true crime

An update on an old true crime story…

In October 2013, when Bill and I were still living in Texas, I spontaneously wrote a blog entry about a memory from my days at Longwood University (then Longwood College). I reposted that entry in 2020, and it still frequently gets hits. When I look on Google, I see that my post is at the top of search results about Frederick West Greene, a man who, along with a “friend”, murdered a classmate over an insult, buried him, and didn’t tell a soul what happened until a couple of years had passed. I wouldn’t have known anything about Greene if not for a chance encounter when I was in college in the spring of 1992.

A friend of mine introduced me to her cute male friend from her high school in tiny Franklin, Virginia. His name was West, and he was a cadet at Virginia Military Institute, which was at that time still an all male college. My dad was a VMI graduate, as was my uncle and several of my cousins. Several family members worked at VMI back in the day, too, although no one does now. That may be why I paid particular attention to my friend’s friend. I recall that she really seemed to like West very much.

On August 14, 1992, then 20 year old Greene was arrested and charged with capital murder, robbery, and use of a firearm. Greene and his friend, Michael Jervey, fatally shot their 17 year old classmate Trent Whitley, then buried him on a farm owned by Jervey’s parents. For two years, no one knew what happened to Whitley. But Mr. Jervey eventually confessed to the crime. Two days later, Greene was arrested.

I remember my friend talking about it. She was in utter shock and disbelief, as the gruesome details about her former friend and classmate came out to the public. I remember her saying, her voice filled with anguish, “How could he do that?” I didn’t know it at the time, but she had spent a lot of time alone with this man who was a murderer. There’s no doubt in my mind that she realized he was capable of anything. I’m sure it made her blood run cold to think about it. It’s entirely possible that she could have been one of his victims, under certain circumstances.

Below is a newspaper clipping from VMI’s student newspaper about Greene’s arrest when it happened.

Wow… the years have passed so fast…

I am not close to the case involving Greene. I’m not from Franklin. I just happened to know one of West’s high school classmates, who went to college with me. I have a mind that stows memories very efficiently, and I like to write about things that happened long ago. Maybe it’s my way of preserving the past. My days at Longwood were pretty good, most of the time. I still have many friends from that time in my life, and I even still talk to some of my old professors. I find true crime a fascinating subject, too. That’s really the only reason I brought up West Greene on my blog. I’m glad I wrote that post, since it got me back in touch with my old classmate. We’re still in touch now, even though she eschews Facebook (good for her). She does follow this case closely, because she still lives near Franklin, and many people there know the families and victim involved in this crime.

Google tells me that Greene’s father, Frederick West Greene, Jr., died January 18, 2019. Greene’s father, who went by the name Fred, was himself employed as a warden at one of Virginia’s many prisons. He was living in Brevard, North Carolina when he passed.

Recently, my friend let me know that Mr. Greene was recently released from prison on parole. I see from a cursory Google search, Greene was granted release on May 11, 2019. Although Greene was sentenced to a long prison stint, and Virginia abolished parole consideration for felonies committed in 1995 or later, Greene’s crimes were committed before 1995. Virginia now requires felons to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences, but parole is still granted in some situations. He now lives in Brunswick, North Carolina, and on January 4, 2022, was charged with assault by strangulation. His mugshot appears here. It appears that Greene still has some violent tendencies. It surprises me that Greene was allowed out of prison in Virginia, and that he is evidently still free in North Carolina after allegedly committing a violent crime. How is this not a violation of Greene’s parole?

I’ve learned from watching Jessica Kent’s excellent YouTube videos about her prison experiences that ex-cons have to adhere to strict conditions to stay out of prison. She has said on more than one occasion that if she messes up, she can easily land right back in the pokey. Jessica Kent actually comes across as a pretty good person, even though she’s been in prison. How is it that she has to walk a straight and narrow path, but that evidently doesn’t apply to every felon? I mean, Jessica didn’t kill anyone. West Greene did. But apparently, he’s out. I can’t explain it, but I will be watching to see what happens.

I would like to write more, but there isn’t a lot about this case open right now. Since I live in Europe, I have to use a VPN to access the old articles from my hometown paper, the Daily Press, and I don’t have a VPN set up on this computer. Suffice to say, I was surprised Greene was released. My friend says it’s possible he got out for compassionate reasons, as evidently his mother was very ill. Generally speaking, I am for humane treatment of people in prison. I think we have too many incarcerated people in the United States. But… I do draw the line at violent criminals who are unrepentant and liable to reoffend. I don’t know the circumstances of Greene’s recent arrest, but it does appear that he was arrested for being violent. I pray for the safety of those around him.

Standard
memories

September 11th

It’s that time of year again. Ever since September 11, 2001, Americans go into memorial mode and recall the day when our country was attacked and life changed forever. I have shared this story before, but since it’s September 11th again, I’m going to write about how I spent that day and where it ultimately led me.

