The author explains how, and why, she wrote this story
Three months after my son was born in 1990, Kim Thomas, a newly adoptive mother, was murdered in Charlotte. I never met her, but because my pregnancy followed a long struggle with infertility, much like hers, I've never stopped grieving for her. The research behind this article was driven by my hope that her murderer, who has never been identified, might still be exposed.
As a college teacher of nonfiction writing, I always work on a project with a student assistant. Davidson College English major Mary Kathryn Wyle and I began our research in the summer of 2004 by reading everything we could find about the case already in print. We set up interviews and began the laborious task of sifting through court documents. We had the federal papers from Friedland v. the City of Charlotte (and four police officers) sent to Charlotte's federal courthouse from Atlanta; we road-tripped to the Court of Appeals in Raleigh to study the papers concerning Friedland v. Gales, the jury verdict for which was overturned twice; and we spent hours in the Mecklenburg County Courthouse going through thousands of papers generated by Friedland v. the City of Charlotte and photocopying and taking notes on hundreds. In the four huge boxes there, we found depositions, crime scene photographs, motions, pages from Kim Thomas's journal, and many other forms of evidence. Mary Kathryn accompanied me at most of the fourteen interviews we conducted, taking notes, handling the tape recorder, and providing a valuable second set of ears.
The court records, which I continued to peruse into the fall, turned out to yield all manner of information and angles that had not—until now—seen print. Especially revealing were the documents defending the City of Charlotte against Edward Friedland's civil complaint of malicious prosecution. Because the case of Kim Thomas's murder is still open, the district attorney's evidence against Edward Friedland remains closed to the public. But, reflected in the defense of the City's initial arrest of Friedland for the murder in 1994 is that very evidence—evidence that, according to the City's lawyers, shows why Peter Gilchrist's office had "probable cause" for Friedland's arrest.
I would like to thank two people who assisted my research without expectation of recognition: The Honorable Hugh B. Campbell, North Carolina District Court Judge, and John Carter, anchor at WBTV in Charlotte.