I’m still here.

Just a quick update about the book. I have not abandoned it. Life just got very complicated with Covid, moving my father and brother to a retirement community near us in PA (which was not an easy task) and then our father shortly thereafter having a stroke and passing away on October 10, 2021.

In addition to assuming full caretaking of my brother, I’ve been consumed with a complicated estate settling and of course the grieving process of losing my father. While at the same time selling our family condo in Sedona, my Dad’s place in AZ, buying a large lake house in PA and moving all of that. As I said, it’s been a time. Good, hard, sad, glorious, all of the above.

Also, did I mention here that Rudi Apelt died in prison this Spring of natural causes? That has changed my life dramatically as I will never, ever have to attend a parole hearing again. Major. Thank God he’s dead.

But a couple of updates.

A production company out of the UK contacted me a few months back and they are doing an hour long TV show on Cindy’s case. I was interviewed for seven hours a few weeks ago, which was a bit of everything. Part of the reason I say yes to these projects, is I can’t tell you the healing that occurs for me because of participating in the process.

For this one, they needed as much video and audio footage that I have of her, so that pushed me to convert VHS and cassette tapes in to CD’s and a flash drive to preserve them. Also the hunting down of those things–plus photos–kind of forces me to open doors that are ultimately good for me to do. I think many survivors of homicide kind of box things away, and the grief gets lost in the violence. At least that’s happened for me.

This project appealed to me because there is a huge emphasis on telling Cindy’s story, which is really the point of the book as well. There is little focus on her killers and more on knowing and understanding her as a person. They asked me so many questions about our childhood/upbringing, how she was all throughout her life, our relationship, on and on.

In many ways, it’s been easier for me to focus on the crime, than on the loss. This pushed me to the latter and it was so good for me. Of course it’s not easy, lots of tears and pain comes to the surface, yet as I say, it’s better out than in. As any of you out there who relate, it’s always there. No closure ever comes. It’s just how much we are feeling it any given day.

So there’s that. I’ll know more soon about the air date but they said late Fall or early Winter.

Now to the book.

I’m headed back to Edmonds this Fall for three weeks to complete it, tweak some things and make a serious push for an agent/publisher. I’ve had a couple interested and frankly just blew it off as I just couldn’t put my energy there. So I’ve got a nice long expanse in my writing paradise to get this wrapped up.

I love my life in PA so much that it doesn’t make as much sense to leave it now, but Edmonds is where I’m doing this book and where I will finish it. Plus, it’s one of my major happy places on the planet and I can’t wait to get back in to that ferry riding, Puget sound, Pike Market, Olympus spa life and see my friend Pat again.

I hope you all are enjoying your summer. We are doing well. Well, I should say I’m crawling back out of exhaustion of the last couple of years. I actually cancelled all my summer travel and postponed my Dad’s rather large memorial service I was planning in Maine because I was just flattened. Rest has been my friend this summer (but still continual work settling my Dad’s affairs–sometimes it feels like it will never end).

My brother is doing especially well after a rough patch a few months ago. We got him some additional support and he’s living alone in the duplex we moved him and Dad in to with lots of activities and he’s really taken to it. He also comes up to the lake house with us and we will spend all our holidays as a family up here. It took some work and learning to get him to his highest functioning but I think we’ve landed there. He’s doing lots of cooking and baking from scratch lately–lasagna, blueberry buckle, strawberry pie. It’s great to see.

Of course, we all enjoy our family life with our darling ten year old Lillian who is just the sweetest kid and such a blessing in my life.

I’ve been gardening as usual–flowers and veggies–the tomatoes are coming in hot now. So I made and froze some homemade marinara sauce and told my brother it’s for him to make us a lasagna for Christmas Eve.

I’ll keep you posted on that show–and expect updates in October as I dive back in to the book.

It’s time.

Cheers–and thanks for continuing to care,


Updates–this n that


Lillian opening the door of our new home last weekend

Good morning!

It’s been awhile since I’ve checked in. Things have been crazy busy over here. Tomorrow I fly to Pennsylvania for a five week stay to….drumroll…close and move in to the new home we’ve been building since last summer!

We’re super excited. It’s truly our dream home and we will be moving in from the country and all that goes with it, to the exciting but smallish community of Lewisburg, PA. I fell in love at first sight with this town as we drove through it, stopping to get gas on our way to someplace else. It’s a charming, small town with sophistication, as it is also the home of Bucknell University.


