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Cole Camp-ing: June 10

On Wednesday, I covered Cole Camp’s reaction to the triple homicide inside the home of the Luetjen family. I came into KOMU with 3 completely unrelated story ideas – I pitched the missing alligator story, the new Fulton vandalism, and a follow-up to the story I did in Glasgow over spring break. We were leaning towards the alligator story but no one offered to take the Cole Camp story, and understandably so. I figured I’d take it but I had no idea how to cover the story. Chance Seales did a good job covering it the night before when it was publicized, and he passed along several emails with shocking (yet unconfirmed by officials) details about the crime. I felt this made my job tougher – to have to get through the grisly details to get a story. By the time we (I had another shadow with me) arrived at the crime scene, we had a pretty good idea of how we wanted to cover the story – more on local reaction. There was very little new information available besides law enforcement officials calling it a triple homicide, so we had to take the humanized route and talk to a lot of Cole Camp residents.

So, when we got to the house, police tape surrounded it while a “mobile investigations unit” was set up outside the home. Several sheriff’s department vehicles and Cole Camp Police cars were outside too. As we approached, an officer came up to us to get our names and who we were with. I guess they were keeping tabs on everyone who came – I don’t know if that’s standard procedure or not, but I found that interesting. He told us we could not go beyond the police tape, and understandably so. The house’s location and surroundings were really good for video. It had some flowers out front with an American flag on it, with a church and playground across the street – providing an interesting visual paradox with the crime scene yellow tape. The officer on the scene would not comment on anything (as all other officials would do during our shift) so we really had no official source. We shot some video and left, and as we drove down the street we saw an old lady walking out to get her mail. We stopped and began talking to her – she was happy to talk to us on-camera, and she gave us some good bites. We then went to get some gas for the car, and while I gassed up I spoke with the station’s owner. He said Donnie Luetjen would come into the gas station nearly every day to get gas. Next door, at the Dairy Hut, we found several interesting characters who all knew the family. One man we found was good friends with Donnie Luetjen. All the people we spoke with had their suspicions on the details of the crime – i.e. the perpetrator, but naturally we didn’t want to “go there” on-camera and such. I shot a standup in the downtown area to try and show the quaint nature of Cole Camp. Otherwise there wasn’t much to it. I didn’t have much to show. Then we hit the road back.

We did an A-block vo/sot/vo for the 5, then an on-set A-block package for the 6. Then, a vo/sot/vo for the 10 with an update saying there would be a news conference at 10am Thursday for officials to give more details. I had a lot of help from my shadow, KOMU alum Holly (not Edgell…not sure what her last name is) whose experience at KFVS in Cape Girardeau was really helpful for my writing. She was also helped me out a lot with synthesizing the information and making our trip into a good package. Overall, while it was a sad/disturbing story, I thought I did a pretty good job. I also did a much better job of time management, making sure I was back to the station by about 1:50pm, so I wasn’t pressed for time. I thought my on-set went very well – no complaints about it, and the mic worked this time, so it felt like a rousing success. But, apparently I have no idea how to put on makeup. I need help with that. I’d love to get one of those professional makeup stylists to do my makeup before a show to save me the trouble…oh well…Not something I take too seriously, I guess, haha.

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