Ah, Susan. 61 today, had your life not been stolen from you. Happy birthday, you rascal. Your family and your friends still grieve, and we still miss you terribly. You are a lady still loved.
As to the injustice of your death, sometimes it does seem as if it’s all been said before. A botched investigation in the days that followed your murder, in November 2010. Claims by the DA’s office, year after year, that the investigation remains active. A single suspect with rage and motive, left free to dance on with his life.
We could just say “enough.” There are many injustices in the world, and this could simply be one more of them. The Ukiah community understands what really happened that night in the Keegan home, even if they are mystified by the DA’s failure to prosecute. Much of our work is already done, the suspect, we hope, living within a prison of his own making, despite his physical freedom. A death certificate that states the cause of death explicitly: “Homicide.”
But every year or two, just when we despair of prosecution, there is a breakthrough, a promise, a reason to hope. Only District Attorney David Eyster can explain why so much time passes between these events, but he remains largely silent.
Here are a few highlights in the 5-1/2 years since we lost you, Susan:
June 2011: First search warrant issued for Dr. Peter Keegan’s home.
August 2012: The death certificate is changed to read “homicide.” The public document tells the Ukiah community how you died, and the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and others report the story. “We believe she died at the hands of another,” says the Mendocino County Sheriff. There is only one suspect.
April 2013: Second search warrant issued for Dr. Peter Keegan’s home.
July 2013: Justice4Susan Committee launches its website, recording 3,000 hits in its first month.
February 2014: Bitter emails and reports of phone conversations between Dr. Keegan and friends and family are released. “The boys want a memorial, but I don’t give a fuck,” he proclaimed. And this, two months after your death: “Life is much better and improving all the time.”
October 2014: Justice4Susan Committee pleads with the DA to use the tool of the Grand Jury to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to prosecution.
April 2015: The conviction of a Utah physician for murdering his ex-wife, with its eerie parallels to the Keegan case, gains national attention and suggests a pathway to prosecution for the Mendocino DA. It’s one in a long history of domestic violence cases in which husbands choose murder over divorce.
November 2015: “Next year is the year,” a highly placed individual in the DA’s office hints to family. “There will be handcuffs.” We’re still waiting.
March 2016: A search warrant is executed at the office of Norm Rosen, who was mediating the divorce between Susan and Peter Keegan. Read more about the search in the Anderson Valley Advertiser. The Justice4Susan Committee has requested such action for years.
March 2016: Dr. Peter Keegan most weirdly posts photographs of the bathroom in which Susan’s body was found on his Facebook page, taking them down 24 hours later. No one knows what was in his mind, but the Anderson Valley Advertiser urged readers to consider the explanation suggested in Edgar Allen Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart, the power of a guilty conscience.
July 2016: Another birthday passes, uncelebrated but not unnoticed.