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Biography: Zoe Chase, the Victim
 

Zoe ChaseZoe Chase was born on July 2, 1965, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Her birth mother, Debbie Fitzgerald, was a teen-aged unwed mother, who put her baby up for adoption without ever having a look at her. The infant was adopted by Howard and Marion Neidelmen of New York City, who named their new daughter Nancy, after Marion's favorite aunt.

The Neidelmens adored and spoiled Nancy, unwittingly helping to mold her into a stubborn and vain child. Because of discipline and behavioral problems, Nancy was placed in a parochial school at an early age. Despite the costly tuition and the many parent/teacher conferences, Nancy's attitude did not improve. She simply insisted on getting her way and generally did, largely due to her quick wit, and grand sense of humor. She could really just charm anyone to her point of view, which was both a true talent and a very endearing quality.

Though she tested high for IQ, she was never motivated to excel scholastically. While some thought this to be laziness on Nancy's part, in fact, it was a matter of interest. History, mathematics, and science held no appeal for her, but give her a book, a play or a movie and she was riveted. When she was ten, she decided she wanted to be a writer and that was that. Though most of her teachers gently tried to explain she couldn't write, certainly not well enough to pursue a career, her mind was made up and no one could change it. She managed her way onto the school paper, lobbying, and cajoling everyone until she became editor.

Because of her charm, she quickly made friends, but she especially went out of her way to befriend people she thought were brilliant and/or talented, hoping to learn everything she could from them and convinced that some of their brilliance and talent would rub off on her.

In 1984, she enrolled at University of Mississippi, majoring in English. In her first few days at college, Zoe met Dani (Danielle) Brady, who lived on the same hall of the freshman dormitory. They quickly became fast friends and, when Dani married Ed Bonner several years later, Zoe served as her maid of honor. But while they were still students at Ole Miss, Zoe and Dani were known for the practical jokes they pulled together. The victims of their jokes included dorm mates, friends, and especially people they didn't like.

After graduation in 1988, Zoe returned to New York and got a job as an assistant editor on a magazine. However, her propensity to edit and rewrite the magazine's authors eventually resulted in her being dismissed. As testimony to her charm, the magazine gave Zoe a glowing letter of recommendation, despite the personality conflicts that led to her dismissal. For the next several years, she worked primarily as a copy editor for small publishing houses, but was dissatisfied with the lack of recognition. She craved fame.

In 1995, Nancy Neidelmen legally changed her name to Zoe Chase, believing that to be a more suitable name for a writer. Coincidentally, she managed to get published here and there not long after the name change, which only served to prove she was right to change it.

In 1997, she moved from New York to Oxford, hometown of Faulkner and her best friend, Dani Brady Bonner. She believed she could have a new incarnation as a writer and attain her rightful due. She quickly found work as a columnist with The Oxford Town Weekly magazine and experienced the celebrity of small town stature. In addition to her column, Zoe was also a member of the Oxford Writers Circle. She did volunteer work in the local literacy program and could often be counted on to help with fund raising for local charities.

On the morning of October 15, 2000, Zoe Chase was found shot to death outside the Oxford city limits, on the shoulder of an access road alongside Highway 6 East. Her murder is still being investigated.

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