“Can’t we move here?”, I asked my husband, who knows the area far better than me. Initially he said it was too far away from his work, our Lillian, etc. Then, out of the blue one day, he had a change of heart, we started looking and voila, we found our Rafferty Manor.

Why do we call it that? Because our address is on Baker Street and we just, you know, it just happened. I haven’t seen it in months, but John has been sending lots of photos. Our walk-through is this Friday, on both my husband’s and father’s birthday. Imagine that. We close next Wednesday. Whew!

We picked everything out of course, from cabinets to carpet. Upgraded some things (I needed my antique white kitchen, you know). We buried crystals and coins in the gravel foundation before it was poured and wrote notes, poems, drawings all over the framework. We’ve been nurturing this home from its inception. It is really perfect for us.

I’m almost packed and working up until the last second, taking my Dad out for an early birthday dinner tonight, then fly out in the morning.

I’ve been in the process of restructuring my life for a few months and that starts in 3….2….1…


I’ll be living about 2/3 of my life in PA and commuting to AZ to work and check on my family, etc. the rest of the time. I was able to work it all out. My brother has been stable for over two years now, actively singing with the Phoenix Metropolitan Men’s Chorus, working out with a trainer and other structured activities I’ve set up with him, so I will worry less about him. I’ll keep my townhouse right across from where they live so will be here for them every month.

Most people start their marriage with that, the marriage, being their focus then build around it. We are kind of doing it hodgepodge and it’s all working out great. I’ve often thought that, after 20 years of singledom, if I had to adjust to living with anyone 24/7 all at once, well, that would be incredibly stressful at this stage of life.

This way, we got to ease into to our marriage together at a relaxed pace (as strange as that may sound for a cross country situation) and it’s been lovely. We are ready to live together most of the time now (John will travel back with me most of my trips back here too). We’ve been able to pull this off, of course, both being self employed.

I’m chompin at the bit to get there, paint walls (I’ve spent hours researching gray paint colors over the last months), pick up our new furniture, decorate and be a wife and stepmommy for the next 5 weeks solid, then most of the rest of my life going forward!



AND, Rafferty is where I will pick up writing again. Not likely immediately because there is so much to do, but it’s where I will finish the book. We are on the hunt for an old farm table which will be in front of large doors, facing a gorgeous view of the woods toward the back. I’ll find a comfortable chair,  sit my butt there and finish bringing my story to life.


In the meantime, I have some things to share. I entered a contest in American Way Magazine (it’s the one in all the American Airline planes) and they published my letter to the editor! They get over 35000 entries a year and publish about 3-4 in each issue and mine was selected. A friend from Canada of all places, sent me a copy as I completely forgot about it being published in January. Here’s a picture of my little contribution:


January was kind of hot month for me in publication, as I was interviewed for a story in Phoenix Magazine, about Cindy’s case. There is a kind of creepy illustration, that oddly looks more like me than Cindy, but nonetheless, people are still interested in our case after all these years. You can read it here. It’s called Podcast PI’s.

Oh, and I wrote a pretty long blog the other day over on the other location. It’s about racism and how it has impacted my life. You can read that here.

Hope you are all out there keeping warm and happy.

More soon!



quick follow up – signs


I spent 3 hours this morning diving in to my past and in to the present with thoughts of the death penalty here in Arizona, my sister’s homicide and the Jodi Arias trial.

John, my fiance and I are attending the Sedona Film Festival right now and have signed up for so many films we don’t really keep track day to day of what we see.


Imagine my surprise shock when we walked in to our double feature today with the theme not just around prison/prisoners but about Death Row and the Arizona State Prison specifically.


The first film we saw was a short film, very well done, about a condemned inmate’s last meal.  It was called Meat and Potatoes (linked there) and I have to say, although done with a compassionate spirit about a death row inmate being served his last meal, it truly touched my heart.

The second longer documentary was A Place to Stand (linked there) about Jimmy Santiago Baca and his journey to poetry through, you guessed it, his time served in the AZ State Prison.  There were scenes and descriptions of Cell Block 6 there which is literally the first cell block where Cindy’s  killers were incarcerated in 1990.  Talk about surreal.

John kept holding me tight and squeezing my hands whispering “are you ok?” and “do you want to leave?” because of course he knew what I’d been writing about all morning.  One of the many blessings of having a caring loving Psychologist in my life–he’s so supportive.


I was proud of myself that I was able to appreciate these films with no malice in my heart considering all the other things I was contemplating today.  I truly was able to embrace their themes of healing and compassion.  I do believe that those attitudes are important in this world.  My path related to these issues is a different road, at least right now.  But I’m glad I have a heart of compassion in general that still beats strongly on these subjects so injected deeply in to my own heart.


