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Anonymous So, this essay is nearly twenty years old now and I don’t think anyone except internet conspiracy theory fans have looked at it in years. But I was reading it over, and . . . I think Gottie was lying the whole time. I don’t have any proof, and I don’t even know if anyone will read this comment.

But I think Gottie killed Nathan. It just makes so much more sense than Rob’s ineffectual behaviour after the murder. Why did he never dispose of the body in the weeks of time he had? Why did he let Gottie wander around his house?

Why would he even invite her over, unless he was absolutely desperate to find Nathan? This is a girl who posts everything she hears online. He must have known what a risk he was taking by inviting her to his house. He knew that she was effiemeral too, at that point. He even called her ‘Effie’. If he knew how badly she wanted revenge on him, why would he bring her into his house?

Supposedly Rob and Nathan were fighting, and Nathan threatened to tell the police about the forgeries, so Rob killed him. Why would Nathan go to the police when Bradley’s visa had already been approved, and the danger was over? That’s not a motive, that’s a weak link at best.

There are too many loose ends. The story is incomplete. The whole case is just too tangled and complicated to see the holes in the narrative.

Here’s my theory. What if the murder happened when she was inside their house, hiding under the desk in the office?

Gottie told us that she tried to escape out the window with her laptop and Rob’s own laptop. What if Nathan caught her before she could get out? He would have recognised her as the girl scout he’d bought cookies off.

He could have tried to grab her. Maybe she kicked him to the ground – or knocked him away with one of the laptops she was carrying. He could have hit his head on the corner of the desk.

Whatever happened, he hurt his head badly enough that he passed out. He collapsed to the floor, and Gottie panicked. She thought that he was just unconscious, that he would wake up in an hour. She dragged the body over to the office cupboard and hid it inside, to give her a chance to get away before Rob found him. She even locked it, just in case he woke up quickly.

(Gottie never mentioned the fact that she found the body in the office cupboard, in the same room she’d been hiding in, but it’s stated in the police report. She purposefully concealed that from her narrative, which is very telling. She did mention that the cupboard was locked when she found him, though.)

Nathan bled out, unable to get out of the cupboard or call for help. He died, alone and trapped in the dark.

Rob was next seen searching for him on the street a few hours later, frantically calling his name. He barged past some fans, who filmed him. He was already looking for Nathan, even then.

Meanwhile, Gottie must have gone home to write up the next chapter of her essay. She had to have been hoping desperately that Nathan wouldn’t say anything when he woke up. But to her surprise, he never said anything at all. In fact, no one saw him for days.

NBC delayed filming on the show when Rob told them that he’d gone missing. They started searching secretly for him, hoping that he’d just gone to the countryside for a few days. Meanwhile, Rob focused his attention on trying to stop Gottie posting about the forgeries (leaving fake comments trying to explain it away as props for a new TV show, etc). He didn’t even think to check inside their own house to find Nathan.

As more time went on without a sighting of him, Gottie’s suspicions grew deeper. What if Nathan hadn’t just been unconscious? What if there had been some kind of internal bleeding inside his brain? What if it had been life-threatening?

She told herself that Rob would have found him and got him to the hospital in time, if that was the case. But would he? Had Gottie made his chance of survival worse by locking him in the cupboard?

Two weeks passed, and still Nathan wasn’t seen. Gottie probably started to panic even more. Because Rob was acting like Nathan was missing, not just sick. He was searching for him, according to a conversation which was overheard by a fan – he asked Bradley Saffitz if he’d seen him. He was offering a reward to anyone who found him.

Gottie became convinced that she’d murdered Nathan by accident somehow, and she was going to get arrested. And she’d stupidly posted about being in his house on the night it happened. She knew that as soon as the body was discovered, everyone would connect it with her. So she had to beat them to it – plant a story in their minds, before her readers could get there first. She had to make sure no one thought it was her. They had to think it was Rob instead.

So she made up a story of a fake argument she’d overheard between Rob and Nathan, posting it online alongside that short video of Rob in the street, upset about Nathan disappearing. She never had any proof of this argument.

She rearranged the evidence to make it seem like they were on the brink of breaking up. It must have been so easy to give Rob a motive – he had such a good one already, with the forgeries and the visa trial (I believe that was all true. It’s too insane not to be.)

When Nathan still didn’t get in touch, Rob got more desperate. He invited Gottie over to his house to beg her to help uncover where Nathan had gone. She placated him a little, then took the chance to check if Nathan’s body was still in the cupboard where she’d left him unconscious. She even stopped the livestream before she looked.

When the body was there, she must have been horrified. She had probably convinced herself that it really had been Rob after all. But she acted quickly. In the time it takes to go to the bathroom, she came up with a plan and put it into action.

She took photos and his phone (to make sure he hadn’t send any messages about her from inside the cupboard) then quickly left. She reported it to the police, making sure there was clear evidence online that proved Rob had the motive and the means, and that he’d been witnessed fighting with the victim. She did a good job.

One of the things she included was reference to a snapchat picture of Rob with a golf club, which conveniently erased itself after she saw it. The picture was never actually submitted as evidence to the police, so we have no proof that it ever existed. But it helped cement her version of events in peoples’ minds: that Rob was a killer, and Gottie was just an innocent bystander. Her discovering the body even conveniently excused any fingerprints that were found on the scene.

But remember, Gottie has a motive too. She wanted revenge on Rob for driving her off LiveJournal. She wanted everyone to know at last what he’d done to her, and make sure he was punished for his money laundering.

