It was hard to know what to make of much of it, Peters says. But the microabrasion idea was real; Peters had introduced her to a local doctor, and the two were trying to develop a patent for the process. Other than the doctor, the couple didn't seem to have many friends locally. They kept to themselves, and Kauri did most of the talking. It was as if Pat was just drifting along; whatever Kauri wanted was fine with him.

"He was like a mama's boy," Peters says. "He didn't work. He just sat there while she worked. Finally, I thought I might as well teach him how to pierce. That way he could make some money, at least."

A business card from the Joplin venture touts "world famous artist Kauri Williams, specializing in fractal, gemstone and physics conceptual art," as well as "body piercing by Patrick Williams." But the couple only stayed in Missouri a few months. By late 2002 they had moved back east, and they had changed their names again. Kauri had used the name Tiyme as a professional moniker on occasion — the unusual spelling calling attention not only to her obsession with time but the central question of mortality: "Why me?" She had her name legally changed to Kauri Tiyme. Pat changed his to Keenu Tiyme.

Tara Schinn, who had several tattoo sessions with Kauri, says her friend "did not want to die like this."
Tara Schinn, who had several tattoo sessions with Kauri, says her friend "did not want to die like this."
Kim Kosnar, who had "girl talks" with Kauri weeks before her death, says her friend gave no hint of being suicidal.
Kim Kosnar, who had "girl talks" with Kauri weeks before her death, says her friend gave no hint of being suicidal.

Tattoo artist Chris Conant found them working in a "not very good shop" in a small town in western Massachusetts. "Her talent was being wasted there," he says. He persuaded the Tiymes to move to Northampton, where Conant and others had put together a shop that was, at the moment, free of the usual internal drama that drives many tattoo studios into the ground. Conant admired Kauri's work, her professionalism and her endless stream of ideas.

One of the couple's goals at the time involved land they had purchased in Arizona, outside of Sedona. Kauri loved the natural beauty of the area, all the cross-currents of new-age and Indian lore, and hoped to build a solar-powered home there some day. "Her thing was, she always wanted to be off the grid," Conant recalls. "Some place where there was no need to rely on anybody else or leave a trail for the government. I guess you could say there was a certain amount of paranoia about it."

But Conant didn't see anything alarming in the way the Tiymes seemed to interact. Keenu struck him as quiet and thoughtful; Kauri was the extrovert who managed their finances and paid for Keenu's Lasik surgery so he could dispense with his thick glasses. "Kauri was definitely the leader," he says. "But they were a couple where you didn't really expect anything bad to happen."

He adds, "I'm having a hard time swallowing this joint-suicide thing. It doesn't add up. They told me they were part of a cryogenics program, that they were going to freeze themselves and be brought back at a later time."

After a few months in Massachusetts, Kauri was lured to California by a shot at the big time — an offer to work in a West Hollywood shop. She soon had creative and business differences with management, though, and found her way to Manakin Tattoo, then located in Bakersfield. Hibbard recalls that when he first heard her voice on the phone, he had the impression of a maternal, schoolteacher type.

"She was so sweet and calm, like she was talking to a child," he said. "Then I met her, and she was this tall, freaky-looking person with transdermal piercings."

Hibbard admired the sophistication and originality of Kauri's work. But he was also struck by how wrapped around each other she and Keenu seemed to be. "It seemed to me they had some connection only they could understand, something deeper than what most people get to experience," Hibbard says. "I think they took each other incredibly seriously. In a normal relationship, you fall in love, and if it doesn't work out, you find somebody else. They didn't have that. It was this kind of locked-in, weird, made-for-each-other, the-cosmos-brought-us-together soulmate thing."

The couple impressed Hibbard as almost theatrical in their self-involvement. After a few months, Kauri announced that she was once again pulling up stakes, a tearful scene Hibbard still remembers: "She seemed to be somewhat of an actress, you know what I'm saying? When she left the shop, it was such a big deal. She said Keenu's mom was sick, she was crying — it was a little dramatic. She could have just said, 'I'm not happy here, we're going to explore other options,' but it had to be a big production."

Two entries in a notebook that appear to date back to her time in California with Keenu hint at what the relationship must have meant to Kauri. They have an ecstatic, hysterical yet suffocating quality, placing the emotional need almost on par with the need for oxygen.

The first one reads: I don't know what to write when I'm around you only you. When I'm away from you I think of you. Tiyme is still unless I [am] with [you] then it is!

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15 comments
Cliff
Cliff

Kauri was a friend of mine. I have old letters and stories of her time in Tucson. She and Jay later visited me in Northern California when her Grandfather died and we spent time on the Lost Coast. There is a deeper longer story of deaths ... strange ritual deaths ... that were around her going all the way back to the '80's. She was always scared that "they" would find her ... to the point of paranoia. Her interests in the occult and psychedelic drug use led her down some very dark roads many of you know little of, but there were other murders (two I know of intimately). There were also wars, tattoo wars, going on in Tucson that she was affected by, with bombings and shootings ... she was not a willing participant. I'm sad to hear of her passing, as are many of her other old friends here in Tucson. RIP Kauri

Iris
Iris

Wow, I knew Kauri back in the 80's when we were just two young women hanging out together. Reading this makes me very sad. We sure had some good times, didn't we? Rest in peace Kauri.

