Hardcore and Bleeding
Log on to RJ Lockwood's Myspace.com profile, click on the photo section, and you can see a picture of him taken in mid-November of last year.
He's a bloody mess.
His knee is torn up in three places. His forearm is crusted with dried blood. His shoulder is drenched in antiseptic, the Day-Glo orange smeared over a nasty road rash. He has a thin brown cigarette in one hand and holds a cell phone to his ear with the other. And he's smiling. Fresh from crashing a motorcycle, RJ, shirtless and without a helmet, picked himself off the pavement, pulled out his Nokia, and called Kaytlynn.
Kaytlynn is the reason he's smiling. "Baby," he told her, "I just laid the bike down."
Still on the phone, he stumbled into the Overtown loft where he'd been staying with friends off and on since moving to Miami from Virginia one month earlier. He asked for a cigarette, a beer, and for one of his friends to snap a photo of him so he could show Kaytlynn what the crash had done to his body. Kaytlynn later commented on the photo in a feedback section on his Web profile. "RJ knows that he's the perfect example of how I like my men, hardcore and bleeding!"
The two had met on the Internet earlier that month. By mid-December they'd had just one date, but they were both madly in love. After a self-imposed deadline of New Year's Eve, RJ and Kaytlynn were planning to spend the rest of their lives together.
But four days into the new year, one of RJ's roommates returned from the holidays, opened the door to the loft apartment, and found him laid out on the living-room floor. He was staring at the ceiling, eyes open, his bloated face contorting the pierced eyebrow and studded chin, betraying his former good looks -- the looks that had him flirting with a modeling career in California a few years earlier.
In his hand was his cell phone, the phone on which he'd logged 4057 minutes since the last billing period, thousands of them spent talking to Kaytlynn -- the last minute being a call to 911 at 11:57 p.m. on New Year's Eve.
The police officers who arrived at the scene January 4 initially tagged his death as a drug overdose. A young guy with a back full of tattoos and a face full of piercings dead on New Year's Eve in a loft in a part of town known as a haven for the drug trade? Had to be an overdose. They collected little evidence and told RJ's roommates to clean up the place.
For two more days his body lay on a slab at the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner's Office. On the third day, when a county medical examiner performed RJ's autopsy, the cause of death became clear -- a gunshot wound to the chest -- and the case was declared a homicide. Police scurried back to interview his friends and salvage what evidence they could, but RJ's killer remains undetected, unpunished, unknown.
The only thing known with certainty is that while millions of champagne-soaked revelers swapped sloppy kisses and swayed to "Auld Lang Syne," filled with all the hopes and dreams that a new year holds, a 27-year-old with the world on a string lay dying on a floor in Overtown.
Romance in Cyberspace"RJ? That dude was somewhere between Shaggy and Gilligan," says Jason "Tino" Anthony, RJ's best friend from back home in Virginia. "He just wasn't malicious enough to have enemies."
The shirt-off-my-back kind of friend everyone had in high school, RJ made up for his lack of ambition with rock-steady loyalty and a carefree spirit. Those who knew him describe a young man who spent his days "chillin'." Listening to music. Drinking a 40-ounce beer.
A native of Richmond, he'd done a stint in the Air Force and drifted out to L.A. before returning to the D.C. area and landing occasional jobs in lighting installation at local nightclubs. He also learned to DJ, taking the name DJ Skywalker when he found the work.
When two of his friends, Christian Webb and Stefan VonFouts, moved to Miami in 2003 to start a design and architecture firm, RJ began staring south. Webb and VonFouts, both 30 years old, signed a lease on a second-floor residential loft, one of two in the Rectangle Art Space, a featureless concrete bunker of a building on NW Twentieth Street, where Overtown meets Wynwood. It was roomy enough to accommodate RJ, who'd arrived in Miami in early October with just a cell phone, some clothes, his records, and the hopes of landing a gig doing lighting installation and repair at area nightclubs. Sometimes he would stay a week or more at a time, when he wasn't crashing elsewhere.
"He was a gypsy," says Webb. "He could sleep in someone's bathroom just as easily as in a queen-size bed. In a way, you had to respect him for it 'cause he couldn't be happier."
