From the archives: This feature, which was printed in the Miami Herald on December 17, 1995, was written by Herald staff writer Meg Laughlin. Laughlin passed away Wednesday.
In mid-October of this year, Sue Billig's phone rang after midnight. She fumbled for it in her sleep and groggily put the receiver to her ear.
"Time is running out," a male voice said.
Startled, Billig opened her eyes and sat up. It was black- dark in her room. She was alone in the house.
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"What do you want?" she asked, trying not to sound terrified.
"You," the caller said.
She knew the voice. It was flat and cold, just as it had been for 21 years. The memory of the first time he spoke -- five months after her teenage daughter, Amy, was kidnapped in 1974 -- still fills Sue Billig with cold-running terror. Then, as in October, the message was cryptic.
"I have her," he said.
Feeling sick, Billig tried to keep him on the phone, hoping he might not be another crank. Hoping he might really know where Amy was.
Amy Billig, 17, was abducted on March 4, 1974, near the Billig home in Coconut Grove. No one could believe -- least of all her mother -- that this young, beautiful girl could just walk out of the house in a neighborhood known for its folksy friendliness and never be seen again.
At first Sue Billig counted the hours until her daughter would be found. Then the days and weeks. The weeks gave way to months, then to years and decades.
"When your child is never found," she says, "there is no line you cross that tells you to quit hoping and looking. To give up would be a terrible betrayal."
Over the years, Billig has followed dozens of leads and rumors about Amy, chasing wild tips to sleazy joints, biker hideouts and prisons all over the country. She has held her breath while bodies were dug up and IDs were made on skulls. But nothing has led to her daughter.
All those years, Sue Billig kept the calls from the man who claimed to have her daughter a bitter secret. She told only the police and those closest to her.
The caller said his name was Hal Johnson. He called over and over, sometimes six or seven times a night, keeping Billig up until dawn.
"I've trained Amy," he would say. "She's my sex slave."
"Tell me something about her, so I'll know it's Amy," Billig would say.
"I've smoothed her out. She knows how to please."
"I don't want to hear that. Tell me, is she OK? Is she well?"
"She knows all of the sex games."
"That's sick," Billig would say, and she'd hang up the phone.
But within five minutes, he would call again: "You want her, don't you?" he'd say, reeling Billig back in.
"If you know anything about Amy, please tell me," Billig would beg.
"I can tell you she knows how to use her mouth in just the right way," he'd say.
Again, Billig would hang up. Again, he would call back.
The man who called himself Johnson could reduce the usually strong, audacious Billig to tears and pleading: "If you know something, please tell me," she would say. "If you don't, please stop calling."
But Billig could never bring herself to change her phone number. She couldn't risk losing the connection -- in case the caller really knew something about Amy. So for 21 years, the calls continued. Until this past October. That's when police made an arrest.
When Sue Billig saw Henry Johnson Blair in court in early November, she couldn't believe her eyes: "He's so wimpy looking," she says. "Who would have thought a middle-aged, plump man, who can barely stand up without leaning on his wife, could be so cruel?
"And who would have thought," she adds, "he'd turn out to be a law enforcement officer?"
Two Consenting Adults?
Henry Johnson Blair: U.S. Customs squad leader with 24 years of law enforcement service under his belt. Highly decorated for breaking smuggling rings on the Miami River and for recovering a stolen Rubens masterpiece for the government of Spain. He owned a house in the suburbs. Forty-eight years old. Married to a top administrator at South Miami Hospital. Not even a speeding ticket in his record. Quiet, seemingly innocuous. Overweight. Described by former colleagues as "Mr. Nice Guy." Father of two daughters, one 20, the other 17 -- the age Amy Billig was when she disappeared.
After he was arrested, Blair at first admitted only to having called Billig for three years. Later he admitted to calling her for more than 17 years, using the name Hal Johnson. But on Nov. 17, 1995, he pleaded not guilty in court, and his attorneys, Bill Norris and Fritz Mann, said they would attempt to have his confessions suppressed. The calls had been consensual, they said. Billig had willingly participated in the phone conversations.
"Right," says Sue Billig. "We had a nice time chatting about the cruel, sexual things he claimed to be doing to my missing child."
