* This is a fictionalized account of some shit that actually happened. All the names, locations, etc. have been changed to protect the innocent as well as the guilty. – JG *
To warn again against taking any of this as absolutely true, I will reiterate that all of the names and places have been changed and most of the other details as well. However, the poem Donna received in a dream from Katie Hoehner (and immediately transcribed upon awakening) is real, and was presented here as closely as I can remember it. The dream really happened, and the dream-poem was shown to us and copied and passed around. It even became the basis for a 30 minute black and white film Calvin made in college called “So Tonight That I Might See” – unfortunately, the poem that he took from real life was easily the best part of the heavily fictionalized movie.
So we all set about attempting to interpret the dream and the poem because we couldn’t help ourselves. The three scenarios that sprang up in the wake of Katie’s death and a lack of any identified suspects were that:
1. She was murdered as part of a Satanic sacrifice – this would’ve necessarily involved several people.
2. She was murdered by someone who was protected somehow – presumably the son of a local cop or politician, an adult who could’ve prevented an arrest.
3. She was murdered by someone at our high school.
The first option, although pretty fantastical and ridiculous, actually is the easiest to fit into the circumstances of the dream. The “cats”, who “create, anticipate” would be the ones who planned to sacrifice Katie, and they were apparently 6 in number. The “rats” could be construed as anyone who knows what really happened, but there is no specified number of “rats” in the poem. However, the fact that “Cats and rats have heart attacks” might mean that one of these people was going to break due to their anxiety over Katie’s death – otherwise, the whole repeated cycle of “we all live” and “we all die” is mysterious, to say the least. Maybe, we thought, if when all 6 “cats” die the truth will come out and Katie would really “be free” – if this is the case, however, at least one of those cats is alive and well because the murderer has never been punished.
And the “snakes”? Well, aside from the connection to Snakeland, the actual murder site, the “snakes” could be the actual murderers, Katie’s actual killers. And from the plural it can again be assumed that there was more than one. How did they “shed their skins”, though? And did “saying goodbye” mean that they left town afterwards? It is difficult to deduce anything, really, without any real exposure to whatever evidence existed. In short, this whole scenario – whether Satan worship was involved or not - is fucking horrifying, if entirely implausible. However, it still pops up – some of the comments on a local message board after the 25th anniversary of Katie’s death not only mentioned a group of hooded Satanists that were “well-known in Kenton” (um...I never knew of them) but also linked them to the “protected murderer” scenario as well.
The “protected murderer” is a lot easier to swallow if you consider the difference between the technologies of 1985 and 2010, but it’s still not exactly likely. It does, however, allow for the multiple involvements which would be necessary for a cover-up of this kind and would substantiate the numbers of “cats” and “rats” and “snakes” mentioned in the poem. But 25 years? With no one breaking down, owning up, feeling the guilt, anything? I just don’t see it.
The third scenario, that another student at North was the murderer, is the most likely and the most terrifying. The only person we went to school with that I could’ve seen doing something like that was Mike Guerrasio, but, then again, I never saw Jeremy Janks as the murdering type so what the hell did I know?
Although no charges have ever been pressed and no public accusations made, every time I talk to someone about Katie’s murder someone will always maintain that “everyone knows who did it”. When I tell them I don’t know, and ask them the name of the murderer, no one will say. Is there an answer? Does anyone really know?
That summer, at least, no one seemed to know, nothing else happened and no one was caught, or even accused, of the murder of Katie Hoehner. Girls and rock records took precedence for us and we forgot about Katie again, which in a way I guess was a natural progression as well as preparation for Jeremy Janks and the events of that September of 1985.