So My Old Girlfriend Got Murdered...

TRIGGER WARNING: Not funny. Tragic, and a little weird.

I don’t know what to feel right now.

I’ve been hit with a serious twist, a stunning bit of information, and I don’t know what to do with it. If my dad died, I’d know what to do. My sister? Sure. Any family member, or loved one? Yeah. I’d know what to do. But I don’t know what to do about this.

Last time I went looking for an old love online, I found her… and everything went right.She’s a wonderful, beautiful woman, and she remembered me, and she wanted me, and, well, we’re still together. Not much to complain about there.

I’ve found old friends and lovers online before. Facebook’s a great place to start, but there are other ways.

So I googled a name. I’m not going to say what it was. I knew her back in the early eighties, when I was in college. And I loved her, once. Skinniest woman I ever had the hots for. She taught me that you shouldn’t necessarily trust someone just because you love 'em. She also taught me that the ladies will date the nice guys… but when it comes down to it, they like the bad boys better.

She messed me up pretty good for a while… but not in any way that REALLY matters, not when you’re looking back across a lifetime. She jacked me up plenty when I was eighteen, yeah, but my divorce more than twenty years later made it look (and feel) like a petty argument. And I suppose it was, really. Truth is, the worst thing I can say about her was that she had questionable taste in men… and she didn’t make the decisions I wanted her to make. And I was all of eighteen years old at the time, so I can’t say I was motivated by the finest (or smartest) of motives.

I’ll call her Norma Jaen, for the sake of… whatever. The unusual spelling of the last name winds up being important. And she didn’t look anything like Marilyn Monroe. Although, I do find the Elton John song floating through my head right now…

Last time I heard from her was back in '86. She’d tracked me down, sent me a nice letter asking how I was doing, talked about her recent graduation, and job hunting in her hometown, up near Galveston, so on and so forth. It had been long enough that the hurt had faded, mostly, and I sent her a reply, and I never heard from her again. And I went on to have a life.

And things came and went. Eventually, the Internet got invented, and I’d go looking for people I knew, back in the day. Google’s a wonderful thing. So’s Facebook.

And this evening, I thought about Norma. A post on another board I frequent got me to thinking about GI Joe, and in the GI Joe comics, there was this villain, the Baroness, and Norma looked EXACTLY like the villainess in the comics, and… it was the first time I’d thought about 'er in years. And for the heck of it, I decided to google her name again. I’d googled it before, but nary a peep. And Facebook hadn’t been invented, the last time I googled her name, which tells you how long it’s been since I last thought of her…

The first result started out with STRANGULATION MURDER.


I checked the link. A woman with her name… of approximately the right age… had been found dead of strangulation near the right hometown.

I felt an ugly greasy feeling swirl into existence in the pit of my stomach.

A few minutes later, I checked the obituary from her hometown. Right name, right age… graduated from SWTSU, our alma mater… right major… oh, hell, survived by her parents whose name I couldn’t remember, and her brother Redacted, who I remembered all too well.

It was her. She’d been murdered the same summer she sent me the letter… 1986. Her murder had been a local mystery until they picked the guy up nearly a year later on another murder, and he confessed to both of them. He’d strangled her and left her in the woods, in a plastic bag, in a shallow grave. She sat out there for nearly a year before they found her remains.

He was executed by lethal injection in 2000.

I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know how to feel. I had NO idea what to do, so I went and almost threw up, but didn’t. Kind of wanted to, but didn’t. I told you that no good would come of datin’ those bad boys, sweetheart, I thought to myself, and giggled a little, and then felt like an utter scumdog for having thought it and then giggled about it, and… rrrrrgh.

I loved her once. And then I hated her. And then, over time, I got over her. And we might have been friends again, if my life and her death had happened a little differently.

And I don’t know what to think. Did I really know her? Well, yeah… thirty years ago. She died 29 of those years ago, and I don’t know whether to mourn her, or … what. What do you DO in a situation like this? Truth is, I’d be having a harder time right now if one of the dogs or cats had died. And I feel a little bad about that.

You KNOW what to think and feel when a pet dies. What do you do when it happened back during the Reagan Administration?