I felt a huge weight in my chest, but I stayed through both movies and shared appreciation to the film maker of how they touched me.  All of this, to me, is a sign of my healing and I’m very pleased about that.

But really, talk about signs. Damn, I don’t know that I know totally what that was about but wow, it sure got my attention.


Disappointed the jury did not reach a verdict today and found I needed a nap this afternoon to kind of process all of these things, including this space of limbo.  And my heart continues to open wide to the Alexanders and all of Travis’ loved ones tonite and will continue sending love and healing until this verdict comes in.


I love you all out there for reading and sharing.  I feel very connected.


Day 23 – very early am


I’m sorry I missed two full days of blogging.  I fell in to a rabbit hole for about 24 hours.  I guess that should have been predicted.  To think I’d be here all these weeks, cave dwelling by myself and diving in to murder, my difficult childhood moments, loss, sadness, etc.  and not have it meltdown on me is unrealistic.


I did have a wonderful day out with one of the readers out there who lives in the area on Sunday.  We went to a little bakery in her area and I had the best HUGE latte I’ve had since I got here and soup and we talked and talked for hours.  Maybe talking to another person about all of this kind of stirred me up, I don’t know.  But by the time I got home, I was upset about some stupid superficial stuff in comparison and ended up in a full blown thing with my fiance.  We have never had a fight in the time we’ve been together so I guess it was time.  My stuff was bouncing off his stuff and we ended up in a weird cold frozen tundra that lasted most of the day yesterday.


We had just lost our path to communication and our normally sunny fun way of of relating.  I woke up and I say that kind of sarcastically as I only got about 30 minutes of sleep (but I did catch up on my HBO in the middle of the night!) and we were still stuck.   He was much nicer than I was I will say.  Not that I was mean, I was just frozen.


I figured the best remedy was to get myself back to the Korean Spa as I was so bummed out and so disconnected from myself and COLD.  I knew I wouldn’t get any writing done anyway–this was more of a recovery day.


I got there and dove in to all the hot rooms–the sand room, the stone room, the salt room, then the hot baths and the steam room, then to the tea room then to the cafe where I had delicious Korean healthy food that I could barely taste, then back to the meditation room and finally I looked at the charcoal room.  “This will help detoxifying your body and also your mental thoughts” or some such thing.  I couldn’t get in there fast enough.  Then I popped across the way to the Cabin Room which is a cool refreshing room and saw a little desk in the corner set up like a cute old fashioned class room.  On top was a guest book where people were dating and signing little snippets about their stay at the Spa–a cute touch–like Feb. 9, 2015 I spent my birthday here and it was absolutely wonderful.  Thanks for making my day so special!

Then there was me, unsigned:  I just had my first fight with my fiance and I came here to recover.  Just had to say something to somebody.  I told John later and we laughed out loud at my finding a way to express myself, in spite of myself.


All day long I kept reflecting on our thing and how I couldn’t find a way out of it and how scared I was.  He is coming TOMORROW and all I could think was he was going to cancel.  He’s finally seen this scary side of me and he’s gonna bail.  I kept checking my phone for the message I knew was coming  “I’m cancelling the trip.  I just can’t come there now with us like this” but I was getting quick messages about his dream or I love you or what’s the temperature out there?


I still couldn’t respond in kind.  I had lost my smile.  All day at the spa I saw smiling women all around me, knowing I was in one of my favorite places on earth and all I could think is I’ve lost my smile.


It was not a pleasant place to be, trust me.

I got home and John and I finally talked and it was stilted and awkward, nothing we have EVER experienced before and he said he was busy and had to go.  We usually talk for a minimum of an hour.  Talking is our strong suit.


Finally I wrote two words in to the text box “overwhelming sadness” and he asked me why.  After a little more awkwardness and misfiring, we landed on the phone.  And finally the waterworks opened up and the tears began to fall and the deep sobs emerged.  It didn’t matter what I was crying about, it was just coming out.  And I could hear his warm voice on the other end just saying over and over “I love you Kathy, I love you baby, I love you…”


Then he started crying and we admitted we’d both been checking our phones all day thinking the other one was cancelling the trip.  We are so alike and that’s so wonderful but in the conflict realm we need to know the territory as we had absolutely zero road map.  Our tears were our Kryptonite as we started sharing our fears and vulnerabilities and for me it’s just all about trust.  I’d been hiding and acting so cool and detached about some things that had built up–nothing he had done wrong–just things that were bothering me about a theme that had reached a saturation point and I melted down over it.  The theme of course was about “can I trust this person?”


