Once the article appeared on Thursday (August 9), we began to receive feedback. Letters to the editor complained that Monica was much more than the "rocker chick" she was described as in the press. This was certainly true, but as we were putting the story together for deadline, all we (and other papers) had to go on was her myspace page.
The letters to the editor provided a glimpse into another side of her and also gave me sources to call for additional information. I felt that we needed to do more, even though a week after the murder, no new information had been released. I was glad that the editors decided to send me back to Bloomsbury.
My return was exactly one week after my first visit and much had changed. The street was no longer blockaded and there was no visible police presence. Some potted plants were left on Monica's front porch, but other than yellow crime scene tape across a side door, there was no sign a murder had occurred. Children laughed and yelled across the street from the scene at a church's vacation bible school. I wanted to try and find out more information and depict how the town was reacting to the unsolved crime. I talked to the director of the bible school and the pastor of the church. I went to borough hall, but unfortunately it was closed for the week. I talked to a few people on the street and went to the general store again for lunch. I didn't come away with any new information, but I did find that although daily activities were returning to normal, people were scared and frustrated. And that became the story.
When I returned to the newsroom, I called members of the town's Celebration Committee who had sent in a letter to the editor that we were running. This led to a long conversation that really gave readers a new view into who Monica was and how this small town was reacting to her death.
I was proud that we were able to bring attention to this woman and this small town that had been affected by this tragedy. My story ran along with an editorial that criticized the lack of information from public officials. This angered the state police, but really illustrates the role of the press in society. Public officials have a duty to provide citizens with the information they need to live their lives. I know this is an ongoing investigation and the police's first responsibility is to solve the murder and ensure the safety of everyone, but by not telling anyone anything other than "they do not believe anyone in Bloomsbury is in any immediate danger," leads to rumor, fear, and frustration.
It was this environment that I tried to describe in my story. The police weren't happy about it, but I hope the residents of Bloomsbury felt it accurately portrayed what they are going through.
It's now over four weeks since Monica Massaro's body was found. No one has been arrested, and no new information has been released.