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John Dunning (journalist)

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Title: John Dunning (journalist)  
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Subject: List of unusual deaths, John Dunning
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John Dunning (journalist)

John Dunning (1918 – March 1990) was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. His father disappeared and his mother Chrystal was left to bring him up alone. Needing to work, she gave him to the couple who had brought her up as an orphan. They were "dirt farmers" in Michigan and were in their 60's when they took her son.

Navy Career

Dunning joined the US Navy in San Diego at the age of 16, his foster parents having died. He served in the Asian and Pacific fleets and spent time in the merchant navy before settling in Shanghai, where he married a Chinese woman. There he became a Lieutenant of police in the British sector of the city (at that time divided between the USA, France, Britain and Japan). When the Japanese invaded China and Shanghai he remained in his post as a non-combatant until 1941 when the USA entered the war. He was then interned in Lunghua prison camp where he became the representative of the prison population. He spent four years as a Prisoner of War.[1]

After the Japanese surrender he received the sword of the camp commandant. He worked for the US intelligence agency OSS. He met his second wife, Elizaveta Maximovna Smoleff, in another prison camp. They were married in the Russian Orthodox church in Shanghai in 1946.

Back to the States

In 1949, with the victory of the Communists under Mao Zedong, the family, now with one child, were obliged to leave China and arrived in the USA with nothing. After a succession of jobs, Dunning's second child was born in Connersville, Indiana and the family finally moved to St. Petersburg, Florida.

There Dunning became a boat builder and entrepreneur but fell foul of the IRS and left the USA for ever in 1959. The family settled in Heidelberg, Germany. He then became a journalist for a local English language news sheet in Heidelberg and then an author.


In 1966 he moved to Paris and then to Luxembourg in 1972. Dunning became an established author in the True Crime genre and many used European cases in his contributes to many articles to American True Crime magazines. His friend Colin Wilson in England persuaded him to publish his stories in collections in both hardback and softback.

Dunning held strong views on crimes against children and frequently advocated the death penalty for such criminals in the forewords of his books. His total sales exceeded 15 million and his works were translated into many languages. His taking of Luxembourg nationality make him, by far, Luxembourg's most prolific author.

John Dunning died in Luxembourg in March 1990, leaving a wife, two daughters and two grandchildren. A third grandchild was born in 1991.[2]



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