|Alma mater||Kent State University (2000)|
|Occupation||Writer, director, producer|
James Renner (born March 30, 1978) is an American author, investigative journalist, producer, and director. He worked as a reporter for Cleveland Scene and was editor of the alternative newspaper The Cleveland Independent. He is known for his work in the thriller, science fiction, and true crime genres. In 2019, Renner founded The Porchlight Project, a nonprofit dedicated to offering support for the families of the missing and murdered.
Early life and education
Renner is from Akron, Ohio, and is a 2000 graduate of Kent State University. He worked as a reporter for Cleveland Scene and was the editor of the alternative newspaper The Cleveland Independent. He was also a founding member of Last Call Cleveland, a sketch comedy troupe.
Journalism and nonfiction
In 2003, Renner began working as a reporter for Cleveland Scene and was editor of the alternative newspaper, The Cleveland Independent. At Cleveland Scene, he investigated the cases of Tina Harmon and Amy Mihaljevic.
Harmon was a 12-year-old girl who disappeared from Creston, Ohio in 1981. After pressure from her family, authorities tested DNA evidence found on Harmon's body with new technology in 2008. In 2010, the tests linked Harmon's death to Robert Anthony Buell, a convicted murderer sentenced to death for the 1982 murder of Krista Lea Harrison. Although he was executed for Harrison's death in 2002, Buell was never tried or convicted of Harmon's murder.
In 2005, Renner published a Cleveland Scene cover story revisiting the 1989 abduction and death of 10-year-old Amy Mihaljevic from Bay Village, Ohio. Renner credits Mihaljevic's death for his work in true crime and became dedicated to finding her killer.
On August 8, 2006, Renner began a blog chronicling his investigation of Mihaljevic's murder. Later that year, he published Amy: My Search for her Killer. In 2007, Renner donated his materials related to his search to Kent State University's Special Collections Archive.
In January 2011, Renner announced his plans to delve into the disappearance of Maura Murray, a nursing student who went missing after a car accident in Haverhill, New Hampshire. He maintains a blog about his investigation into her disappearance called My Search for Maura Murray. His book on the case, True Crime Addict, was published in May 2016.
Following the release of True Crime Addict, Renner archived his blog. In June 2017, Universal TV purchased the rights to create a television show based on True Crime Addict. The show, written by Richard Price, is being produced by Johnny Depp.
In May, 2018, Renner released the first season of a new podcast, The Philosophy of Crime.
Currently, Renner is writing an authorized sequel to American author Byron Preiss's book The Secret: A Treasure Hunt, which contains clues to the locations of twelve casques buried in unknown locations across the United States. Each casque contains a key redeemable for precious gems, some worth up to $10,000. He produced a documentary about his search for the keys and plans to create new puzzles, clues, and treasures.
Renner is currently the host of the ID Discovery series, Lake Erie's Coldest Cases.
In August 2019, Renner announced the launch of his nonprofit, The Porchlight Project, which would provide funding for forensic genealogy testing for cold cases in Ohio. Its first case would be the 1987 unsolved murder of 17-year-old Barbara Blatnik in Cuyahoga Falls. On May 6, 2020, Cuyahoga Falls police announced the arrest of 67-year-old James Zastawnik of Cleveland for her murder. The Porchlight Project paid for the testing of DNA samples taken from under Blatnik's fingernails and the forensic genealogy research provided by Colleen Fitzpatrick and her team at Identifinders International.
Renner's first novel, The Man From Primrose Lane, was published by Sarah Crichton Books, an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, in March 2012. The novel follows a best-selling author as he investigates the murder of a mysterious recluse known as "the man with a thousand mittens." In 2013, Warner Bros. optioned the rights to adapt The Man From Primrose Lane as a film starring Bradley Cooper. When the deal failed to proceed, Renner worked with Working Title Films to pitch a television series pilot that was picked up by Fox in 2017. Feature director Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes, The 9th Life of Louis Drax) will direct and produce the series.
His second novel, The Great Forgetting, was released November 10, 2015. The sci-fi thriller, set in the fictional town of Franklin Mills, Ohio tells the story of history teacher Jack Felter as he returns to his pastoral childhood home to care for his ailing father and is pulled into a grand conspiracy involving the rewriting of American history.
Renner is a regular contributor to the short horror story series Dark Screams.
