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Writing about Keddie murders consumed waking hours

Writing the new Case Files column is far more difficult than I ever imagined — even if it involves a 37-year-old case.

The Keddie murders have taken up the better part of the last five or six weeks, that is, at work.

Until the last week it took up most of my time. When I wasn’t interviewing someone or doing the research I was writing about it. When I wasn’t at work I was thinking about it — actually obsessing about it would be more accurate. I didn’t sleep. I overate. The more I learned the more I found myself spending my time trying to connect the dots. Who did what when and why.

There are far too many people involved in the Keddie murders. There are of course the members of the Sharp family, both living and dead, and what they were doing leading up to that horrific night. And after.

There was the Seabolt family who lived next door and the roles they played.

There are the two leading suspects. I had to learn why investigators believe two men who are now dead may have been involved. Bo Boubede was the older man. What was his background and why was he potentially involved in allegedly helping murder people he didn’t know. I now understand. It wasn’t anything personal. He was just allegedly willing to help out his buddy.

And then there’s Martin Smartt. How and why was he allegedly involved? I believe that his wife at that time allegedly did everything she could to make him look like the bad guy, but then she didn’t have to elaborate much on a damaged character.

There were the children involved. What did they really know? How has it affected them in their lives?

And then there are many characters that I haven’t really introduced in my series of stories. Their suspected roles just make things too complex. If the investigations continue I’m sure they’ll surface. That might not be fair to those who have been following the series, but really there are enough names and places and activities that adding four or five more individuals would make it as cloudy as my brain seems at times.

At first, I was angry about what I had written for the 25th anniversary of the murders. I now realize I thought I was being given much of the information that was available at the time. That’s not the case. So I had to work through that process.

I’d find myself staring at the TV thinking about what I’d just learned about the case. I’d have a novel in front of me at bedtime only to discover I had no idea what I’d read because I was actually sorting out the details I’d learned.

When I cooked dinner, washed clothes, took my grandson somewhere, the Keddie case was very much with me. At the grocery store I wasn’t considering whether we needed milk or bread, I was thinking about the murder scene or who did what at Keddie’s Back Door bar.

As part II is finished, and part III all but complete, I realize that I read a little book to my grandson last night and I remember the story. A Keddie character wasn’t there on the bed somewhere near my little dog or between the pages of the book and my face.

As I tried to describe this story to someone, I said it was like the case has tentacles. And they reach and grab and wiggle their way into so many places.

A few people have told me that Part I frightened them. Although I was afraid of the dark when I was a child, this hasn’t spooked me. Perhaps it should. I’m aware many of the characters who may or may not have been involved and they are still living. I’ve invested too much time for now to think much about those possibilities. I’ll think ahead to more discoveries and the rest of the story …

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