© Richard L. Thornton, Architect and City Planner
Are the heavens playing a joke on me? I get shanghaied into living 650 miles to the south of my Shenandoah Valley farm. Then travel that 650 miles northward to meet with my attorney and my estranged wife’s shrink . . . only to run into a young woman, who has had a crush on me since 1988. I had rebuffed her flirts because I assumed wrongly that she was an immature, over-sexed, shallow-minded party girl.
In early January 1988, I was explaining the pre-fabricated wood framing techniques of our 18th century house, then under restoration, when Cindy suddenly kissed me. I thought that she was an over-sexed, 20 year old, college coquette. NO! She was ecstatic over meeting a renaissance man, because she was a renaissance woman. Turns out that she became a cheerleader to stay in shape for dancing and to hide her powerful intellectuality. She majored in accounting, so that she would be assured of a good-paying job, when she graduated . . . until she figured out what she wanted to do in life. She said that being an accountant also made locals assume that she was politically conservative. She had so many varied interests. Cindy could be the perfect lady for a lifetime of love . . . but right now things are a mess.
October 11, 1993
The Psychologist: Cindy and I first drove to Oldtown Winchester in her car, since my pickup might be noticed. I told the psychologist that she was absolutely right about Diana being dangerous. She poisoned me with “special tea” less than an hour after we left her office on August 3rd. I theoretically should have died, but apparently my family doctor in Woodstock, VA did exactly the right treatments until I could be treated by an internist in Metro Atlanta. I would have to wait until my organs healed before have surgery to sew up the holes in my colon.
Her response was to gasp before saying, “Oh My God,” when she saw the bandages around my belly. She said that she was no longer seeing my wife because she had not paid her since March. She had referred Diana to a psychiatrist, who specialized in Multiple Personality Disorder. In April, Diana had told the psychologist she that was expecting a large chunk of money soon. [the $35,000 that my father had promised her]
I then showed the psychologist a brief letter from Diana, which stated that she would not sign divorce papers until I agreed to file for bankruptcy. In other words, Diana had no intentions of paying either the psychologist or her own attorneys.
The psychologist typed up letters to my attorney and Diana’s attorney, urging them to immediately obtain a divorce judgment since her client’s husband had already been seriously injured by her client.
The Lawyer: I then went to my attorney’s office and gave her a copy of Diana’s letter, which demanded that I file for bankruptcy, before she would sign any divorce settlement . . . even though we were not bankrupt. I asked her if there was any way under Virginia law for me to file for divorce. She said . . . only if my estranged wife’s attorneys withdrew her Marital Separation Papers. That was not likely since they had refused to do any more work until they were paid some money. They had run up the tab last April after she had told them that she was about to get a large amount of money.
I asked the attorney, “Are you telling me that we could be in this limbo status for years?” She said, “Yes!”
My family doctor: Cindy and I then drove down to Woodstock in her car to briefly meet with my family doctor, Sean Mullen. He was from Ireland. I gave him a copy of my internist’s medical file on me and told him that the pathologists in an Atlanta hospital had found arsenic, cadmium and cocaine in my system. They had also found arsenic in the entire length of hair samples and in my toe nail clippings. This indicated exposure to arsenic for at least seven years.
Of course, I had never touched cocaine in my life. They said that he had saved my life with his quick first aid treatments. I handed him a large Claxton fruit cake from Georgia as token way of saying thank you.
Dr. Mullen said that he had suspected cocaine because my urine was extremely alkaline. He also said that Diana stopped by his office later that same morning, claiming to be looking for me. She told the doctor that she was concerned about me, because I had been very depressed. Dr. Mullen told me that he looked her straight in the eye and said, “Richard was not depressed. He had been poisoned. I sent him on to the hospital.” Diana quickly departed and never had been back to his office. Apparently, she switched to another doctor.
Dr. Mullen added that Diana next drove to the Sheriff’s Department after leaving his office. She told the deputies that I was extremely depressed and had tried to commit suicide by drinking Drano plumbing cleaner. This he learned from a detective, who visited his medical office a few days later. Dr. Mullenl said that he told the detective that I was in extreme pain, did not have any symptoms of Drano poisoning, but seemed very angry, not depressed. He was going to pass a Xerox copy of the pathologist’s report on to the detective.
