The First Five Days
I came home from work on Friday afternoon to discover Karen's nude, mutilated body.
She had been brutally murdered--cut and stabbed. There was blood everywhere. I
immediately called 911 and met the policeman on the front porch. I recall seeing a
squad car pull up, and a policeman appearing in front of me, but nothing in between. I
took him into the house and up the steps to show him what I'd found. I was escorted
immediately out to the front porch. Other police were already arriving, and I was asked
when I had arrived home. I remember looking at my watch for the first time since
getting home, and not being able to tell time. So I told them I had just gotten there, and
that I knew I had left the office at 3:30pm at the earliest, and probably a little later. I
was asked a lot of other questions, too, but it's all a little blurred in my memory. I do
remember--clearly--still standing on the front porch and telling them--not asking them--to
find my children.
The First Hour:
I was placed in a squad car in the front yard. It was about 45 minutes before I knew my
children were okay. They had never been picked up from school and day care. I was
asked who should pick them up. I had difficulty remembering people's last
names--much less phone numbers. I was being asked questions by various
officers--questions like "do you know of anyone that might do this to your wife?" and I
was doing my best to answer them. Everybody was very, very serious. Everybody.
A Live Eye satellite truck appeared. A crowd gathered at the road. The Decatur Daily
was taking telephotos of me, without me knowing. I was asked to give a colleague
permission to inform my children of Karen's murder--to prevent them from seeing it on
TV. Initially, I said no--that I had to be the one to tell them. But I was told it wasn't an
option, and that unless I gave permission, they would hear it on TV. It was all over
TV--live. So I gave permission. And I sat. In a police car.
The First Eight Hours:
It got dark. It started to rain. Several hours passed. I had strange thoughts in my
head--like wondering how I would clean up the blood, like how my friend would miss us
at The Sound of Music that night. I thought a sexually sadistic serial killer had come to
my house. I had thoughts of my children, whom I thought already knew about their
mother's murder... and I couldn't even be with them. Flashbulbs were going off in the
I have never been more alone in my life.
I was eventually taken to the garage and questioned. They asked my permission to
search the rest of the house--not just the crime scene. I gave it. They asked me to sign
a form agreeing I was under no duress to give permission. I signed it. And I was
returned to the car for three or four more hours.
Karen's body was removed from the house in a body bag to a van about thirty feet in
front of me. I tried not to look, but looked, anyway.
I was questioned again about every step I took when I arrived home. I was taken
through the house. I retraced my steps two different times, each time telling every
thought in my head and everything I did. When it was done, I was taken to the police
station and questioned for several hours.
Sometime around 3:30am I was told I was free to go. I asked them to take me back to
the house, to my vehicle. I went back into the house and hurriedly threw a few things in
a suitcase for the girls, and a change of clothes for me. On the way out, with no idea
where I was going, I noticed the answering machine. The first message was from
Caroline, giggling, and saying, "Mommy, you forgot to pick me up." The second
message was from a friend, saying they'd heard the news, and to call them when I
could. I called, and agreed to come to their house. I drove about 25 minutes in a
pouring rain. I stopped at Mapco to buy cigarettes, and saw a copy of the Daily:
Doctor's Wife Found Dead. The nice lady gave me a copy, having no idea who I was.
I got to my friends' house about 4:30am. They asked me what had happened to Karen.
I said, "Helter Skelter."
I learned the children didn't know their mother was dead after all. I was glad. It needed
to come from me. I just didn't know how to do it.
I managed to go to sleep about 7:30 that morning.