Editor’s note: Caitlin’s journal ended abruptly on the evening of Sunday, May 24, the night before George Floyd was murdered. Now it’s two months later, the end of July, and obviously a lot of things have happened in the time that’s elapsed since we started posting Caitlin’s journal entries. It was an editorial decision on our part to let the journal run to completion before jumping in to say what had happened to Caitlin. You can start at “Caitlin’s Story Continued, 1” to catch up.
I took a deep breath as I reached the bottom of the stairs and headed for the guest bedroom. My heart was pounding like a jackhammer. Through the closed door, I could hear a female voice moaning, “Help me, help me,” between pitiful sobs. I gripped the ski pole harder in my hand, ready to use it if I had to. “Hello? Caitlin?” I called softly.
The cries stopped.
Steeling myself, I opened the door and what did I see? Not Caitlin, but an ugly gray parrot who sat frozen on a perch inside a gigantic brass cage at the far end of the room. The joke was on me — in my distress I’d forgotten about Lola. Now I stood in the doorway, surveying a horrific scene: the mattress had been flipped off the bed frame, just like upstairs; the bedside table drawers had been jerked open and thrown to the stained concrete floor; the closet door was ajar, clothes scattered everywhere. My client was going to kill me! I could feel Lola’s beady eyes boring into my back like lasers and was about to go and comfort her when my phone, which was in my back pocket and turned up high, started blaring.
“Fuuuuuckk!” I cried, practically having a heart attack. Then I realized it was Nicole’s ringtone. I didn’t even say hello as I punched the green button on the screen. “Caitlin has completely fucked up my client’s house and I’m going to kill her!” I shouted.
“Randi, listen to me,” Nicole said tersely. “Caitlin’s in the woods behind the house.”
“I just spoke with her. She said she tried to call you, but you didn’t answer. Here’s what she said happened. Two Asian men showed up at the house this morning, probably wanting to grab her, and she was so freaked out she ran out the back door and into the woods to get away from them.”
I just sat there dumbfounded, mouth hanging open.
“Randi, where are you right now?”
“I’m standing in the bedroom where she’s been sleeping. How did they know where to find her?”
“Get out of the house now, Randi! Those men might still be there!”
“Shit,” I whispered. “How long ago did this happen?”
“I don’t know exactly. Caitlin said she’ll call me when she gets someplace safe. Please leave right now! Call me back once you’re in the car.”
With that, I bolted from the room and ran to the front door faster than I’ve ever moved in my life. Somehow I had the presence of mind to set the house alarm and lock the door before hurtling down the porch steps and flying into my car. Crazily, I was still clutching the ski pole, which I tossed on the passenger seat before hightailing it out of there.
My breath was coming in such short spurts that I didn’t call Nicole back right away from my car, as promised. Is Caitlin being tortured in the woods right now? Who are these Asian men and are they still in the house? It’s quite possible they were — my client’s house is extremely large, they could have been hiding anywhere… watching, waiting. To me it seemed likely that these were the guys who’d already murdered Dr. Wang’s sister and probably him, too. Is Caitlin next, I wondered. What about Nicole and me? Are we safe?
When I got home 15 minutes later, I called Nicole and asked if we could hop on Zoom to talk “in person.” (There’s footage of that call here.) Nicole gave me more details about her brief conversation with Caitlin. It seemed Caitlin wanted us to publish her journal on ArtProfiler ASAP. She felt if her story went public, there would be a chance that someone who knows about her husband, Dr. Li Wang, who was kidnapped the previous week (she thought because of his research on a vaccine for Covid) might step forward and contact her. (We’ve already published all her journal entries – you can start reading those here.) The only problem was that Caitlin had abandoned her journal at my client’s house when she was chased out that morning. Shit! We decided that when Caitlin called again, Nicole would go pick her up. In the meanwhile, I needed to go back to the house and collect both the journal and the bird.
But I was not about to return to that house without backup. I marched across the street to my Trump-loving neighbor’s house and asked to borrow one of his (many) rifles. He refused, but when I explained the circumstances, he softened and insisted on coming with me. Even better, I thought, since I’ve never fired a gun in my life.
We’ll be publishing this story on Mondays and Wednesdays until it’s told in its entirety. We highly recommend starting at the beginning with our series of videos, 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 in the middle with her journal entries, click here.