Adds best friend Tino Anthony: "The last thing I said to him [before he left for Florida] was, 'Wherever you end up, dude, you need to start taking something seriously.'"
A few weeks after he arrived in Miami, RJ did begin to take something seriously. While surfing on Myspace.com, he spied a massive tribal tattoo splashed across a milky-white back. Gazing at the viewer over a shoulder, and framed by shocking red hair, were black-rimmed eyes and candy-apple lips.
"Kaytlynn," read the profile. "27 years old. Ft. Lauderdale, Fla..."
"Twenty seven year old mother of one perfect 6 year old girl and a terminal lip gloss addict, I live in Ft. Lauderdale but I've been everywhere (including crazy -- but I'm back now). Redheaded, bipolar, obsessive and somewhat skwed. My life's mission is to continue my work as an Agent of Chaos. I'm imfamous for kissing gay men, sleeping with water brothers (and sisters) naked Cowboy Bebop, strip charades, drunken tantrums and my superpowers are having men ask me to marry them and summoning old friends to my presence by shere will. Hail Eris!"
Intrigued, RJ sent Kaytlynn an e-mail complimenting her on her tattoo art. "I myself have over 24 hours with no end in sight," he said of the unfinished geisha girl sprawled across his back. The two began instant-messaging each other.
RJ put up a comment on Kaytlynn's Myspace.com/users/401187 page: This girl is soo hot and sexy. Litle does she know that I am secretly practicing to kick her ass in [the Xbox video game] HALO. Whatdasay babe a little side bet. winner gets boot privledges [a reference to their fetish confessions] ;)
After a week they were on the phone. "I never met anybody that I could so instantly communicate with," recalls Kaytlynn, who spoke to New Times on the condition that only her first name be used. As an office manager for a Fort Lauderdale escort service, Eye Candy Escorts, she spent her days in front of a computer. Between directing customers to this girl or that, she talked to RJ. Dreams. Music. Eastern philosophy. Ambitions. Their childhoods. What they would buy if they won the lottery.
They began to make plans -- to jump on a motorcycle and head down to the Keys, fly up to Washington to meet his friends. "He wanted to teach me to DJ," she remembers.
After two months in Miami no lighting jobs materialized for RJ. He was consistently poor. In December he took work painting a condo on South Beach. But a look at his cell phone bill shows that his full-time job was talking to Kaytlynn.
Minutes turned to hours. VonFouts and Webb would tease him as he spent practically his entire day on the phone with her. Soon RJ was telling friends and family that he was in love. Kaytlynn kept her love a secret but today says she was also madly in love. For both this was the one. The soul mate. Every hyperbole that comes to mind in trying to explain how this one person was put on Earth to be with you. This was for real.
And they'd never met.
RJ and Kaytlynn had a 21st-century love affair, almost virtual in its substance. Hours upon hours of communication, without being in each other's presence -- even though they were only 30 minutes apart. Not that RJ hadn't tried.
They had set up a meeting in mid-November. But Kaytlynn bailed. They set up another. She bailed again. RJ was confused.
By early December, Kaytlynn came clean. "When I realized I loved him," she recalls, "I told him about [my boyfriend]."
She was living with a bouncer at a Fort Lauderdale strip club. The two had been friends for six years, she says, but had been a couple for just one. "It wasn't like I was looking for someone to hook up with, someone to cheat on my boyfriend with," she adds. She and her boyfriend "were falling apart even before I started talking to RJ."
RJ was shocked when he learned the truth, but he was in too deep to let her go. He made her promise to never lie to him again.
"I told him that I loved him," she says, "and I promised to make it right."
"I don't actually know what prompted him," Kaytlynn recalls, "but he called me and said, 'Listen, we have to do this. We have to be face to face.' And I wasn't going to argue."
On the afternoon of Wednesday, December 17, RJ had a friend drive him to the Fort Lauderdale apartment Kaytlynn shared with her boyfriend, who was away at work.
"It was perfect, everything we thought it would be," she remembers of their first and only encounter.
During their six-week cyber courtship they had both confessed their sexual exploits and preferences, which Kaytlynn describes as "wild." They liked to turn each other on over the phone, and the sexual tension was bubbling over when they finally met.