Cindy was parked out on South Street. We then had lunch at the Kentucky Fried Chicken near Interstate 81 and afterward drove over to my farm. Cincy had brought along her camera and a tripod, so she could take a photo of us, embracing and kissing in the pasture, surrounded by goats. She had a 20 sec. timer on her camera that enabled her to focus the photo then run to embrace me. She then retrieved a quilt from her car and suggested that we go to the barn to celebrate the place, where we first met 5 3/4 years earlier. <wink>
October 17, 1993 – At the suggestion of Susan Karlson, I began attending Roswell United Methodist Church in Roswell, GA. The huge church had over 1200 single adults and several, large singles Sunday School classes. Although, Susan did not want to go anywhere near my parents house, she wanted to continue our friendship. We could meet at church services and to out to eat afterward, without anybody noticing.
November 18, 1993: During the second week of November my wife called several long-time friends in Atlanta to tell them that she had no heat and little food for her and the dogs because I had left her alone on that cold farm. She didn’t tell them that despite the fact that she was making $38,000 a year ($80,000 today) and had over $100,000 in savings, I was paying most of the bills.
Several of my longtime friends called me up and chewed me out. Even though I was earning a third of her income, I drove up to the Shenandoah Valley in snow flurries and gave her $800, but made her sign a receipt for the cash first. The furnace was running. There was plenty of fuel oil in the tank. The dogs looked healthy, but again begged for me to let them accompany me back to wherever I lived.
I refused Diana’s invitation to stay in the house and instead made her think that I was heading south again in the dense fog and snow flurries. The red car that had been parked on the side of the Back Road, when I arrived at the farm was still there as I was leaving.
The red car pulled onto the Back Road after I passed, but stayed about an eighth of a mile behind me. As I approached the intersection of Mt. Olive Road and Interstate 81, I put on my right hand turn signal. Just at the point, where I would have turned right, I cut off all my lights and continued across the bridge to turn left toward Winchester. The red car took my bait and turned right toward Atlanta!
When I got to the condominiums, where Cindy lived, she was already cooking a big pot of German style beef stew and Southern style corn bread. German beef stew has ginger, onions, beer and mustard as flavorings. It proved to be a perfect meal for cold, damp weather. She asked me how many of my other girlfriends knew how to bake corn bread. I told her “none.” That was the right answer.
Cindy’s spacious townhouse was filled to the brim with the special moments in her life . . . trophies, plaques for awards, photos of her favorite horses, photos of Girl Scout troop on the Appalachian Trail, high school cheerleading squads, Virginia Tech cheerleading squads, the cheerleaders and football players celebrating Virginia Tech’s victory in the 1986 Peach Bowl in Atlanta, etc. On the back wall of the entrance foyer were pictures of her extended family. On row with her brothers and brothers girlfriends photos were Cindy and her boyfriend, Richard waltzing in her living room, plus Richard at Octoberfest. Wo!!!! That’s me!
I hollered, “Miss Cindy-y-y-y! How are you going to have boyfriends in Winchester with those photos of me on the wall of the entry?”
She put down a pot and came running to the entry, with her head lowered. “I am sorry, Richard. I am pushing you, aren’t I? I will take them down, if you want me to.”
“No Cindy! I am honored by those photos being up there. I am just not a good catch right now. In a matter of a few days, last April, my life was totally screwed up. Well, let me tell you something that will make you feel more secure. If you are anything like your mother, I couldn’t think of a better prospect for livelong happiness for some man than you. I have been thinking what you said about Vivi and Susan. I do truly love them and will hold them in my heart always . . . but marriage is a commitment, not an affair. As they are now, neither one of them would be capable of living with one man forever . . . without intermittent dalliances.”
She gently held my chest and kissed me on the cheek. “Richard, do you know why my parents are so supportive of you, despite not being fully single? I have inner peace around you. My mother says that since we met up in October, I am the happiest I have been, since I was a teenager.”