In 2004, Renner directed an adaptation of Stephen King's short story "All That You Love Will Be Carried Away". King granted Renner the rights to adapt this story as part of his Dollar Baby program for aspiring filmmakers. It was an official selection at the 2005 Montreal World Film Festival.
In 2005, Renner visited reclusive author J.D. Salinger at the author's home in New Hampshire. Renner released a documentary about The Catcher in the Rye and his road trip to visit Salinger in 2009. It is available online, in serialized form.
Currently Renner is filming a documentary following his pursuit of the remaining casques and keys presented in Byron Preiss’s The Secret: A Treasure Hunt.
Renner led a forensic genealogy based effort to find the killer of Barbara Blatnick, a 17 year old girl from Ohio who was killed in 1987. 
Renner resides in Akron, Ohio, with his wife and two children.
Honors and awards
Renner's stories have been published in The Best American Crime Reporting and The Best Creative Nonfiction anthologies.
- Amy: My Search for Her Killer (2006)
- The Serial Killer's Apprentice (2008)
- It Came from Ohio (2012)
- The Man From Primrose Lane (2012)
- The Great Forgetting (2015)
- True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray (2016)
- "Cleveland Independent". Cleveland Independent. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Google News Archive Search". google.com. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
- Rink, Matthew. "Family of Tina Harmon, abducted and killed in 1981, wants police to reopen the case". The Independent. Retrieved 2017-09-01.
- Renner, James. "The Coldest Case". Cleveland Scene. Retrieved 2017-09-01.
- Emanuella Grinberg. "Finding Amy's killer: One man's 'compulsion'". CNN. Retrieved 2017-09-01.
- "Finding Amy's Killer". amymihaljevic.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2017-09-01.
- 1978-, Renner, James (2006). Amy : my search for her killer : secrets & suspects in the unsolved murder of Amy Mihaljevic. Cleveland [Ohio]: Gray. ISBN 9781598510195. OCLC 71210170.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
- "The Coldest Cases". Wordpress.com. Archived from the original on 2011-05-13. Retrieved 2011-02-09.
- "My Search for Maura Murray". blogspot.com. Retrieved 2016-04-05.
- "Publishers Marketplace: Log In". publishersmarketplace.com.
- Renner, James (2016-12-30). "My Search for Maura Murray: This Blog is Locked as an Archive". My Search for Maura Murray. Retrieved 2017-09-11.
- Andreeva, Nellie (2017-06-27). "'True Crime Addict' Book Getting Series Adaptation By Universal TV With Richard Price Writing & Johnny Depp Producing". Deadline. Retrieved 2017-09-11.
- Renner, James (2018-05-01). "The Philosophy of Crime". The Philosophy of Crime. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
- ID Discovery, Lake Erie's Coldest Cases, About
- "'The Man from Primrose Lane,' by James Renner". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-09-11.
- Renner, James (2013-03-05). The Man from Primrose Lane: A Novel (Reprint ed.). New York: Picador. ISBN 9781250024169.
- Fleming, Mike Jr. (2013-01-30). "Warner Bros Ties Bradley Cooper To 'Man From Primrose Lane'". Deadline. Retrieved 2017-09-11.
- "7 Questions with James Renner". The Devil Strip. 2017-02-03. Retrieved 2017-09-11.
- Allard, Sam. "Scene Alum James Renner's Novel to be Adapted as Fox TV Series". Cleveland Scene. Retrieved 2017-09-11.
- "The Great Forgetting | James Renner | Macmillan". US Macmillan. Retrieved 2017-09-11.
- Renner, James; Marantz, David (2016-02-23). The Great Forgetting: A Novel (MP3 Una ed.). Audible Studios on Brilliance Audio. ISBN 9781511376631.
- "Dark Screams (10 Book Series)". www.amazon.com. Retrieved 2017-09-11.
- Renner, James (2004-09-25), All That You Love Will Be Carried Away, John Bloom, Harvey Pekar, Jef Etters, retrieved 2017-09-11
- Newspapers, GEORGE M. THOMAS, Knight Ridder. "Young director shoots movie based on Stephen King story". Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier. Retrieved 2017-09-11.
- "James Renner, author of 'It Came From Ohio,' talks about the weird, wild and unexplained". cleveland.com. Retrieved 2017-09-11.