Sunday, May 10, 2009

What I've been up to these last four weeks

For the past four weeks I have been almost obsessively researching the details of the life and death of a beautiful, charming, talented, promising girl whose life ended at age nineteen, not long after she became involved in the world of hardcore pornography. But she didn't die in some back alley or anonymous hotel room in the sleazier parts of Southern California. Her official place of death was a hospital not far from where she grew up, less than seventy miles from where I am sitting.

I won't tell you how I found out about her. Not yet. I won't tell you about how, within twenty-four hours of finding her under half of her pseudonym, finding her whole pseudonym, and then finding out that she was dead, I was able to work out her real identity.

She was a creature of the Internet age. Aside from her obituary, I could find no other public record of her - no graduation notices, honor roll listings, team affiliations, arrest notices. But I was able to find tons of online ephemera - Flickr photo sets, MySpace mentions, even a beautifully-edited home video collage of her that was posted more than a year before she died. I have seen pictures of her father, who appears exactly as she described him. I have read her sister's blog, which is where I found the video collage. I have seen the tattoo that her brother had placed over his heart days after her death in remembrance of her. All this stuff is freely available online, for all the world to see.

I have dug into her fiance, "with whom she resided", as the obituary states. It wasn't our fault, she was out of our control, she was with him. He is a child, a skaterat. Two years older than her. Both of them were technically adults. Ask anyone over forty when "adulthood" begins. (I'm still waiting to exit adolescence, myself. )

He has a MySpace page - or several, I can't tell - with a tribute to her. Touching, beautiful, posted nearly a month after she died. Using words that were not his own. Using words that he copied from another MySpace tribute to her by another person, written the day after she died.

In the wee hours of the morning today, Mother's Day, I found out something else.

Her fiance has another MySpace page with almost no content. I wasn't sure it was him until I found a picture - one of the only two pictures on that site - of the two of them kissing. It was her. It was him.

Very little information on that site. But one thing that may be key.

And this comment:

She was pregnant.

Twenty days later, she was dead.

Why did she die? This question has haunted me these four weeks. I think maybe it's because I think that if I could find that out, I could turn that information around into something that could prevent future deaths. Or maybe it's something else.

I have heard, third-hand, that the manner of her death was an overdose. Was she just a girl who partied too hard one day and never woke up? Or was it a suicide, brought on by guilt over the things she had said and done, or regret over the choices she had made, or despair over the damage the things she had done at age nineteen had done to her future?

Or is there a third possibility?

Why Pregnant Women Are Targeted - ABC News
Murder: The Leading Cause of Death for Pregnant Women

I am not accusing anyone of anything at this point. I doubt enough material evidence exists, or ever existed, to make a case for my suspicions. And maybe I am just projecting who I want this girl to be onto the manner in which she died. I don't want her to be someone who died of suicide. I don't want her to be someone who died of stupidity. If an explanation exists that makes her death not be her fault, I'm going to grasp at that.

I don't know where I'm going with this. What I've described here is just a sketch, a skeletal outline of what I've done, what I've learned. I have given other people other pieces. Someday I may collate and synthesize everything - or almost everything - together into one big post and leave it at that, for some other random person on the Internet to follow-up on. No statute of limitations exists on murder.

The first anniversary of her death is two and a half months from now. We'll see if there are any anniversary notices in her hometown newspaper - and if so, who places them.

I pray that some good can come of all this.


Neckties For Reptiles! said...

Are you for real, dude?

I personally can't judge you on all the investigating: I know what's it's like to have some unknown element gnawing away at you. And the fact of the matter is that the internet makes it easier to satisfy that curiosity. But a more reasonable person than me would say this is a little much and wonder if you've crossed the line. But as you say, the information is all out there; it's not like you hacked into her email or anything. I suppose it's just a question of personal ethics.

What I do have an issue with is you insinuating murder. What? Really? Why, because you don't like the idea of her OD'ing? Just because she was an addict doesn't make her any less of a good person (and even that, really is a projection, a conjecture). I hate to break it to you. These things happen everyday. As much as you would like to play Angela Lansbury, Andy Griffith, or the CSI Miami team, chances are that the fiance didn't give her a hot shot to collect on the insurance money, or because she wouldn't get rid of the kid, or because she was going to the police with reports of his shady underworld dealings. Occam's Razor. Chances are she was a kid with a habit. She took too much one day and died. It's sad. It's tragic. But it happens all the time. Saying that it might be murder, especially if you acknowledge that none of the evidence is there, is delusional and a waste of time at best, and irresponsible and unnecessarily intrusive at worst.

I can't stop you. At least think about this a bit before you move foward.

D.B. Echo said...

O.S.: I won't publish your comment, not yet. Maybe later. But I think you're right. Probably.

Maybe now that this has led me to this point, I can finally let it go.

hedera said...

DB, I learned a long time ago - not a pleasant lesson for me - that there are some questions for which we never do get answers. Just stay aware that this may be one of those questions.