Who killed my daughter?
January 2, 2015 1:12 PM   Subscribe

A long form piece on the still unsolved murder of Kait Arquette, daughter of novelist Lois Duncan. “I went weak after Kait’s murder,” Lois said. “How could I even think about creating a novel with a young woman in a life-threatening situation?”
posted by stoneweaver (18 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is it too weird and trendy to immediately think that this should be the next season of Serial? Maybe that's a terrible idea.
posted by redsparkler at 1:33 PM on January 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


Yes.
posted by bq at 1:46 PM on January 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


That's creepy and weird. Thanks for posting it.
posted by corb at 1:49 PM on January 2, 2015


It's such a complicated story! I want someone to spend twelve weeks researching it for me, and then present me with an intricate weaving of the narrative.
posted by redsparkler at 1:52 PM on January 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm sure I could have gotten this information from IMDB or something like it, but finally, I have an explanation for why that Jennifer Love Hewitt movie is nothing at all like the YA novel I remember. (Short & obvious answer, Lois Duncan has nothing to do with the movie).

I must have read every Lois Duncan book in existence as a grade-schooler & middle-schooler. I knew that her daughter had been murdered but never more than that.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:52 PM on January 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


I read a ton of her books when I was a kid. I don't know if this is sadder or weirder, but it's plenty of both. The Albuquerque PD certainly comes off like a bunch of incompetent dipshits, though.
posted by Diablevert at 2:39 PM on January 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is a great story.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:01 PM on January 2, 2015


Lois Duncan was maybe my favorite writer as a kid. Her stories were strange and marvelous, especially to me as a child.
posted by Blitz at 3:36 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I read the paperback when it came out...until I read this article I thought that Duncan had used the name Dung as a needling pseudonym.
posted by brujita at 3:43 PM on January 2, 2015


Diablevert: The Albuquerque PD certainly comes off like a bunch of incompetent dipshits, though.

It's oddly suspicious that the lead detective was suddenly disinterested in new leads and the department was eager to offer up two goobers to pin the murder on.

If the corruption and racketeering runs as deeply as the article claims, the cops are on the take.
posted by dr_dank at 4:01 PM on January 2, 2015


Great post, and I hope something more turns up about the case.
posted by languagehat at 4:06 PM on January 2, 2015


From the story:

In the book, Vamp drove a Camaro in which he hunted the main female character, who had been modeled on Kait and wasn’t yet published at the time of her death.

...I'm so confused about the whole bit about Mike Vamp and the parallels with the book and the psychic's police drawing. Is the implication that Lois Duncan had already written the book before her daughter's death, but no one else (psychics, cops, etc.) had seen it before all those parallels were discovered? If so, that's just really freaking weird. I don't think the reporter was totally clear on the sequence, though--i.e. when the story and cover illustration were finished and when they were available to the public, in relation to the timeline of the murder and the investigation and the psychic consultations.
posted by torticat at 4:27 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


As it happens, dr_dank:
* Albuquerque’s long history of police abuse, cover-up and scandal
* Albuquerque police reforms ordered amid excessive force accusations
* Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg is denying allegations that she bribed and intimidated witnesses involved in criminal cases against her son.

Nothing indicating widespread bribery problems, though, as with notorious departments such as New Orleans. Still, one has to wonder; police tend to give great credence to victims like author Duncan, and while it's typical that they'd pull a Captain Renault and round up some usual suspects from the local ethnic community, it's surprising they didn't seem that interested in the insurance fraud stuff, unless you figure it was something they saw as California's problem. You'd also think they would love to pin something on a lowlife as obvious as this rapist character. Malcompetence, perhaps.
posted by dhartung at 4:59 PM on January 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


If there's a single word that sums up the feeling of "but ... what do we do about systemic police incompetence and laziness and corruption because right now I am just angry and hopeless" then I'd really like to know what it is because I could've used it a lot in 2014 and now in the first few days of 2015.
posted by none of these will bring disaster at 9:12 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is the implication that Lois Duncan had already written the book before her daughter's death, but no one else (psychics, cops, etc.) had seen it before all those parallels were discovered? If so, that's just really freaking weird.

I think the point of that anecdote was that there were all these weird, symbolic-seeming parrallels popping up, and that's part of what made Duncan less inclined to dismiss what the psychics were telling her, and also what made her to some extent cling to the idea that this Vamp guy and his cousin must have been involved somehow, the feeling it must mean something, him having the same name as the character. From the outside it's easy to say, oh, well, he was obviously just some neighborhood kid who got railroaded, and the name was just a coincidence, but in her mother's shoes I don't know if it'd be so easy to dismiss, the feeling that there must be some connection, some larger force trying to tell her something.

What gets me is that there seem to be two plausible motives/solutions to the murder, but it also seems entirely implausible to connect them. If Kait was killed by the local psycho, the rapist who liked to take potshots at cars for fun, why did her boyfriend try to kill himself? Who wrote the misspelled note? And, if we believe her friend, how did the boyfriend know she was dead before the cops told him?

But if Kait was killed because some of her boyfriend's shady connections wanted to silence her for one reason or another, what the hell was Capt. Psycho doing at the scene of the crime? And what happenned to his VW bug, and who was driving it? The boyfriend was going out to California to help run the scam, a scam known to have been run by tight-knit ethnic gangs using down on their luck, often fresh off the boat, immigrants. Why would a bunch of Vietnamese gangsters from California call upon a small time local crook as their hitman? What could thepossible connection be there? That guy seems to have more than a couple screws loose --- why would they trust him with something like this? The whole thing doesn't add up. And the corruption and incompetance of the cops makes it seem like it probably never will...
posted by Diablevert at 12:35 AM on January 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


This whole story is so horrible, on so many levels, it makes you wonder how any crimes get solved at all, and (bleakness alert!) why even more of them aren't committed.
posted by Chitownfats at 2:34 AM on January 3, 2015


From the outside it's easy to say, oh, well, he was obviously just some neighborhood kid who got railroaded, and the name was just a coincidence

Not so easy for me, from the outside... since it wasn't just the name, but that he drove a Camaro and targeted her daughter (on whom the character in the book was based), and the psychic's police sketch matched the cover illustration. That's a lot of coincidences!

However, yeah. I'm not suggesting the psychic was onto something. More that I wish the reporting on that angle had been a little better.

It's a fascinating story and I think overall kind of poorly reported. I thought the story was disjointed, like the writer was just throwing a lot of weirdnesses out there without giving sufficient context (as you point out, Diablevert, with the rundown of all the suspects) to help the reader transition from one thing to the next.
posted by torticat at 2:39 PM on January 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I can quite easily construct plausible narratives that make more sense than "psychic"· To name a few:

1) What if the daughter was killed by a crazy fan, who was intimate enough with the publisher to know the bare bones of her new story?

2) What if the daughter knew about the book with the character based on her, and told her boyfriend about it?

3) What if Duncan chose the name, subconsciously basing it on someone she'd heard her daughter mentioning?
posted by corb at 8:59 PM on January 3, 2015


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