Just before we started the meal, she brought over her pocket book to me. She explained to me that her brain was healing from the poisoned daiquiri in August 1992, but still was not completely healed. The chemicals damaged the part of her brain that send electrical signals to her muscles – especially her legs. In her pocketbook at all times are four waterproof plastic containers, labeled “Leg Spasms, Headache, Twitching Face and Heart Stopped.” If she has any of these symptom, put one capsule under her tongue. It will dissolve almost instantly. However, she added she has had none of these problems since she started smoking pot several times a week. Her doctor at Johns Hopkins said that the main chemical in pot actually caused her brain to begin healing and that pot should be legalized as a medicine.
After the meal, Cindy insisted on holding another “little cigar and cognac” ceremony. Since it was snowing outside, we held it in the living room. She immediately started chatting away about the Health Security Act of 1993. The committee that wrote the basic text of this bill was chaired by Hillary Clinton. Opponents called it “Hillary Care.” The 245 page draft of the bill was presented to a joint session of Congress on September 22, 1993. The contents of the bill were quite similar to the Healthcare Affordability Act that was successfully passed during the Obama Administration. The bill was at that time being hotly debated in Congress and by the general public. Cindy did most of the talking because I had been focused on surviving the wife and divorce from hell.
After awhile, she shifted into other subjects like solar power, cleaning up the water of the Chesapeake Bay . . . she then discussed Virginia Senator Chuck Robb’s support for the Defense Department’s new, “don’t ask – don’t tell” policy toward gay members of the military. I shocked her by saying that I had appeared on a speech platform with Chuck Robb in Front Royal in 1986. I posed as a representative of Virginia farmers, giving him a wheel of goat cheese, made in Virginia, but actually made in the North Carolina Mountains. That became a newscast and then a campaign ad for Robb’s reelection. Cindy looked at me with surprise. “There is much I don’t know about you Richard. What other secrets have you been keeping from me?”
There is much, I couldn’t specifically tell her for ten years. I had signed a non-disclosure agreement with the Justice Department. She had no clue about the dangerous real life drama of the past three years.
When we finished the cigars, Cindy suggested we switch to pot. I told her absolutely not. If busted for pot possession, I could lose my architecture license. If she was busted for smoking pot in her home, she could lose her home to the police via the civil and criminal forfeiture laws pushed through by the Nixon Administration.
In fact, the ONLY reason that pot was criminalized was to enable the Nixon Justice Department to wiretap, arrest and imprison Anti-Vietnam War activists. Peaceful protest was a constitutional right. A “dangerous drug” like marijuana was not.
She laughed. “Silly Mister Richard, I’m not buying the pot from anyone. It’s my mama, whose growing the marijuana in her greenhouse. We will go out on the deck at their house and smoke pot. Its one of the reasons that we have stayed close. I am not buying it from anyone. Like everyone else in the Valley, my mama grew up smoking pot. Then the soldiers came in 1972 and cut down everybody’s hemp fields. The farmers grew the pot in the same fields as the hemp. No crooked cop is going to guess that I am going home to my parents to get another stash.”
She laughed at me again and responded, “Well, you will just have to be nice, while I smoke cigarettes the rest of the evening.” Actually, she only smoked a couple that night and because she had first exhorted me into a little cigar ceremony, I didn’t notice the odor of her Virginia Slims at all. Most of the time, she was too busy talking or making out with me to have time for other activities.
She had an astonishing range of intellectual interests. I could now understand why she preferred older men. The majority of men her age would have sat their silent . . . not having a clue how to respond to her mental queries. Another thing I noticed. Having a man beside her, who could carry on an intelligent conversation with her on almost any subject obviously “turned her on.” Around 10:30 PM she announced, “Well, Mister Richard, are you ready for the main attraction? All that talk about milking goats made me jealous!” I asked her to be gentle. My innards were still very sore. She was.
The next morning, I was laying in bed and watching the light snow fall. I started thinking how starkly different Cindy was from Vivi and Susan. Cindy called me Mister Richard. Vivi called me Bon Homme Richard and Susan called me “Pooky Bear.” Wonder what the significance of that was?
Vivi: I can’t even remember seeing Vivi sit on my couch at the Toms Brook Farm. Her conversations revolved around her daughter, her experiences in life and my experiences in life. She would not dwell on any one topic very long. She was either very active physically, vertical or horizontal. She was an extraordinary Cajun Style dancer, because it was derived from French folk dancing. However, she didn’t seem comfortable slow dancing.
