Friday, December 5, 2014

Nurse at The Villa Pens a Best Seller

Victoria Hester, LPN, co-author of The Murder of Maggie Hume
      At 23, Victoria Hester is a licensed practical nurse at The Villa at Suffield Meadows assisted living facility in Warrenton, Va., and will soon start nursing school at Germanna Community College to get her RN. She also has a 5 year old at home.
   So naturally, she decided to write a book that would require a week-long trip to Michigan and many long hours of research and writing. “I like being busy,” she said. “I don’t do ‘rest’ very well.” 

   Turns out, the months of work have paid off. The true crime book she wrote with her dad, Blaine Pardoe, The Murder of Maggie Hume, is in its second printing, and made the New York Times Best Seller list (for Crime and Punishment books) for October 26, 2014. That’s a very big deal.
   Victoria said she got more than she bargained for when she agreed to write about a 33-year-old murder in Battle Creek, Michigan. Not only did she and her dad develop a closer relationship during the collaboration, she learned some invaluable lessons about writing and researching, and some others about life, family and pain that never goes away.
   The Murder of Maggie Hume tells of the story of a young woman who is brutally murdered one night in her own bed. Her boyfriend is a prominent suspect, but when it is discovered that a possible serial killer was living in the same apartment building the night of the murder, a new wave of inquiries begins.
   The case is still marked as unsolved, and the authors refrain from expressing their opinions, but express hope that the book will lead to new leads and an eventual conviction. “Maggie and her family deserve that,” said Victoria.

   While poring over police reports and talking to people close to the investigation, Victoria said that she and her dad came to feel very close to Maggie Hume. “Here was this girl, about my age, killed for apparently no reason. It bothers me that she never got justice.”
   One of Victoria’s goals was to encourage readers to get to know Maggie, a fun-loving, attractive, small-town girl, the daughter of a popular high school teacher and coach. Victoria said, “I wanted to make the facts and interpretations we were learning though the police reports more readable. Police reports are very hard to read -- like nurses’ notes -- lots of abbreviations.
   “Everyone we met while researching the book was still very invested in this, still emotionally attached. We kept the family in the loop with what we were doing. They asked us not to speak to Maggie’s mom, and her dad had passed away, so her brother John was the spokesman for the family. John came to one of our book signing events. He told us he liked the book. It meant a lot to us that he approved of the way we handled it.”
   The book signings and other events to market the book were exciting, but terrifying, said Victoria. She and her father did TV and radio interviews, lectures and book signings. “We were on the front page for three days in a row in Michigan, but the public speaking was nerve wracking,” said Victoria.
   She said that the mayor of Battle Creek, one of the prosecutors, many of the police officers and a judge all came to the events, as did the woman who was living in the apartment where Maggie was killed. She also said that the prime suspect in the case, Maggie’s boyfriend, also came to one event. “He didn’t talk to us, but I recognized him from photographs.”
   Investigating every detail of the case made Victoria realize that violence against women was very different in the 1980s than it is now. “Domestic violence is much more out in the open now. We know the warning signs and there is more support for women now than there was then. There was in incident before Maggie died where her boyfriend was seen choking her, but nobody saw that as something to be worried about. If that had happened today, it may not have gone unnoticed.”
    What’s ahead for the new author? Nursing school for sure, and perhaps a novel.
    Victoria said she will keep working at The Villa for now. “I love it here. I can’t imagine a better place to work. Every nurse here has great skills, and I love working in geriatrics.”
   For more on Victoria, visit her blog at :

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Couple Marries in Chapel at Fauquier Hospital

Jarett Houk hugs his new bride moments after Jud Fischel pronounces them husband and wife.

The wedding ceremony of Jarett Houk and Emily Howell in Fauquier Hospital’s Chapel was short but sweet. The bride’s mom and stepdad were there for the event.

Emily Howell’s mom Kimberly Lovewell, a patient at Fauquier Hospital, checks out the wedding bouquet.

Jarett and Emily Houk.

Some traditions are essential: The Bistro on the Hill provided the wedding cake.

Kimberly Lovewell of Marshall was disappointed that her daughter Emily Howell had to forego a big church wedding, but was thrilled to be a part of a simple ceremony – even though she was a patient at Fauquier Hospital. Howell married her fiancĂ©, Jarett Houk, in the hospital chapel the morning of November 18. Houk will be leaving for boot camp in January, and the paperwork for their marriage was due with the Marine Corps this week. The couple wanted to be sure the bride’s mom was a part of the ceremony, so arrangements were hastily made to tie the knot in the hospital.

Lisa Spitzer with Fauquier Hospital ran out to buy flowers for the Chapel and a “bouquet” (a small pot of flowers from the Gift Shop) for the bride. The bakers in the Bistro were enlisted to provide a cake and an amateur photographer was located. When Kimberly Lovewell arrived in her wheelchair, all was ready.

Local attorney Jud Fischel was the Justice of the Peace. He noticed that after he declared the couple married, Houk didn’t need to be reminded to kiss the bride.

Lovewell shed a few tears after the ceremony, as she shook her head and said to her daughter, “I can’t believe you are all grown up.” The bride’s stepdad, Steve Lovewell, just smiled indulgently.

The new Mr. and Mrs. Houk met about 18 months ago at a BMX race where he was competing. She remembered, “We were in a bar in Virginia Beach and I bought Gatorades for all the BMXers. I thought Jarett was cute, so I bought him two.” Jarett proposed in that bar a year later, at the same competition, in front of 300 people.

Houk is signed up for a four-year stint in the Marines, but says he would like to make it a career. His goal is to work as a mechanic. Emily Houk plans to return to college in the fall, and train hard for the 2016 Olympics in field hockey. She played as a forward for several years after high school in Scotland, and is eager to make the U.S.A. team. Jarett knows the first few years of their marriage will be difficult because of the frequent separations, but is completely supportive of his wife’s dream. “If she is going to do it, she needs to do it now.”

When the couple was asked if they felt any differently after the ceremony, the bride shook her head no, but the groom answered in the affirmative. “It’s a different level of happy.”