Though born in Baker, Montana, Detective Michael Varnado was raised in Franklinton, Louisiana, where he has lived all of his life. After graduating from Franklinton High School, he enrolled in Southeastern Louisiana University,
where he remained for a few years before joining the team at the Washington Parish Sheriff's office as a deputy sheriff. After one four-year term, he moved on to the 22nd Judicial district attorney's office, where he served as chief investigator.
It was during this term that the twenty-five year old was appointed to lead the investigation into the murder of Faith Hathaway, a case that gained
worldwide attention through Sr. Helen Prejean's best-selling book Dead Man Walking. Prejean counseled Hathaway's murderer, Robert Lee Willie, who served as the primary focus for the Academy Award-winning film starring Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon.
While Willie's story gained international attention, Faith's short life and brutal death were forgotten by all except those closest to her. Victims of Dead Man Walking, coauthored by D. P. Smith, reminds readers of an aspect of the death-penalty debate that is often overlooked—the innocent
victims and their grieving loved ones. Since the discovery of Hathaway's body, Detective Varnado has dedicated his life and work to bringing justice and peace
to Faith's and Willie's other victims' families.
Serving as a homicide investigator for more than twenty-six years, the author retired in November 2001. He has twice been honored with Louisiana's Victims and Citizens Against Crime Outstanding Law Enforcement Award. The father of four
children, he resides in Louisiana with his wife, Debbie.