Tuesday, March 6, 2018

RIP Binh Canto Calambro

Mitchie at Binh Canto Calambro's Gravesite, leaving a rose for her "friend"
Mitchie Delivers a Rose to Binh Canto Calambro

Binh Canto Calambro
Born: November 19, 1989
Murdered: January 25, 1994

Comfort Maria Calambro Style

Maria Calambro convicted of killing her son sends grief card to Teraisa after author suffers miscarriage
Maria and I have always had an unusual relationship; what else could there be between the woman who did the last and most unimaginable thing to her son and the person who was going to tell the world about it?

Back in 1995, she said no to my interviewing her. She had nothing to lose, she was already convicted and her appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court had been heard and ruled on, but she didn't want to deal with it. She did, however, want a friend.

She said she "would eventually tell [me] everything" but I assured her I would respect her wishes and simply be her friend unless and until she changed her mind. What was on public record, though, was fair game. I also said I wouldn't lie or try to tell her story; I was interested in sharing only the real story.

The next letter? She asked if I was the writer telling her story and could I send her the book? Yep. It's been strange.

A year into our relationship, I suffered a miscarriage and my son, Isaiah, escaped to what I pray is a better world. It was natural to tell my friend I was no longer pregnant which also would explain my somber letter.

Maria Calambro sends author Teraisa a sympathy card from prison, sorrow for her miscarriage

Dear, sweet, Maria... she made and sent me this beautiful card and sentiment. Our family lost a lot when we evacuated our home to toxic mold but whatever was in the garage or car was fair game; Maria's card has been with me through the worst of times and even today, while sharing it with you and knowing she is no longer a mother because of what she did, it's comforting to know someone else cared about my son and fitting that it's someone who's son, Binh Canto Calambro, I wish I had gotten to love in life rather than death.

INSIDE CARD: May you be comforted by the kindness of those who love you. With deepest sympathy, [Maria] P.S. Psalms 116:15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Get a Little High With the Help From My Friends

Everybody's going to Dallas. Maybe so, but for Jason, Laura, and I, we were getting out of there and heading for the Oregon coast.

In the airport, I sat at the computer writing, deleting, and writing some more. You'd never know I was lonely, because I wasn't; I love alone time, especially when I travel and can get some work done without interruption. Yet...

I met these two artistic scientists when I had to squeeze into a middle seat of the airplane--which worried me at first. Think about it. I write true crime and I'd have hours to think about the crazy things that can happen. In the middle seat there's no way out.

Instead, within two minutes and before take-off, we were the life of the party (I know this is true because the flight attendants had to assess us more than once before coming back to party with us)(we were not drinking, darn it).

Everything was fair game in our conversations and maybe it was the fact we were late in boarding and worried they hadn't really fixed the ice-whatever-it-was-issue that caused us to nearly have to find a new plane or maybe we just play well together, but we laughed so hard most of the trip I had to find a bathroom as soon as we landed (remember, I was the middle seat, no way I was going to force my way through to the bathroom).

It started with the fact that I was the oldest and wondered out loud if they remembered the time you were terrified to have your phone on during the flight lest it break everything and well, that's the end of life as you know it. Now that I say this out loud, I realize the baby of the group (that's you, Jason) never answered. Hmm. Anyway, two of us laughed at that one.

Naturally, that led to the fact that we were terrorists and they should have searched our luggage for the one full of Samsung Galaxy Note 7's. Probably we shouldn't have said the "terrorist" word too loud (again, thank goodness we were sober), but it's a free country, right?

Speaking of terrorist, we were terrorized while flying. Here we were during the entire flight, smashed together like three campfire marshmallows and the guy in front of us had the audacity to be ALONE in his three-seat section--sitting in the center seat and not straying into the window or aisle seats, if yu can believe it. He didn't even offer to give us one of the seats so we could have some breathing space. And you know what happens to guys like that, don't you?

We had four hours to make jokes at this guy's expense--which only served to bring us closer. No, really, we had to whisper, it's a plane and he's right there, in front of us.

