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5 Things to Know About a Murder That May Have Been Inspired by a Crime Novel

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On Monday night PEOPLE took a closer look at this case on People Magazine Investigates, which airs weekly on Investigation Discovery. Now learn more about the latest details with PEOPLE’s complete digital coverage.

The 1991 disappearance and murder of Jackie Galloway, a vibrant and social woman in Sarasota, Florida, at first stymied and then shocked investigators.

Authorities eventually discovered that Galloway’s slaying was linked to the sexual assault of a second woman in the area — and that both crimes bore strange similarities to those described in a crime thriller novel that the main suspect owned.

Here are five things you need to know about the case, which was featured on the latest episode of People Magazine Investigates, airing Monday nights on Investigation Discovery.

1. Galloway Suddenly Vanished from Her Apartment

Galloway was discovered missing the afternoon of June 12, 1991, when a friend of hers (Harry Dean, an older man who she had been helping take care of) came to take her to lunch. But Dean found her apartment — an efficiency she had recently rented — empty, with signs that she had recently been home. There was food sitting out, and her curling iron was on.

Dean believed Galloway may have run out to help a neighbor and that he’d just missed her upon arriving. But she never came back.

Investigators later determined a roughly hour window between when anyone last made contact with Galloway and when Dean discovered her gone.

2. Galloway May Have Been Tortured

One June 13, police found Galloway’s bloodied body in a field about 10 miles from downtown Sarasota, wrapped up in a blanket and bound in several places — even excessively, where no bind would have been needed — with a cord.

A noose was wrapped around Galloway’s neck, and she was badly decomposed. Her false nails had also all been ripped off.

As law enforcement told PEOPLE at the time, “Jackie either put up a fierce fight, or she was cold-bloodedly tortured by her attacker.”

• Watch our new true crime show, People Magazine Investigates, which continues with an episode on the Jackie Galloway murder on Monday (10 p.m. ET) on Investigation Discovery 

Jackie Galloway
Acey Harper/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty

3. Her Killer Announced Themselves to Police

As law enforcement experts explain on Monday’s People Magazine Investigates, the killer’s decision to leave Galloway’s body out in the open suggested to investigators that they wanted people to know what they’d done.

Weeks later, a detective working the case noticed a man dressed in dark clothing lurking in the area of Galloway’s neighborhood. The man, 25-year-old John Waterman, said he was looking at potential real estate. Unprompted, he mentioned he lived next door to Galloway. The detective arrested him for prowling.

Several pieces of circumstantial evidence began piling up against Waterman, including that, as a chauffeur, he had access to a car with similar fibers to those found on Galloway’s body — and detectives found a length of cord similar to what was used on her in Waterman’s personal vehicle.

A search of that car and Waterman’s home uncovered a .45 semiautomatic pistol, three pieces of cord (one with loops at one end), a beige sheet and two beige pillowcases and a gray bag with a black hood, plastic gloves and gray driving gloves.

More chilling, some of those items linked Waterman to more than Galloway’s killing: Police began to suspect Waterman was also responsible for the sexual assault of a second woman in the area.

Perhaps the strangest item discovered was a Patricia Cornwell thriller, Postmortem, in Waterman’s home. According to investigators, some of its passages eerily mirrored Galloway’s killing and the sexual assault.

4. Waterman Admitted to Having Read the Book

Under questioning, Waterman said that he liked mysteries and had started to read Postmortem but that he had not gotten far in the text.

At the time, authorities were ambivalent about the true extent of his possible inspiration. As they told PEOPLE then, “There were similarities. [Jackie] was bound in more than one place, and the cord, drapery cord, was the same kind the killer used with one of the victims in the book. But Jackie could have been bound to some other object and her hands tied behind her back, which wouldn’t be the same as in the book at all.”

• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

Still, some of the scenes in the book hauntingly evoked the real-life violence — such as Galloway’s bindings and her mangled nails.

“It appeared the killer used the cord from Venetian blinds, and the knots, the pattern, were joltingly familiar,” read one passage in the book. Elsewhere, the thriller described how a victim had her fingers broken one by one by the killer.

“He had no reason,” Cornwell had written, “except to cause her excruciating pain and give her a taste of what was to come.”

5. He Remains in Custody … But His True Motive Is Unknown

Even though the case against him was largely circumstantial, Waterman ultimately pleaded no contest to both Galloway’s killing and the sexual assault. He remains incarcerated, more than 25 years later.

But Waterman was not required to explain a motive when he pleaded — leaving several mysteries for People Magazines Investigates to address Monday.

“He didn’t know her,” one of Galloway’s friends says of Waterman. “He didn’t know how wonderful she was.”

People Magazine Investigates airs Monday (10 p.m. ET) on Investigation Discovery.

• With BILL HEWITT