Susan: I never danced with Susan, because she never dated anyone during the period that teenagers learn how to dance. A couch, however, whether her house on Opequon Creek or one of my houses in Georgia, was always the altar of Eros. She would always initially discuss some religious subject then quickly and overtly shift to the main attraction. I don’t recall ever having any long conversations with her on intellectual subjects, but she was an extremely smart lady, just like Vivi and Cindy.
Vivi in Alexandria
At this time, Vivi and her two children were living in a rental townhouse in Alexandria, VA. Men were constantly asking her out or even propositioning her. She was beginning to go out on dates, but cried at night for Richard. She promised God that never, ever again would she go on a meaningless fling, when there was a man, who loved her and treated her so kindly. Obviously, God was not planning to make another deal with her. No one knew what had happened to him. Numerous friends of Sara have called his farm or even gone by in person, claiming to be past architecture clients. Diana always says that her husband cleaned out their bank accounts and disappeared.
Realizing that Vivi was suffering, Bob and Sara Danby invited her and the children to join for them two weeks at Christmas. They were living on a large historic farm near Nashville, Tennessee. They were beginning to like the less neurotic lifestyle of Nashville. Aimee adored being on their farm, but continued to ask about Papa Richard. Sara loved having the baby and Aimee around, so invited Vivi to live indefinitely with them.
Vivi knew that if she continued to stay in Washington area, she would soon relapse into her promiscuous ways so she accepted with the condition that she pay all the costs of renovating the two story farmhouse and that she pay for at least half of the utilities and food. When the rent lease on the Alexandria townhouse ended in April, Vivi moved her possessions to a caretakers cottage on the Tennessee farm.
There has been one break in the search for Richard, but it is not positive. In mid-July, an embedded FBI agent in West Virginia observed Diana entering a house that was under surveillance. The occupants were believed to be supplying poisons to the Mafia for contract murders.
November 28, 1993 – A guy in my singles Sunday School class asked me, I would like to attend the Atlanta Tall Peoples Club New Years Eve Dance at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Dunwoody, GA . . . where GA 400 tollway joins I-285. He asked me how many tickets I wanted to buy. I said two. After the class, as we were walking down the hallway to the church service, I invited Susan to join me for the dance. She said that she would be out of town all of December.
After we ate lunch with several members of the Sunday School class, I got to thinking. Would Cindy like to fly down here after Christmas? My parents were going to be in New York City for a week after Christmas. I called her up on my cellular phone. She answered!
“Hey Cindy!” She screamed with joy. “Mister Richard . . . just been thinking about you. I have been missing you so much. I was thinking how nice it would be if we could be together at Christmas. Has your ex-wife agreed to sign the divorce papers yet?”
“Nope, she still is demanding that I file for bankruptcy before she will go before a judge.”
“Richard, she is more crazy than I thought.”
I hesitated for a second . . . then . . . well here goes: “Cindy, my parents are going to be in New York City from December 27 to January 33d. How would you like to fly down here for the week and be my escort for the annual Atlanta Tall Peoples Club New Years Ball at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Dunwoody, north of Atlanta. Right now I am as poor as church mouse, but I have paid for the tickets. Honestly, you will have to pay for other fun things. I hate to say that but it’s the truth.“
She squealed again, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! And I have a surprise for you! I am going back to college. You have eight years of college. I just have four. In a few years, you will find me boring.”
“Cindy, I don’t think that you will ever be boring.”
“Mister Richard, here is what’s happening. A big construction company out of Dallas has bought Larry’s company. He is now a multi-millionaire with no debts. Since I was Treasurer, they gave me a pink parachute of six months salary. That’s over $25,000. Since I was accepted a George Mason University a long time ago, but moved in with Jake instead, I can start part time classes in Advanced German and Beginning Spanish. Then if my GRE (Graduate Entrance Exam) is high enough, I will start Georgetown University next fall. All my classes from George Mason will transfer. So I will be able to stay way past New Years Eve with you!“
“Cindy, I have one request. I realize that our little cigar ceremonies mean as much to you as the pipe ceremonies meant to Susan. At least partially, because they represented a compromise on my part. HOWEVER, those Dutch cigars that you bought in Winchester stink up my clothes. My mother could smell my dirty clothes from the hallway and asked if I had taken up cigar smoking. I told her that everybody up in the Valley are German or Dutch. Both the men and the women smoke cigars in the restaurants. She believed me this time, but . . .”