It’s the same world it was yesterday. Except where it’s different… I feel bad that we never had time to patch up. And yeah, I feel bad that I just took it for granted that she was out there havin’ a life… when such was not the case.

I have a picture of her somewhere in the hardcopy books I use to chronicle my past. We’d got back from an afternoon on the river, and she was parked on my couch, wearin’ a pair of Daisy Dukes over a smart one piece bathing suit and smiling for the camera. I don’t have to go looking for the picture; I have a perfect copy in my memory. She looked great, and she knew it.

And she never got a chance to get fat… or go grey… or to develop any chronic aches and pains… or to change in any way from that picture in my album. I look very different from what I did in '86. She will never grow any older. And that’s a fairly heavy thing on my mind.

A few times when I was in high school, we’d have someone who took a turn too fast, or went out and got drunk and then decided to drive… and in one memorable case, a guy who opened his front door to a guy with a shotgun who thought he was messing with his wife. The shotgun guy was mistaken, but that did his victim no good.

And these are also people I knew who will never grow older, who are frozen in time exactly as I remember them. But they don’t bug me. They died a long time ago, and I dealt with it and moved on. I mean, I’m SORRY Joe got shot in the face by a jealous husband without even getting to have the fun that made the husband jealous in the first place. I felt that Joe had been dealt a major injustice, considering he went to the great beyond with no face and no guilt at age nineteen, for potato’s sake… andthe husband went to prison, and the wife and the actual cheater got off scot free.

On the other hand, considering it was back in '83, I got over it. With this, I guess I’ll need a little more time to monkey with it before the swelling goes down, so to speak.

I did notice that the sky seemed bluer today, and that EVERYTHING smelled terrific, and the air itself seemed… richer, somehow. I have a fine view of the mountains from where I work, and today they looked like they were painted by a crazed impressionist painter with an obsession with shades of blue.

And I wonder if the world doesn’t seem a little more alive today, because I realize what’s been dead for a long time.

Not really sure how to end this. Seems like it should have some closure, or a dramatic flourish or SOME damn thing. But durned if I can think about how you put a good face on this sort of thing.

Guess all those old GI Joe cartoons are ruined for me now.

I went thru elementary school with Steve. He could draw and he loved copying Don Martin’s efforts from MAD magazine. He was always one of the tallest boys in the class, and big, tho not obese. We were never really friends, just classmates, but decades after 8th grade graduation, I found out he’d died in or shortly after high school.

It hit me… strangely. There was never anything between us and I’d never thought about him after 1968, but hearing he’d died so young somehow stopped me - made me suddenly feel a loss. It’s been over 40 years since he died, and it still seems strange to me.

Ghosts? Dunno…

I’m sorry for your loss. I found out many years later that an old friend from high school whom I had the biggest crush on, had died of a heart attack at age 32. It still makes me sad when I think about all the potential lost forever. So I feel ya a little.

Facebook can be a bit of a minefield that way. When I first signed up I put in all my school details and dates, and reconnected with some childhood friends as you’d expect.

I found out that one of our little gang of friends when we were kids (we all lived in the middle of nowhere) had died in a car crash not long after she’d learned to drive. I still feel the shock of that - so unexpected, so transported back to being 8 years old in 1976, us all nut-brown from the glorious summer, cycling like mad from place to place, going “no hands” and ending up in a roadside bush with nettles in, getting stuck up a tree and needing intervention from several Dads and some ladders, in and out of each other’s houses day and night, laughing and hooting and hollering, not a care in the world.

It’s odd what memory dredges up from the past.

I’ve never had anything like that happen to me, and I’m even feeling very sad and empty reading your OP.

I’m sorry your friend got killed.

I started a thread a while back about a somewhat similar experience I had.

More recent Google-fu revealed that he’d incorporated his new medical practice less than a week before his death - and he was 30, not 31. His birthday was a couple months away.


I’ve drifted away from a lot of people in my life. I don’t miss most of them, but I don’t wish them any ill, either. They were just people I knew. They’re all still back there, though, hanging out in a corner of my mind. Every now and then, something will happen that brings one of them out–a chance mention, a stranger laughing the way they laughed, a scene with the sun just so on the water.

