Friday, August 19, 2011

The Biz

You all are apparently intrigued by my job at the newspaper based on the response I received to a recent FB posting. I guess it does sound glamorous, though I'm more than a little desensitized to it all. The only perks to my job include free food and admission to events.

I will say that, in my six years as a journalist, I've seen and heard some pretty crazy stuff. Things most of you probably wouldn't believe.

As I sit and reminisce about the highlights of my career, two separate cold cases that I reported on immediately come to mind: The Eagle Exhumation and the Vieng Phovixay murder trial (no, definitely not being on Oxygen's "Snapped" for the Michelle Garner Hall trial, though I'm probably going to be teased forever for that!).

WARNING: The following photos are graphic and never before published!

These photos are of a man who was murdered more than 20 years ago and then dumped in a make-shift grave in the middle of the woods less than 2 miles from where I was living when these remains were unearthed. Look closely at the picture and you'll see that the man decomposed face down with his arms over his head. You can also see that his red boxer shorts did not decompose. Authorities found multiple bullets in his grave with the aid of a metal detector.

This man was not murdered in Coweta County, however. He was murdered by his "friend" in Connecticut, and that friend drove the body all the way back to Coweta in order to bury it on family property.

Behold, the aged face of a killer:

This murderer led authorities to the area where he remembered burying his friend's body as part of a plea deal. He helped bring closure to a cold case — to a grieving family — and in return, a few years were knocked off a prison sentence he was going to serve for other crimes committed, including another murder!

But, the story that I'm proudest to have written actually was a story that won me a Georgia Associated Press award. It is the story behind the murder of Vieng Phovixay.

I can't sum it up any better than this.

There were others — the good, the bad and the ugly.

I enjoyed seeing much of Georgia from a Blackhawk helicopter. I hiked through marijuana fields once in high heels for a story and ended up with chigger bites where the sun don't shine. I once reported on a tragedy involving a bride whose 3-year-old daughter was run over and killed outside the chapel during her wedding. And I once met a family who lost two children in a traffic accident and, six months later, lost the father in a motorcycle accident.

I'm haunted by the stories I've heard in court. Stories of girls who were raped and impregnated by their fathers. A boyfriend who helplessly watched his girlfriend — the woman he planned to marry — be shot to death. I've beheld the disgrace of a senior U.S. District Court judge stripped of his Regan appointment after he did blow with an exotic dancer and threatened to shoot up her dealer.

This is a crazy world. My job has opened my eyes to that. I live differently because of my interactions with these people during profound moments in their lives. This job elicits the gamut of emotions. It's no wonder I'm tired!

Okay, when I really think about it, this has been one pretty amazing job!


  1. And let's not forget the lovely smell of Mr. Tyler Perry! ;-)

  2. Wow, Liz. No wonder you won that award! That story and this blog was very well written. Good job!