Author exposes mass murders that helped form FBI - WSMV News 4

Author exposes mass murders that helped form FBI

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David Grann is the author of 'Killers of the Flower Moon.' (WSMV) David Grann is the author of 'Killers of the Flower Moon.' (WSMV)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Author David Grann found death and obsession in the jungles of the Amazon, but something even more sinister on the plains of Oklahoma.

The author of the New York Times bestseller The Lost City of Z has developed a career out of uncovering little known but stunning historical stories.

What he found in Osage County, OK, led him on his next journey.

"First when I heard about this, I thought, how could I have not known about this?" Grann said.

Through a random call to the FBI seeking his next nonfiction story, he learned of the serial killings of wealthy Native Americans in the 1920s.

It required the New York-based author to once again travel to a strange land - this time, Oklahoma.

"I had never even been to a prairie before. I always say, a great story never comes to you passively. You actually have to seek it out," Grann said.

He arrived to find gravestone after gravestone, revealing family members murdered one after another.

What they all had in common was sudden wealth from oil, after it was discovered under the land in the Osage Indian Nation.

The Native Americans became millionaires, and that's when they started to die.

"But because they were Native Americans, these killings were commonplace, they were done without conscious, and they were covered up," Grann said.

The murders became one of the first major homicide cases for the newly created FBI.

"There are many people who are profiting off these killings. There were doctors who were administrating poison, reporters who refused to look into it, there were lawmen who were bought off," Grann said.

What Grann reveals in his book, Killers of the Flower Moon, are carefully orchestrated killings.

More than 24 Native American were murdered, resulting in the FBI forming an unconventional team to expose the killers.

"They were killed for greed. They were killed for their money," Grann said.

Even though there were some convictions for the murders, Grann believes there is still a great injustice in that what happened in Oklahoma was largely forgotten by history.

Grann's hopes his book serves as a reminder of the slayings and the corruption that surrounded them.

The man who once traveled to the jungle to find the heart of darkness, found it instead in the plains of Oklahoma.

Nashville was among Grann's travels in his book tour, and said his advice for writers in town is to treat writing as a craft that you get up and practice every day.

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