• Harlow in Monte Carlo

I don't know what to do with this immense sadness of mine. I'm not well. I need help. I need your help. I miss you. Why is it that in our lives the people we have loved never loved us back? Why is it that the people that have loved us, that have cared about us, are often people we didn't love?

I remember the first time we met.

Your side face had me like crazy and I was never the crazy type. I remember mistaking you for being older, only to realize, jeez I can't believe you're this young and yet you're here. Funny thing is I'm actually younger than you are, it's just I felt older than most people my age.

To meet someone is one thing, to know him is another. You make me realize that, even at the darkest moment of my life, even when every factors of an encounter pointed to a shot for romance; even after we chatted for hours after first glance, even when it all took place in the midst of Covid madness, in the middle of nowhere - I could still somehow mess it up. I get it, you weren't interested. I get it bc I wasn't interested in most romantic pursuits in my life. And now look where I am. Look how lonely I have become.

And look at this profound sadness.

Only this time I'm not sure I really want to heal anymore.

  • Harlow in Monte Carlo

I remember how cold I felt each time I stepped into the hotel lobby from outside. I would close my eyes and exhale through my teeth, as if bracing for impact.

It was in Miami, the rain pouring. A storm was arriving and yes, of all the charming weather condition the Sunshine State could offer, I happened to stumble upon a bad one. The hotel I was staying at is the one where they filmed the benefit concert scene in The Bodyguard (1992), a movie I've worshipped for years.

But even the hauntingly vivid image of a singing Whitney Houston couldn't save me from the coldness. A young couple walked over to the pool entrance, the woman bikini-clad. In sauntered another good-looking couple, also in swimsuits, the woman holding a glass of iced fruity cocktail. They walked towards the elevator.

All this while, I was in the same hotel lobby with all these people, and yet it seemed like I was the only one the cold air from the AC rushed past. This was in the midst of all the madness of the pandemic.

But somehow my extreme cold intolerance during that week had nothing to do with anything that's going on in the world. I was feeling cold because I was at the height of my eating disorder. I had been eating very little for three months up til that week. My body no longer recognized how to protect itself from any drop of coldness.

This was last November, but to me it feels like a decade ago. Fastforward another three months: the pandemic seems to ease a bit, people begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I think back to the short period of time I spent in Florida end of last year. After my week in Miami, I headed to another hotel, this time in Hollywood, Florida. One night at the bar I overheard someone talking about how the hotel was the one Anna Nicole Smith infamously overdosed and died in. And that somehow concludes my impression toward Florida - Whitney Houston, Anna Nicole Smith, endless coldness, and my bones-protrude, skinny body.

These days whenever I feel weak, those familiar feelings start to creep into my mind. Florida - the sun glinting off young, hot vacationers' sunglasses; the waves breaking lazily on the beach frontage; towering palm trees and white sands - somehow becomes a place that will forever haunt me. It will always be there to remind me how impossible self-love is, and that death can be just a heart beat away.

  • Harlow in Monte Carlo

2021 update: The route of travel for the Metzler/Childs murder case in Virginia would begin with us landing at either Dulles Airport or Richmond, and then we’d drive to Blacksburg VA, where we would set up in a hotel there. The towns with our interview subjects are within half hour drive of Blacksburg.

I will be traveling cross-country to document some of America's most infamous unsolved murders and mysteries. Stay posted on the website for my investigative journalism pieces on the below cases:

  1. The Honolulu Strangler - Honolulu, Hawaii

  2. The double murder of Brandon Rumbaugh and Lisa Gurrieri - Bumble Bee, Arizona

  3. The Austin yogurt shop murder - Austin, Texas

  4. The murder of Amber Hagerman - Arlington, Texas

  5. The Oklahoma Girl Scout murders - Mayes County, Oklahoma

  6. Kansas College Rapist - Manhattan, Kansas

  7. The double murder of David Metzler and Heidi Childs - Caldwell Fields, Virginia

Cross-country route plan

For now, take a look at the intro I wrote for the murder case of David Metzler and Heidi Childs, one that took place a decade ago:

I have always been naturally fascinated by putting the 'WHAT IF?' and 'WHO KNEW?' perspectives of true crime together. True crime was my first love. What haunts me the most is there could have been any number of configurations of outcome for the victims. Their prospects were often far from grim, as was the case with David and Heidi. Who knew it would end this way?

According to the FBI, there are an estimated 6,000 unsolved murders in America each year. The goal is to bookend a narrative with unsolved murders across the country, shining a light on the identity of the killers.

August 27, 2009. A man is walking his dog when he stumbles upon the horrific murder scene of David Metzler and Heidi Childs near the entrance of Caldwell Fields in Jefferson National Forest. With no cell phone service in the area, the man has to rush what’s perhaps the longest ten minutes home to make the call. The case remains unsolved.

Back in 2007, the Blacksburg community are still reeling from the Virginia Tech shooting. People never understand from whence it sprang. David and Heidi enrolls in the school the following year.

Throughout the ten-year span of time, wounds were healed and lives were rebuilt after tragedy. A lot of people were divorced. A lot of people weren’t speaking to each other. Some of them were dead.

Yet now, across all that time and space, the past has reached out to claim us. From a decade ago, from 2,500 miles away, voices are calling us over.

Back to the darkest hours of a quiet August night and to the remote parking lot at Caldwell Field in which David and Heidi lived the final, terrible moments of their lives.

Someone out there must know something. It could be an odd mention by a friend, or the unusual behavior of a family member. I have no choice. I have to go. Even before I rattle off the trip to Virginia, I knew my mission will be to jog memory of the people involved in the case. And then, perhaps, further back, into the past, along whatever tangled paths I might discover, to wherever it is they might lead.

Photo from the Metzler-Childs murder scene

As a way of tapping into the investigation aspect of the case, I will set up narratives exclusively driven by the detectives and reporters, which will propel the story. What kind of initial impression did the crime scene give? What are the odds that the killer is still living nearby? These are among the questions I intend on asking the people involved in the case.

I will also weave the interviews with local residents into the fabric of my writing. This is the group of people who have first-hand observation toward the site of the murder. Who had access to the campground? Was there anything unusual that they noticed but perhaps didn’t think much at the time, and are now feeling differently?

Let me know what other cases you would like to see featured!