The Wave | Spring-Summer 2013
While most Holy Namers would recognize her as Elizabeth Becka, the 1981 graduate now goes by a different name — Lisa Black — when writing her murder mystery novels.
Becka has written several books under the names Elizabeth Becka and Lisa Black, and her ideas often come from her former job as a forensic scientist at the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office, where she analyzed gunshot residue, hairs, fibers, paint, glass, DNA, blood and other evidence as well as crime scenes.
Her books are set in Cleveland and feature city landmarks and history. “Trail of Blood,” for example, features the murders of the famed Torso Killer.
“I always wrote stories, starting in grade school,” Becka says. “At Holy Name, I wrote stories about myself and my friends in various situations, and, in college, they became longer and longer. When I graduated, I worked as a secretary and was in front of a word processor all day, so I wrote a novel.
When I started working for the coroner’s office I didn’t have time to write. But then my husband and I moved to Florida, and I had no job, no family and no friends, so I began writing to stay sane.
I always wrote mysteries and the new interest in shows like CSI helped me to get published.”
Becka now works as a forensic specialist with the Cape Coral, Florida Police Department. She says her time at Holy Name helped prepare her for her career today.
“What Catholic school does is instill discipline and show a need for self-control, which is the most important ingredient for success but is increasingly lacking in today’s world,” Becka says. “Holy Name gave me a quality education and helped teach me to find a goal and stick to it and see it through.”
At Holy Name, Becka was a member of the marching band, concert band and orchestra.
“Most of my friends were in the band,”she recalls. “I had been in band since fourth grade. I like making music; it’s a big part of my life. I continued playing through college and even in community bands.”
Following graduation, Becka attended John Carroll University, majoring in political science. After working for a number of years, she decided to attend Cleveland State University, earning a degree in biology to focus on forensics.
“I always read mysteries, and writing mysteries and being a detective was all I ever wanted, although I didn’t want to be a cop,” she explains. “I finally figured out that because I liked science, I could make a career in forensics and have the best of both worlds.”
In her spare time, Becka enjoys reading,exercising and traveling. To celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, she and her husband, Russ, conducted a tour of World War II battlefields from Normandy to the Eagles’ Nest in Germany. “My husband lives on the History Channel, so it was great to finally see the places we see on TV,” she says.
Becka has stayed involved with Holy Name, donating books to the annual auction and coming back to speak to students.
“I talked about my writing and how I got published,” she says. “The response was overwhelming. The students were very interested and excited.”
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