That day the two went to a Fort Lauderdale bar and shot pool, Kaytlynn drinking Corona, RJ Jack and Coke. At one point Kaytlynn had just made her shot when she turned to find RJ standing inches away. He put an arm around her waist, moved in for a kiss, and "the whole world just fell away," she says. "It was like heaven. I can't even convey how amazing it was."
The two spent a lot more of that afternoon kissing before picking up Kaytlynn's six-year-old daughter for dinner at Japan Inn, a hibachi-style restaurant on North University Drive. The three hit it off famously. "I'm already in love with you and with your daughter," RJ told her. (RJ's mother, Cheryl Hahn, recalls a conversation she had with her son after the date: "My son said, 'You may have the grandchild you wanted from me.'")
Kaytlynn took RJ back to her apartment, where they fell on the couch and kissed some more. "Then he made me take him home because he was too tempted to take it further," she says. So she drove him back to Miami and said goodbye.
After that date, Kaytlynn was tempted to immediately end the relationship with her boyfriend. But RJ told her not to break his heart so close to Christmas. After finding text messages on her cell phone, Kaytlynn says, her boyfriend had a suspicion she was seeing someone else, but he thought it was an old lover. And she let it go at that, instead of explaining how she'd fallen for a stranger over the Internet.
So she and RJ gave themselves a deadline. They would wait until after the new year so Kaytlynn's daughter could spend Christmas at the apartment. It was only two weeks away, after all. They could wait two weeks. "'After Christmas is soon enough,' he told me. 'Stay a little longer. You know, we waited this long, we can wait a little bit longer. It's okay.'"
RJ also told her to get her house in order: "'I'm gonna give you till New Year's. But after that, look out 'cause I'm coming for you. You're gonna be mine.'"
Acquaintance Be ForgotYou're a 27-year-old male, all alone on New Year's Eve. The wolf howling at the moon on your right shoulder is telling you to go out on the town. The geisha girl lounging across your back is whispering the same. You can't afford the big bucks to party at Space 34 with your friends, and all you have is a view of the vacant lot below, fenced in with barbed wire. But it's cool. You have your Xbox and your cell phone. The artist down the hall -- who lived in the other rental unit of the 10,000-square-foot loft -- has given you a full bottle of Absolut. And tomorrow you'll be starting a whole new life with the woman you love.
As far as your friends know, you have something lined up for later that evening. So what might keep you at home on the biggest night of the year? Two girls who were coming over to fuck you. At least that's what RJ Lockwood was telling friends he'd be doing at home on New Year's Eve.
According to records provided by Frank Wilt, RJ's former club construction boss from D.C., who owned RJ's cell phone and let him take it to Florida, RJ logged plenty of minutes with Kaytlynn on December 31. A 40-minute conversation a little after noon. A 30-minute call at 3:30. Fifteen minutes at 4:11. Forty-nine minutes at 4:56. A 66-minute conversation that ended at 7:30 p.m., his last call to her.
They talked mostly about their plans. Wilt had offered RJ a quick job in D.C. that would start in early January. He would earn enough money so that when he returned, he and Kaytlynn could get a place together in Fort Lauderdale. She would pick him up on New Year's Day, they would spend their first night together, and then she would take him to the airport early the next morning.
"New Year's Eve, we were a day away from being together," Kaytlynn says. "And that was all we talked about -- 'I'm gonna see you tomorrow. Tomorrow we're going to be together. I'm going to pick you up after I get off of work. I'm going to reserve the hotel tomorrow from work.' All about being together and what we were going to do. Some of it was very hot and heavy. We'd waited so long. And everything was finally cleared out of our way.... We were actually going to be someplace together, where we could lay in bed and make love and put our arms around each other, and be there."
The final roadblock was a party on New Year's Eve. Kaytlynn says she and her boyfriend had broken up "days before," but they were still going ahead with plans to host a birthday party for a friend at their apartment in Fort Lauderdale.
With his roommates, Christian Webb and Stefan VonFouts, back in the D.C. area for the holidays, RJ had the loft to himself that night. "His entire plan was to get a bottle of champagne and play on the PlayStation," Kaytlynn recounts. "I told him I'd call him if I could sneak away for a few minutes."
