About a week ago, I sat in a Huntington Beach restaurant booth with Linda Sawyer, an Emmy Award winning investigative journalist, without knowing my 57-year-old friend had days to live.
We’d met to discuss her murder case projects around the nation—some of which she wanted my assistance—and this onetime producer and writer for the likes of HBO, PBS, CBS and Dr. Phil told me about her upcoming outpatient surgery.
Everyone who knew Sawyer appreciated her sense of humor, loyalty and toughness. As the iHeartRadio producer of 2018’s Sleuth, she explored what she believed were the mysteries surrounding one of Southern California’s most bizarre double murders in People v. Daniel Wozniak. The podcast earned 2.5 million listeners nationwide.
After informing me of her upcoming surgery, Sawyer reached across the table, grabbed my hand gently, told me she worried something would go wrong at the hospital and thanked me for my friendship.
Tears formed in her eyes and she spoke about the most important part of her life: the daughters she cherished.
The situation startled me. She outwardly looked great and voiced so many plans. (Hell, she pushed me to be more aggressive in my own projects!) Her forte had been reporting stories she felt would be lost in the criminal justice system without reporters digging.
I assured her she’d be okay. She tilted her head to the right and smiled. After moments of silence, she handed me a gold key to a box she said contained important investigatory documents in case she wouldn’t be able to retrieve them.
“What?” I asked.
She replied, “Just take it.”
The next day I received a message.
“I want you to know I truly love you [as a friend],” Sawyer wrote. “In such a short time you have become so very dear to me. I don’t even know if you realize how much you mean to me.”
Early on Feb. 10, Sawyer passed away in a Santa Monica hospital.
CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; obtained one of the last exclusive prison interviews with Charles Manson disciple Susan Atkins; won inclusion in Jeffrey Toobin’s The Best American Crime Reporting for his coverage of a white supremacist’s senseless murder of a beloved Vietnamese refugee; launched multi-year probes that resulted in the FBI arrests and convictions of the top three ranking members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department; and gained praise from New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.