A Nasty Little Game
Three weeks after Amy disappeared, someone called the Billig house and said nothing. Sue Billig, who answered the phone, waited a few seconds, then hung up. The phone rang again, and the same thing happened. Billig was sure the caller was Amy, trying desperately to get a message to her. Billig held the phone to her ear, saying nothing, heart pounding, waiting for a muffled voice or a groan. After five minutes of silence, she hung up.
"From the very beginning," she says, "the calls tore my heart out."
After a few nights, police started tracing the calls. They were coming from a phone booth on Kendall Drive and 107th Avenue. But when police staked it out, the calls came from somewhere else. Later, after the caller had avoided a number of stakeouts, police began to wonder if he recognized the undercover police cars.
Five months later, months filled with sporadic silent calls, Billig got another call from the same pay phone. This time, the caller spoke: "I have her," he said. "This is Hal Johnson."
Again, when police staked out the pay phone, "Hal Johnson" did not appear. As undercover cops stared fruitlessly at an empty phone booth, "Johnson" called from a pay phone on Killian Parkway, about two miles southeast of the 107th Avenue phone. But police didn't discover that until after the call was completed. When they staked out the new phone, the caller had moved on -- this time to a pay phone on Kendall Drive about a mile northwest of Killian Parkway. From there he went to a pay phone at a Holiday Inn in Coral Gables, about three miles north.
Over the years, police put pins on a map to mark the call sites, and clusters formed at the locations of the same four phone booths. But every time they'd wait at one of them, "Johnson" would call from another. Police say they didn't have the manpower to stake out all four phone booths and wait for the guy.
Forensic psychologist John Philpin, a nationally recognized expert on criminal behavior, says the caller was enjoying his little game. "Not only was the man who called Susan Billig getting off on the control he had over her," says Philpin, "he was having a great time jerking around the police."
'In Good Hands'
The man who called himself Hal Johnson sometimes phoned Sue Billig six or seven times a night for about a week. Then she wouldn't hear from him for months. But with each new set of calls, he became more graphic and more threatening. Every time the phone rang late at night, Billig cringed.
In his earlier calls he claimed to have Amy, and made suggestive statements: "She's in good hands," and "She learns quickly." Later he supplied details, describing what Amy had learned. Next he said he was making her available to other men, and told Billig what she did for them.
As time went on, he began to trace the route of Amy's alleged abduction: She was taken from Coconut Grove by bikers, he would say; then she was held in Fort Pierce, where he trained her. Then she was transported to Canada for a few years. And then taken to London. From there, he said, "she was sold to ragheads in Saudi Arabia," where she perfected her sexual performance.
Sometimes he said Amy was in such bad shape that Billig wouldn't want to see her. Other times he said Amy looked "magnificent." Amy was chained up next to him, he'd say, or performing with a client as he talked. Amy had been moved thousands of miles away and would never come back home, he'd say. But he'd add that at least she was alive.
Among the hundreds of calls the man made, he could be counted on to call whenever Billig's name appeared in the news. He called her when her mother died in 1976. He called her in 1984 on the 10-year anniversary of Amy's abduction. He called her when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1992. He called her when her husband, Ned, died in 1993. Always, he taunted her. Always, she pleaded: "Give me proof that you know about Amy."
But the man never told her anything he couldn't have learned from the newspaper or television. Still, Billig kept hoping he knew something.
A few times he suggested a meeting so he could bring Billig something of Amy's: A photograph. A lock of hair. A sample of her handwriting.
In April 1979, Billig drove to Fort Pierce to meet him at 913 Ohio St., where he said Amy was posing for an artist. But when she got there, Billig discovered the last address on Ohio Street was 911. Ten years later she sat at the Taurus Steak House restaurant in Coconut Grove all night, waiting for him to bring her a lock of Amy's hair. He never showed. This past October, she agreed to meet him again -- this time in the parking lot of Dadeland Mall on Kendall Drive. It was this last failed rendezvous that led to Henry Johnson Blair's arrest.
In 1993, Sue Billig's caller started using a cell phone, which police couldn't trace. Early in the year, Sue Billig had just returned from her husband's funeral when the phone rang: "Hello, Susan," he began. "Ned's dead, isn't he?"
When Billig told him to leave her alone, he said: "You're alone now, aren't you? You'd better watch out."
In another call, he said his clients were no longer satisfied with women Amy's age; now they wanted mother-daughter teams. "We want you," he said.
Eventually he told Billig that she must turn herself over for sexual training in order to save Amy. When she was ready to do this, he said, she must take out an ad in The Miami Herald that said: "Elderly woman seeks younger, masterful man."