Are we surprised?  I’m writing about so many betrayals–most stemming around men and of course the hugest, Cindy’s murder.  It affected me so deeply and so personally that this trust thing has paralyzed me for years.  What we realized is I can have a hard time getting to trust and it’s nothing he’s doing or not doing, it’s just me struggling.  And then we found our center again.  We learned things we don’t even know yet I’m sure.


But most importantly we got back to each other.


That’s us on Facetime with tear stained cheeks.

His birthday is today, as is my father’s (I know, right?)  He leaves for the town he will be flying out of tonite and spending the night there for his flight tomorrow.  I’m so excited now I can’t stand it!  I’m so glad we went through that as it opened something up in me that clearly needed to come out.  Both of us I think, well I know.


I started smiling again and tasting again last night and slept soundly for 5 hours.  I felt again like waking up on Christmas morning as I have every other day here.


Today I will do some writing and some prep work for his visit (girl’s gotta get her manicure!).  I’m gonna do what I’ve wanted to for 3 weeks which is take my laptop to the cool local coffee shop and write there.  It’s taken me this long to sort of emerge which is interesting cuz usually I’m an out and about girl.

Well not the post anyone was expecting but not surprising either I’m sure.

I feel relieved and in a much clearer space.  And today, I will write about Cindy.


Thanks for the patience guys and for holding me in a loving supportive web out there.  I feel it.

Day 20 – mid day


Wow, I made it to the twenties!  Time has taken on an entirely new meaning with this endeavor–it’s slowed, it’s quickened, it’s stopped.  There is not one thing I’d do differently.  Ok maybe I’d work out more, that is if I was a different person born with that kind of motivation.  😉

I had a really nice evening out last night with my hostess.  We learned we have some uncanny things in common.  Her family history is nearly identical to my love John’s (that he wrote his memoir about) and she’s from the same town where we will be married this Spring…all the way across the country!  Wow.  I love everything about this place and now more to love.

I just finished my first draft of the ending of my book.  I’ve jumped all over the place which has kept me sane. Luckily I have so many stories to jump in and out of for this memoir–childhood, abuse, homicide, mental illness and somehow landing on resiliency and happiness.  Imagine that.  I found myself quoting Webster’s and Rilke and Steel Magnolias in my last words.  I have to say I’m kind of in love with those words and they generated this emotion that I made a meme out of today.  Not using this quote in the book but I found it searching for something else.


I also wrote about John, my brother, for the first time since I got here.  That part of the book is the least arduous for me so I’ve been saving it for dessert.  But I felt like writing about him this morning so I did.  Here is a snippet:

“The kind stranger who picked him up may not have recognized the degree of his psychosis and gave him a ride to a repair shop.  The woman working there, well, there just isn’t enough to say about this person, this angel.  I don’t even know her name but she’s out there I imagine still performing good deeds.
She helped my very ill brother arrange for the tow of his car, that he had crashed in to a field due to the voices telling him to do so, and it’s repair.  She even helped him contact his insurance company.  Then she went a step further and gave him a ride to a motel where he could settle in and wait for his car.
As she left, something in this angel on Earth got a feeling she should turn back around and check on my brother.  Something about their interaction left her with an uneasy feeling about leaving him there alone and unattended.  At this point, my father and I were still in Maine, checking in with the police daily with no idea where John was, if he was ok, if he was alive.”

Now I’m heading back in to the trial.  I’ve realized I’m missing some important pieces I thought I had like Michael Apelt’s testimony.  It’s ok, I can hunt for it in Cathy’s study when I get back.  I have plenty else to read, trust me.  This is the stack I’m getting ready to dive in to in 3…2…1…


Hope you are all out having a great Saturday.  I look out at these big grey clouds whisking by over the big Sound out there and feel nothing but grateful…not one thing other than grateful.


Day 6 – morning (turbulence)


I woke up this morning, early again, in to an almost immediate fit of hysterical laughter.  I had a voice note waiting for me from my fiance John who was making a comment about the snack plate I’d sent him a photo of the night before.  Now you have to understand, John is a man who can fly in to an accent at a second’s notice–he has Vinnie the guy from New Jersey, a british snob named Reginald Pate I think who speaks of Gentlemen and Knaves and a new addition Jethro.  He went in to Reginald mode while remarking on my snack plate but ended up tripping over his own faux british tongue and it came out first “nack padladder” and then “snack pattern”.  Preceeded by the words “your volumptuous”, in British of course.



my volumptuous nack padladder

He never fully quite stuck the landing on “snack platter” and I’m sitting here now all by myself  typing this, again with a wheezy laugh hissing out of my lungs.  It was one of those kinds of hysteria that I couldn’t even think about it without gasping again.  Then I went back to listen again to start it all up.  I was leaving inaudible messages on his voice notes wheezing and spurting about his “nack padladder”.  Guess you had to be there and I for one am glad I was/am.  John is one of the most naturally funny people I’ve ever met, at least to me.  We spend loads of time laughing.


