By Katherine Hamilton | firstname.lastname@example.org
The same girl who spiritedly waved to her mother from the top of a corn silo she had climbed, and the same woman who wanted Christmas decorations on her house all- year round, is the same woman whose 14-year-old cold case murder is being featured on Discovery Channel’s show Killing Fields.
The show recently came to an end, still leaving everyone to keep wondering who killed Carrie Singer. The end, however, did not come without hope, as investigators have found new leads in the case because of technology rendering an image of what the suspect would look like according to his DNA.
When searching “Carrie Singer” on Google, what comes up is a repeat of the worst day of her mother, Patty Lord’s, life. News articles rap out the cold facts of the case: 28-year-old Singer was found in a field beaten and half-naked in the Isle of Wight in Virginia.
That is usually where Singer’s story begins and ends.
“They [the media] can’t really give a whole story of Carrie. All they are going to focus on is what happened to her,” Lord said.
To her mother, and all the people who loved and invested in her, Singer was a life, a source of joy and laughter—a giving soul. Her end has a matching beginning and middle worth knowing.
Lord sat in her office at the Jacksonville headquarters of Project Cold Case, pictures in hand, under harsh fluorescents and shared some of her priceless memories with her daughter.
From early childhood, Singer’s personality shone brightly through.
One morning, Lord was getting ready upstairs in her home. Her husband at the time was supposed to be watching Singer. When she came downstairs, she realized Singer was missing.
“And we frantically looked outside. She had walked two or three houses down, and the door was unlocked. She opened the door, and went in,” Lord said. “The dog they had was a Doberman, but he didn’t bother her, and he wasn’t a friendly dog. And she went and sat on the couch, put cartoons on and she sat there and watched cartoons. And these people come out from around their kitchen and are like who are you? She was only a year and half or two.”
Lord said Singer was always independent and never afraid of anything.
“She was always doing things that kept me on my toes,” Lord said.
After Lord’s divorce from her first husband, she and Singer went to live with her grandparents on their farm. There, Singer found her bliss.
“The farm was her haven—she just loved it,” Lord said.
Her mother talked about her love of children, the elderly and animals. She was always finding ways to help in the community and give to others.
One Christmas living with her great-grandparents, they gave her a Shetland pony. Her love of horses grew from there, and she would often help brush and take care of neighboring horses.
Singer was also a big sister to Jamie—a 16-year age difference did not hinder their fondness for one another. She always encouraged her to do her best and would create handmade cards and sketch flowers.
“It’s like she [Jamie] had two little mommas,’” Lord chuckled.
In high school, she danced, did gymnastics and volunteered as a candy-striper at the local hospital. Lord recalled fondly the pink and white striped uniform Singer would wear when she volunteered.
Singer’s childhood dreams of being a vet or working at a McDonald’s changed after high school. Instead, she wanted to be a lawyer.
Unfortunately, Lord recalls how Singer was swept into the wrong crowd, eventually becoming addicted to hard drugs. Her addiction kept her from finishing school.
Sometimes she would go almost six months without contacting her family. That’s how Lord knew she was in a bad way.
“We started losing her then, as much as I tried my best to get her away from that. It was just horrible because you would see your child –see the person you love—completely changed,” Lord said. “I’ve always felt bad that I couldn’t save her, so to speak.”
Later on, Singer eventually said she was done with drugs and moved to Virginia to start a new life. She even registered for school to become a physical therapist and had a nice new boyfriend named Bobby.
This was all six months before she was murdered.
Lord recalled a specific memory—one that plays over and over in her mind: the last time she ever saw Singer.
About a month before her murder, Singer brought her boyfriend to Jacksonville to meet her family. Lord fondly remember the four days they spent together.
During that time, she prepared Singer’s favorite food–homemade macaroni and cheese, roast and salad–they sunned, collected shells and fished with her step-father Larry by Ft. Clinch at Fernandina Beach.
Then it came time for Singer to go back to Virginia.
“We were standing at the window until their plane actually left, and I remember I started crying, and Larry said, ‘It’s okay Patty. She’s talking about coming back in a month. You’ll see her soon.’ And we didn’t,” Lord said. “But I think that was a God thing because we got four wonderful days—I mean it just gives me chills right now—that were absolutely wonderful. I mean with all the murder, and her being put outside like she was trash and knowing the condition of her body—When I’m thinking of that and that stuff comes up, I like to think of that day.”
Out of everything Lord wants people to know about her daughter, she wants them to understand that she was a smart, silly, beautiful and giving person. Even though Singer had her struggle with addiction, Lord said that she doesn’t mind people knowing if her story could help someone else.
“She had a dream, and it didn’t happen,” Lord said. “I’m just sorry she crossed paths with that wrong person.”