbreaking story about a beautiful girl who was, at her very core, good and decent—and who died, in part, because of that.

Here then, are all the links to the media coverage coauthor Geoff Fuller and I have received to date. Hopefully after this next deadline, I can share more personal details like what it was like to actually fly to Los Angeles for the Dr. Phil show. (Trust me, you’ll want to hear how my 4 a.m. drive to the airport involved speeds of 80-90 miles-an-hour on Interstate 79 north, while I tried to escape another driver with a nasty case of road rage.)

The NBC Dateline crew made at least four separate trips to Morgantown, W.Va., that I’m personally aware of, to film this story. Their attention to detail and to getting the facts correct was impressive. It was also amazing to see the final results of their hard work. The hour-long segment, “Something Wicked” with anchor Andrea Canning, aired Friday, March 7, 2014.

Three days later, on March 10, 2014, came CBS with the daytime king of TV talk shows: Dr. Phil. He was sensitive and compassionate to a degree many people have personally found very touching, as he helped Mary and Dave Neese come to terms with surviving the horrific loss of their daughter. “Best Friend Killers: What Happened to Skylar Neese?” shows video footage of Skylar the toddler and Skylar the teen, and it will leave you in tears.

On Monday, Geoff and I appeared with Dave Neese on the local CBS affiliate station, WDTV. Reporter Jared Pelletier showed he has a keen sense of knowing how to touch the hearts of his viewers, when he interviewed me from Skylar’s bedroom.

Yesterday we sat down with Kay Murray and Jim Stallings, of the Morgantown AM, on WAJR. The March 11, 2014 podcast is now available for download. During this segment Dave talked about how he and Mary are moving forward, and where they hope to go from here.

Then, in our second interview that day, with WBOY’s Krista Baker, Geoff and I zipped over to the local NBC-affiliate to discuss the case further, to talk about the ebook, and what’s coming up this summer.

Hoppy Kercheval was relentless with my coauthor on WV MetroNews this morning, when he tried to get Geoff to tell him the answer to the biggest question that’s been on everyone’s minds for the last year: Why did Shelia and Rachel kill Skylar? Geoff did a great job and held Hoppy at bay. (After all, who will buy the next book, if we reveal all our secrets now?)

Yes, there is another book about Skylar’s murder. The first one, The Savage Murder of Skylar Neese, came out as an ebook in February. It was originally intended to lead into Shelia Eddy’s murder trial, rather like a CliffsNotes version that would help fill in the gaps for people unfamiliar with the case. (It’s currently #1 in the “murder and mayhem” subcategory at Kindle, and #21 on the site’s nonfiction list.)

The second book, Pretty Little Killers, will be released as a paperback in June or July. Even though the trial never occurred due to Eddy’s guilty plea, we’ve still come up with as much information as we need to answer the question of why Skylar was savagely murdered.

* * * *

My next book, Guilt by Matrimony, about the murder of Aspen socialite, Nancy Pfister, comes out November 17. My memoir, Sister of Silence, is about surviving domestic violence and how journalism helped free me; Cheatin’ Ain’t Easy, now in ebook format, is about the life of Preston County native, Eloise Morgan Milne; The Savage Murder of Skylar Neese (a New York Times bestseller, with coauthor Geoff Fuller) and Pretty Little Killers (also with Fuller), released July 8, 2014, and featured in the August 18 issue of People Magazine.

You can find these books either online or in print at a bookstore near you, at BenBella Books, Nellie Bly Books, Amazon, on iTunes and Barnes and Noble.

For an in-depth look at the damaging effects of the silence that surrounds abuse, please watch my live TEDx talk, given April 13, 2013, at Connecticut College.

Have a great day and remember, it’s whatever you want to make it!

~Daleen

Editor’s Note: Daleen Berry is a New York Times best-selling author and a recipient of the Pearl Buck Award in Writing for Social Change. She has won several other awards, for investigative journalism and her weekly newspaper columns, and her memoir, Sister of Silence, placed first in the West Virginia Writers’ Competition. Ms. Berry speaks about overcoming abuse through awareness, empowerment and goal attainment at conferences around the country. To read an excerpt of her memoir, please go to the Sister of Silence site. Check out the five-star review from ForeWord Reviews. Or find out why Kirkus Reviews called Ms. Berry “an engaging writer, her style fluid and easy to read, with welcome touches of humor and sustained tension throughout.”


Daleen Berry

Daleen Berry (1963- ) is a New York Times best-selling author and TEDx speaker who was born in sunny San Jose, California, but who grew up climbing trees and mountains in rural West Virginia. When she isn't writing, she's reading. Daleen is also an award-winning journalist and columnist, and has written for such publications as The Daily Beast, Huffington Post, and XOJane. Daleen has written or co-written eight nonfiction books, including her memoir, "Sister of Silence," "The Savage Murder of Skylar Neese," "Pretty Little Killers," "Cheatin' Ain't Easy," "Tales of the Vintage Berry Wine Gang," "Shatter the Silence," and "Appalachian Murders & Mysteries," an anthology. In 2015, West Virginia University placed "Sister of Silence" and "Guilt by Matrimony" on its Appalachian Literature list. You can follow her blog here: https://www.daleenberry.com. Or find her on Facebook and Twitter, as well as email her at daleen(dot)berry(at)gmail(dot)com. She loves to hear from readers.

1 Comment

» Skip Black Friday—But Do Support Small Business Saturday and Your Local Merchants · November 18, 2014 at 9:46 PM

[…] was my situation last winter, in late February. To say I was a tad nervous about appearing on the Dr. Phil Show to promote my book would be a huge understatement. But that all changed after I went to Coni and […]

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