When Billig refused, he told her: "Watch out. Amy doesn't have long."
"He started a countdown with me," says Billig. "It was terrifying."
Last October, "Johnson" told Billig: "We've cut Amy's tongue out. And we're going to do more."
He told Billig to meet him at Dadeland so they could talk in person about her turning herself over to save Amy. At midnight Oct. 19, Sue Billig took a cab to Shorty's, a barbecue restaurant near Dadeland, where she met detectives. FBI agent Harold Phipps drove her to Dadeland. If "Johnson" showed up, Billig planned to say Phipps was her son, Josh, one year younger than Amy. After they waited for about 15 minutes, Billig suddenly jumped out of the car despite Phipps' protests. She ran to the center of the vast, empty lot and screamed into the night: "Come out, you bastard! You're such a coward! I'm here! Come out!"
Phipps yelled at her to get back in the car. But she ignored him, running all over the parking lot screaming that she'd had enough -- that he'd better come out and face her. But like all of the other times, no one appeared.
Billig slept through the next day. On Saturday, Oct. 21, detectives installed a state-of-the-art cell-phone tracer that had just become available to them at Billig's home. While they were still at the house, "Johnson" called. The cops couldn't believe their luck.
The caller wanted to know why Billig hadn't gone to Dadeland. She said she had. He told her she'd "blown it just like in Fort Pierce" in 1979. Trying to keep him on the phone, she asked him to describe Amy.
"Tell me what Amy looks like," she said softly, her voice trembling.
"She has no lines on her abdomen," he said. And then he got more explicit.
"I'm her mother," said Sue Billig, wearily. "I don't want to hear that."
He then asked her: "Are you ready to give up everything?"
"Yes," she said.
By then the cops had the number. State prosecutor Andy Hague got a subpoena requiring Southern Bell to match the number with the owner. The cell phone was registered to an import company near downtown Miami, on the bay. When Hague and FBI agent Harold Phipps went to the owner's address, they discovered a U.S. government mail drop, which led them to suspect that the company was a phony corporation set up as a cover for a federal operation. They pored through government law enforcement directories looking for the telephone number. It matched with a branch of U.S. Customs.
Coral Gables detective Mike Hearns: "We were getting very uncomfortable. We knew it was one of our own, and we were about to enter a very dark, murky pond."
When they called the number to find out exactly who had been using the phone, a Customs supervisor told them it was none of their business. Police, who will not reveal the supervisor's name, say it was only when they went to the office on Oct. 27 and played the tape that he began to cooperate. Right away, he thought he knew whose voice was on the tape, but he called in another agent to corroborate his suspicions.
"I hope that's not Hank Blair, but it sure does sound like him," said the agent, shaking his head in disbelief. "Same voice. Same expressions. It's hard to believe. But that's who it is."
Hank Blair was at work in another office. Police handcuffed him and read him his rights.
When Amy Billig walked out of her family's Coconut Grove home on that sunny March day in 1974, she was headed to her dad's art gallery less than a mile away on Commodore Plaza. But she never made it. A witness reported seeing a beautiful teenager, with long legs and long brown hair like Amy's, get in a light-colored pickup truck on Main Highway. Another witness said she got in a light-colored jeep. Still others said a girl matching Amy's description got in a beige van.
Police, who thought the witnesses' memories were too vague to be very reliable, speculated that maybe Amy had hopped on the back of a motorcycle, driven by a member of a biker gang that had roared through the Grove that day.
Two weeks after Amy disappeared a single clue surfaced: A hitchhiking college student found her camera in the grass beside the Florida Turnpike, near the Wildwood exit, about 250 miles northwest of Miami. He brought it to his mother in Miami, who turned it over to police. Across the bottom of the camera was a piece of adhesive tape on which Amy had written her name. When the film was developed, there was only one picture -- an overexposed photo of a light-colored pickup truck parked in front of a light-colored wall with a vine growing up it. Police were never able to find the truck or the wall.
Amy was a smart, attractive teenager. In the months before she disappeared, she'd read The Primal Scream, The Painted Bird, Sylvia Plath's poetry and The Happy Hooker. She loved Joni Mitchell and Judy Collins songs. She trained dolphins at the Seaquarium on Key Biscayne.
