The Advocate was closely covering two very dark stories around this time last year.
Last year in October, I — and probably many of my neighbors — went through a period of terrible insomnia. No, nothing bad was happening to me, but horrific and disturbing things had happened in our neighborhood, to people we knew, or who knew people we know.
Zoe Hastings murder
The first was the murder of a young women, who was the same age as my own daughter, who lived doors away from my childhood home and my parents’ current residence. The second week of October, police launched a search for missing teen Zoe Hastings.
The following morning, investigators found her body in a Dixon Branch ditch next to her family van. She’d been abducted and killed, we later learned, en route to church and while dropping off movies she’d spent the previous days watching with her younger siblings.
The whole neighborhood died a little with Zoe — our minds long for explanations in cases like these. What did the victim or parents do wrong? What were they hiding? What skeletons in closets caused such wrath to rain down on their lives? And the answer was, in this case, not a thing.
No, they were quintessential good people. Did everything right, as far as we could tell, so we felt lost and floundering and fearful.
Many channeled those emotions into helping the police, rounding up financial support for the family or visiting makeshift memorial sites and prayer services. News reports today show the family thriving and faithful in the aftermath. While witnesses to the abduction are left struggling and questioning themselves.
David Stevens murder
Just two days later, another surreally terrible crime took place on a usually friendly White Rock Creek trail frequented by neighborhood cyclists and joggers, self included, in the morning light, when a suspected crazed ex-college football player admittedly used a machete-type weapon to butcher an innocent runner, David Stevens, a husband who liked to drive in the early mornings from his Sunnyvale home just to use our neighborhood trails.
Again, not sure how to handle this slaughter of an innocent in our own yards, we held vigils and ceremonial running events.
Stevens’ wife granted an interview to the Morning News, but, shortly after, committed suicide, just adding to the collective melancholy of even the most desensitized among us. Since Stevens death, an ESPN journalist published an in-depth story about the events and aftermath.