Jery
Jery

Kauri did not 'go' by the name McPhillips, she married Jay McPhillips in 1994 in a private ceremony at the Enchangted Dragon Tattoo Studios in Tucson Az. People who slam a person "after" they are dead usually won't have ANYTHING said when they go. Kauri was a kind and kindred soul with visionary thoughts, a sharp wit and could recognize "crap" at a glance. Probably why some of these people are slamming her, she recognized them.

Jerry
Jerry

Have read the comments and I lived with Kauri for 14 months. Sorry you didn't get any James, only guys who knew her that hated her were the ones she dumped or never got any in the first place. Call you so you can play phone soldier, go turn some tricks and shut your face. Funny, don't see your name in any ink rags. She was spotlighted many times however. Man that jealousy can be harsh.

Jerry
Jerry

I knew Kauri since 1994, lived with her and her then husband in Tucson, she was Kauri McPhillips and worked for the Enchanted Dragon studios there for Glen Tackett. No I lived with her for 14 months and she did not want to go out like this.

Anne
Anne

Jim, How dare you talk about Kauri that way? Her art was not garbage and she was no liar.

james birkbeck
james birkbeck

i would encourage the writer of this article to print some of the fine literary musings kauri wrote and post an open challenge for a reputable scientist to interpret her nonsensical gibberish.the stone cold fact is the bitch was crazy,but just cause she died everyone wants to seem sympathetic and all full of the warm fuzzies for her.she wasnt shit in life ,so why should she be deified just cause she murdered. the only shame is that she didnt get the proper psychological help she so needed.i wonder why all her suppposed friends were so absent in that department.

Margaret
Margaret

It's not that Kauri was a lair, james, it's just that you're too stupid to know what she's talking about.And yes, I did know her, worked with her for years in different locations.

james birkbeck
james birkbeck

to those of you who were offended by what i had to say,my only question to you is did YOU know her.thought not ,because if you did and you were sane,you would probably share my lackluster sentiments.and to the retard who "is going to teach me a lesson"i live in virginia beach,va.if you feeling that assbent then feel free to contact me at 716 348 1223.i hope your your rightousness pays off,and by the way ,FUCK YOU!

 The
The

james birkbeck how dare you... seems like your the liar! where do you live again? I'll teach ya a thing or two about talking crap !

ouroboros
ouroboros

you tipped the scales, speaking ill of the dead.

james birkbeck
james birkbeck

i knew kauri very personally.we dated for a while when she lived in buffalo nyabout ten years ago.she actually got me into the tattoo business.one thing about kauri is she was a liar on the worst level.she was actually one those people who were so sick she believed her own lies.she would publically declare some total nonsense and the mere fact that she stated it somehow made it true to her.she was a very disturbed person who needed alot of help.she just drifted from town to town and used people around her,quite sad really.and speaking as a respected artist in the tattoo community,her work was garbage.her reputation was based soley on being freaky not so much as talent or skill in her craft.man that girl was nuttier than squirrel turds.

Rx
Rx

After reading this piece, I clicked for another page. But no, this was all there was to it: A somewhat tedious roadmap of a couple of scary-disturbed individuals hitting the end of the line in a Denver hotel, in an odd kind of way, not much different than the way the had lived. It's a sad story, but not terribly remarkable. I am left with two questions: Why was this story written? And why, with all her soul-searching and "voracious reading," did she evidentally never question her "racing thoughts" and instability? The article seems to glorify these traits, which are more than just quirky behavior than a series of acts pointing less to exceptional artistic ability and more to, say Bipolar I.

Krystof
Krystof

The word "Kauri" translates into "Tree", ironically, Kauri was the tree, those of us that she tattooed were the branches, and the tattoos themselves are the leaves. Many leaves take on many different shapes and colors, some almost incomplete in structure but still beautiful none the less. Thank you Kauri for the brief time you touched our loves. Until we meet again my friend.Love, Krystof, Lesley and Deanna

Lauren
Lauren

I am absolutely shocked. I was randomly scanning the website and decided to open this article....this woman did my tattoo in Northampton, Mass about 6 years ago! For the life of me I never remembered her name, but I do remember her stud implants and her love for physics (and her grandfather's supposed work on the Manhattan Project). The color on my tattoo is still the best I have ever seen and it has made it impossible for me to find another tattoo artist. I'll never be able to accept anything less than her absolutely gorgeous work. I am so sorry to hear about her death. She was an amazing artist and will always be remembered.

 
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