“Yes, Mister Richard, I love doing the little cigar ceremony with you, because we are doing the same thing at the same time, but I did have to wash my bed linens and curtains after you left. Arabela’s Dutch cigars did not smell bad at all.”
“Cindy, Ana’s French cigars smelled like sage or incense. They didn’t stink up anything. I know that you hate copying your competition, but could check around, if you can find some of Ana’s stink-free French cigars.”
“Yes, I will be happy to, Mister Richard.”
“Hey Cindy, I will tell my parents that I am going cross-country skiing in North Carolina, New Years Day weekend. If you don’t mind paying for the motel, that would enable us to be together longer.”
“Mister Richard, you cross country ski? I learn something new about you every hour. I love to cross country ski. I’m bringing my skis on the plane!”
December 27, 1993 – Cindy’s plane from Dulles arrived about the same time that my parents’ plane took off for New York-Kennedy Airport. Cindy again acted like we had been separated for a year. We drove along the least attractive landscape of South Metro Atlanta. Cindy commented, “We flew down to Atlanta in 1986 for the Peach Bowl. I don’t remember Atlanta looking like this. It is definitely not the Shenandoah Valley.”
“Well, it’s wintertime Miss Cindy. This area of the metro looks much prettier, when the flowers are blooming in the spring.“
Cindy was not real excited about the house either. Her first comment, upon entering the house was, “You poor man. You have been kidnapped from that beautiful farm with the big, beautiful house to live in this? Your kitchen is longer and wider than their kitchen and family room combined – and your ceiling is a foot higher.”
On August 4, 2021 Cindy recalled having to sleep on a twin size bed and so asked if we could relocate to a nice motel. My sister fact-checked us later in the day and informed me that all of the beds in the two guest rooms were full-size beds. I responded that they must of been small, full-size beds because my feet hung over the ends of the mattresses.
At any rate, Cindy called her father to get the number of his Virginia Tech motel discount card. He responded by asking her where the New Year’s Ball was being held. She asked me. I told her the Crown Plaza International Hotel in Dunwoody, GA. He told her that he was calling up the Crown Plaza and making reservations there, using his credit card. He told Cindy to tell me that it was his way of saying thank you for making his Apple Blossom smile again.
New Years Day was on a Saturday. After the obligatory New Years Day Morning Delight, there was really nothing to do in the hotel or nearby Buckhead. We checked out, but left standing our Monday night reservation. She was flying home on Tuesday.
We drove as far as the northeastern tip of Georgia on Sunday. There were patches of snow on the ground in the Dillard Valley and solid snow farther up in elevation. We stayed at the Dillard House Inn and Restaurant that night. Cindy was absolutely astounded by the Christmas decorations at the Dillard Inn complex. She told me, “Mister Richard, you have given me a Honeymoon Quality vacation this weekend. I am going to have to give you deluxe quality companionship in return.” I reminded her to be gentle. My innards were not nearly as well healed as her brain!
January 1994 – I was offered a three month contract with an architecture firm in Midtown Atlanta and so soon after rented a roundette at Sunny Brook Stables on Roswell Road. Susan would not visit there, because it was so visible to the public – especially customers of the stables. She showed no affection for me in Sunday School classes and we did not sit together in Sunday School . . . but did sit together in church services. That ended the problem with my parents, controlling every aspect of my life. I could not visit Virginia during the three month contract period, while Cindy had Friday and Monday classes, so she couldn’t get away.
March 28-April 5, 1994 – George Mason University had a Spring Break that coincided with Easter Weekend so I drove up to the Valley to repaint the front porch as requested by the realtor. Cindy and I spent Saturday night, Easter Sunday and Sunday night at her parents house. Cindy had told that my divorce was almost finalized (not true). They matter-of-factly told us which room we both would be sleeping in. I figured it was better to cover for Cindy than make a scene. There was no chance of me and Diana ever even being on speaking terms again. We attended Luther Memorial Lutheran Church in Blacksburg on Easter Sunday. I took communion with Cindy. She LOVED it!