Maybe I needed that hysteria to prepare me for what I was about to face this morning.  That kind of crazy laughter hit me hard in an MFR Seminar way back when…I mean for days it wouldn’t leave me. I was literally in the middle of our trials when that happened.  Someone pointed out to me that the word “hysteria” is also associated with fear.  Interesting.


I had prepared myself last night, that today was the day to really dive in to this box of papers.  I got up in the dark once I could breathe again, made myself some apple cider vinegar water and green tea then sat in my designated corner chair to read.


I ran across lots of things from interviews with the two women who’d been involved with these killers to a trip our prosecutor made to Germany to interview their families etc.  Rudi, the older brother, was married at the time he murdered Cindy, to a prostitute named Suzanne.  Imagine that hooker was the one of the four with the highest values and the least evil. Yet she was still incredulous that her husband could do such a thing and refusing to believe it.

I ran in to transcripts from my answering machine and Cindy’s from the time she went missing.  Seeing my message to her in black and white from 12:30am the night we filed the missing person’s report, well, it was just rough.

By far though the very worst, the thing I’d been dreading for all these years but the thing I faced this morning was the folder containing the autopsy report and testimony by the Medical Examiner.  I won’t go in to it much here now but I will say I did it.  I read it all the way through.  And I survived.


They inflicted 54 wounds to her body including a stab wound so severe it severed two of her ribs on the way to her heart.  He broke the handle of the knife with that force and a piece of it was found next to her body.  Likely two knives were involved (both men stabbing together) and she was nearly decapitated.  As a nurse I can visualize all of it.  And that’s really all I can say about it anymore.  I read it and I survived.

My throat got tighter and tighter and as my dear fiance was messaging me throughout the morning he reminded me to ‘touch The Precious” (which is what we’ve nicknamed my engagement ring around my neck–his father’s wedding band–which is how he proposed in the most amazing perfect way to me-read about it here).  I literally moved it up to my throat and felt it start to soften.  I took a photo to show him and saw that my throat had literally become red through the reading of all that trauma.  In my line of work we call that a “vasomotor response” (a response to stress).


My beloved precious man just kept sending me messages saying “I love you Kathy” literally over a dozen times over and over peppered with “I’m with you Kathy”.  I’m so fortunate to have met this man in this timing.  I’ve never felt so supported by a man in my life EVER.

I got up and took a long hot shower and remembered the coconut layer cake slice I bought myself last night but forgot to eat.  I thought “I’ll just have that for breakfast” with my strong delicious french press coffee.

Yet when I went to the kitchen, the words “Be smart Kathy” literally , audibly fell out of my mouth.  Instead of the cake, I made a smoothie of strawberries, ginger, a banana, flax seeds and some green powder.  I left out the greens though as it just isn’t a time for anything bitter.  I came here promising myself “extreme self care” as I write this and I’m glad I’m being smart.  I’m saving the cake for later but for now, it’s nutrition.  “Be smart Kathy”.


I also decided today is a day for softness so busted out the fuzzy socks my friend Mya gave me for my birthday.  I feel so loved and nurtured.


And protected.  And not alone.

I may be by myself but I feel all of you here with me so I don’t feel alone.

I thank you (and friends beyond) for that more than you know.

Day 3 – boxes


After waking up again at 3am and writing for two hours then crashing, I decided today was the day to begin to dig in to the two large boxes still residing in my car from the drive.  One contains folders of interviews and reports–police, autopsy, witness interviews.  A few photos and some VHS tapes are also in there.


