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Rocha asked if it was hard to wait so long.
"I don't really stay involved now," Monkman said. "I don't need to be involved in that. I don't want them influencing my life in any way."
"Hopefully, my saying that planted a seed in her," she says later. "I went to Parents of Murdered Children once, and people were saying, 'I could never live my life until he's executed.' But my sister would not want me living my life that way!
"If I had told her the absolute truth," she adds, "I would have said, 'I'm much more involved in your case than I am in mine.'"
It's not that her sister would appreciate her court obsession. "She'd probably think, like a lot of people do, that I'm quirky, to put it in a nice way," Monkman admits.
Before she got sick, Cher Cheek worked as a legal secretary. So when she found herself housebound in suburban Chicago, racked with pain and unable to sleep, obsessing over Laci Peterson seemed natural enough. "Watching Court TV and getting interested in this took my mind off the pain," she says. "It was something bigger than me."
Because she'd had carpal tunnel surgery, Cheek couldn't even type at first. But she could read, and she quickly became a big fan of Katiecoolady.
After Monkman and McCallie visited Redwood City for the second time, Cheek says, a buzz started among the message board regulars. "A lot of people were saying they wanted to donate to Katie and Jordy, so they could go again," she says.
Cheek had no experience designing Web sites, and "Katie" was a total stranger. But with the help of a kit, she set up a simple one-page site so people could send Monkman and McCallie contributions through the online service PayPal. It raised about $1,000, Monkman says, so she and McCallie booked tickets to go to Redwood City again in October.
But Cheek wasn't done. Monkman had been bedeviled by the slow speed of the Court TV message boards. So Cheek built www.livetrialupdates.com and urged Katiecoolady's fans to check it out. One hundred people could get in the chat room for a running stream of commentary, and one of them could then paste Monkman's text onto the Court TV boards. It worked much better.
October 4, 2004
KATIECOOLADY: Ok this was crazy! A man just approached me and asked if I was Katie and I said yes and he asked where's Jordy and said he's from the DA's office "I read you guys all the time." . . . I was so dumbfounded when he said my name. I thought i was in trouble! LOL. He did ask me to repost the link to Jordy's photo site. Can someone do that for me?
Some bloggers weren't pleased by Monkman's celebrity. Loretta Serrano posted voluminous commentary about the case on www.misfitting.com from her home in Ohio. She also visited the courthouse and wrote updates.
"I was everybody's eyes and ears when I was there, but I'm not one of those star-struck people at all," Serrano says. Monkman and McCallie, she says, were sucking up to every Court TV reporter and legal analyst they could find.
"It's not that I dislike them. They just went overboard. They were taking pictures of themselves with those guys, and schmoozing them. Well, I know celebrities put their pants on one leg at a time."
October 5, 2004
KATIECOOLADY: Jordy wants me to share that one of her heroes Gloria Allred said good morning to her. Brent Rocha recognized me this am and we shared a smile. . . . Gorgeous [Court TV reporter] Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom just walked in in a beautiful camel coat. She is as sweet as beautiful . . . and we know she's smart.
"If Beth Karas were sitting in the courtroom and writing on CourtTV.com, it wouldn't be the same," Cheek says. "Because Katie is somebody that's normal, an ordinary person, down-to-earth, like us. Not somebody getting paid.
"Why are these people on the message boards? A lot of us are disabled. You feel sick, you feel useless, and you'd like to make a contribution -- and you can't. So even if you're just sharing your opinion, you feel like you're doing something. And Katie is one of us."
Monkman and McCallie returned from what they thought was their third and final trip to California on October 7.
On October 11, they got the e-mail.
Forwarded by a regular on the Court TV boards, it was from a Lieutenant Mark Smith with the Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office. He was trying to find Katie and Jordy; they needed to call his office. Immediately.
It was late, but Monkman picked up the phone and dialed. Smith answered.
Right away, he started asking questions about the photograph of the bag of cement on the Petersons' driveway: Who had taken it? When? Did anyone see them?
He didn't explain much.
"All he said was, they might need to use that photograph as evidence," Monkman says. "I was just freaking out."
After talking to both women that night, Smith explained that he would need to subpoena McCallie. (A few days later, she got a subpoena addressed to "Jordy McCallie," a sign of just how ubiquitous the pair's "Katie and Jordy" tag had become.) She'd have to fly to California in two weeks and be ready to testify. She was to tell no one. As a witness, she was under Judge Delucchi's gag order, which meant she'd have to stop discussing the case on the boards. Monkman, who might have to be summoned to back up McCallie's account, could keep posting, but was to say nothing about the photograph.