March 11, 1994: I was hired by another architecture firm in Midtown and within a month was named Director of Architectural Design – with a salary of of $40, 000 a year [$85,000 today].
May 27-30, 1994: My realtor called to tell me that my wife was giving away my farm equipment to men she dated. She had already given away a $5000 tractor to one boyfriend. He had observed a boyfriend pull my $2500 canoe out of the barn, but he couldn’t mount it on his pickup truck. It was sitting out in the rain and the wood was rotting. I drove up to the farm and quickly mounted the canoe on the pickup then drove to Alexandria. Diana, The Anti-wife, was still refusing to proceed with a settlement of our divorce. She said that unless I agreed to file for bankruptcy, she would destroy me forever financially.
My realtor asked me to drive up to the farm to repaint a section of the exterior of the house exposed to the north winds and the gutters on the cheese creamery. He notified my wife, because she was still living with a guy in Chantilly, VA near the Dulles Airport. When I arrived at the farm, I noticed that all of the extremely valuable Mexican silver coffee and tea service is sitting on the floor of the Keeping Room. It is my property, but apparently, she wanted me to break into the house and retrieve it, to give an excuse for her to call the sheriff and have me arrested. At the time there were no court papers clearly stating that I had inherited the silver.
A new family was now living in the Danby House. They did not know where the Danby’s were living. HOWEVER, a beautiful French woman had come to their house one day and asked to photograph certain rooms. That means that Vivi had not forgotten me.
The last night in Winchester, I suggested that we eat out. She was shocked that I actually paid for the meal. My finances were radically improving with the new job. Her father was Chairman of the Montgomery County, VA Democratic Party Committee. Recent political polls showed that because he was so popular with farmers and Lutherans, in the upcoming 1996 election, he could beat any Democratic or Republican candidate in the Ninth Congressional District.
June 24, 1994: I called the Farmers Coop in Shenandoah County to get the balance due on feed for the goats and sheep. A little later one of the women there called me back to complain about my wife’s behavior. She had traded her Ford Thunderbird for a station wagon. The woman said that she was going all over the county and picking up teenage boys to have sex with her in the back of the station wagon. She asked me to do something about it. I told her that we were separated and I was 650 miles away.
May 13, 1995: At this time, Vivi and her two children were living near Nashville, but she flew to Washington to attend a farewell party for Ambassador Andreani. She drove over to the farm on Saturday in a rental car to say goodbye to my soul and remember the wonderful summer that we spent together there in 1992. She and Aimee picked a bouquet of wild flowers and left them on the porch.
Vivi noticed that there was a ladder leaning against the front of the house, but did not see anybody. She arrived at just the moment that I was a mile away at Bakers Store, getting supplies to make sandwiches for lunch! Just a few minutes before after her actual arrival and she would have seen me. I probably passed her car on the way back to the farm. I was spooked by fresh bouquet of flowers on the porch, but nothing else happened that day, so I forgot about it.
June 1995: Ambassador Jacques Andreani has moved back to France. Vivi has given up hope of ever finding me alive. Vivi visited the office of National Park Service Director Roger Kennedy in hope that he knew where I was or what happened to me. He also was puzzled why I suddenly disappeared, but believed that my former wife was lying, when she said that she didn’t know were I was. He told Vivi that he planned to offer me the choice of several important positions. She then flew back to Paris with her children, but remained in mourning for several years . . . not wanting any other men in her life.
June-August 1994: Diana spent the summer in Europe, ringing up over $8000 in credit card debt. She made no allowance for anyone to feed the dogs, goats or sheep. Miraculously, the dogs lived off of ground hogs, while the goats thrived on the forage in our pastures. We were offered a sales contract on the farm just before she was to fly to Europe, but she refused to see the realtor.
July 1994: My father sent me a clipping from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in which the Cobb County government was seeking a person with a strong background in Urban Design to be its new Principal Planner. Applicants with experience in Downtown Revitalization would get special consideration. The starting pay was $54,000-$74,000.
The job description seemed tailor-made for me. It was, actually. I was walking into a Satanic trap, but I would not realize it for awhile. I interviewed for the job and was quickly selected. The Community Development Director told me on the phone that I would start at $64,000 then after my six months review would probably jump to $74,000. My first day of work was on July 17, 1995.
