TW: Some mentions of death and murder, specifically: the Colonial Parkway victims.
Back in August, I posted about an upcoming trip to the Colonial Parkway and Michaux State Forest, “the Places Where Things Happened.” In this post, I expressed a desire to visit the sites where some of the victims spotlighted here lost their lives – for reasons that were hard to describe.
“There is something about walking the grounds where something important occurred that is powerful,” I wrote at that time, “I am not sure what I want to get out of visiting the sites, but I want to experience them, see them for myself. These sites are important; these people are important. There’s a certain power in these sites – these are the places where five members of our community fell – and I think I need to make peace with them.”
Today, I made this a reality and paid a visit to the Colonial Parkway.
The Colonial Parkway.
I started in Williamsburg – and actually went the wrong direction initially, winding up on Jamestown Island instead of the York River. I rode the entire length of the Colonial Parkway and I did see the area I believe to be where the first of the CP murders took place. There’s no way I missed it and no way I could have been more than a few feet from where Cathy Thomas and Becky Dowski were found – I’m certain I had to be right there and I can’t begin to describe what it’s like to be right there. Much like when I was that thirteen-year-old who could almost see Lincoln at his desk if I looked hard enough in Springfield, I could almost see the two of them if I stood there long enough. Could almost see the pair of women newly-in-love, who drove out of the way to the river sometimes to steal some time for themselves. It seemed wrong that I could describe the Parkway as peaceful – beautiful, even. For a number of reasons, my initial post anticipating what I would experience once there was pretty spot-on. These sites – this site – has tremendous power and there was something powerful about being there. And oddly enough, I do feel like I’ve made my peace with it.
I can’t end this post about the Colonial Parkway murders without a call to action, so I would like to reiterate this: the Colonial Parkway murders are still unsolved. No one knows who is responsible for the deaths of Cathy Thomas, Becky Dowski, David Knobling, Robin Edwards, Daniel Lauer, Annamaria Phelps or the disappearance of Cassandra Hailey and Keith Call as of 2014 – almost twenty-eight years since the first couple was discovered, and any information is welcomed. A couple of Facebook pages have been set up if you are interested in keeping up with what is happening with the Colonial Parkway victims: here and here.
There was one other thing that occurred during my visit that I thought was significant enough to mention. There was one point where I had stopped at a pull-off area along the York River, at or very close to the area where Cathy Thomas and Becky Dowski were killed. As I was walking around, I got to thinking about what happened here, the lives that were lost on the spot where I was standing, and the fact that I was indeed standing at a spot that seemed remarkably peaceful in spite of its history, and it started to get me down – it didn’t seem fair. It didn’t seem fair that they had died, and it didn’t seem right that this spot could be so damn peaceful after what happened here. Those thoughts had no sooner entered my mind that I looked down – and found myself in the center of a circle of brilliantly-colored rainbow shells.
I don’t think it means anything – but occasionally, chance events have great timing.
I attempted to take a picture shortly after I found them, but the camera does them no justice – in the sun, the colors were bright as anything and caught my attention right away.