NEW YORK — Media interest in the Christa Worthington killing continues to steam along, even though no arrests have been made.
The freelance writer and former fashion editor was found stabbed in her Cape Cod, Mass., home 16 months ago with her toddler, Ava, nearby.
Friends and relatives are already upset about novelist Maria Flook’s forthcoming nonfiction book, “Invisible Eden: A Story of Love and Murder on Cape Cod,” which will be released in July. They claim the book is a “deliberate nasty portrayal” with many mistruths. Steve Radlauer, a writer and friend of Worthington’s who is featured in the book, said Thursday, “The next time Random House wants to commission a true crime book they should hire a real reporter. Her level of reporting is so far below the level of any good working journalist.”
Meanwhile, The Boston Globe is working on an article about the book and police are reportedly in talks with “Unsolved Mysteries” about airing a segment on the crime and plans to release more details about the case in the coming weeks.
In addition, Worthington’s cousin, Jan, a certified EMT who was the first person to arrive at the crime scene, has completed a first draft of a script about the murder and has submitted it to Lifetime Television. Without a trial or any arrests, there is no rush to get the film into production.
“It’s tricky, though. There’s no ending,” she said. “Lifetime is certainly the right place for it because they do things for women and about women. Christa’s story is an identifiable one in that she was a single woman who wanted to have a child and was not thrilled with her career.”
Cape & Islands district attorney Michael O’Keefe said the investigation is “very much ongoing,” with his team continuing to work on it and make submissions to the state’s crime lab. “I feel in the fullness of time this will be resolved,” he said.
Some of the 2,000-plus year-round residents have been following investigators’ buttoned-up lead, keeping their opinions to whispers. Linda Schlecter, the last person known to have spoken to the victim, said, “it’s the quietest it’s been in a while.”
This story first appeared in the May 2, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Christa Worthington spent the early Eighties writing for WWD and its sister publication, W, in Paris, and moved on to work for Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and other fashion publications before returning to her home state in 1998. Some say locals miscast her as a cosmopolitan, label-conscious woman, when in fact she was a dressed-down, devoted mother trying to get back into the freelance game.
Police retrieved the victim’s journal from the crime scene, but it has yet to lead them to the killer or the man she was involved with shortly before her death. “From what I’ve heard, the journal was pretty particular,” her cousin said. Worthington is also at work on a novel about a Portuguese policewoman who solves a Cape Cod murder.
“All of us who knew Christa knew her to be pretty open about who she was seeing. We all felt it had to be someone new or someone who had no meaning. Or someone would know about it. When she started seeing Tony, we all knew about it,” referring to Anthony Jackett, the married fishing constable who fathered Ava out of wedlock.
Police are considering speaking with “Unsolved Mysteries” to try to dig up clues, Worthington said. O’Keefe declined to say which show police officers are contacting.
Earlier this year, Worthington’s friend, Melik Kaylan, took issue with how the media’s coverage has focused on speculation about her life instead of on the investigation. “The media has concentrated so much on the yellow journalism, cheap and less-prurient aspect of the murder. No one is bothering to investigate what the police are doing. No one has asked hard questions about whether their excuses are adequate.”
Reached Thursday, he reiterated that point: “There’s been no oversight of what the police have done.”
“Frankly, the tip line has not yet proven anything of great significance,” said O’Keefe, reached in his office Monday morning, referring to the tip line set up by investigators in January. At that time, Worthington’s friends and family posted a $25,000 reward for anyone who provided information leading to the arrest of her murderer.
“Within the next couple of weeks, we will certainly be releasing additional information that will outline what we’re seeking,” O’Keefe said. “Releasing more details can sometimes prompt a person’s memory.”
He declined to specify whether the information to be released will pertain to an individual or objects. Police said they are still looking for the victim’s telephone, the murder weapon that delivered the fatal blow to her chest and the person with whom she was intimately involved shortly before her death.
Police also are still trying to match DNA found on the victim’s body. Investigators are hopeful the person can help provide some clues about the events leading up to her death.
“It’s been pretty quiet,” said Truro Police Chief John Thomas. “But no one we have been in contact with has dropped out of sight or died for any uncalled reasons.”