On the rare occasions when I go back to the places of my youth, I sometimes bump into one of them. We chat a bit, then move on. Most of the ones who stayed behind are more inclined to keep track of people than I am, so I hear about people we both knew back in the old days. More than once, what I heard was that they died. A wreck, a hunting accident. A year after I left, or two, or five. All long ago now.

When that happens, I suddenly become aware that the person hanging out in that corner of my memory all these years was a ghost. It’s unsettling to realize that you’ve been haunted without ever knowing it.

I was engaged to these two girls at different times. I really liked both but both set down some “rules” that I just wasn’t going to follow so I broke it off. No biggie to me - happens a lot in life, right? And for different reasons, both found their way back to some contact with me.

One married shortly after we broke up to a man who beat her, sponged off her for about a decade, and then walked out on her and their 4 kids. The kids didn’t amount to much (two are in jail for long stints) and she looks like she’s 30 years older than we are. Basically living in a welfare apartment and looking forward to the end because there isn’t much in her past to remember fondly.

Second one married and thought she was happy; two handicapped kids but a husband who loved her. Until her cancer went stage 4 and then he took a hike on her and the two kids because “I never really cared for you and I really don’t care if you live or die. But you aren’t worth the time it will take to do either”. That was about 10 years back and she is still hanging in there and did an OK job by her kids but she has known more pain that you would ever wish on an enemy let alone a friend.

I provide a comforting ear and a laugh to both of them now and then. But more than that I try to keep a little distance. They have their lives and I have mine and while paths cross, we just don’t overlap.

My third engagement I married. Life hasn’t been perfect but we’ve had fun and really I wouldn’t have any other life. Sometimes I feel bad about that but not too often. The best we can do is play the cards in our hands and see how it all works out.

I idly googled an acquaintance, a friend of a friend really. A bunch of us overnighted at his parents place once. Turns out he’d died in a motorbike crash about a month after I left the country. I felt really sad for days. He’d been dead for a good twenty five years.

I’ve learned not to google old lovers.

One dead of the only disease endemic to North America that scares me shitless - at age 50.

Another dead of what sounds like suicide (small town papers don’t follow these things - still) at 61. After a horribly sad life.

Not going to do that again, thank you Worldwide Web.

The French have the right idea with their “Right to Be Forgotten”.

(Bolding mine)

May I ask why?

When I started high school, I was a quiet, awkward Aspergers kid coming from a very small private middle school into a huge public school. I was terrified, and it was the beginning of four painful years. But on my first day, a girl took the time to talk to me in our “human relations” class and get to know me a little. And throughout high school, while we weren’t friends, per se, while a lot of other kids weren’t the nicest to me, she always talked to me and remembered my name.

In college, I “found” myself and made a lot of new friends. During these college years, that girl worked as a waitress at a local restaurant where us college kids would go to soak up the alcohol after drinking it up at the bar. She remained a very kind person, always remembered my name in front of my friends, she and I talked often over coffee at 2 in the morning, and I never forgot how comfortable she made me feel when she talked to me that first day of school 6, 7, 8 years prior. Again, we still weren’t “ggod friends,” we didn’t hang out, we didn’t have much in common, but I still felt a little bond with her. That bond could very well have been a one-way feeling; I was likely just a guy she went to high school with.

Fast forward 15 years: I’m now married with children, and I’m talking with my next-door neighbor, who just off-the-cuff mentioned that he and his wife were friends with this girl’s family, and that she had died of alcohol poisoning about five years ago (around the age of 30), after being in a coma for about a week. That was a real punch to the gut for me, and I really couldn’t explain why it was such a punch to anyone in a way that would make sense. She wasn’t an ex, she wasn’t really a friend, we had never really hung out beyond our chats at that now-torn-down restaurant. But she had drank herself to death. I never got the details-- whether it was an accident at a party or if it was an intentional leap into the abyss. It was some real shitty news, and it still stings a bit.

Found out a few years ago that a girl that I had the hots for in high school died on the operating table a few years before that. It’s weird to think of that. She and I never spoke much and I am pretty sure she did not like me in the least. Still, teen hormones flavor my memories and so it’s tough to think of her dead.

