- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 19, 2007

Julia Campbell was no stranger to adventurous exploits.

As a journalist in New York City, the Virginia native was a tenacious reporter, at one point getting arrested covering the funeral procession of rapper Notorious B.I.G. She once cut short a date after coming across a crime scene so she could report on the story.

Her adventurous spirit later took her to the Philippines, where she served as a Peace Corps volunteer. It was there that her body was discovered Wednesday in a shallow grave, unearthed by a stray dog more than a week after she disappeared while hiking.

“She was a fearless reporter,” said David Kocieniewski, a New York Times reporter who was bureau chief when Miss Campbell was a full-time freelancer for the Times at police headquarters. “She was intelligent, incredibly hardworking and had the capacity both to ask intellectually tough questions and to be sensitive to the people we were writing about.”

Journalists who worked with Miss Campbell during the years she spent freelancing for the Times, Court TV and other news organizations remembered her generosity and courage.

Police in the Philippines at first thought the 40-year-old might have fallen off a cliff while hiking alone in Ifugao province north of Manila. But after her body was found in the grave, they said they thought foul play was involved.

Sunday, before Miss Campbell’s body was discovered, her sister said from her Falls Church home that the family was going through a “difficult time” waiting for news of her whereabouts.

The family issued a statement after learning of her death.

“In her 40 years, Julia lived a very full life,” family members said. “She loved her family and friends and is much loved. She was passionate in her journalism reporting, especially the stories involving people who were able to stand and address adversity or adverse situations.”

The family has also said they are planning a memorial service in Fairfax County.

“I’m absolutely jolted,” said Bill Hoffmann, a columnist for the New York Post’s Page Six gossip section who briefly dated Miss Campbell. “I remember her as not having a mean bone in her body. She was a real sweetheart, and yet she was deceptive — she was very dogged and determined like a bulldog.”

Mr. Hoffmann said he and Miss Campbell were on a date once when they happened upon a crime scene. A gunman was loose, and police had blocked off a street. Miss Campbell immediately called the Times newsroom and started working the story.

Michael Cooper, a Times reporter now based in Albany, N.Y., also described his former colleague as dogged.

“When doing street reporting, she was always sure to ring the 10th doorbell, not just leave after a few,” said Mr. Cooper, who worked with Miss Campbell at police headquarters.

After the Times, Miss Campbell worked for People magazine, Star magazine, Court TV and FoxNews.com.

“She loved being a reporter,” said Liz McNeil, East Coast news editor for People. “She was very dedicated and had a lot of compassion.”

Miss Campbell made headlines in 1997 during her stint at the Times when she was arrested covering the funeral procession of Christopher Wallace, also known as Notorious B.I.G.

The procession turned unruly, and Miss Campbell got in a shouting match with police, who had her handcuffed and dragged away. According to the police report, Miss Campbell called one officer “a bastard.”

The Times protested the arrest, though metro editor Michael Oreskes acknowledged that Miss Campbell’s “use of harsh language was not appropriate.” Disorderly conduct charges eventually were dropped.

Miss Campbell wrote in her blog that “At the age of 38, I decided to step out of the rat race of New York, join the Peace Corps and board a plane for Manila.”

In the Philippines, she taught at a public high school where she helped restock the library and begin an environmental awareness campaign. In October, she began teaching English at a small Catholic college in Legazpi City, southeast of Manila.

At the time of her death, Miss Campbell was weeks short of completing her two-year commitment to the Peace Corps.


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