Tiffany Souers and College Murders

Don’t ask me what it is, but I tend to get a little unglued when college students get killed. Something about it makes me think of all my college friends, the girls I lived with, how it could’ve been any of them, etc. During my many years here as a journalist in the Clemson University area, I took a keen interest any time a college student disappeared or was killed.

The closest I ever came to such a situation was the case of Brooke Holsonback. She was murdered near Clemson University back in 1997. I wasn’t living here at the time, but eventually came to know Brooke’s parents and the man who, to this day, is still trying to pin the crime on…well, on the two people everybody suspects were involved. Brooke was strangled and dumped in Lake Hartwell.

I remember driving (incidentally, with my late friend Chris) a long way to talk to Brooke’s parents. Her dad, a southern gentleman of the first order, talked of his daughter and sunrises. At the time, he said, “You look at a sunrise and you know there is a God, but some of that beauty is gone, because you know there is evil in this world.”

My unsuccessful efforts to help dredge up anything else in the case can be found here.

I also dug deeply into the case of Norsaadah Husain, a Clemson graduate student who was killed in 1992. She was stabbed in a laundry and later dumped in some woods in Oconee County. That case dragged on for so long that the police investigator had retired and started driving a bus for a Christian tour company. I wrote this story about her a few years ago.

For a long time, I toyed with the idea that a serial killer was at long, labored work in the Clemson University area. Eventually, I came to the realization that the cases (and several other unsolveds in the area) just weren’t similar enough to merit any serious thought about a single killer being responsible for everything. I still believe that, but this past week hasn’t helped much.

Tiffany Souers - Courtesy WYFF.COMA former roommate found the body of 20-year-old Tiffany Souers in her apartment on Friday. Souers had been strangled with her own bikini top and left dead. She came from Ladue, a nice St. Louis suburb (also home to some people I know). Because Souers was a beautiful and successful college girl, the national media networks are jumping on this one. If the cops here can’t get their act together quickly, I suspect they can expect a media frenzy.

This is not a trip down a nightmare memory lane. I’m actually angry at more than Souers’ death.

In the days since she died, I sort of toyed with the idea of (don’t make fun) coming out of retirement. While I had no plans to run back to TV, I thought I might work my old sources and maintain a web presence on the investigation. Why? I don’t know. Nothing else has made me want to follow crime again. Maybe it’s just that the investigation is six days old and the reporting of the case, so far, has been lackluster. I don’t blame the reporters (many of them my friends). It’s more the fault of a small police department not being able to handle the media load. The 13th Circuit Solicitor, Bob Ariail (the South Carolina version of a district attorney), has now taken over role of spokesperson. Frankly, that’s not going to help, as Ariail is notoriously stingy with information and rarely speaks to the media. He and I had a decent relationship, but most of what he ever shared with me on any case was off the record.

Damn, I’m getting worked up over this. The entire point of this post was supposed to be how sick I am at web squatters.

See, I’d already decided that my schedule wouldn’t allow me to properly handle what could end up being a long and drawn out case (given that some drunk college boy doesn’t end up getting hooked up by week’s end). So, I was going to leave the job to the professionals (where it belongs, admittedly) and go back to my other work. Still, I couldn’t help but consider registering www.tiffanysouers.com.

This makes me sick.

Indeed, somebody from Kenya (Kenya?) registered the domain two days after Souers was found dead (and about the time the national media started touting the “Bikini Murder”). Indeed, somebody from Kenya (KENYA!) registered the domain and is now using it to hawk their affiliate deals with various Tiffany (lamps, vases) distributors.

Now, I readily admit, I work in an industry that can sometimes get a little…creative…when working out a marketing plan. However, capitalizing in this fashion on the murder of a college girl is beyond sickening. (And lest ye think I had the same plan in mind, I’d invite you to take a long walk. I’m creative, but I’m not that kind of creative).

Here’s what I hope: I hope the cops wrap this one up in a couple of days. I hope Souers’ family gets some quick resolution and eventual peace. I hope the www.tiffanysouers.com domain never gets any traffic. And I hope a maneless lion visits Spiral Matrix on Kenyatta Avenue in Eldoret, Kenya and has a nice lunch on the bastard that thought marketing lamps on a dead girl’s memory was a good idea.

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Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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7 Responses

  1. I think the families would welcome professional coverage that focused on the facts and not the sensationalism.

    I hope you do more than consider it.

    A quote from the Post-Dispatch:
    “A report in the Anderson, S.C., Independent-Mail quoted Ariail as saying police were exploring the possibility that the slaying was linked to two unsolved murders. A representative from his office could not be reached to confirm or elaborate.”

  2. This just in: Lawyer and journalist finally find someone they can agree on being more repugnant than the other’s profession in general.

  3. Anonymous Anonymous says:

    You’re amazing.

  4. Anonymous Su says:

    It is scary to think about when I was in college and what could have happened. I never even had a second thought about walking across campus. Thanks for the thought of your past female roomies. Love you, Bradley.

  5. Dude, you’re like a superhero.

    Writer by day, crime fighter by night.

    You probably kick ass at Boggle too, don’t you?

  6. Anonymous tatwood says:

    The broadcast news business suffered a tremendous blow when you left.

    I wish you and Mrs. Otis would come back because you’re both such amazing journalists that so many of us need to learn from.

    I miss you both.

  7. Anonymous Anonymous says:

    Some good posts and comments on here, glad I found it. I’m laying down a bookmark so I can come back later, I gotta go off to work now. My new site if anyone’s interested (I don’t really like it yet but I’m working on it and am new at it) — electric fireplace

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