July 17, 1994: I started work with Cobb County. Almost immediately after arriving to work, I was informed by the Community Development Director that I was also going to be the Historic Preservation Planner. He said that I would not be paid for that position until after my one year review, but it would enable to be making $100,000 year at that time. [He lied . . . as always]
July 28, 1994: I received my first paycheck from Cobb County. I was shocked to see that it was based on an annual salary of $24,000 a year! That was $21,000 less than what I had been making at the JKL Associates, Architects in Midtown Atlanta. Financially, I was back to where I had been during the starving time of 1993 and 1994. The Community Development Director lied yet again and said that the Finance Department had forgotten to put money in the budget for Principal Planner. Actually, the money was in the budget for me to be paid $74,000. They just didn’t give me the money.
September 1994: Diana refused to sign the real estate sales contract that would have given each of us over $100,000 cash, after paying all of our debts.
I discovered a fascinating law in the OCGA (Official Codes of Georgia – Annotated). It is an old law from the early 1800s. If both spouses were born in Georgia and married in Georgia, the spouse living in Georgia may file for divorce unilaterally for a divorce. I was longer forced to wait until my wife’s attorneys in Virginia amend their Marriage Separation Agreement into a Divorce Petition. I filed my Divorce petition to the county district court. It was perfect legally and put on the calendar for December 16, 1995. I called Cindy with the good news. I would be a divorced man by Christmas. The tragic thing is that I could have filed for divorce anytime in 1993, if I had not depended on the opinion of lawyers in Virginia, on whom I wasted $2000 for nothing.
October 1994: Diana took the two female dogs to the animal control center and asked that they be immediately killed. Each was a trained, pure bred herd dog, worth $600-$800. My realtor was furious because he had been feeding and providing veterinary care for my dogs for almost two yearw. He would have been delighted to take the dogs home with him, since she completely ignored them and the dogs adored them.
My realtor called me and begged me to get the remaining dog, plus the goats and sheep off that farm. It was about to sell, so Diana was in the process of selling the most productive dairy goats in the United States for meat. He was really beginning to hate Diana, as much as I did. She got one of her boyfriends to shoot our 7 beautiful Toulouse geese and throw their bodies into the lower level of the barn, where the stench of decaying flesh would prevent the goats taking refuge there in winter weather. The geese fed themselves year round. They produced at least 32 offspring each year, which could be eaten or sold, without any cost of maintenance whatsoever.
Diana also threw several boxes of Pre-Columbian artifacts from Mexico and Georgia into the lower level of the barn then shot them with a pistol or 22 cal. rifle. About 3/4th of the artifacts were shattered. I had carefully maintained these precious future heirlooms for 25 years. All that effort was destroyed in a few moments by a crazy woman, obsessed with destroying me.
November 3, 1994: My realtor told me that Diana was never on the farm on weekends. A friend of my Uncle Hal pulled his livestock trailer with me in the truck cab to my Virginia farm during the night. We quickly loaded all of the goats and sheep into the trailer then invited my beloved male dog, Winchester, into the cab . . . . then sped back to Georgia. My livestock and Winchester would live on his farm until I was able to buy or rent a farm myself. The good Samaritan only asked that he get all the goat kids and lambs as long as they stayed on his farm.
November 23, 1994: When I got back from celebrating Thanksgiving with my family, I called Cindy. “My dear and beloved Cindy. I will have my intestines repaired by surgery on December 8 and be divorced on December 16. I am hereby inviting you to live with me over the Christmas holidays and be presented to my family on Christmas Day. You can stay forever with me or come back for good, later. Boy, will they be surprised. They do not know that you exist.“
Cindy responded with a big “Yes, Mister Richard . . . I have been in love with you for eight years. The semester won’t be over at Georgetown until late January, but I will return to your arms forever soon thereafter. Mama and Daddy told me the other day, if I would be willing to move to Georgia to live with you, they would buy that 110 acre farm for us now. We could buy it from them, when your farm in Virginia sells.”