She couldn't, she says.
Eleven hundred miles away in Ocean City, Maryland, a friend of RJ named Caz was waiting in a hotel lobby with his New Year's date. With time to kill, he called RJ a little after 9:00 p.m. and asked about his plans for the night. Recalls Caz, who asked that his full name not be used: "He said, 'Nothing. I'm gonna stay at home. My girlfriend's gonna come over with one of her friends. Me and my girl and her girl. Come over and get freaky.'" Caz remains convinced RJ was expecting company. "The girls definitely called him that night," he says. "[I'm] 100 percent sure they were coming over."
At 10:05 p.m. RJ placed a call to Virginia and spoke to his mother. They talked for 26 minutes before he received a call-waiting message. He put his mother on hold and came back less than a minute later. "'Gotta go, I got the girls coming over,'" she recollects him announcing. And then RJ said goodbye.
The last person he called, at 11:32, was a friend named Pete, who was partying at a Miami club. He asked Pete to come over with some cranberry juice, presumably for the vodka. Pete did not return messages, but according to VonFouts, who later spoke with him, he told RJ he was with some girls and couldn't make it.
The telephone log records a final call placed at 11:57 to 911. According to Miami homicide detectives, there are no sounds on the recording, which lasted less than a minute and then ended abruptly. Because the call came from a cell phone, it could not be traced to an address. Neither the police nor phone carrier Nextel can determine if the call ended because someone hung up on RJ's end or because of some other reason.
Silence and the Smell of DeathHolidays are busy at an escort service. Kaytlynn was working on New Year's Day, directing customers to the top-shelf girls they'd seen in the numerous print ads Eye Candy Escorts runs in South Florida newspapers and magazines. When she noticed it was 5:00 p.m. and she still hadn't heard from RJ to confirm their arrangements for that evening, she text-messaged his phone (through AOL remote instant messaging) from her computer a couple of times.
"At first I thought something had come up and he couldn't get hold of me," she says. "It's a crazy thing when you think about it. You start to wonder [if] he got cold feet, if he came to his senses. How well do you really know anyone?"
According to Frank Wilt, on Friday morning, January 2, Kaytlynn left a voice message on the cell phone. It was something to the effect of: "Hey, RJ, hope you're not mad at me. Call me on the ground when you get to D.C."
A few days later there was another voice message from Kaytlynn, this time more frazzled. Both she and Wilt recall that she said, "All right, I'm starting to get scared. I want to know that you're not dead in a ditch somewhere."
Then on January 5, a day after RJ's body was discovered, his phone recorded a message from a hysterical woman, talking through sobs: "I'm so sorry I didn't tell you I love you." Kaytlynn says the voice was not hers. Nor did it belong to RJ's mother or sister. "I'm so frickin' pissed at Nextel," Wilt says of the company's policy of purging voice mail after two weeks.
Back at the loft, the artist who had given RJ the bottle of vodka awoke late on New Year's Day. That night he noticed all the lights were on in the loft down the hall. He could hear the air conditioner running as well. (The weather was unseasonably warm at that time, with highs in the 80s.) By the next day, "I started to smell death," he says, speaking to New Times on the condition of anonymity. Two days later, he awoke early in the morning and vomited from the stench emanating from the adjacent apartment. Stefan VonFouts arrived home from his trip a few hours later.
Coronas on the CounterHaving gone from being the lively center of black culture in Miami to one of its most depressed neighborhoods, Overtown, especially the area immediately north of downtown, is now contested territory in a struggle between an artist community attracted to its wide-open warehouse spaces and a drug trade that refuses to go gently. But a slow gentrification is trickling down from the Design District and Wynwood, and the Rectangle Art Space -- its faded white paint a drab contrast to the pastel pinks and greens of the small homes adjacent to it on the west -- is one more sign that an economic change for the better may be on its way.