Of course we talked about the usual: what's your job, your partner, your education, your reason for Dallas and reason for Oregon...

One of us lived in a tent (hint, it's not me (yet)) while going to college and lived to tell about it and his newfound Lyme's Disease companion. Sadness. Except. Another one of us (not me) has actually done extensive scientific research on words-I-cannot-remember which is exclusive (or something) to ticks and all that come with them. So that was cool. Way cool.

She may have researched because she's a scientist (duh) or because her niece became quite fascinated with it for a minute; either way, we meshed. All of us.

Ticks led to hiking and, well, I love to hike, especially in Hawaii and Lake Tahoe... we talked about the places we were from and where we thought we were going.

You know where this is going, right? Right to Reno. What happens in Vegas stays there (unless you get pregnant) but what happens in Reno goes in my book because everything since January 4, 1994 somehow connects to The U-Haul Murders.

(Before we get serious, which we on the plane did not get, let me say that there was a lot that went on before, during, and after we talked about Reno, but that's best left in our imaginations. Just kidding, we were all over the place, we talked about everything. In fact, if I get permission, I will share some beautiful artwork with you...)

What do you do when you are squeezed between two outgoing fun-loving geniuses and you are... me? You talk about what you know. I mentioned that I was in school again, after getting a nanodegree as a full-stack developer, but "let's not talk about that since I still feel a bit like a fraud," instead, I'm a writer. True crime is how I'm labeled, but the truth is I have not yet finished my book.

Once I got onto the story, we talked for more than an hour because no one who knows the story can say what really happened in less time. No one. And yes, it was "we" because they both had things to say and new ideas came to light.

Instantly, they became my U-Haul Murders posse. It mattered to me how WE could present the book, since that's what I am struggling with more than anything.

Most of you know me personally (shout out to my 9 fans) and know that it kills me to have to leave such interesting things out of the book because as U-Haul Murders Prosecutor Dave Stanton says, "This is Fargo."

Wouldn't you know it, my posse developed a plan of action to make sure nothing was left out. They get it. Not to leave you hanging, but I'm keeping some of this secret for now, as I have a couple of U-Haul Murder interviews coming up next month and I do not want to risk influencing anything...

We exchanged contact information and my head was going crazy (in a good way). Our chat continued, sometimes talking about yet another ironic thing that happened (like the terribly ironic thing that happened to the Reno gun store owner and how it was found out--which took TWENTY YEARS to learn, by the way) in connection to the U-Haul Murders, sometimes about paralysis and ticks, and sometimes it was about South Korea and "key money."

Though the flight didn't add one word to the book, I did add two friends to my life and now all I want to do is write and publish so I can visit them again in twenty years and we can laugh about getting high together for a good cause.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

In the Beginning

Uhaul murders teraisa goldman
original note cards I could arrange into the entire book
Behind the scenes, there's a common theme with the U-Haul Murders and, in the long run, it belongs in a Coen Brothers' movie; it's that ironic: crazy coincidences that you just can't make up.

For me as a writer of fiction, mothering, and homeschooling articles, this was evidenced by everything being dropped over and over again into my lap, urging me to tell the story I tried to give away. Fate says otherwise.

And yet, if only it was that easy. It's now been more than two decades I've been interviewing, researching, learning, listening, reading, and writing.

The Carson City, Nevada, we knew was on the edge of the capitol city where wild horses roamed... which meant we didn't at that time have cable and, in fact, our TV would only either show the picture or emit sound on local channels, but never both. The radio was no better.

Because of this, the actual U-Haul Murders in January, 1994, went unnoticed in our house. I had seen a blip of Maria Calambro briefly later that month while the news covered the controversy of her leaving jail to attend her son's funeral (there's no surprises in true crime--Maria killed her four-year-old son, Binh) and why it stayed in my mind, well, we now understand.

It would be December of '95, when by chance a free trial week of the Nevada Appeal was delivered to our door. On the cover was Duc Cong Huynh, who made good on his threats and was found dead, hanging in his jail cell. Always some controversy for the masses, this became important because he was on suicide watch. 

