THE BODY WAS DISCOVERED AT 6:10 p.m., on a perfect Sunday in June, with the low sun beaming its pink and golden rays over the town of Grand Cove’s yacht basin, and a sunburned family of four bringing in their long white sloop to its mooring. In their tall, slender fairness the four resembled each other: two parents, two children, a Ralph Lauren Instant Old Family that could have been found in any of the hundred or more marinas that lined the coast of Connecticut’s southern Fairfield County.
These were not people accustomed to shock. The mother, smiling, looking a decade younger than her years, her long, blond hair pulled back into a simple ponytail; the father, in his requisite polo shirt and shorts and docksiders without socks, ordering his children to their posts in a rather beery, jolly version of a latter-day Captain Bligh; and the children, about ten and twelve, a girl and a boy, sun-streaked and rather bored-looking, moving forward to the bow with coils of thin rope in their hands.
“What’s that?” the girl piped, frowning, crouching on the bow and pointing to a spot just ahead in the water.
The boy, standing over her, peered ahead. The closer the sloop glided, the more he could see a large,
bobbing, pale object that had become entangled on something. A dead sand shark maybe, belly up? The boy blinked, and looked again.
“Hey, Dad,” he turned and called back. “There’s something scuzzy wrapped around our buoy. Dad? Hey, cut the motor, we’re going to hit it!”
His father, oblivious, was cheerily yelling something to another marina family just coming in, so his mother moved forward, looked for herself, and unconsciously, still staring, reached for her children. The first thing she felt, as she saw it getting closer, was that creeping, queasy sensation she sometimes got while working in the garden, when she suddenly heard the movement and the hiss of a garter snake. Harmless, she’d shakily rebuke herself; yet still, irrationally, there was always that skin-crawling feeling of having brushed with evil, and it was coming upon her now, worse as they came within yards and she saw the froth of a million tiny bubbles clinging to the thing . . . fermentation, she realized . . . and then the boat’s motion swirled the water and the pallid, bobbing mass rolled over, and the woman put both fists to her mouth and knew she was going to be sick now, and she screamed.
Throughout the busy harbor and along the docks, heads jerked up at the sound. The blond woman screaming and screaming again and trying to hustle her children back along the gunwales; the husband running forward from the other side, hollering “Oh, God! Oh, Jesus!” and yelling across the water for someone to call the harbor cops; his radio was out Voices shouted back; people ran; someone in a motor launch set out grim-faced toward them. Word flashed quickly through the rest of Grand Cove. The EMS call heard on the police scanner sent local reporters running, and the local radio station interrupted its broadcast to announce that an unidentified young blond
woman had been found drowned at the Laurel Point Yacht Club.
Not until the following day would newspapers coast to coast report the startling identity of the victim.