Stefan VonFouts returned home on the morning of January 4. Roommate Christian Webb, who had also been away for the holidays, would arrive later that day. As VonFouts climbed the stairs, he caught a whiff of a very foul odor. "I thought it was putrid gas or a dead animal," he says. The loft's front door was locked at the handle, which didn't surprise him; it was often set to lock automatically when it closed. He unlocked the door, entered the living area, and saw something on the floor. He was momentarily stupefied. "Disbelief, just horror," he recalls. "I didn't even recognize who he was. He had shaved his head. His face was black and bloated. I thought it was a stranger." Then he realized it was RJ.
His friend was dressed in a black shirt and lightweight black jacket, lying face-up on a black rug. It appeared to VonFouts that RJ had fallen backward. "The shooter was either at the doorway to my bedroom or at the kitchen counter," VonFouts theorized later, though at the time he didn't notice any blood or sign of violence. "It looked like RJ might have turned around and got surprised."
VonFouts didn't linger in the apartment, but he was there long enough to notice some aspects of the scene. "I did see two bottles of Corona sitting on the counter that were unopened," he says. (Later he would find in the refrigerator four more Coronas from a six-pack. When he and Webb had left on vacation, there were no Coronas there.) Sitting undisturbed on the floor near RJ's body was a plastic cup filled with orange liquid, which he surmised was vodka and orange juice.
According to VonFouts, the six-pack of Corona was significant. Ordinarily, if RJ were drinking alone, he would have bought a 40-ounce bottle of cheap beer. He theorizes that RJ sprung for the Corona "because the girls were coming over."
RJ's friend Tino Anthony agrees: "He didn't drink Corona unless someone else bought it." He simply couldn't afford the expense. Same with drugs. Anthony says that while RJ would dabble in club drugs, he "was too broke to do anything regular."
Other friends describe RJ as street-smart, not the type of person to invite a stranger up for a drink.
In his brief time in the loft, VonFouts scanned the area and didn't see anything missing. Later, when he and Webb returned, they confirmed that nothing in the apartment had been taken -- not the three computers, the Xbox and PlayStation and numerous games, not RJ's wallet or cell phone.
VonFouts called 911 and waited on the sidewalk until the two police cars arrived. According to the incident report, the first cop on the scene was Miami Ofcr. Eugene Edwards. VonFouts directed him to the upstairs apartment and remained outside.
One of the officers (VonFouts cannot recall which) came back down from the loft to interview VonFouts. He asked him about RJ's diet and his drug and alcohol history. "I said the guy eats cheeseburgers and fast food all the time," VonFouts recounts. "And he'll go across the street and buy a 40 [ounce beer]." Perhaps RJ had choked on a piece of food, VonFouts offered. But the line of questioning was being steered toward an overdose. "That's what they assumed when they got there: 'Well, looks like your friend maybe had too much fun or something,'" VonFouts says.
The officers on the scene told him he could leave, and VonFouts was gone before the first homicide detective arrived. He came back with Webb (who had returned to Miami later that morning) to see RJ's body being taken away. One of the police officers then turned to the two friends. "They told us, 'Look, you need to get a cleaner, you know, and get this place cleaned up. Go ahead and clean it up,'" VonFouts remembers.
When he later saw the police incident report, VonFouts was surprised at the way his comments had been reworded: "Mr. VonFouts advised that the victim didn't take care of his health and abused alcohol and narcotics. Homicide responded and advised unclassified until futher investigation."
Counters VonFouts: "RJ had been known to do drugs, but he was not an abuser. They kept wanting to paint a picture that it was an overdose."
Just Plain Poor InvestigatingWhen a body is discovered and reported to 911, police officers are dispatched to the scene, followed by a homicide detective who conducts an examination. It is the job of the homicide detective to determine whether a medical examiner should be summoned. On January 4 the job fell to Miami Police Department homicide Det. Orlando Silva.
"It's a judgment call [whether to summon a medical examiner]," explains Larry Cameron, director of operations for the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner's Office, which processed RJ's body.
Silva's supervisor, Sgt. Altarr Williams, explains that "if the body is in decomposition, the best course of action is for the doctor to respond."
But Cameron says neither of the two medical examiners on call that day was asked to respond to the scene of RJ's death. In his opinion, they should have been. "It was [initially] classified as an [undetermined] death," he notes, "because for some reason [Silva] had gotten some information to say it was a suicide." (The only reason seems to be VonFouts's comments about beer, cheeseburgers, and occasional drug use.)
