I’m a 1980 graduate of Miami University who hasn’t been able to let the Ronald Tammen story go. I’d heard about Tammen’s disappearance when I was a student at Miami, and the scant details were always told in a super-secret, hush-hush way, usually around Halloween. I toured Fisher Hall before it was torn down in the summer of 1978, and I remember the vibe being a little eerie, not so much because of the darkened, paint-chipped corridors that our group was traipsing around, but because our student guide was totally convinced that the building was full of ghosts and they had somehow spirited Tammen away. Personally, I pictured Tammen on a remote island somewhere, living simply yet supremely, chuckling at the stunt he was somehow able to pull off, for whatever reason.
In the spring of 2010, I was going through a rough patch. I’d lost my dad two years earlier, when he abruptly died one week before I turned 50. Soon after, my mom was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer. I needed a project. More specifically, I wanted to write a book. But what could I write about? For most of my career, I’d been a science writer specializing in biology and health. I knew I liked real-life mysteries and stories about true crime. That’s when Ronald Tammen came to mind.
At first, I thought I’d just try to fill in some holes about who Tammen was, since those details in news accounts were always lacking, other than the fact that he was a:
- residence hall counselor
- string bass player in the Campus Owls, and
- member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity.
I wanted to find out what he was really like. I wanted to tell the story as it had never been told before. After I began to do some digging, however, I started discovering details about the case that hadn’t made their way into the papers. You might even call them clues. That’s when I decided that I needed to try to solve this thing.
In July 2014, I stepped down from my job to work on the project full-time, albeit quietly, flying below the radar. Now, here I am, ready to share a little. Welcome to A Good Man Is Hard to Find.