NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — 30 long years, and nothing but frustration for families of eight people who fell victim to an apparent serial killer along the Colonial Parkway.
Whether it was the work of a serial killer or killers is up for discussion. What is indisputable is the pain and torment and deep sadness left behind
It was April 10, 1988, when Cassandra Hailey and Keith Call vanished, never to be seen again.
10 On Your Side first saw Keith Call with his hands up in the air in October 1987.
It was an eerie coincidence that he was caught on a WAVY-TV live shot while waiting in line to purchase U2 concert tickets. He is there jumping up and down, smiling; he would be gone forever six months later.
10 On Your Side met Keith’s sister Joyce Call-Canada and brother Doug at the site where Keith’s car was found on Colonial Parkway.
Did they remember that live shot with Keith?
“Oh, yes. The U2 concert,” Joyce said. “That’s a good memory. It is fricken sad,” Doug piped in.
Six months later after the concert, the Call family would be on the Colonial Parkway, huddled together, crying.
Joyce remembers the call, “I had a frantic call from my mom saying, ‘Joy they found Keith’s car on the parkway, and Keith wasn’t in it,’ “ she said. Doug added, “They were just gone. Vanished in thin air.”
The night before, on a first date, Cassandra Hailey and Keith Call went to a party at University Square Apartments.
The building no longer stands, but was next to what was then called Christopher Newport College, now named Christopher Newport University.
Keith was majoring in computer science long before the home computer craze that would hit in the mid-90s.
“He would have loved the technology today … what might have been,” Joyce said.
Doug added, “Keith was a geek in sort of a way. He was a pre-geek, a pre-geek is what he was,” Doug said with a laugh.
Joyce, looking at Doug, added, “I think our days and times are marked ‘Before Keith Died’ and ‘After Keith Died.’ “
Before Keith died 30 long years ago, “Stuff like that doesn’t happen to your family. It just doesn’t, but it did.”
Cassandra and Keith have never been found, Keith’s parents would later die broken-hearted.
“I think it killed them early. You know the stress and anxiety. Not only did they take my brother, they probably took my parents early, too,” Doug said.
Regrets die hard for Irv Wells, the former FBI special agent in charge of the Norfolk Office who took over in September 1987.
“I do think about this case a lot. It is the biggest regret of my career, and it is because of the humanity and the loss,” said Wells.
Seven months later, Wells would learn the names Keith Call and Cassandra Hailey.
He remembers, “We mobilized the entire office, and we worked what we called ‘A Special’ where essentially every resource in the office was devoted to the investigation.”
Wells set up a command center in Yorktown’s Duke of York Hotel, and a theory of what happened quickly emerged.
“I think they were taken from the car. They were marched some distance away. They were executed, and put in the water,” Wells said.
An extensive search followed. Posters were put up, cadaver dogs were brought in.
Over the years the families disagreed with the FBI scenario.
“It doesn’t make any sense for the car to be here. It just doesn’t,” says Doug.
“He is not going to come here. Somebody else most likely brought the car here … they were abducted somewhere else,” Doug added.
They think Keith and Cassandra were intercepted after the CNU party, and the car was dumped on the Colonial Parkway.
Both families and several friends attest to the fact that both Keith and Cassandra did not like the Colonial Parkway, and would not have gone there to be alone or for any other reason.
Over the 30 years 10 On Your Side has interviewed the Hailey family many times.
Cassandra’s mom and dad moved to Florida, but when they lived in York County they kept a candle in the window waiting for her to come home.
They spoke often, but for this 30th anniversary of an event that changed their lives forever they sent 10 On Your Side a letter of frustration that reads, “Gone but not Forgotten.”
The Hailey family writes, “lack of answers in the case is magnified by our feelings of abandonment by the (FBI), Virginia State Police, and the National Park Service.”
Doug pipes in when read the letter, “I agree 100 percent with that sentiment.”
The Calls agree. They know too the Haileys’ frustration.
“I want to say let’s get this done. It’s been 30 years. How much longer are you going to make us suffer? How about that, get it done,” Doug said.
The letter continues, “the failure to prioritize this case and their lingering jurisdictional bickering have led to a stalemate where existing evidence has not been shared.”
Joyce adds, “I can agree with the bickering, especially in the beginning, it was awful.”
The Haileys also write, “no resources have been actively assigned, and no progress … has been made for many years.”
Has Joyce made any progress? “I don’t know of any. Nope … it does tear me up,” Joyce said.
The FBI refused to do any on-camera interviews responding to the letter, except to say:
“We are fully engaged in the investigation and actively coordinating with the State Police to bring closure to all the Colonial Parkway cases,” said FBI Spokesperson Tina Pullen.
Irv Wells, who retired in 1990, did speak with 10 On Your Side from his home.
“First of all, I totally understand it,” Wells said.
Wells was handed the Hailey letter: “First, no resources were spared in this case … every agent has a great desire to solve this case, particularly a case like this with so much lost. Nothing would please us more than to save the case and to solve the case … all the cases.”
30 years of not knowing wears on you, “There are no words to describe how bad it was. You don’t know where your loved one is. You don’t even have a body. You don’t know what someone has done to him or her, to Cassandra and Keith,” Joyce said.
When asked if she resigned to the fact we will never know what happened to Cassandra and Keith, Joyce immediately responded, “No! I am not. I always have a little bit of hope. I mean, I have to.”
On Tuesday, 10 On Your Side reports on why the families think the Call-Hailey case was botched from the start.