Neither Detective Silva nor Sergeant Williams will discuss what took place that day -- whether Silva actually examined the body on the rug, lifted up the shirt to look for wounds, or called a medical examiner to the scene.
"That's just plain poor investigating," says Harold Ruslander, forensic supervisor at the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner's Office. Although he emphasizes that he's not familiar with the specifics of the case, Ruslander, who has more than thirteen years of crime-scene experience, says if Lockwood's shirt had been lifted up, police would have seen the bullet hole. "A hole is a hole is a hole," he quips. "It's pretty easy to see."
Meanwhile roommates VonFouts and Webb began looking through the phone book for a professional cleaner but couldn't find one. The building's superintendent, Gil Terem, agreed to help. He cleaned the place, scrubbing down much of the floors and surfaces.
"I removed the [rug] maybe two to three days later," recalls Terem, an owner of the District Restaurant and Lounge in the Design District. The rug on which RJ lay, which measured five feet by eight and which might have contained trace evidence, was taken out to the parking lot. "I brought it downstairs, next to the Dumpster," he says, adding that police never contacted him about it.
RJ's body was transported to the county morgue by independent contractors hired by the Medical Examiner's Office, standard procedure when no medical examiner is present at the scene of a crime. There it sat for 48 hours, cause of death unknown. Larry Cameron explains the delay: "Ninety-nine percent of the time when we have a body, it's ready for release within 24 hours." But on January 4, Cameron says, the "case sheet," or number of bodies scheduled for autopsies, was "extremely long." RJ's must have been near the bottom of the list.
On January 6 the autopsy revealed what should have been obvious: RJ had been shot. "Cause of death is a gunshot wound of the chest," confirms Sandra Boyd, an investigator with the Medical Examiner's Office. That finding was relayed to police, who suddenly had a murder on their hands.
Officers scrambled back to the apartment, which had already been washed clean and traipsed through by the roommates. VonFouts and Webb had returned to remove plastic that covered the loft's drafty windows (hoping to ventilate the rooms) and to gather clothes for a move to the Radisson Hotel on Biscayne Boulevard. They stayed at the hotel for a week, and later moved out of the loft altogether.
Says VonFouts: "Forty-eight hours later [detectives] called me up: 'You have to get down [to the loft] right away' -- getting all nasty with me." He returned to find the doorways crisscrossed with yellow crime-scene tape and the area swarming with TV news crews.
Detectives questioned him again. "I was trying to tell them about what I saw when I got there, which was the same story I told them when I originally got there," he says. "And all of a sudden they wanted to know all these new details. I told them about the beer bottles and the vodka bottle, but everything had been kinda cleaned up."
I Hate Whoever Did ThisKaytlynn admits she is not the most well-informed person. She doesn't read newspapers or watch television news, and so was not aware of news accounts of the murder.
She hadn't heard from RJ in a week and thought their affair was over, despite the thousands of minutes they'd spent talking. On January 9, she says, she received a call from a Miami police detective named Moises Velasquez. The detective, who took charge of the investigation when the case was classified as a homicide, said he wanted to talk to her about RJ but didn't mention anything about the shooting. She feared the worst while holding out hope that RJ was just in some sort of trouble. But in the course of her five-and-a-half-hour interview, it became clear he was gone. "It wasn't till after all that that they told me," she says through tears. "I don't even think I can explain. RJ changed my life. I had been going through my life on autopilot, half asleep, and in the two months I knew him, I have never been so understood."
Kaytlynn says she had no plans to drive down to RJ's loft on New Year's Eve. In fact, she says, she told RJ she'd be at home hosting a party. "Right before midnight," she says, "we were sitting in my house, eating ice cream cake and waiting for the ball to drop." A video of the party had been taken around midnight with a camera her boyfriend had received as a Christmas gift. "It's time- and date-stamped," she notes. (Detective Velasquez has seen the tape and interviewed other party attendees.)
"To be hours away from everything you ever wanted and then lose it all," she says. "I just don't know how to get past that yet. And that has made me wonder, was there somebody that didn't want us to be together?"