My mom and I devoured the newspaper--living in the boonies does that to you--and while reading, I had a premonition: author Gary Provost would absolutely love this story littered with what he calls "...and then's."

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy 2017 (AKA Anniversary 23 -- It NEVER Gets Easier)

The crime that started it all, the actual U-Haul murders, began as a robbery at closing time on January 3, 1994, and "ended" in a double homicide after midnight.

2017 marks 23 years since the tragic killing of Keith and Peggy; the agony and loss lives on.

What do you say each year at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve to someone who lost their loved one in the most brutal fashion possible? I don't know, either; to say I'm praying for a year better than all the ones before borders consideration and insensitivity all at once but ... what's the rule on what to say?

There's no right or wrong in what you say, but there is plenty of awkward when you say nothing at all.

Victims and their families don't possess a how-to manual any more than you do, they don't even know what is "okay," themselves--they know only what not to say and usually they learn that the hard way.

Each year since 1994, the hope of a new year is always followed by (for me) sadness.

In the very early hours of January 4, 1994, Keith Allan Christopher, 21, and Peggy Ann Crawford, 37, were brutally murdered. To say that this was a most horrendous crime isn't close to adequate (a story for another time), as each judge and prosecutor prove time and time again when publicly admitting The U-Haul Murders was the worst and most memorable case they've had to handle.

The murders were followed by a literal unbelievable crime spree that lasted weeks, crossed state lines, and involved so many jurisdictions many of the crimes went unpunished. After more than 100 total convictions/guilty pleas (including capital convictions), it'd have been a waste of taxpayer money and time to hold convicted so-call U-Haul murders, Alvaro Calambro and Duc Cong Huynh, accountable for everything.

In case you were wondering (warning: spoilers!), both killers are also dead, which makes two more families I struggle to find the right words for.

"It's a new year," I say to the victims and their families and all others touched by the U-Haul Murders. Because ... what else can I say?

PS: Sign up for updates, bookmark the website, or come back every now and then to read about a few of the crimes committed but not prosecuted, as they are only briefly mentioned in the book

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Ethan and Joel Coen Live Here. Or yeah.

If a crimewave raised Arizona and crossed Fargo, you might say to yourself, "Oh brother," and wonder where thou art. Or you might be caught up in the U-Haul Murders where everything is unbelievable yet absolutely completely true and dark humor lurks in the worst of places. Watch out, even Judge Mills Lane couldn't make this shit up. 

This is THE script written for the legendary Coen Brothers. Can you hear me now Ethan and Joel? Hit me up. 

More than two decades of ironic coincidences, interviews, researching, writing, crying, wishing, hoping, dreaming, and going back and forth on how this should be published and in what format would have you believe the story is and has been over for a long time. But, alas, no. It grows and changes... yet stays the same: weird. 

What doesn't make it into the book or the script, I'll share here now and then during freewriting sessions. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Additional U-Haul Tragedies: Part One

Through no fault of U-Haul and it's family, businesses, and subsidies (the majority of the time), the U-Haul products and services have been used to hide crimes, cover up murders, move stolen goods and various victims to other locations, and one was set up as (what they hoped would be) a permanent and jimmy-rigged refrigerated storage unit for an unlucky--and un-living--individual (gotta keep the body hidden and the smell hidden even better).

Of course, there's the U-Haul Murders (us) in Reno, Nevada, 1994. Duc Cong Huynh and Alvaro Calambro killed two innocents: Peggy Crawford and Keith Christopher-and then went on a crime spree that included robberies, hostages, and high speed car chases--even a major California earthquake. Things don't get much worse than this particular case.

This one helpful guy, Joshua Luck, was rewarded after helping his neighbor load his moving trailer with a free trip to California. Unfortunately, his luck ran out when Andres Serrato coldly murdered him, then stashed him in the trailer as he made his move.

Stay tuned for part two-and no worries, sadly, there are no shortages of U-Haul stories...