Like most of her buddies in the senior class at Adelphi Academy, an alternative-learning high school in the Grove, she tried pot and believed in "free love." It was the times. It was the place. Amy was typical of both: She was a happening kind of kid, writing poetry, playing the flute, painting into the night, hanging out at bars and flirting fearlessly.
She would walk the family dogs -- a St. Bernard and a big black mongrel -- along the water at Dinner Key Marina. She would run down the street in the rain. She would hitch rides. Often she would write about the people she met.
Twenty-one years after her disappearance, and a month after Hank Blair's arrest, Sue Billig takes out Amy's journals. Turning page after page of dogeared, yellowing notebook paper, Billig suddenly stops at a page written some time in the six weeks before Amy disappeared. In purple ink, Amy wrote: "Hank says as soon as I finish school he wants me to go to South America with him. I told him he's crazy."
Hank? Billig stares at the page. She was very close to Amy, but she never knew Amy had a friend named Hank. She looks at old lists. He was not a schoolmate of Amy's. Not a close friend. Not anyone Amy brought to the house. And not someone who called about Amy after she disappeared. Unless . . .
Could the Hank in the journal be the same man who had tormented her for 21 years? Billig asks herself. "Did Hank Blair know Amy?"
After all those years of thinking the man on the phone might be connected with Amy's disappearance, the real possibility of it comes as a shock. The timid man she saw in the courtroom, the one who held down a steady job in Miami, was obviously not going to be flying around the world dealing in sex slaves. Her slim hope based on his sick fantasy had been instantly dashed. Blair was obviously not going to lead her to her daughter. There was only one other thing Blair might know about Amy, and Billig didn't want to hear it. So she resigned herself to the idea that he knew nothing.
Until she read the note in the journal.
Her heart pounding, she calls police and tells them to come get Amy's journal.
FBI Agent Harold Phipps: "Police are currently conducting an investigation to see if Henry Johnson Blair had any involvement with Amy Billig's disappearance."
Pompano Beach Detective Robert Drago, a local expert on stalkers: "We know that cranks call vulnerable next-of-kin all the time and usually turn out not to be associated with the crime, but what about someone who calls for this long, what do we know about these people?
"The question at this point has to be: Why was this guy obsessed with Amy Billig's mother for so long? What kept him coming back?"
Blair told detectives he did not know Amy. He said the calling was related to stress at work: "Corruption in Customs," says his attorney, Bill Norris. "There's a big story here that has nothing to do with Hank Blair."
Mike Sheehan, public information officer for U.S. Customs, says that everyone in Customs is in shock over Blair's arrest. "He has an excellent reputation," says Sheehan. "No one can believe he made those calls. It's so out of character."
Hank Blair was 27 and newly married when Amy Billig was abducted. He lived with his new wife, Cynthia, at Sunset Club Apartments in South Miami. He had been a sky marshal until 1973 -- a low-level undercover Customs agent who packed a gun and rode on commercial flights in case there was a hijacking. Long- time friends of Blair's parents, who ask not to be named, say they remember Blair's telling them he flew to the Caribbean and South America a lot. Police say Cynthia Blair told them her husband had made trips to South America, but she doesn't remember exactly when.
In March 1974, when Amy disappeared, Blair was no longer a sky marshal; he was a Customs patrol officer. His job was to drive around and patrol the local waterways.
He married Cynthia Anderson on Friday, Feb. 22, 1974, and honeymooned in San Francisco. Police say both Blair and his wife say they either returned to Miami 10 days later, or 13 days later. They do not recall which. Amy was abducted on March 5th -- 12 days after the Blairs' wedding.
Several Custom agents who spoke off the record say that they know Hank Blair well, and that he could not have been involved in Amy Billig's disappearance. He is too nice, they say. Too low-key. Totally nonviolent.
Gloria Halladay, who worked in the Customs office with Blair in the 1970s, describes him as mild-mannered: "Never macho. Never a showoff. Never full of himself like a lot of the guys in law enforcement."
Retired Coral Gables High School teacher Paula Richott, who bought a house from the Blairs in 1978, says that she had to do some unusual repairs on the house after Hank and Cynthia moved out. The cast-iron burners on the kitchen stove were broken and the porcelain kitchen sink was shattered, she says. Also, an inside door was bashed in. "I don't know how any of that happened," she says. "But I suspected that someone in that house had fits of rage."