December 7, 1994: The same buyer offered more money for our farm, which would have given us $110,000 each with all debts paid. Diana refused to sign the sales contract then secretly began filling out forms for bankruptcy in the US Bankruptcy Court of Western Virginia. She used the loan of the farm property as her primary debt, even though my payments to the loan are current and she has made no contribution to paying the loan since early 1993.
December 8, 1994: I finally had the surgery to repair my damaged colon. The surgeon put 110 stitches in my colon, plus installed a nylon mesh to hold my organs together. After surgery, I was offered oxycodene pain killer, but the surgery pain seemed like nothing compared to the pain I had endured inside me since August 3, 1993.
The night of December 16 . . . after my first divorce hearing, I returned to my roundette, expecting to see a blinking light on the answering machine from Cindy. There was none. I called Cindy, but just got her answering machine. I kept on calling until 2 AM, but still she was not there. I resumed calling her the next morning. After still not getting an answer by late Saturday afternoon, I called her parents. They could not get an answer either. Now all of us were concerned.
December 18, 1994: Cindy’s father called early Sunday morning to tell me that Cindy had been in an auto accident on 1-95 near Springfield, VA late in the afternoon of December 16. He didn’t understand what she was doing on I-95. She always drove home from Georgetown on I-66. She had been taken to a hospital, but was not in critical condition.
Early Sunday evening, her father called again. Cindy had been treated for heroin withdrawal at Springfield Medical Center and released to the custody of the Virginia State Police. No one knew where she was now.
I freaked out. “She doesn’t touch hard drugs.” He said, “I know. We are really getting worried now. If she has been in an accident, they need to know about her brain damage. She needs those medicines that she carries with her all he time.”
December 19, 1994: Members of the Northwest Virginia Drug Task Force broke down the front door of her condominium. They found about a tablespoon of pot in a plastic bag in her dresser drawer, cigarette paper, plus several cigarette lighters around the house. Even in the severe laws of the 1990s, that was only good for a misdemeanor conviction, resulting in 30-60 days in jail and a $5000 fine. Before notifying the media of the raid they had several large bales of fake marijuana hauled in from a warehouse near Centerville, VA. The bales were stacked in Cynthia’s garage.
December 20, 1994: Cindy’s father called that night to tell me that some marijuana had been found in her car after the accident. She was in the medical wing of the Fairfax Jail. They were not being allowed to talk to her on the phone. No bond hearing would be held until December 28. Until then she would remain in the jail. He said that she would be spending Christmas Eve behind bars and so could not join my family for Christmas. I could tell that the man was weeping. He kept saying, “If she had only listened to you. If she had only listened to you.”
December 21, 1994: My realtor sent me the clipping from the Northern Virginia Daily newspaper, which is at the top of the chapter. For two years and seven months that clipping was all that I knew about Cindy’s crimes. I felt betrayed again . . . just like when Vivi took off with a wealthy Englishman, when I needed her most. The sweet Virginia Belle had turned out to be a heroin addict and bigtime drug dealer.
One thing always puzzled me. I had been in Cindy’s garage many times. I never saw any bricks or bales of marijuana. Her mother always gave her marijuana in a small can used for storing gourmet tea leaves.
January 25, 1995: I received a brief note from Cindy’s father in the mail. He said that Cindy had been sentenced to seven years and no parole to a federal prison for women in Illinois, which was designed for hardened criminals and major drug dealers. He said that Cindy has had a neurological breakdown and is in no state to talk or write to me. She did tell him to tell me that she will always love me as long as she lives . . . and that she was so sorry for letting me down.
Oh . . . later on that year . . . Commonwealth’s Attorney Belcher lost the Republican nomination to James Gilmore, who ran on a platform that all drug dealers should be executed by a firing squad, just like they do in China. There should be no leniency for first offenders. Gilmore handedly defeated his Democratic opponent.
Sorry, in addition to the 1993 Octoberfest color slide, I had well over 50 high quality photos of Cindy or Cindy and I in a drawer of an antique buffet. It was one of several antiques, along with my pottery kiln, which was stolen from my rental storage bin in March 2012. Cindy says that she also had a equal number of photos of us, stored in the top drawer of her dresser. All of her personal property was seized along with her townhouse in December 1995. All of her furniture was either auctioned off or dumped in the city land fill.