A murder was the convenient way to make sure he was punished. Even if he didn’t kill Nathan himself, when a body presented itself, she took the chance to get revenge. She had been desperate for someone to punish Rob for what he did for years.

I don’t know what Gottie is doing these days. She must be nearly forty. Maybe she’s got a family. Maybe she hasn’t mentioned Loch & Ness to anyone in years. Maybe she’s managed to make herself forget all of this even happened.

But there’s one person who won’t have forgotten. Rob Hennings is going to be released on parole next year. I’m very interested to find out what he does when he leaves prison. Because I’m pretty sure that somewhere out there, a woman is walking free who should be in jail for murder.

They’re going to tear each other apart.

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Author’s note

final cover< Chapter 29 | Contents pageGoodreads 

Gottie is a fangirl for Loch & Ness, a TV show about paranormal detectives. She’s convinced that two of the male actors are secretly dating, and she’ll stop at nothing to prove it. When her online investigations accidentally uncover far more than she expects, she becomes complicit in secrets beyond just a romantic conspiracy theory.

An internet thriller told in a ‘true crime’ style recollection of events, the novel includes social media extracts such as modern Tumblr posts and early-noughties LiveJournal blog entries.

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13 thoughts on “Epilogue

  1. Oh my GOD! I am about to start a 3h exam in one minute and choices have been made to read this just before. Plot-twist as the epilogue. Bravo Lauren! That’s genius!


      1. The exam went well, but the first 30 minutes left me hard to concentrate. I had a feeling it wasn’t Rob, but I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong and yes, this was great. Thank you!


  2. i admit my only sure guess for the past several chapters has been just “not rob”, so this was fun. i’d been so looking forward for the ending, and when i started reading, i burst into laughter and didn’t stop for a long time. full-on grin the whole time, this was very very cool!
    god, poor rob tho, right? i’d sooo enjoy a print version too, especially if it would involve some snippets from recording that podcast. good lord. this was a really nice experience and a weekly highlight!


  3. This was an absolute bomb as an ending to the story. Wow. The entire thing was gripping from start to finish and now I’m going to read it all over again with this new and fresh perspective on my mind.
    Thank you so much for writing this!


  4. Oh my goodness, I can’t believe I missed the epilogue posting in all the craziness of the world. When the trial was finishing up and rob was still being blamed I was like “but where’s the rest of it? It can’t be rob, like it’s definitely not rob.” And with ch. 28 I was kinda taken aback with Gottie and how remorseless-ish she seemed or maybe like disconnected which felt strange but I was like “no, narrators are to be trusted” but NARRATORS ARE NOT TO BE TRUSTED. just the expert way that you made gottie less and less what’s the word REPUTABLE I kept thinking where is this going why would she want us not to trust gottie why would an aspiring journalist, which thrive on the truth, be risking her name by lying so much? And it’s because she had skin in the game, as Effie, as Nathan’s actual killer, oh my god, it’s crazy. I mean she said it herself “nothing on the blog is real” and while I believe that hurting Nathan was an accident, putting him in a cupboard certainly was not, I guess it must’ve been panic but she locked him in there so no she knew what she was doing. Or at least was smart enough to know it wasn’t going to end well. I never could’ve predicted it and at the same time how did I not put it all together. Absolutely amazing and the style just overall was great. The amount of people I’ve gotten to read this just so I can gush about it. What a ride.


  5. Right, so I do think that Gottie was lying in her blog, as she said in the trial most of it was made up, but my god!!!! And she did such a good job portraying Rob as a bad person, which only really amped up after she broke into the house (which was incredibly shifty). I’d like to believe Rob killed Nathan, as I do really like Gottie but I don’t believe she’d be above twisting the facts for her own benefit. That said, this is brilliant and thank you so much for writing it!


  6. Wow. I just finished binge-reading this entire thing. It was absolutely fantastic! The slow, ominous build up of dread over the course of the chapters as you realize that a crime came out of these seemingly benign series of fan wank events, and that someone was MURDERED, is exquisitely and uniquely horrifying.

    The comments on each post were one of my favorite parts of your storytelling as well–you somehow managed to capture the audacious toxicity of online posting perfectly. Everyone’s varied opinions were so well-executed. I loved reading the “lmfaoooooooo no you didn’t” comments in response to Gottie breaking and entering, as well as the “you mean you wouldn’t simply ship drugs to an anonymously booked airbnb? pussy” poster and the “here’s my completely incongruous hurt/comfort fix-it RPF fic” user followed by the “what the literal fuck, this is a murderer” user.

    Gottie’s underlying motivation of “I can excuse $13,000 in money laundering and forging of legal documents, but bullying ME off of livejournal at age 14 for my fanfiction is where I draw the line!!!!!!!!!!!!” is so…..perfect. It’s so teen tumblr user. Auguugughghghgh….

    Finally, the unreliable narration was so well executed! I love that even at the end, post-trial, we’ll never know the full truth. Neither Rob nor Gottie is a good person, and both of them were willing to lie and cover up the truth in order to create a worldview that’s more palatable to their own interests. Both of the suggested endings hold equal truth. (But I personally favor the “locked in a cupboard and couldn’t get out and rotted there in the dark” because jesssssussssssssssssssss chrrrrrisssssstttttt………. that’s nightmarish.)

    Thank you so much for creating this! I loved it and will definitely be recommending it to friends. 🙂


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