When the Blairs moved into the house on Southwest 63rd Court in May 1974, they became friends with the Jones family down the block. Kay Jones says that Hank used to stay up late and drink a lot, but she never saw him become "unruly or violent."
He came and went at odd hours -- often in the middle of the night, explaining to neighbors that he was a "narc," a narcotics agent.
Hank Blair wore disguises, says Kay Jones: Fake beards, mustaches, wigs, sunglasses and hats. And he had lots of guns. "The Hank Blair we knew in 1974 liked to impress people with the secrecy of his job. He came across as Super Cop."
Between 1974 and 1978, police say, Hank owned an MG. But neighbors say he also drove a couple of vehicles seized by Customs and made available to patrol officers -- a light-colored pickup truck and a beat-up beige van, which Kay Jones says he parked in the back yard. These vehicles would match witness descriptions of vehicles a girl who looked like Amy was seen getting into around the time of the abduction.
A Rain of Pain
Henry Johnson Blair was born in New Orleans in 1947 to a career Coast Guard father and a housewife mother. The family moved frequently while Hank, his younger sister and older brother were growing up: from New Orleans to Honolulu; from Honolulu to Miami; then to small towns in New York and North Carolina. In 1964, the Blairs returned to Dade County and settled in South Miami. Hank graduated from Coral Gables High in 1966 and went on to Miami-Dade Community College, while working as a tire installer at the Coral Gables Sears.
Hank's only A at the community college was in judo. After two years, with a D+ average, he went to the University of South Florida in Tampa, barely squeaking by as a history major. His only A there was in behavioral psychology. After he graduated from college, he went to work for U.S. Customs.
The Billigs came to Miami from New York City in 1968, to escape the crime. Amy was 11, Josh 10. The parents were affluent, hip and accepting -- naturals for Coconut Grove. The family members took summer trips to Cape Cod together. They did crosswords and jigsaws on weekends together. They read the same books and discussed them. They made cards for one another and stuck long notes on the fridge. "We argued a lot, laughed a lot and loved a lot," says Sue. "But it all ended when Amy was taken."
Sue never recovered from Amy's disappearance, says her old friend Barbara Farrell: "She became locked in time on the day Amy was abducted. Her life froze there because she could never get closure."
In the first few months after Amy's disappearance, Miamians -- mainly Grovites -- flocked to the Billig home and offered to help look for Amy. This was before Ted Bundy, Christopher Wilder and Danny Rolling. Before Adam Walsh, Tiffany Sessions and Shannon Melendi. It was when people tended to think that only the very rich or the very poor had to deal with the abduction of a loved one. Not the people in the middle. Not the Billigs of the world.
Friends passed out fliers with Amy's photo, organized benefits to raise money for private investigators and literally beat the bushes night and day to aid in the search. Sue Billig went on TV to plead for Amy's return. She also gave lengthy interviews to The Herald, whilehusband Ned and son Josh stayed in the background. "My mother came across as she is: passionate, strong-willed and vulnerable," says Josh. "Unfortunately, the combination attracted some kooks."
Teenage twin boys in Miami tried to get money from Billig by saying they had Amy. They were arrested. Others pulled cruel pranks, such as yelling "Mamma, Mamma" on the phone. But no one had the tenacity of the man who called himself Hal Johnson.
The night after Amy disappeared, it started to rain. It rained for several days. Billig dreamed Amy was lying in the bushes outside her window, getting drenched and calling to her. For years, Billig would wake up and go outside looking for her daughter. Josh remembers seeing his mother walking around the yard in the pre-dawn hours, hitting the bushes. Her weeping kept her husband up at night, so after a few months, Sue Billig moved into the guest bedroom. She would sit there and stare out the window until dawn.
Billig says that she thinks the constant headache behind her eyes is from "impacted tears." She says that her sorrow is so great, she is afraid to plumb the depths of her sadness: "I will drown in my own raw pain," she says. "Then I won't be able to look for Amy."
Josh, now 37, remembers hearing his mother on the phone with "Johnson," then hanging up and talking to herself, as if she were still talking to her tormentor. "Haven't I been through enough?" she would say. "Have you no heart? How much more? How much more?"
The X Factor
Ned Billig tried to keep his art gallery open after Amy disappeared. But he started to drink heavily, and the business went down the tubes.
Josh Billig: "I couldn't put our lives in perspective after we lost Amy. Her disappearance became this dark, nebulous cloud in our lives. She wasn't dead, and she wasn't alive. She represented a troubling unknown that followed us everywhere."
