According to Godso, Rodriguez did not graduate. But people with computer skills usually don’t have a hard time finding a job. Eventually, he started working at a Baton Rouge-based e-commerce company called Shoppers Choice, where he was recognized by many as the most talented engineer on the team. The company’s codebase is still filled with “VR” notations, for code written by Rodriguez. Marie, who works in IT, told me: “He was a very good coder. Except he would still code everything in the hardest way possible, much like you hired Rembrandt to paint your bathroom. You know it’s going to be lit, but over it.
He wasn’t particularly collaborative, but he would sit down, put on his headphones –listen Temple of the Dog and Rage Against the Machine – and solve the problems. As the issues got more complex, he felt more comfortable. He was calm but not, with his colleagues, perversely. “If you ask me if he’s the one showing up at the party in a clown costume blowing things up with a cannon, that’s not him,” says a former colleague named Corey Tisdale. “But he would go to holiday parties without looking miserable.
He ate once a day, often pizza from Walmart or lasagna from Pasta Kitchen. He was wearing black jeans, a black shirt and a black trench coat. He had long dark hair almost to the waist. One day, he cut everything and gave it to Locks of Love. he assisted Dragon con. He appeared to be suffering from mental health issues, but, according to Marie, he refused conventional medicine. “He healed himself with alcohol and chocolate,” she says. He pursued what Mary and other friends called “blackouts,” where he stood still for days, refusing food and all human contact. But eventually he would get out of it. “He wore his sadness like an extra layer of skin,” Marie recalls. But, she adds, “I really dug her imperfectly perfect solitary singular self.
Meanwhile in Baton Rouge, Rodriguez began a relationship that would last for five years. But it ended rather badly. When it was over, the woman he was dating wrote on his Facebook page: “Apartment 950 per month / bills 300 per month / Resist the monster that beat you emotionally and physically for 5 years?” Priceless. ”After Rodriguez was identified as the hiker, the woman’s mother commented on Facebook,“ This man was so violent towards my daughter, he changed her.
His colleagues at the time, now learning his story, seemed saddened. But not entirely surprised. “He was always very introverted, kept to himself. His jokes were generally obscure, ”says a colleague named Keith Parent. “None of this is surprising, except the fact that in the end he died.”
“I looked for Vance in mid-2017 to hire him to build an app for one of my clients,” says another Shoppers Choice colleague named David Blazier. “And I would have paid him literally whatever he asked for.” I never found it.
In 2013, Rodriguez moved to New York. He had met a woman, whom I’ll call K, in an online chat room. K, who requested anonymity due to the public’s obsession with the hiker, was finishing college in upstate New York at the time. They came and went to visit each other. As their relationship evolved, they decided to move to New York City and live together. She was going in fashion and had to be there. He had spent his life in Louisiana and welcomed the change. He had never seen snow before. At first he was romantic and gentle. But soon he started complaining and silencing her. “If anything bothered him, he would stop talking to me altogether.” Which can be lonely when you share a 500 square foot apartment, ”she says.