Nanette Johnston and Eric Anthony Naposki
I’ll Take Care of You, the new true-crime story from Caitlin Rother, is on bookstore shelves throughout San Diego. The exhaustively researched book recounts the murder of Bill McLaughlin, shot in his Newport Beach home on December 15, 1994 by Eric Naposki, secret boyfriend of McLaughlin’s 29-year-old fiancee, Nanette Johnston. Naposki shot McLaughlin six times so that Johnston could collect McLaughlin’s life insurance policy.
It took fifteen years for law enforcement to build a case against Johnston and Naposki. In that time, Johnston was able to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from the McLaughlin estate. After robbing the family, Johnston moved on to defraud several other men, though without murdering any of them, in a lifestyle that Rother refers to as “The Real Housewives of Orange County Gone Bad.”
Rother goes on to describe Johnston as a “femme fatale” who ran a “supermom long con,” convincing the men in her life to have children with her, then using those children as pawns in elaborate schemes of fraud and manipulation.
“What makes Nanette Johnston so fascinating is that she was such a piece of work,” says Rother. “You can tell a lot about people by the lies they tell.” Nanette Johnston told a lot of lies. A lifetime’s worth, in fact. The con-artist may have held some real affection for her children, but Rother says that she “didn’t see anything about Nanette worthy of sympathy.” That’s coming from a writer who says that she approaches her books “thinking nobody is all good or all bad.” As if to prove so, she reserves space to comment on Naposki’s football career, letting his outstanding athletic ability speak for itself outside the inescapable fact that he murdered someone in cold blood.
“Even victims aren’t perfect people,” the author says, explaining how she tries to treat everyone fairly. Even Bill McLaughlin — the otherwise-innocent victim — has his potentially “dark” side examined during a few passages of the book.
Crime fiction fans will be perfectly happy with I’ll Take Care of You. Rother narrates her true-crime stories with a flair for the dramatic. The author says she tends to convey, in her books, the things about these stories to which she is most drawn. The darkly entertaining drama of this book might as well have come straight from the pages of a popular novel, as opposed to the inverse “ripped from the headlines!” style that some fiction authors utilize. The fact that everything happened just as it’s told, and not that far from San Diego, is just an added bonus to give I’ll Take Care of You more immediate resonance in Southern California.