I am a firm believer that good things come out of almost every situation. Sometimes you have to look really hard to see the good in a situation. Sometimes things happen that you wish wouldn’t have happened, no matter what positive effect occurred. In my case, I think September 11th helped me find my way to the altar and, ultimately, a better life. I wish it hadn’t happened that way, but it kind of did…

Flashback to 2001… Labor Day weekend. I had just started my third and final year in my dual master’s degree program at the University of South Carolina. Bill had just been transferred from Leavenworth, Kansas to the Pentagon only a few weeks prior. We were both itching for a change of scenery, so I suggested we meet up at my grandmother’s house in Natural Bridge, Virginia. Prior to that meeting, we’d only had one other in person meeting, back in May of that year. The Army had sent Bill to Columbia, South Carolina on business, like they’d done the year prior. I missed Bill on his first visit, but caught him on his second.

I remember after our May meeting, I wasn’t sure how I felt about him. He seemed taken with me and repeatedly told me that it would be hard to go back to typing since he’d met me. But then all summer, we kept writing to each other. Seeing him again over Labor Day seemed right. He came down, met my aunt, uncle, and grandmother, and we spent a magical weekend together. We visited Goshen Pass and had a fantastic time…

I took this picture in November 2014, but we visited in September 2001, when it was hot enough for swimming. It was so much fun!

As Bill was leaving Granny’s house, she told me that I should marry him. Granny was, at that time, 95 years old and sharp as a tack. She loved Bill, and after that weekend, so did I. I remember practically floating all the way back to South Carolina. All week, I thought about our amazing Labor Day weekend in Virginia. And then came September 11th.

That morning was absolutely beautiful. The weather was warm and sunny, but not oppressively hot. I wore a short black skirt, bright blue long sleeved blouse, and black tights. Back then, I dressed up most days because I had to look professional. I was planning to actually be a professional, rather than an overeducated housewife. I had to go to my field placement at the Recovering Professionals Program. I was compiling data for a project I was working on when my friend, Jennifer, told me about the first plane that had crashed into the World Trade Center. I didn’t think much of it at the time. She’d heard about it on the radio, so had no visual appreciation for what had happened.

Then the second plane hit.

Next thing I knew, the Pentagon was hit… And I realized that Bill, unofficially my new boyfriend, was at the Pentagon. Bill’s office had just been moved to a different location. It was originally in the area that was hit by the jet airliner that crashed into the Pentagon that day. If they hadn’t moved his office, he probably would have died on 9/11. Then, another plane went down in Pennsylvania. It seemed like the world was ending.

All day long, I wondered if Bill was dead or alive. I was still calling him my “friend”, but I knew we had more than friendship. I’d been chatting with him since November 1999, when we were both making new beginnings. He had separated from his ex wife and I had started grad school. We’d chatted platonically for a few months before he told me about his wife and children. I remember being shocked and sad for him… and, if I’m honest, a little sad for me. I knew I liked him, even in early 2000. But, he was in Kansas; I was in South Carolina; and I never had any intention of ever meeting him offline, let alone marrying him.

But then Ex served Bill with divorce papers at his father’s house over Easter 2000. They were divorced by June 2000. She had a boyfriend living in the house Bill was still paying for, and he was playing “daddy” to Ex’s three kids– two of whom were Bill’s daughters. She gladly took his money every month, but pushed him out of their children’s lives. Bill’s replacement is still married to her and they have had two more children. We hear #3 doesn’t get treated very well at all, but back then, according to her, new boyfriend was practically perfect, and Bill was a bastard who had ruined everything. Ex told Bill no other woman would ever want him. She didn’t know about me.

Fate conspired to have us meet. It was as if the stars aligned for our unlikely union. My aunt’s brother, Ralph, met Bill at a National Guard convention just a few weeks before I met him in person. Ralph is a retired Guardsman as well as a retired Virginia State Trooper. He assured me Bill wasn’t a psycho. I felt safe in meeting him in May 2001 and again in September 2001. By the time Labor Day 2001 was over, I knew I could love him. By the time 9/11 was over, I knew I wanted to marry him.

My mom and I talked on the phone and she told me not to expect to hear from Bill for awhile. Mom is a very experienced Air Force wife, so she was giving me practical advice about Bill, even though she’d never met him and was hearing of my “boyfriend” for the first time. As soon as I hung up the phone, Bill sent me a message on Yahoo! Messenger, letting me know he was okay. He had tried to call me, but the phone number he had for me was one digit off. I swear it wasn’t on purpose that the number was wrong. I probably just forgot it myself. No one ever calls me anyway, even back in 2001, when someone might have a reason to call.

I was very relieved that Bill had survived the terrorist attack, especially since he could have been killed just for being at the Pentagon, and would have been killed if his office hadn’t been moved. And I told him it was time we came out of the closet and told our families we were dating, because if something had happened to him, I never would have been informed. Bill agreed. Weeks later, he and his mom joined my big family at our annual Thanksgiving party in Natural Bridge, Virginia. Bill told him mom he was thinking of proposing and his mom, who was never a fan of Ex, said, “I approve.”