But I have had a similar, but opposite experience when I hear about the death a guy I hate(d). He was a douche and a jerk and rather than give me shit directly would get his bigger friends to bully me. Now he’s dead and I see everyone mourning him and talking about how fun and funny he was. I would have loved to totally shit on their parade, but I’m an adult and hey, maybe he changed into a good guy after HS. Although all the praise seemed to be about his HS years when I know he was a shitty person. Does it make me bad to think, “Ha! Outlived you, you asshole.” when I think about it? Sure, but no one involved knows about it.

A more subtle case was another guy in HS who never really bothered me but was close friends with all the guys who did. He died and is now being praised. I’m conflicted because as far as I know he was OK. It was really just his friends who were dicks. So I really should think more kindly of him even though he’s associated with really bad experiences.


Plenty of people with her name, but the unusual spelling of her last name was what tipped me off.

I recently “found” a couple of old friends on Facebook. I have a couple of FB friends that I knew from a job I had 30 years ago, and this old friend of mine commented on one of his posts and it showed up in my feed. The friend was not a casual acquaintance, she was my totally inseparable BFF for a couple of years during my nightclub phase. So I friended her. I also friended her (now ex) husband who had also been a friend of mine – just not a close one.

So I exchange a few messages with them. I got a message from the ex-husband that basically said:
I’m living in xx city (same place I live) and working for John Doe ( the above referenced mutual friend) at XYZ Corp. Call me. My number is 555-555-1212 ( except with a real phone number ).

Now, I have been dealing with a lot of personal crap this summer and this has made it very weird for renewing old friendships. My current friends are my friends and I don’t feel bad about sharing my struggles with them but I really don’t like to unload them on someone I haven’t spoken with in over 25 years.

So I sent him back a message that basically said " I’ll call you soon. I promise. Right now I’m dealing with… brief description of crap I’m dealing with… and I don’t feel like talking now. But I’ll call soon. I promise. This was 3 weeks ago. I didn’t call.

Honestly I felt weird about calling because A) I thought he might ask me out and even though I haven’t seen his ex-wife in years, she was my BFF and I wouldn’t want to do that without talking to her first. or B). He wanted to give me his side of the divorce saga before I heard her side.

Maybe these were right. Maybe not. I’ll never know because he died this weekend. I have no idea if it was expected or not, accidental or illness. The tone of the Facebook postings gave me no clue… no reference to a tragedy, accident, struggle, long illness or battle with cancer. Just “Rick died this weekend here’s what we remember most about him”. I have no idea – maybe he wanted me to call him because he didn’t want to tell me he was going to die via Facebook message. Or maybe not. I’ll never know.

With Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn you can now be a pretty good stalker without trying hard.

A few years ago, looking for a new job, I searched for various names at a company where I worked briefly after getting out of school. I found the obituary of my first supervisor who died in the early 90’s in his 40’s; I don’t know. Also found out that one of my co-workers had a daughter and she was killed by her fiance’ only a few years ago.

Also found out the my first college room mate was killed at 41 on his bike by a 16-year-old girl on the second day she had her drivers license. He was always athletic and a runner.

Guess I’m doing OK.

That lacuna feels like a suicide.

About 10 years ago, I was Googling friends from elementary school. It was a small Catholic school, with tiny sized classes, so we were all pretty much friends who spent years going from grade to grade. Found several classmates, but stumbled upon some funky information about one of my classmates. A mass said for him, odd postings on Facebook by his mom, so I contacted her and asked about him. He’d committed suicide several years prior.

I lost it, sitting at my desk at work. Broke down sobbing. Called my mom (who was also at work), sobbing into the phone that he’d died.

It hit me hard, even though I hadn’t seen him in a good 30 years or so. He was forever burned into my brain as the smartest kid in our class–hell, the entire school–and was so funny. I was unexpectedly overcome by the thought of him dying, especially by his own hand. It still bothers me today.

Yes, it kind of does. I really wish I’d called the guy back.

About 5 years ago, I reconnected briefly with an old business associate and sent him a Facebook friend request which was accepted. He committed suicide a few years later. Only then did I look at his Facebook page. I was his only friend.

OK, it was one of those almost blank pages with no photos, no postings and only a few snippets of personal info. Still freaky, though