My homeless teenage girl is named Tammy. She hangs out on the streets in Bangor, Maine, spent some time on the riverfront underneath the Veterans Remembrance Bridge. Tammy is good-hearted, loves cats, and protects a newbie on the streets, a boy named Rocky. There are lots of predators on the streets in my version of Bangor. Among the worst of them is a guy named Crow Man, who controls a band of homeless kids, supplying them with alcohol, paint to huff. In the end, it’s tough but sweet Tammy who needs protecting but nobody’s there to help when she’s murdered in a shack in the woods by the river.
This was in HOME BODY, the eighth Jack McMorrow novel, published in 2004.
The real-life teenager was Holly Boutilier, who was 19 and, by all accounts, also good-hearted. Boutilier was bouncing around on the streets of Bangor when she was stabbed to death in August 2009. In a shack by the river. When I read the first story, my heart stopped.
Police charged a guy named Colin Koehler. His trial got underway this week in Bangor and the case will likely go to the jury at the end of the week. A witness (who was flipped by prosecutors) says he was there when Koehler, who reportedly had a thing for knives and swords, stabbed Tammy in the abdomen, then cut her throat. Two other witnesses, including a jealous ex-girlfriend, say Koehler told them that he “took her out.” You never know for certain with a jury, but I’d say Colin Koehler is sunk. If convicted, he’ll be an old man before he’s on the street again. If he did it, he shouldn’t get out ever.
Holly Boutilier wasn’t that lucky.
I read the stories in the Bangor Daily News: somber remembrances from Tammy’s mom and sister, pictures of her as a young girl, full of life and hope, no idea of what was coming, that her life would end so soon and in such a horrific way. I was in Bangor this week and I almost went to the courthouse but then I thought, “Wait a minute. What does this really have to do with you? Holly isn’t Tammy. Tammy isn’t real. You just made up a story, and it’s not like there’s any indication this Colin Koehler guy read the book. It’s just a strange coincidence.”
But it’s eerie, nonetheless. Haunting. By creating this scenario, did I somehow turn it loose? Did it float around out there and finally come true? Crazy, I know, but these are the things that go through your head in the middle of the night.
One thing is certain: the fictional murder was sad. The real-life murder was tragic. In HOME BODY, after the fictional murder, some justice is served. Time will tell if that part of the novel comes true as well.