Kaytlynn says she is willing to take a polygraph test and do "anything they ask" to find RJ's killer. According to Detective Velasquez, there are no plans to call her back for questioning. Yet all of RJ's friends and relatives contacted for this story -- none of whom has met Kaytlynn -- say they believe she has more information regarding his death.
Her former boyfriend, who declined comment for this story, was interviewed once by police in mid-February. "He was completely in the dark," says Kaytlynn, referring to her relationship with RJ and his death. "And when I laid it all out for him, he was completely devastated." She says she is no longer dating him and has moved in with her mother.
Three days after learning that RJ was dead, Kaytlynn posted this message on tribe.net, another Internet community she and RJ frequented.
January 12, 2004 - 07:59 AM
A Moment of Silence ... for R.J. Lockwood.
I don't know how I'm going to live with this. How I can possibly stand it. R.J. changed my life and I do not have the words to express what he means to me. I am so angry. I want to scream and break things the way my heart is breaking. It's been a long time since I hated anything but I hate now. I hate whoever did this. I hate what was taken away from us. Our dreams, plans. R.J. showed me what my life could be and the kind of love and understanding I could never have imagined. He taught me so much. To be true to myself, never to comprimise. To live my life on my terms. I will spend the rest of my life honoring his memory and living what he taught me. But oh God it hurts.
Kaytlynn has since gotten a tattoo of the Chinese character for the word "dragon," surrounded by flames, the same kind of flames that ran up RJ's forearm. "It's a reminder that he's always surrounding me," she says.
Guns in the NeighborhoodThe elapsed time from RJ's phone call to his friend Pete and the final call to 911 was twenty minutes, from 11:37 to 11:57. During that time, someone entered RJ's apartment, someone friendly enough that RJ apparently was about to offer him or her a Corona. Minutes later he was dead.
Sgt. Altarr Williams says no arrests are imminent. "This is a neighborhood where everybody and their mothers have guns on New Year's Eve," he notes, suggesting that someone off the street could have killed RJ. Others wonder whether RJ stepped outside briefly. Perhaps he was shot then but managed to climb the stairs back to the apartment, close the door behind him, and dial 911 before falling to the ground. That still would not explain the Coronas, however.
On January 12, 2004, 27-year-old Robert Jay Lockwood was laid to rest at Sunset Hills Memorial Park in Colonial Heights, Virginia.
His mother learned of her son's death only when Tino Anthony called on January 5 to offer condolences. She tries to stay in touch with the police in hopes of finding answers, but complains that weeks sometimes pass before Detective Velasquez returns her calls. On the few occasions they have talked, she recounts, the detective has told her to call Kaytlynn and try to "get as much information as possible."
RJ's mother and Kaytlynn have spoken twice, but Kaytlynn is reluctant to talk again. "All that we have in common is that we lost him," she says. "And on top of that, it's hard to explain my relationship to him. That's a very complex thing. And I don't know how much of it she was aware of. I knew she knew that RJ and I were crazy about each other. That's a hard thing to explain. Why was I with someone else? And why was RJ okay with that?"
Kaytlynn is correct in her assumption. "Why do you confess your love to him, and you still had a boyfriend?" RJ's mother asks rhetorically. "Why did you lead my son on the way that you did? Why did you just stop calling him [on New Year's Day]?"
Last month Stefan VonFouts and Christian Webb settled into a new studio in the Design District. Today a sign in front of the Rectangle Art Space building advertises an "artist's loft" for rent.
One of VonFouts's friends has designed a tattoo in remembrance of RJ. It features a Chinese symbol for the words "sky walker" manipulated to resemble a Paleolithic cave painting. VonFouts says he and Webb both plan to get the tattoo out of respect for their fallen friend.
VonFouts says he's also planning a multimedia art show "celebrating the spirit RJ was, the person he dreamed to be -- and was inside." The working title of the show, he says, is "Anti-Gravity." It will feature various images of floating objects, the illusion of things lifting off the ground and drifting away. "RJ," he explains, "was always talking about floating through space, being in the sky."
Staff writer Forrest Norman contributed to this story
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