Update on Michael Cahill

Allow me to turn to a more personal, less literary/artsy subject today…

I was in Chicago on the weekend with friends. I came back on Sunday night, got home, and out of habit checked the stats on this blog – a habit borne of curiosity generally, and my occasional question of whether this is a worthy pursuit specifically. I was stunned to see more than triple the average number of visitors to the site on the weekend.

After more searching through the stats, I discovered that the majority of visitors were coming from search engines like Google, and all were searching the name of my late uncle, Michael Cahill, whom I’d written about here and here.

Noting that this couldn’t have been a random surge, I searched for a while and noticed that America’s Most Wanted had re-broadcast their story on his murder (which I originally wrote about here). Furthermore, a news blog in Virginia recently focused on the crime also.

It’s several days later and I’m still getting a lot of traffic from people, from all over N. America and even Europe for that matter, looking up Michael’s murder. Strange. The whole thing is strange – the incident itself, tragic obviously as it was, and now this surge of interest which more than eclipses all of the previous Michael-related traffic I’ve received since AMW first broadcast the story. I don’t quite understand the invigorated interest, but I’m happy that more people are curious; it means that there are that many more people who may be able to help out in solving the case.

Helps that Berkeley Breathed is involved I guess, which is one of the more hard-to-believe aspects of the story.

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Note: The "Book of Days Murder" on America’s Most Wanted

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Update: the story is up on the AMW site here.
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For those who have kept an eye on this blog for the last year, you might remember an article I posted, called “Remembering Michael Cahill“. It was linking to a front page article in the Austin American Statesman written by Denise Gamino: “A Calendar Book, A Guitar, And A Very Cold Case“.

On April 13th, 1979, my uncle, Michael Cahill, had his acoustic guitar stolen from his apartment in Austin. In the midst of the foot chase, Michael was shot in the forehead and killed instantly. His guitar was never found, and – like all murders and killings – the event has permanently etched itself into the hearts and minds of those who knew and loved him.

My family’s history is rather odd – not in a depraved daytime talkshow sense – but odd enough. I’m not going to go into details, but I never got to meet or to know my uncle. I was 8 years old and 2,658 kilometres away on the Friday night he was shot. He was in Texas, I was in Ontario. I remember a few occasions being told by my father how much I reminded him of his little brother, especially when I got glasses for the first time.

In any case, the reason I’m mentioning this is that America’s Most Wanted is showcasing this story in their next broadcast (this Saturday @ 9pm on the Buffalo FoxTV affiliate, WUTV).

If you’d asked me this time last year whether I would ever be watching the story of a family member on America’s Most Wanted…well, like most of you, doubtful would be an understatement. You certainly wouldn’t take the thought seriously.

Aside from the abrupt tragedy itself, what makes the story interesting for the outsider are the strange circumstances that surrounded it, the centrepiece being a community art project called The Book of Days. It was a calendar showcasing the works of local black-and-white photographers, among them Berkeley Breathed – who would go on to create the Bloom County comic strip. It seems some of the photographers included in the 1978 edition of The Book of Days, some of whom were friends with my uncle, had also had some of their possessions stolen. Investigators believe my uncle’s murderer and the peculiar thief who preyed upon Leica cameras are one and the same person.

To be honest, I have a personal stake in this post: I hope they catch the bastard who did it.

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Remembering Michael Cahill

I don’t normally talk about “me”, because there are more than enough blogs out there that do a much better job at that sort of thing. However, it would be strange if I didn’t post an excerpt from an article that was published today in the Austin American-Statesman by Denise Gamino. It concerns the murder of my uncle in 1979, which has since gone into the territory of unsolved or ‘cold’ cases.


Link: A calendar book, a guitar and a very cold case

Excerpt:

Michael Cahill chased his musical dream down the street, around his apartment and through the backyard.

It was the last thing he ever did.

Seconds later, he was shot to death in his driveway, a single bullet through the middle of his forehead.

Cahill was running after his beloved guitar. It disappeared into the darkness in the hands of the very odd burglar whom Cahill startled, and then raced after.

Mike Cahill died in Austin on April 13, 1979.

He was 28.

His murder is still unsolved.

His guitar is still missing.

And his family and friends still mourn a young troubadour whose poetic recordings are preserved on an obscure album pressed posthumously by friends as a memorial.

Cahill’s murder case has been cold now for 27 years, almost as many years as he lived.

It is an old Austin murder forgotten by most. Perhaps it seemed nothing more than an unfortunate, random killing of a University of Texas dropout in love with making music back when Austin overflowed with career-free hippie types marching to their own casual rhythms.

But those touched by the inexplicable killing in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood of South Austin think of it differently.

To them, it will always be the haunting “Book of Days” murder.

Read On

It’s not my intention (or preference) to speak about family or personal matters here, but Michael’s story deserves attention. This is the least that I can do for him and his memory.

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