I haven’t gone through the whole box but knew where I wanted to start.  My police interview–the first one I gave in person–the one I was flown back to AZ for just one day to complete.  I’d forgotten that I literally flew in and back the very same day.   The Apelts had not yet been arrested and I didn’t feel safe there.  The interview was conducted on 12/29, just 5 days after Cindy was found and 2 days before we buried her.  The Apelts were definitely still on the loose as they attended the funeral.  I don’t know if they knew I had come to town for this or not.wpid-img-20150121-wa0052.jpeg

I designated this unused chair as the place I would read the hard things

It was extremely intense to go back and revisit my own words, remembering myself during this time. I was still measured and focused though and shared many many things with the Detectives.  I’ve shared before that Det. Ron Davis apologized to me after the first verdict came in for his behavior toward me in this interview.  I was confused at the time as didn’t pick up on anything odd but his explanation was that I was being treated like a suspect.  In reading the report, I can see exactly what he meant–his demeanor was brusque and sort of untrusting.  He had been translating German for the Apelts so I think naturally had formed some kind of affinity for them.  That faded quickly within the following days.


I also read through my testimony in both trials which was much more measured and controlled.  The police interview was more indicative of my state at the time–still in shock and desperate to help and clarify things only I would know.  Things Cindy shared with me in confidence.


these photos were part of evidence-he was plotting her murder at every step, including here-she was wearing this sweater when she was killed

I’d like to share verbatim one passage from the interview when I was being asked about Cindy and Michael’s quick and secret elopement to Las Vegas- the entire motive for murdering her –marriage + life insurance.

GF (George Felger one of the lead detectives):  What, what was that?

KM (me):  Which was that she, he had told her that either she married him or he was going back to Germany and she said that she would marry him then, because she didn’t want him to go back to Germany.  What she told me was, she said, she said, I, I told him I wasn’t ready for marriage, he pressured me in to marriage, I didn’t, I told him I wasn’t ready, and he said if I didn’t marry him he was gonna go back to Germany and I’d never see him again, so I married him.  That was when she, we had this long talk later and she explained the reason for marrying Michael, and that it was a real kind of quick decision  and, and that, you know, it was done kind of like, well that’s the only way that I can stay together with him and I said, well did he went to stay in the country, I said, is the reason why Michael wants to be here is because he loves the United States and he wants to stay here and she said, no, the reason he wants to be here is because he wants to be with me.  You know that was like the only reason he wanted to stay was to be with her and it wasn’t like, it didn’t really have anything to do with this great affection for the States, in fact he had talked to her about their moving back to Germany and living in Germany.  And she said, well, you know, I need to let you know that, but I might be moving to Germany and I might end up living there, you know.  That was also mentioned, so you know, for whatever that’s worth.

GF:  Were you there when they got married?

KM:  No, they went to Las Vegas and I didn’t even know she went to Las Vegas.  Which was very unusual, I mean, I knew everywhere my sister ever went.  I mean for years, I’ve known that and I was very upset, I was upset when I found out they got married but i was real upset at the thought that she had gone out of town and not told me, that was totally, I mean, we al, we were that close that we told each other wherever we go out of town,  I mean, we just go out of town to a weekend to Sedona and we’d let each other know that, you know.  And the fact that she had just gone to Vegas period and not told me was such a shock for me, I mean that was as much a shock as it was that she’d gotten married.

I also dove in to Cindy’s journal a bit and was left with one predominant thought about the here and now. That it is an absolute miracle that I’ve been able to trust a man in my life at all, much less to the level of getting married again as I am now.  I read her insecurities and they are mine I’ve had my entire life, compounded by this evil act which stole her from me based on a blind spot , a serious life threatening blind spot.  She spoke of hiding her sadness and self esteem issues, which I also relate to.  Everything goes right back to the loss and abuse we suffered.  She never got to resolve it and was a sitting duck for  sociopaths like these.


It’s so very sad.

Yet at the same time I’m so grateful that I was given a chance to transcend, to live, to thrive.  It’s exactly what she would want for me.


 Sunrise view from my patio

trauma unboxed


Last Friday I spent the morning at Cathy Hughes’ house combing through piles, folders and boxes of voluminous material on Cindy’s homicide case.  Yes, I took this task on, after all these years, just four days before the anniversary of her death (which is tomorrow).

I have to say I felt confident in doing it.  I wasn’t afraid, I wasn’t overwhelmed (at the time).  I was just very very clear that I did not want to see any photographs–you know, photos of that nature.  In all of these years I’ve only caught one glimpse of one crime scene or maybe autopsy photo, online, accidentally while googling something in a German publication.  That was close to a decade ago and I just don’t want to remember anything about that moment.  Cathy was careful about removing items and I did note she had an entire photo album–you know the old school kind with the plastic pages that stick and unstick to place photos under them–filled with, well, all that horror.





















