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The Key to Everything (Caitlin’s Journal, 12)

CD Knowles 1 month ago

“It seemed obvious that Greta held a key to what had happened to Li…”

Editor’s note: This is a developing story. Below you’ll find the twelfth 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 20, 2020

This is going to be complicated. A lot of things have happened since my last entry and I want to record them as accurately as possible while I still have time. I spent last night (Tuesday, May 19) at the house of an acquaintance, Henry Sullivan (more about him later). First I want to write about my visit to Li’s lab.

I ended up bringing Lola with me, an adventure in and of itself. Essentially I tried to hide her case under my denim shirt, walking as fast as I could, hating being outdoors in public. Li’s lab is on the fourth floor of the Norman Hackerman Building at 24th and Speedway. In the elevator I kept my eyes lowered, praying that Lola wouldn’t start talking from beneath my shirt. There weren’t many people around. We’d left Austin mid-February when things seemed normal, but now there’s barely any traffic in the streets and a lot of places on campus are closed because of the pandemic. I got out on Li’s floor, his key card in my hand, but when I went to use it to open the door to his lab nothing happened. I tried three times — nothing — and then a woman in mask, gown and goggles swept past me saying, “The locks and codes have been changed because of Covid. Your husband’s key no longer works.”

It was Dr. Greta Shultz, Li’s associate who’s been working at the lab for about two years. I’d met her once, briefly, at a rare function Li insisted I attend.

“Well, maybe you could let me in,” I suggested.

“I’m sorry but I can’t do that,” Greta said and I knew there was no smile under her mask. “No one’s allowed in there but staff.” And with that she swiped her key and went in, closing the door in my face.

Talk about hostile. She didn’t even ask how Li was or where he’d been the past three months. Tears began to roll down my face. I was at a total dead end. I took the stairs to the street, my heart racing when I thought I heard steps behind me. But when I looked back, there was no one there.

Returned to the truck, I struggled to figure out what to do next. It seemed obvious that Greta held a key (no pun intended) to what was going on, what had happened to Li, but without being able to use my computer I had no way to research her. That was when I thought of Henry Sullivan, an elderly gay man whom I’d used several times in the past to help me with research for mystery novels. For a minute I couldn’t remember his phone number, but it popped in my head as Lola started screeching for water (I swear this bird is brilliant, being able to demand what she wants in just the right words). I called Henry immediately on my go phone and when he answered I burst into tears. He said to come right over as long as I was wearing a mask.

So that’s where I spent last night. Henry has a house in the Bouldin area and he allowed me to stay in his guestroom, but unfortunately he’s allergic to birds (almost immediately his eyes started burning) so he kindly told me I had to leave this morning. But before I left, we made some agreements. He’ll keep my computer to see if it’s been hacked or has any bugs. And he’ll dig up everything he can find on Greta Shultz.

Which is great. Hopefully he’ll come up with some answers. Tonight, after a lot of scrambling, I’m staying at a woman named Aralyn’s house in the East Riverside area. It’s Wednesday, May 20, and I’m exhausted. I’ll write more tomorrow.

***

Summary of What We’ve Made Public So Far

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 Li’s truck and headed back to Austin to visit his lab at UT, something Li had specifically warned her not to do.

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.

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