Home > Out and About, Social Networking, Writing > The Road to World Conquest: Unsettling In

The Road to World Conquest: Unsettling In

I’ve lived in some crappy places over the years.

I once shared a duplex in a rundown neighborhood near Busch Gardens in Tampa with a couple of old alcoholics, one of whom wheezed through the night while the other maximized his collection of Victoria’s Secret catalogues. After that, I lived in a block of apartments off Fowler Avenue that was a haven to drug dealers and thugs.

But I’ve never been next door to a murder before. Never lived near someone who died violently on the premises. Never as it happened.

That changed Thursday evening.

The Springs at Huntsville is a nice gated apartment complex in a not-so-nice part of town, but the first two weeks here so far had been largely uneventful. Got up every morning, went to work, came home, watched a little TV, went to sleep. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Early last week, I posted an ad on Craigslist to sell the table, chairs, and bench that I’d brought with me from Cary (only to find that the bar island in the kitchen left no space for them). I heard from a buyer within minutes and agreed to let them pick up the furniture on Thursday after work. Chris, a young husband with a kid, wanted to upgrade their dinette table to something more substantial. He called from the front gate at about 5:45. I buzzed him in. It occurred to me that he didn’t know how to find my apartment within the complex, so I walked downstairs and stepped outside, trying to call him precisely as he tried calling me. Our phones collided like this repeatedly until I finally stopped and let him call me. By this time, I was standing on the curb by the street, between Building 700 where I live and Building 600. It was already dark.

I answered the phone. We laughed about the constant collisions and the fact that we’d done so well working out the logistics up to this point. I told him to keep driving around to the back of the complex. I told him I saw a truck coming. He said, “That’s me.”

He backed into a parking space. We spent the next few minutes hauling the furniture from the apartment to his truck. It took about five trips. When we finished, Chris paid me. I wished him well and walked back into my apartment.

Chris had just been ready to drive away when a neighbor from Building 600 rushed over and pleaded with him to help – a woman had been shot. Chris followed around the corner to the row of apartments that face out toward the wooded hill beyond a fence. He told me later that he knew there wasn’t anything he could do for her. Her purse was on the ground. Her keys dangled from the lock. It appeared that someone had shot her while she was trying to enter the apartment, but they didn’t bother to steal anything.

She died while they waited for the ambulance, he said.

We talked today about what happened, reconstructing the evening in our conversation, trying to work out whether we knew more than we thought. What signs did we miss? Did I see anyone suspicious while I waited for Chris to drive his truck around to the back of the complex? Someone running from the scene? It’s chilling to think that I could just as easily have been a target as I stood by the curb. It’s even more chilling to imagine that Joan Markley, a 49-year-old mother of two sons and a daughter, was dying just yards away.

I didn’t hear a gun shot. I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.

I wish I could be more help.  I hope they find whoever did this, soon. And please let it be something other than just random senseless violence. It pains me to say it, but I really want there to be a motive. I don’t want to dwell on the fact that bad guys with guns might be creeping over the back fence on a regular basis, just looking for someone to kill.

  1. carol
    January 29, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Dear Wes, I am the sister of Joan Markley and our family would appreciate it so very much if you can shed some light about what happened to our sister on thursday evening, Thr police are telling us very little and if there is any information at all that you can tell us, we would be so appreciative, please let me know how i can contact you, many thanks, Carol

    • January 29, 2011 at 4:23 pm


      First, my condolences for your loss. I really wish I knew more about what happened, but I honestly have no answers. I just moved to the apartment within the past two weeks and I hadn’t had the privilege of meeting Joan yet.

      My email address is jointhesaga@gmail.com, for what that’s worth. If I hear anything, I’ll be glad to let you know.

  2. carol
    January 29, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    thanks Wes, i sent you an email. take care, Carol

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