November 4, 1971
Jennifer Rose Cooke, a girl from California, just turned 18, goes missing in a frigid forest in West Germany. She has been hitchhiking. First she caught a ride with a trucker, then with a West German soldier. Maybe she was trying to visit a young professor she had met on the boat over from New York. On that trip, he had heard her say she might throw herself overboard.
April 28, 1972
Another girl, just turned three, lives with her parents in a house in Laurel Canyon that lets the California rain in. Her biggest fear is of the brown snails in the garden; she will not cross the brick path if one is there. It is her father's twenty-sixth birthday; on this day his sister Jenny's remains are found. Officially, she died "of exposure," although a murder investigation is begun and the file remains permanently open.
This is the tale of a relationship only half lived. I have no memories of my Aunt Jenny as a living person. For all of my younger years I knew her only as someone