Editor’s note: This is a developing story. Below you’ll find the thirteenth journal entry that Caitlin Wang, our advice columnist who went missing in mid-February, wrote after she and her husband, Dr. Li Wang (from UT’s virology lab), fled Austin. Caitlin has been in hiding from the men whom she suspects of kidnapping her husband in May. She gave us her journal to publish in the hopes that her story will help her find him. (Note to the bad guys: the journal is NOT at Randi’s or Nicole’s house. It has been hidden well, so it’s not worth looking.) We highly recommend starting at the beginning with our series of videos, from when we first announced that Caitlin was missing til when we finally found her and met in person for the first time. If you’d like to start with her journal entries, click here. We’ve included a summary at the bottom of this post of the parts of her journal we’ve made public so far.
May 21, 2020
It’s getting really hard to keep track of time. Last night (Wednesday) I stayed with this woman, Aralyn Hughes, who grew up in Tulsa and was friends with my late mother years ago, when they were in college. I don’t actually personally know Aralyn, though — because I’m so loathe to go out in public due to my agoraphobia — I used to attend her weekly Tuesday coffee discussion group via Zoom. So I knew what she looked like — purple-haired, seventy-ish, lots of lipstick. When she opened the door to me I was a total wreck. I hadn’t been able to sleep (too nervous), hadn’t eaten a good meal in days, and the thoughts in my head were out of control and disconnected, swirling around my panicked brain like confetti. I burst into tears when I saw her. “Now, I can’t put my arms around you because of Covid, but we’ll go into the kitchen and have a nice cup of tea,” she said so kindly that I wept even more.
But when she saw Lola all bets were off. Like Henry, she was allergic. She didn’t like birds. I could only stay one night. (Ironically I’d been hoping to assemble Lola’s big brass birdcage, which was in the back of the truck, to give her some freedom from her carrying case while we were at Aralyn’s, but clearly that wasn’t going to happen.) So I’m leaving this morning and will catch up on my entries from wherever my next place is …
Okay, so now I’m staying with an acquaintance named V (the only name she goes by) who, until we left for Doss, TX three months ago, was my personal grocery shopper and errand runner. V has a little duplex off Ohlin Road in North Austin and offered me the use of her guest bedroom, not seeming to mind about Lola. Whew, what a relief! The room is comfortable with a queen-sized bed and pretty curtains — all I really want to do is lie down and sleep — but V has put together a candle-lit dinner, which is a little weird, so I’ll eat with her first.
It’s about two hours later. As usual I’m a nervous wreck, but I want to write this in some detail before my thoughts get too disjointed. I’ve always known from her style and appearance that V was a lesbian. What I didn’t know was she has a crush on me. That became more and more obvious during dinner when she kept putting her hand over mine and telling me how gorgeous I was. (“Am I the first woman to tell you that?” she said in a seductive voice. With a queasy feeling in my stomach, I dodged the question.) After dinner she offered to give me a massage, which I declined in the gentlest way possible. Lola was at the table with us in her big cage, which I’d put up thinking we might be able to stay with V for awhile. The poor bird needs space to flap her wings! To my horror, when V suggested a massage, Lola immediately chimed in, squawking, “Wanna fuck?”
Hell no! But V took the bird’s words as encouragement. She looked me hungrily in the eye and said, “Lola’s got the right idea, don’t you think?”
No, I didn’t. I rose quickly from the table, grabbing the birdcage which thank god is on wheels and rolling it into the guest bedroom. The last thing I want to do is be rude to my hostess, but I was freaked by her and her desire for me, so I yelled, “Night night, thanks for dinner,” shutting the guest room door firmly behind me. That was when I saw it had no lock on it. I wasn’t safe, V could get in here easy as pie.
So now, finishing up with my journal, I pray that I’m just being stupid and hysterical and that V would never dare enter my room in the middle of the night. I cover Lola’s cage and lie down in bed with my clothes on, knowing I probably won’t be able to fall asleep. When will my troubles be over, Li back in my arms, the key fob delivered and Covid a distant memory?
Probably never, but I don’t want to think that way. What I want to think is that when I open my eyes in the morning, Li will be lying beside me and that we’re still in our house in Hyde Park and that this whole thing was all just a horrible dream.
Dr. Li Wang’s sister Mei was researching corona viruses at the Wuhan lab in China, but she disappeared under suspicious circumstances after having mailed highly classified material regarding her research to Dr. Wang here in Austin. (It was sent on an external hard drive hidden inside a key fob.) When he received news of Mei’s disappearance from his niece (who lives in China) in February, Dr. Wang packed up his lab and some supplies, and he and Caitlin set out to live off the grid in a cottage outside of Doss, TX. While there, Dr. Wang had been working in full Hazmat gear on various vials he stored in the small lab fridge. He told Caitlin that if anything should happen to him, she must take the key fob to a researcher in Galveston named Otto Ling. One morning a few months after arriving at the cottage, Dr. Wang went to the grocery store but never returned. The next afternoon, two law enforcement officers showed up at the cottage with the keys to Li’s truck which had been abandoned, keys still in the ignition, on the side of the road. Caitlin left with the cops to get the truck and returned to a ransacked cottage – Dr. Wang’s computer and all his scientific research had been stolen. She decided to search for him, first in the small town of Doss, and then back in Austin at their house, which had also been burglarized. At that point she had no choice but to drive to Galveston to deliver the key fob to Otto Ling. Arriving in the middle of the night, Caitlin slept in her truck, and when no one came to the front door the next morning, she jimmied open a window and let herself in, where she found a chatty African Grey parrot and came face to face with Ling’s angry neighbor. A visit to Ling’s lab at UTMB was a dead end – he’s on sabbatical, no one knows where he is. The neighbor who was taking care of Ling’s parrot, Lola, was ill with what Caitlin suspects is Covid-19, so she packed the bird and her things into her husband’s truck and headed back to Austin to visit his lab at UT, something he had specifically warned her not to do. That’s where she came face to face with one of Li’s associates, Dr. Greta Shultz, who was neither kind nor helpful. Caitlin stayed that night with her friend Henry Sullivan, who graciously offered to look into Greta Shultz and to check Caitlin’s computer to see if it had been hacked.
We’ll post another journal entry on Wednesday. To start at the beginning of this story, when we first announced that our advice columnist, C.D. Knowles (now confirmed to be Caitlin Wang), had gone missing, please click here. This will be an ongoing publication as we continue to sift through her journal and post the entries that explain everything.