I’ve spent the better part of this week with the photograph of Camille Riley in front of me. I didn’t put it there on purpose, but it seems every time I open a file or click into our website, there she is.

I have to admit this story touched me.

If you’ve somehow managed to miss it, I’ll catch you up. Twenty-year-old former Milton High student murdered in Mississippi – that is the gist of it.

But there is so much more behind those words.

Two of my children are in her age range – one is 21, the other is 23. My son knew her from MHS. And my daughter lives very far away, like daughters sometimes do.

Investigators have not released yet what happened to Camille, other than she was asphyxiated. And they consider it a homicide.

To a mother, she represents every irrational fear parents have, come true.

To her friends…to her friends, she was obviously a beloved person. Reading her Facebook page is bittersweet. Immediately, I see the admiration her friends have for her. Some people who posted admitted they didn’t know her that well, but that Camille “never met a stranger”. She is described as compassionate; loyal; a free spirit. There is a photo of one of her  friends getting a memory tattoo in her honor, just posted a night or two ago.

I spoke to a mother today. Her daughter was one of Camille’s best friends. We don’t know each other, this lady and I, but we had tears together on the phone by the time we hung up.

Unlike most people who hear of a tragedy and feel they can’t do anything, I can. In this position at the newspaper, my job included duties that allow me to get some of my sadness over a loss out by sharing the information we gather. I’ve been on top of this story since I first found out about it. There is so much going on behind the scenes in the investigation. I’ve spoken with three police detectives and they aren’t ready to name a suspect or talk about how close they are to making an arrest.

Every day I ask, every day they put me off. So I wait, you wait, her parents wait, her friends wait.


Camille waits.

In the meantime, my creative mind takes the details of what we do know and forms a picture of her lying there for days while people looked for her.

When I was in my twenties, there were periods of time when I refused to read the local daily paper. Actually, I do that now with certain on-line news organizations because all they do is pile on tragic, horrible stories – one after another – and it’s too much for the mind and heart to process.

I can’t do anything to help the people in the stories that national news agencies feature.

But I can do something here in Santa Rosa County.

I can keep you informed up to the minute - in our printed paper, on our website, on Twitter and Facebook.

As soon as they tell us what happened, we’ll tell you. And we’ll let you know about traffic tie-ups and big news events, even freezing weather so you can prepare.

Corny as it might sound, we’re neighbors and we’re in this together.

Good times or bad.

R.I.P. Camille.

Published Oct. 26, 2013