It was inevitable that the Huffington Post would somehow end up sullied by recruiting such a massive army of unpaid contributors. But few would have imagined something this awful: Valued HuffPo political blogger Carol Anne Burger shot herself Friday, and police now believe she was responsible for the brutal murder of her former lover two days earlier. Burger was a scuba-diving instructor who brought an amateur's zeal to her work, and in this sense embodied the best of HuffPo's democratic approach, calling to mind fellow contributor Mayhill Fowler, who broke the "Bittergate" story. But the website will not be eager to associate itself with Burger's energy in dispatching Jessica Kalish.
Kalish was stabbed with a Phillips-head screwdriver 222 times, primarily around the back of her head and across her back, arms and face. Here's what police believe happened, according to the Palm Beach Post:
On Wednesday night, Kalish exercised at LA Fitness at 2290 N. Congress Ave. and was home by 9:30 p.m. A confrontation ensued... Using Luminol, a chemical agent that causes blood traces to fluoresce under ultraviolet light, [police] found a "tremendous amount of blood" splattered throughout the garage, where the attack must have taken place, Chapman said. The Luminol also revealed Burger's glowing sneaker prints on the garage floor, mapping her steps after she walked through her old flame's blood. "We believe the process of killing Jessica was pretty lengthy, in and out of the car," Chapman said. "She obviously was out of her mind." ...After stabbing Kalish, Burger put her in the BMW and drove her to the Congress Avenue site. She walked home, a distance of about 2 1/2 miles.
In many ways, Burger had stacked the deck against herself: She continued to share a home with the former lover, in Boynton Beach, Florida, more than a year after they had broken up. She refused antidepressants.
She made some crude attempts to lead police off the trail, but quickly came under suspicion. Her suicide came right before she was to be questioned.
It seems unlikely the incident will prompt HuffPo publisher Arianna Huffington to end her practice, as observed by the New Yorker, of offering unpaid blogging gigs to a bewildering array of friends, acquaintances, friends of friends and random strangers. Huffington Post at some point in the recent past incorporated more formal hiring procedures, insiders have said, after editors complained they did not know in advance they would have to run personal chores for Arianna.
But nearly all bloggers are outsiders at HuffPo, not employees, and in any case there are no indications that Burger, a former journalist and public relations executive, had any alarming personal history that might have come up in a background check. This will probably be chalked up as it should be: Basic human tragedy.