A year later, on November 16th, 2002, Bill and I were married at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. My dad was a graduate, as is an uncle and several cousins. Another uncle and at least two aunts worked at VMI. It’s about fifteen miles from Natural Bridge, which is where my dad’s family calls home. Just last week, 23andMe introduced me to a long, lost relative whose biological father was my great uncle. He was from Natural Bridge, too. It’s fitting that we were married in Rockbridge County, since that’s really my home, even if I never officially lived there.

One of the things that went right on our wedding day.

Our wedding day was imperfect, to say the least. Although the ceremony itself was beautiful and meaningful, some things went horribly awry. The most memorable SNAFU involved Bill’s dad, who was also his best man, locking his knees and almost fainting before we said our vows. And then, after the wedding, we spent two weeks unofficially married, because somehow our marriage license got lost in the mail. It was put in a mailbox in Lexington just after the ceremony, but the Rockbridge County clerk’s office either never got it or misplaced it.

In 2002, Virginia law stipulated, and still stipulates, that newly married couples have five days to file their marriage licenses after the ceremony. Otherwise, the license is null and void. I was waiting for the official license to get to us, but it never did. Bill called the county clerk’s office and was treated very badly by the staff. Eventually, the county clerk got on the phone and told Bill that even if the license was somehow found, it would not be honored, since it got to them beyond the deadline.

Bill and I went to the court in Fredericksburg, Virginia, which was where we were living at the time. We explained our situation, but they told us there was nothing they could do, as we were already “married”. But we were not officially married, so we couldn’t take care of any personal business. And Rockbridge County was telling us that even if they received our license, the deadline had passed and they would not be honoring it. The court clerk was very uncooperative and unhelpful, and offered no solutions on what we could do to fix the situation. In fact, he became quite belligerent with Bill and accused him of being “abusive” (which is real laugh– good thing he didn’t speak to me).

I was shocked by this turn of events… especially since I’ve always known people in Rockbridge County to be nice and helpful, but then in the wake of our wedding, discovered that there are some real assholes living there. My family has been in that county for a couple hundred years and I am probably related to many people who live there and haven’t left… and a lot of people haven’t left. I’m sure some people think I’m an asshole, too, but I can’t imagine why that clerk wasn’t more sympathetic to our situation. What were we supposed to do? Was he on some kind of power trip?

Fortunately, Bill is used to dealing with assholes and he’s also a very tenacious, yet pleasant, polite, and even-keeled kind of guy. He called Virginia’s Attorney General’s office to find out who the Rockbridge County court clerk worked for. Next, realizing it was an election year, he called both our local representative and Rockbridge County’s representative, explained the situation, and told them that he was a 9/11 survivor. I couldn’t get a new Social Security card, military ID, or any other benefits until the clerk did the job the people elected him to do.

Both representatives lit a fire under the clerk’s ass and after our officiant sent him a copy of the license application, the clerk begrudgingly handed over our official license, albeit with a nasty letter falsely accusing Bill of being “abusive” and admitting that he hadn’t wanted to help him because, basically, his feelings were hurt. Seriously?

I don’t like to call people snowflakes, but that guy must be a big one if my husband hurt his feelings. Wow. I have a feeling that the guy was just angry that Bill didn’t let him bully him and demanded that the clerk do his fucking job. Seems to be a trend in our marriage… People mistake Bill’s kindness for weakness and think they can steamroll him, make threats and false accusations, and take advantage. But I know the truth. Underneath that pleasant exterior beats the heart of a true warrior… and anyone who crosses Bill should remember that he makes his living planning battles. Yes, he’s a super nice guy, but he’s neither stupid nor cowardly, and especially now, he doesn’t tolerate bullies (including Ex).

I won’t even get into what Ex thought of our nuptials. Oh, okay… I’ll say this. When Bill told her he was going to propose to me, she asked if I was LDS. Bill and Ex were “sealed” for eternity and, at the time, he was still Mormon. So she wanted to know if I was going to be joining the fold. He said I wasn’t. She said he must love me very much. She was referring to the idea that Bill was giving up “eternal glory” to marry a “Gentile” (that is, a non-Mormon with no plans to convert). We would not be “sister wives” in the hereafter, and she couldn’t use her position as Bill’s first wife and mother of his kids, or LDS “teachings”, to cow me into submission.

In November, we will have been happily married for seventeen years. They have been seventeen years well spent. Would we have gotten married if not for 9/11? Probably. But I think 9/11 definitely sped things along and forced us to admit our feelings and tremendous chemistry for each other. We’ve had our share of problems from the outside, but our marriage has always been rock solid. We get along ridiculously well, and work as partners.

There were some things in my life that I didn’t do right, but I did find the right life partner. And as horrible as 9/11 was, it did show me that I had found the right man and I didn’t want to lose him. So… while I will always feel somber for the many people who died or were injured due to terrorism on 9/11/01, I will also remember that day as the day my life changed for the better. But I will also always remember that it was also a very dark day, as it took away America’s innocence and, I’m sorry to say, its collective spirit of generosity. I truly hope we get some of that kindness back in my lifetime.

Standard