Weekly Takes Heat for Suicide

Subject Kills Self After Incriminating Article.

C-Ville Weekly Freelancer Barbara Nordin has been a lightning rod for scorn ever since the body of James Ennis was discovered at a timbered park outside the city limits of Charlottesville, VA. Ennis, the 43-year-old owner of a local martial arts studio, had stabbed himself to death in a ritualized suicide apparently undertaken to save face.

Ennis’ death came soon after Nordin’s byline appeared on a C-Ville story in the May 26-June 1 issue which detailed a clandestine set-up at Ennis’ “dojo” or place for practicing the martial arts. In the piece, Nordin quoted a source “who frequents the the school on Cherry Avenue.” The source told Nordin about a two-way mirror located in a bathroom abutting a changing room. Inside that changing room, wrote Nordin, “Female students … may have been watched.”

Nordin, who had learned that Ennis was in St. Louis when she was researching the story, made repeated attempts to contact him. She never got through. The article went to on say that Ennis, “was out of town and could not be reached for comment.”

When Ennis finally returned from his trip — just hours after the paper went to press — he called Nordin.

“He was aghast to find out about [the two-way mirror],” says Nordin. “He said he denied having any knowledge about it, saying he had been mistakenly sold a two-way mirror when he really only ordered a normal one. He said there was no way he could tell it was a two-way.”

Roughly an hour after that phone conversation, Ennis’ wife reported her husband missing. Four days later the police spotted his abandoned car at Darden Towe Park and soon found his badly decomposed body located a short distance away.

Since the much-publicized suicide, Nordin and C-Ville — which was denied AAN admission at the annual convention in June — have been deluged by vitriolic emails, letters, phone calls and one personal appearance at the newspaper’s office by an angry reader. Many people blame them for causing Ennis’ death.

“We definitely have some supporters,” says Nordin. “But the people who are speaking out definitely think that we killed him.”

Nordin — whose story has turned into a controversy of such magnitude that its impact reached all the way to the Washington Post’s front Metro page — completely stands behind the story. She adds: “[If I had a chance to do it again] I would report the story the exact same way. Someone installed a very insidious device that apparently was used to spy on women in a predatory, sexual way. That’s the truth.”