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

Update: the story is up on the AMW site here.

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.


UPDATE (April 2020):


13 Replies to “Note: The "Book of Days Murder" on America’s Most Wanted”

  1. I go to all the time due to cases in the past that have become dear to my heart. Seeing this one today had me searching online for Vintage Guild D40 guitars. Never realized how many are really out there, let alone… for sale. Like a needle in a haystack. Seems the word is out though with the help of cartoonist Breathed, which should hit alot of readers.
    Hoping this helps in closure for your family and the hearts of Austin.

  2. Thanks very much.

    Funny you mention the D40’s – I thought of doing that, but I don’t even play guitar!

    We’re all a bit nervous about watching the program. I think it will be good in the long term.

  3. Wow, what a sad and strange event. Sorry it was your uncle involved. Hope the program helped your family.

  4. Thanks for the sentiments, “mod” (if I may). It was a surreal experience watching someone play your long lost uncle on television (and get killed).

    Lots of family phone calls followed the airing of the program. We were all emotionally shook up. However, we all thought AMW did a very good (read: considerate, thorough) job of it.

    Despite my disdain for certain aspects of “reality TV”, I can only praise their help and professionalism in this matter, if only to give Michael the exposure he never had, both as a living artist and as a tragic casualty of violence.


    1. M- i was called to work saturday morning- i said ‘mike is scheduled, i worked last night am off today’. they said ‘mike was shot’. i went to cover his shift. willies’ restaurant opened several months before and mike hired me and taught me to cook chili- he entered the chilympiad every year. we shared cook duties. i knew most of the book of day photographers, i worked at the armadillo years before. the story i got from ‘wik or was’, mike’s roommate, was they got back form somewhere early- maybe 10:30. ‘wat’ went to the door and yelled we’re being robbed. he ran around back, mike ran left to the side of the house in front- no light, trees and bushes. the guy was right there w the guitar and shot mike close w a small caliber. this was a house on breckenridge- not an apartment by any stretch. there was a carport right attached to the house. they had parked on the curb because they were just picking something up and leaving again. likely the intruder heard them pull up and went to the dark side of the house. that is the story i got from the only eyewitness, mike’s best friend and roommate.

  5. I sent a letter to the Austin PD Homicide Unit today. In it, I advanced an alternate theory of the case. I hope it will help solve this case, and bring you the justice which is long overdue.

    God be with you!

  6. rjr – thanks for letting me know about this. I’m curious to know what your theory is, but if you don’t wish to share it, I understand.

    My email is: apostata at rogers dot com.

  7. Matt, I have no problem sharing my theory, but my emails to you are being returned-Unknown User.

    Please advise.

  8. It’s almost 40 years out now. I knew Mike well, spent his last birthday with him. I hope you’re still reading this. Two things posted above were hogwash. Am going to try the apostata email.

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