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Behind Her Smile

After climbing through the ranks at Time magazine, Julie Grace fell into trouble. In May she was found dead. Now her friends are asking how they could have saved her.

(page 5 of 7)

 

Shortly after returning from Colorado, Grace’s romantic relationship with a young opera singer named David Cangelosi erupted in violence. On June 26, 1999, Grace was arrested on charges of battery against Cangelosi. The charges were later dropped, but the incident resulted in a restraining order against Grace. According to the case report, Cangelosi had broken up with Grace that night. She later returned to his apartment and began “violently” banging on the door. Cangelosi opened it, she entered, and the verbal fight “quickly became a physical one, with [Grace] hitting [him] about the face and back leaving a deep scratch in [his] back.” Grace was “intoxicated,” the report says. Cangelosi declined to be interviewed for this story but confirmed in an e-mail that from 1996 to 2000 he and Grace had a relationship that ended “as a result of Julie’s constant challenges with alcohol.” Grace’s friend Thom Serafin remembers her relationship with Cangelosi as “on-again, off-again” and “volatile.” “They argued with each other loudly,” he says.

By now, her boss was concerned. “There was clearly something amiss,” Stodghill says. “Sometimes she went out on a story and you couldn’t find her. A lot of times my phone would ring from the news desk in New York at 11, 12 at night, maybe 1 in the morning. They’d say, ‘Hey, we haven’t heard from Julie yet,’” says Stodghill, who left Time in 2002. “She’d reappear late. She’d have some kind of excuse. Maybe she was still out reporting. Maybe her cell battery ran out. Maybe she had computer problems. I wanted to trust her but I worried that one day she wouldn’t come through.”

One Saturday morning in 2000, Stodghill confronted Grace. Once again, she had failed to file a story. The news desk had been trying to track her down all night and had been leaving him messages; it was Friday night, a critical deadline for newsweeklies. The next morning, Grace called Stodghill at home. She told him she had simply frozen up. To Stodghill, it sounded like another excuse. “I prodded and prodded and prodded,” he remembers. “Finally she agreed to get help.” But, he says, it may already have been too late. Word had gotten around. Some editors in New York had stopped asking for her.

Over the summer, Grace took David Cangelosi to Taylorville for her 20th high school class reunion. Her former basketball coach, David Hixenbaugh, remembers she was a kind of celebrity among her peers. “People thought, Gosh, here’s one of us who went to Chicago and did really well,” he recalls. She spoke wistfully to him about small-town life, perhaps wishing for the sunnier days of her childhood. But inwardly, behind the smile, Grace knew that her seemingly glamorous life back in Chicago was in shambles.

By March 2001, she had been fired, according to Karen Conti, the lawyer who negotiated a settlement agreement between Grace and Time.

In an e-mail statement, the magazine’s managing editor, Jim Kelly, declined to comment except to say that Julie Grace “did some amazing work for us, and we still mourn her.”

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