She had a tall 4 drawer file cabinet filled with absolutely everything about the case–police reports, interviews, exhibits–everything.  In 1988-90 there were really no sophisticated computer systems to manage all of this so it was all done by hand, paper upon paper.  I think if I was to stack up the various manilla files that just had my name on them, the stack would be well over 6 inches tall.  I had forgotten so much, so many names, so many witnesses (there were over 100).


In one of her closets off her office were two tall shelves.  They were completely filled with file boxes, also completely filled with the case–testimony, more photos, more exhibits.  Cindy’s journal and paperwork (copies as I have the original).  I remember reading excerpts from the witness stand.  Newspaper articles, one of which I’d forgotten being on the front page of the Sunday paper that week as I testified.  The picture of Michael was bigger.  I’d forgotten really what he looked like.


Photos of Cindy–Cindy with me, Cindy with Michael, Cindy at home sitting on the couch in a fitted pink cotton dress that I actually think was mine that she’d borrowed.  It might have been the last day of her life.

Autopsy report that I’ve never read but I will now.   My own testimony transcripts.


Topographical maps of the area–one with a drawing rendered of her body which I’d never seen.  A large outline next to it which I assumed indicated a pool of blood. 😦


I reached in to one box and saw a stack of photos that seemed sort of familiar.  I thumbed through one and saw a glimpse of something I never want to see even for a second.  My heart goes out to the Travis Alexander siblings being exposed to all of that.  The trauma is more overwhelming that you can imagine and you can’t inoculate yourself from it.

Cathy removed the box from the room to go through it and yelled back to me from the dining room “no there’s nothing in here you need to see”.

She walked in holding a blue-grey piece of paper with an essay on it dated from June of 1989.  I’d written it as part of a writing group I was in.  It’s about the moment my father found out Cindy’s body had been found and how he told us.  Just a description of that moment.  I called it “How do I tell them?”.


Cathy said “You gave this to me thinking it might help me” with tears in her eyes.  I wrote this between the time Cindy was murdered and we went to trial. I was writing as a way of healing all the way back then.  I’m still writing to heal.

Her tears opened my own and I reached out and hugged her thinking of all we’ve shared, endured together.  How this all touched us so deeply.  I forgot to mention that when we went to see my brother perform at his first concert two weekends ago, Cathy was wearing the earrings of Cindy’s that I gifted her all those years ago.  I think she wore them every day of the trials–at least opening and closing statements days.  I know she wore them that night intentionally to bring Cindy to the concert. And I didn’t say a word.  Some things are just too sacred to even bring attention to.


her handmade calendar of money events over the time of the crime–I have several of these calendars now


We were seeking a particular testimony that was/is important to me. That of the pathologist Vincent Di Maio who, called by the defense, actually flipped to be a prosecution witness right on the stand.  It was a total Perry Mason moment so I want to get all of the testimony accurate.  Suddenly she remembered the other closet.

The second closet that housed another tall shelf.  She crawled on a ladder and started handing me big black binders.  They hold the entire two trials.  Every last word from opening to closing.  I have it all.

It was more of an exercise in deciding what to edit out.  It’s a lot to go through and to travel with.  I think I have what I need and probably more.  I didn’t and don’t feel afraid to face it. I already lived it.  Some I’ve not experienced, like that autopsy report, eerily similar to Travis Alexander’s which I have read.  Their lives and deaths so similar.



We piled everything across the back seat of my Murano and headed to lunch.  We found a Thai place near her home which I have to say was fantastic and both ordered lychee martinis.  If there was ever an occasion for a martini lunch, this was it.

I forgot to bring any  kind of notebook which was ok as I wanted to do an informal interview with her during lunch.  It was really just a conversation which I documented later after I left.  I knew there was a serendipitous way that she landed on our case and I wanted to remember those details.  I also was curious if she, not a mystical person like me generally, felt she was just sort of meant to be there.  Because I sincerely know with all my heart that she was.  I wanted to get her perspective though.

She told me a story that I’m not sure I ever heard involving the rental car used in the murder and a hunch she had that turned out, following it, proved a pivotal element in the prosecution of these murderers.

As we talked, I lifted that wide martini glass to sip the soft pink floral scented remedy and my hand was shaking so hard I covered it up by holding the bowl of the glass with two hands.

This is affecting me my body reminded me.  You’re not as unaffected as you think.

I hoped Cathy didn’t notice.

After leaving there I rushed to the car dealer quickly for an appt to check out a weird noise in my car. I definitely want my car in tiptop shape for all my upcoming journeys–to Sedona twice over the holidays and of course to Edmonds on Jan. 15.

