Local prosecutor's Facebook murders book released in conjunction with Investigation Discovery TV show

Becky Campbell • Feb 12, 2016 at 8:47 PM

A true-crime novel detailing a prosecutor’s perspective of a sensational double murder that stemmed from social media, jealousy and a fictional person lands in local and virtual bookstores on Tuesday, Feb. 16.

“Too Pretty to Live,” written by Assistant District Attorney General Dennis Brooks, is about the so-called Facebook murders. It details how raveled the case was and what it took to get to the bottom of the killings, Brooks said.

He said the idea of a book came to him after the jury verdict in Barbara and Jenelle Potter’s trial in May. He wrote the 350-page book very quickly, using his lunch breaks, nights and weekends to tap it out.

Billy Payne was killed along with his girlfriend, Billie Jean Hayworth, nearly three years ago in a twisted plot that evolved from “catfishing,” jealousy and revenge.

Payne and Hayworth were killed in their Mountain City home by Marvin Potter and Jamie Curd after months of allegations from Potter’s daughter, Jenelle Potter, and his wife, Barbara Potter, who claimed Payne and Hayworth were out to get Jenelle.

“I didn’t know if I had enough material for a book, but when I got into it, it started flowing,” he said. “I thought it was something people would like to read about. It’s about my perspective of the case. I have a story I’m proud of and I just sat and wrote it.

“The day after the verdict, I’m sitting around trying to figure out how I move on with my life. Those Potter women occupied my life for a long time. Those things were buzzing around in my head and wouldn’t settle. It’s a story I’m proud of. I’m proud of the people who worked with me in the case. I think it’s a story that should be known by people.”

Brooks said the excitement of having written a book is tinged by how it came about. He hopes, however, that people who read the book will realize the difficulty of getting the case to trial.

“People say it’s exciting that I’ve written a book ... but you always have to remember it’s about two families losing loved ones. I’m proud I’ll have a book with my name on it, but it’s tempered with the fact two people lost their lives. Hopefully the book will allow the public to understand what it took to get those verdicts.”

“Too Pretty to Live: The Catfishing Murders of East Tennessee,” is set for release Feb. 16 in digital format and paperback. According to Diversion Books, it is available through Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

Brooks’ book release is in conjunction with an Investigation Discovery network show, also named “Too Pretty To Live,” that airs Saturday at 9 p.m. and Sunday at 4 a.m. Brooks will have a book signing Feb. 19 from 5-7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in Johnson City.

Johnson City Press Videos