In the fall of 1992, Heather Uffelman and Jeremy Rolfs were seniors at Middle Tennessee State University.
They loved each other and dreamed of a spring wedding. They shared a love of computers. A love that would lead to Heather’s death in a motel room in Marietta, Georgia in October of 1992.
When It Happens to You: The nightmare that you think will always occur to someone else might be your fate
By Jeremy Rolfs
Published in The Tennessean on December 20, 1992
You may have read a story about me. You may have seen my picture on TV. You may have learned that my fiancee and I were assaulted last month in Marietta, Ga. You may have heard that Heather Uffelman, the woman I was planning on spending a full and wonderful life with, died from her wounds. You may have said to someone you love, “That’s terrible,” then turned the page. News is more than what you read. News is more than the images of police and ambulances you see on TV, more than official statements read by a newscaster. News is about people who used to say, “It could never happen to me.” When Heather and I would see the misfortunes of others in the media, we always found one emotion mixed in with our sympathy: helplessness. I never suspected just how helpless a man could be. For the rest of my life, I will know that there was nothing I could do to stop a killer from murdering the most important person in my world.
News is more than what you read. News is about people who lie awake at night knowing that all they could do was not enough to prevent tragedy. Today, I will try to be helpless no more. A memorial scholarship has been created at Middle Tennessee State University, where Heather was about to receive a degree in English. She worked at the school’s radio station, WMOT, and she tutored in the developmental studies writing lab. Her greatest joy was in helping others. Though between the two of us we didn’t have much money, we still gave what we could to scholarship funds to help those less fortunate than ourselves. There are many young people in the world who want to help others the way Heather did. They want to go to college, but don’t have the money. Heather would be overjoyed to know that in some way, she could help people still. But that can only happen if we raise enough money to fund her scholarship.
We must collect a large sum of money, put it in a special bank account then let the interest earned each year pay the tuition of the scholarship winner. Today, I am trying to leave my feelings of helplessness behind. I am asking each of you who has learned of this loss to help us keep Heather and the things she believed in alive and shining. This is no longer a news story about someone you never knew. You are no longer helpless. You can no longer say, “It’s horrible, but there’s nothing I can do.” News is more than what you read, see and hear. This time, news is about you. No gift is too small. Do what you can. It will be deeply appreciated. For many, I hope that will be a donation. For others, perhaps the most they can do is pray for Heather’s family and for the police as they work around the clock to keep this killer from hurting anyone else.
Whatever you choose to do, I ask this final thing: Treasure each moment. They are golden, every one. Jeremy Rolfs and Heather Uffelman, used to enjoy playing with their two dogs. Now, Heather is dead, and Jeremy is trying to create a memorial scholarship for her. Take care, God bless. (Rolfs, a senior at Middle Tennessee State University, is majoring in mass communications. Gifts to the Heather Uffelman Memorial Scholarship Fund should be sent to Box 51, MTSU, Murfreesboro, Tenn., 37132.)
WATCH Unsolved Mysteries Segment with Jeremy Rolfs (air date: April 27, 1994)
Jeremy Rolfs Obituary
Theme Song “Dark & Troubled” by Panthernburn. Special thanks to Phillip St Ours for permission for use. Background Music: “The Beauty of Love” by Aakash Ghandi and “Ambient” by Kevin MacLeod Licensed Under Creative Commons