Josh, who had been a good student, started failing in school. He kept arguing with his math teacher over algebra. Why couldn't the numbers be what they were, he wanted to know. Why did a mysterious X have to be thrown into the equation? He refused to work the algebra problems and dropped out of school before the end of the 11th grade.
In the late '70s Josh became a stone mason -- a builder of walls. Walls to protect people. Walls to keep trouble out and families safe inside. "When I'm building a wall and it gets as high as my chest, I get this feeling of security," he says.
In the recurring dream Josh has about Amy, she comes to his house where he lives with his wife and their two daughters. Amy is still 17 and looks just as she did on the day she left: wearing a denim miniskirt and cork wedgies, with her hair cascading down her shoulders. He welcomes her into his house and tells her he will take her around so everyone will know she is back. But he feels no relief. Instead, he feels this huge obligation -- a sense that it is up to him to make sure Amy is accepted. It is a task he's not sure he can pull off. After all, he is not sure who or what she is anymore. Or if she'll fit in the equation.
In the mid-'80s, Josh bought some property in the woods near Naples, Fla., and built a cabin on it. He would go there with his parents, and they would cook outside and take long walks. "We had some good times there," he says. "It was at the cabin that I knew I could have a life apart from the tragedy. It was there that I started to get close to my dad again."
In 1992, Ned Billig learned he had cancer and didn't have long to live. He wasn't afraid for himself, he told Sue, but for her. "I can't leave you," he said. "You'll be alone when that man calls."
Earlier in the year, Sue, too, had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. But doctors decided to operate on her. The surgery went well, and she seemed to be holding her own. But her husband got closer and closer to death.
Sue told Ned not to worry about leaving her. She had always managed to keep going, and she would continue to do so. She would borrow money to install a security system. The police would watch the house. And maybe "Johnson" would take pity on them and stop calling. She did not tell Ned what she really hoped -- that "Johnson" would tell them how to get Amy back and grant Ned's last wish: To see Amy before he died.
On a chilly January night in early 1993, Sue decided to make this request of Johnson. By now, she doubted he knew anything about Amy, but she couldn't rule it out. She would simply tell him that if he did, it was time to get off the obsession and act like a human being because Ned was very sick.
Maybe if she put it to him that way, she told herself, she would strike a chord of compassion in "Johnson's" cold heart. Maybe he would speak the truth -- or leave them alone.
Ned couldn't get warm that night. Sue piled the blankets on him. She rubbed his hands. But it was only when Josh held his father -- wrapped himself around Ned with such tenderness that Sue felt she would burst with emotion -- that Ned stopped trembling.
"I could see what we were that night," she says. "I could see the love we'd held onto, despite losing Amy. And I felt I could communicate it to anyone -- even "Johnson" -- and make them understand what we had a right to."
The phone rang after midnight.
"Hello, Susan," he said.
"I need to tell you something," she said. "My husband is very, very sick, and I'm not well, either. If you know where Amy is, you have to tell us, now. It would mean everything to Ned to see Amy before he dies."
"You'll be alone soon," Johnson said. "Do you still have a nice shape?"
Ned died a few days before the 19th anniversary of Amy's disappearance. He was buried in the family plot Sue had purchased the year before, when she'd found out she had cancer. She'd also purchased grave stones for Ned and herself, and made Josh promise to put Amy next to Ned if her remains were ever found.
On Oct. 27, when police told Billig they had arrested the man they believed had been calling her, she began to cry. And once she started, she couldn't stop. She cried for herself and for her family. She cried out of relief that the torment was over.
But, she says, she also cried because of something else: "He was the last connection to Amy," she says. "Without him, there is no one to tell me she's alive."
On Nov. 16, 1995, a judge raised Blair's bond to $75,000 to make his fleeing less likely. The next day, Blair was charged with three counts of aggravated stalking, which carries an combined sentence of up to 10 years. He pleaded not guilty and his trial was set for Jan. 2. He left the courtroom holding hands with his wife and went home to their townhouse in Kendall.
Billig got a ride home from the courthouse with a reporter. When they stopped on Coral Way at a traffic light, a tall, thin middle-aged woman with dark, long hair skipped toward the car. Billig let out a gasp as the woman, her face dazed and vacant, looked past the car. "It could have been Amy," she said.
But, like hundreds of times before, it was not.