• Lifestyle

    A History of Homes

    This letter originally appeared in the January issue of Lake Norman CURRENTS. In my lifetime, I’ve owned three homes with my husband. They have all been uniquely different, and they all represent important touchstones in the history of our marriage. We purchased our first home in the spring following the year we got married. At the encouragement of some friends of ours, we checked out an older, more established neighborhood in High Point, N.C. At the time I was working in Winston-Salem and Daniel was working in Greensboro, so High Point seemed like a natural place to set up a home in between. The neighborhood had craftsman and Tudor-style homes built in the…

  • True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: The Murder of Karen Styles

    It was Halloween of 1994. Karen was a 22-year-old recent graduate of Western Carolina University, which is located in Cullowhee, North Carolina. Due to its location in the Western North Carolina mountains, the school attracts thousands of students each year who love exploring all the area has to offer. Styles had probably run in wooded trails while in college numerous times without a second thought. But on this day in 1994, she never returned from her 8 a.m. run in the Pisgah National Forest, just a few miles away from where she had been staying at her parents home in nearby town of Candler. Her car was found later that evening in the…

  • Lifestyle

    Wrapped Up with a Bow

    This letter originally appeared in the December edition of Lake Norman CURRENTS. This time of year always brings back a rush of memories from when I worked in the retail industry in my teens and early 20s and the oh-so valuable life lessons I learned. My first memory that stands out is my time working at Belk Department Store. Now, if you’re a woman and you’ve never worked at Belk or shopped there, you can’t really consider yourself southern, in my opinion. When I was in high school, our local store at The Asheville Mall interviewed a number of teenagers from the surrounding high schools and then selected a handful of us to…

  • True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: How Visine Drops Contributed to Stacy Hunsucker’s Death

    Most people wouldn’t think of Visine, a common over-the-counter eye drop product used to treat itchy and dry eyes as a murder weapon, but one Gaston County man awaiting trial is accused of using it as just that. On September 23, 2018, Stacy Robinson Hunsucker, a 32-year-old Charlotte preschool teacher and mother of two young daughters, passed away suddenly at the home she shared with her husband. Stacy had suffered from heart problems in the past and actually had a pacemaker implanted not long after the birth of the couple’s second daughter. Her husband, 35-year-old Jonathan Lee Hunsucker, refused to authorize an autopsy after her death, attributing his wife’s sudden passing to “myocardial…

  • True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: Kevin Collins, the Original Face on the Milk Carton

    The 1980s were a much different time for parents and children. Kids would spend hours playing outdoors with friends after school and it wasn’t unusual for them to be late for dinner. But on the night of Feb. 10, 1984, when 10-year-old Kevin Collins didn’t make it home from basketball practice in San Francisco, Ca., his mother knew something had to be wrong. Kevin was a shy fourth-grader who struggled a bit in school because he had dyslexia. He also came from a large Catholic family and was one of nine Collins children. On the day he disappeared, his older brother Gary would have normally accompanied him home from school, but he had…

  • Lifestyle

    Talking Turkey

    This letter originally appeared in the November 2020 issue of Lake Norman CURRENTS. I have a confession to make. I’ve never cooked an entire holiday meal all by myself. I wonder if this is a predicament a lot of women my age are in—they spend years either partially hosting a Thanksgiving gathering or traveling to another family member’s house while never being fully in charge of the preparation and planning until the baton gets passed, so to speak. My childhood memories of the holiday include running around my grandmother’s house with my cousins while the fragrant smells from the kitchen began to waft through the air. I might have taken a break from…

  • Mystery,  podcasts,  True Crime

    The Most Downloaded Episode of “Missing in the Carolinas”

    I was looking over the stats for the podcast and discovered the most downloaded episode so far has been Ep. 14: South Carolina Cases Featured on “Unsolved Mysteries.” I can see why people would be interested in that one, as it’s full of intriguing stories. Here’s an overview in case you haven’t listened yet. I share the story of Jock and Jane Doe, an unidentified couple who were found shot to death on a country road in Sumter County in South Carolina in 1976. 1976. That’s a long time to remain unidentified, and it’s heartbreaking. Not only does their murder remain unsolved, no one has ever come forward with any clues to the…

  • Mystery,  Travel

    Who Was “Mostly Harmless?”

    On July 23, 2018, two hikers came across a small, yellow tent at a place called Nobles Camp in the Big Cypress Yellow Preserve in south Florida. When they saw a lone pair of boots outside the tent, coupled with a decaying smell, they felt something was off. Peeking in through the wind screen they discovered an emaciated and lifeless body staring up at them. The mystery of who this lone hiker was is enduring and frustrating for both the investigators with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office and internet sleuths. Plenty of people encountered the hiker, who began his trek at a state park just north of New York City. He traveled on…

  • True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: Was Lavinia Fisher Really a Murderess?

    She was young, beautiful, beguiling and liked to poison the guests at her boarding house in Charleston, S.C. with oleander tea. For centuries, legend had it that Lavinia Fisher was one of America’s first female serial killers, but have the misdeeds of Mrs. Fisher been greatly embellished over time? If you take a tour of Charleston’s Old City Jail, you can be sure to hear tales of the time period during which Lavinia Fisher and her husband John were imprisoned there. Author Patty A. Wilson’s book Cursed in the Carolinas: Stories of the Damned, shares some of the enduring stories about the Fishers that have been an integral part of Charleston’s history throughout…

  • writing advice

    Do You Suffer from Imposter Syndrome?

    My name is Renee, and I have Imposter Syndrome. It applies to a lot of areas in my life, but stands out the most when I discuss my writing. While on vacation a few years ago, I was telling a friend that I had applied to be a judge for a book publishing competition. The conversation went something like this. “I don’t know if I’m all that qualified,” I told her. “I mean, I have some experience in the publishing field, but I’m not an author.” She stared at me blankly. “What do you mean by that? Have you not had things written and published?” “Yes,” I said slowly. “I guess I mean…