Love Me or Else: The True Story of a Devoted Pastor, a Fatal Jealousy, and the Murder that Rocked a Small Town by Colin McEvoy and Lynn Olanoff (February 2012)

Publication Date:
February 2012
St. Martin's True Crime Library

Reviewed by:
5 Stars
On May 10, 2012
Last modified:June 15, 2012


Two journalist make a debut into true crime with a story that is mind-boggling and a writing style that gives true crime readers just what they want.

For years Rhonda Smith had lived the rollercoaster life of one suffering from a bipolar disorder, but things seemed to finally be coming together for the 42 year-old single gal.

Rhonda had joined the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Spring Township, Pennsylvania, and had made many friends through the numerous activities she had joined. On the morning of January 23, 2008, Rhonda was volunteering as a secretary at the church as; something she was eager to do after the monetary assistance members had so graciously given her just weeks before when money was tight.

Love Me or Else by Colin McEvoy and Lynn OlanoffSixty-five year-old Mary Jane Fonder, however, was jealous of Rhonda. Very, very jealous. First, no one had asked Mary Jane to contribute to the financial assistance offered Rhonda and hadn’t known anything about it until Rhonda offer a public thanks during a Sunday service. And secondly, why did everyone seem to flock to Rhonda? Of course she was nice and outgoing, but so was Mary Jane – or so she believed.

Then there was the issue with Pastor Greg Shreaves.

Mary Jane was in love with Pastor Shreaves, but he avoided her; even going so far as to have a member of the church council call and tell her she needed to stop calling him and visiting his home. So what if she was going in while he wasn’t home? She was only stocking his fridge with food, taking care of him. Rhonda had never done something so kind!

Oh the insanity that abounds in Love Me Or Else by Colin McEvoy and Lynn Olanoff, a husband-and-wife reporting team’s debut true crime. How anyone can make heads or tails of Mary Jane’s insane ramblings is beyond me, but McEvoy and Olanoff do one heck of a job of turning it into captivating reading that’s about as understandable as it’s ever going to get.

Well written, detailed, and told in chronological order of events, Love Me Or Else is fantastic read and one I recommend.

Be forewarned, however, you will walkaway still asking, “Why?” Sadly, it’s a question to which no one, probably not even Mary Jane, will ever have the answer.


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