I've been in the newspaper business for 15 years now, starting with my senior year at Thomson High.
Most of those years have been spent writing, and there are some stories that stand out: a story I wrote about Coach Luther Welsh leaving Thomson High for The Bulldog Bark, a short story about UFOs over Thomson for the Thomson Times, a story about an Olympic hopeful from Augusta State University for The Bell Ringer and the Army basic training experience for The Augusta Chronicle.
And like many naive journalists, I prided myself on being a detached observer. Nothing could faze me. Nothing could bother me. After all, I was just there to record history.
Then I was assigned a series of World War II stories for The Chronicle.
I did fine until I met Donna Palmer and her family. Her father, Paul Felberg, had never met his father -- a fallen hero of World War II. As we sat and talked about their memories and the son's trip to Normandy to visit his father's grave, I cried with them.
But that was nothing compared to the moment I was alone in Robin Reeves' house.
In the four years since the mother of two was stabbed to death in the front hall, very little had changed -- a bedroom rearranged, Robin's clothes removed.
But most everything else was the same.
The digital alarm clock still sits on her headboard, just as the Bible, Ulysses and How to Win Friends and Influence People. The Thinker is on her bedside table and Mona Lisa is on the wall. In the den, an unopened Van Halen CD is third from the top in a stack and Titanic and The Shawshank Redemption sit among other movies.
And in the hall where Robin Reeves died, there's no place to catch your breath. Cars passing by fade away, even the laughter of Robin's daughter Hannah -- who is planting purple flowers (her mom's favorites) on the front porch -- sounds miles away.
The tragedy is not just that a mother died.
It's not just that a little girl has to pass a home every day that she can never go back to.
It's not just that a little boy doesn't remember his mother.
It's not just that a mother is filled with four years of questions wrapped up in a house that sits in her front yard and grandchildren who fill her house with laughter and toys.
It's that no one has been held responsible for any of it.
And somewhere, someone knows something.
Their silence is allowing a killer to walk free.
And that's enough to bring tears to anybody's eyes.