It turned out that there are two problems which need a little more time so they offered me a rental car for the weekend (for free).  The back of my vehicle is filled with Christmas presents and the back seat, Cindy’s murder.  If that’s not a visual metaphor of, well, everything I don’t know what is.

My darling service manager Justin (who I know pretty well now–aside from working in the car biz he’s a musician so we’ve talked about having different identities) rode over with me to gather my charger and whatever else I needed from my Murano.

Wow you have a lot of books in there he noted.

That is a murder trial on that back seat I replied.


His eyes got wide and he said nothing but everything.

I just explained that I’m writing a book on my sister’s murder and literally just left from picking all of that up.

Wow, you have to let me know when it’s finished, I definitely want to read it.

We never know where our connections are being made do we?

It felt strange leaving it all behind so quickly and getting in this pristine Nissan Versa.  I felt oddly nervous and relieved at the same time.

I drove almost immediately to meet Mya and some ladies at a holiday Happy Hour that was really nice.  How interesting that Mya later told me two of them, down at the opposite end of the long table that I barely spoke to at all, said to her at the end of the night “that was Kathy Monkman?  OMG I read her blog!”.  How these ladies, so peripherally connected to me even know about my blog is astounding to me.  Connections find their way in this world.

I came home from that really warm evening of ladytalk, music, wine and fun to a long conversation with John, my love.


isn’t he cute?  I know

Something was said, in our conversation, the content unimportant, that ended up throwing me in to a full blown freeze response.

Out of nowhere I couldn’t move or speak.  My entire body shut down.  I don’t even remember what I did eek out but it was probably something along the lines of “I can’t talk to you right now” and I hung up the phone.  I can only imagine the shock and confusion on his end as we have had not one, not even a glimmer of a conflict since we’ve met and fallen in love.  It’s been the smoothest relationship I’ve ever had in my entire life.

He called me back trying to inquire and got more of the same.  I was laying on my bed with my arms straight down, immobilized.  I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t move. I was scared and ashamed and simultaneously feeling like I was destroying this precious relationship as he was experiencing me in this way , but I couldn’t stop it.  I hung up again.

I just closed my eyes and did what I know to do which is ride it out–feel it and see if it can start moving.  I was relieved I didn’t have to talk to him because, truly, I was unable to speak.

I fell asleep and woke up about 45 minutes later to several loving messages from this dear loving man.  Telling me he knew I would contact him when I was able, that I was healing, that he loves me.


this loving spirit

True love lifted my hand as it felt like it was embedded in concrete and pulled that phone off the bedside table like it was a 1000 pound anvil.  I pressed one button, the recall button, and called him back, still unable to speak but able to say I’m sorry  I think.  I was just gone somewhere else unable to find my way back.  I remembered this feeling from long ago.

That man stayed on the phone with me almost all night.  This is what you get with true love and true love with a healer (did I mention he’s a Psychologist and energy healer?).  He has also written his own memoir about his own uncannily similar history of loss and abuse so he wasn’t surprised I got triggered like that.  In fact he had checking in with me all day that day to see how I was faring with it all.  I kept telling him I was fine but he wasn’t surprised this eventually surfaced.  So kind.

He just kept slowly and quietly repeating words to me like “I’m here…I’m not going anywhere…can you hear the sound of my voice…can you feel the warmth I’m sending you?  You are healing now….”.


my Christmas present 2014

I really kept replying “no, no no” for a long time until he discovered the key.  He got me laughing.  The laughter broke the spell and after that my body started slowly to thaw and melt.

We didn’t get off the phone until 4am my time 6 am his.  He said “I wasn’t going to hang up until I knew you were back and grounded”.

That night was hands down the most intimate event that has ever happened to me or for me with a love mate.  It bonded us in a way I can’t describe.  He wasn’t scared away.  He’s still here. (tears)

John later said “I’m so glad your car needed work done. I’m glad all of that stuff was away from you all weekend. You needed distance from it”.  I think he’s right.

I pick it back up today.   As he’s an energy worker, he sent some long distance cleansing to my vehicle and we talked about a plan so I’m not driving all that way with all that negative energy affecting me.  I do believe in that kind of thing and so does he.

I get my car back today and a full day of work before taking off tomorrow to Sedona for Christmas.  We will decorate the tree tomorrow night–the night Cindy was killed 26 years ago.  I will place on the tree, as I did last year, the memorial program we had printed.


the program is in the center of this picture

I will also now include one of the songs we played at the memorial.

Love is the Answer, indeed.

Thank you for reading, sharing and being with me on this journey.

I love you all out there.