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Long and painful journey is completed

Widow feels the spirit of departed columnist in Denver courtroom

By Fawn Germer
Rocky Mountain News

Kathleen Bohland sensed her late husband, Greg Lopez, was with her in the courtroom when Jorg Peter Schmitz told his version of what happened the night the Rocky Mountain News columnist was killed.

"Greg's been in a couple of my dreams, but when Schmitz testified, I felt he was there," Bohland said after a jury acquitted Schmitz of vehicular homicide charges. "He wanted to be sure that I would be OK. It was a very strange feeling, one I hadn't felt in a long time."

The trial marked the end of her "journey" to find answers about what happened when Lopez was killed March 17, 1996, in a hit-and-run crash.

She had already faced the 1994 death of their first daughter, Mary, who was stillborn. When Lopez died, she was two months pregnant with Calla, who was born in October.

"It's really been the best year and the worst year of my life," Bohland said. "The worst year because I lost my husband and best friend, and the best year because Calla was born, the baby I'd wanted all my life. I'll always have Greg through her."

Bohland takes things a day at a time, knowing that life isn't easy and wasn't meant to be.

"If life were fair, I would be a family of four right now," she said. "I think we just have to remember that Greg will always be with us, his spirit and his love of life will always be with our family."

To become bitter about the verdict would detract from the power of the legacy that Lopez left behind, she said.

"Sitting in the courtroom day after day helped me make it clear in my mind what happened," she said. "And that helps. I'm disappointed that Schmitz wasn't convicted, but I feel like the journey has been completed in my mind."

Bohland is going back to work and focusing on raising her daughter.

"I have a new baby," she said. "I really don't have time to fall apart."

This article was published by Rocky Mountain News on March 20, 1997 and was written by Fawn Germer.

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