I have always been a photo freak. My camera went went me on a daily basis and I was always taking pictures be it a deer in the field or the joy on my children's faces. Thus my children began to mimic my actions.
So on September 16th, 2005 about 7:10 a.m. my then 15 year old son Alex, called up to me asking where the camera was I hollered down 'either on the living room desk or the center island'
Then next sound I heard was Alex screaming 'MOM GET DOWN HERE NOW!' I could hear the fear and panic in his voice as only a mother can. I didn't hesitate for even a second. By his voice I could tell he was at the south end of the house and literally ran down the back staircase. As I hit the bottom of the stairway Alex called out again, I followed his voice into my son Tommy's room.
On the floor at the foot of his bed lay my son Tommy. Before I took the finally three steps to him, I knew he was gone. Maybe it was the shot gun laying to his left. Maybe because he lay in and awkward position. Maybe I even seen the blood pooled by his head. I immediately fell to my knee's beside him placing my hand upon his back...cold, hard reality shattered my heart, my mind body and soul.
I would have sat that way for hours, frozen in that moment, had I been alone. Yet there just a foot or so away stood Alex. As I turned my face towards him I knew I had to do something, I had to say something. My mind raced a million miles an hour searching for something to say. I found nothing. So as in the movies I screamed out "No, No, not my Tommy". It was all I had...I line from a million freaking movies. It felt so fake. This wasn't me, this wasn't my son or his room or my house. Please just let me rewind this moment. If I can just go back to that millisecond before my hand touched his body. So I could wake up and find it was all such a horrible nightmare and I was still lying in my bed, in my room and living my life raising all my children.
I remember sitting there trying to figure out what the hell had happened. By now Alex was on the floor with us. To be honest I don't know if I was actually speaking out loud or just in my mind. Alex has yet to talk about that morning beyond the moment he discovered that Tommy was dead. At some point Alex was standing up again and I hear him talking to the police. I don't know what he was saying I just know it was my job to make that call, not my sons, and took the phone from him.
I think I was pretty calm while speaking with the 911 operator. Maybe I wasn't. I just remember saying yes I'm sure he's gone. No we don't need an ambulance. He is cold and stiff. Alex and I where still sitting there with Tommy when the first officer arrived. I don't remember Alex leaving the room to open the door to let him in. It just all happened so fast. I clearly remember talking with Alex and the officer saying I know what this looks like, but it's not. How Tommy and his group of friends had been playing what I dubbed 'the home style fear factor game' that summer. How this must have been the game gone wrong.
At some point I stood up and began to look around Tommy's room. As soon as I was up the officer rushed over and slid the gun away from Tommy. I knew it was there and it angered me that he had moved it. I had moved nothing, touched nothing but my son's back and feet. This was a crime scene! What the f*** was he doing? I had wanted so deeply to lay beside my son, to hold him in my arms, to see his face, kiss his lips and whisper sweet nothing in his little ears. But I had to preserve the crime scene, and I did!!
The candles he had lit the night before still burned brightly on his shelf. His bed appeared yet perfectly made, how he had not even laid down on 'the softest sheets ever' Tommy had cleaned his room and washed his clothes and linens as his sister was coming home for the week end and he wanted it perfect for her to use. We had laughed about his sheets as it turned out both of us had put fabric softener in during the rinse cycle,(not the dryer sheets we usually used)thus the softest sheets ever. I even related that story to the officer as a looked around the room. On his dresser top were two of our hot pink glasses. I relayed that meant Tommy wasn't alone that night. I noticed his camera and as I reached for something on his dresser the officer stopped me saying I shouldn't touch anything, so I withdrew my hand.
At some point the officer got bored or something. He lay his arm on Tommy's make shift shelf which held the burning candles. It wasn't really a shelf, it was a left over panel of wood I used to top the wall in the living room that was balanced on top of one of his speakers. Balanced that is until the officer attempted to lean on it, sending the candles flying. Red wax landed on the stack of clean folded clothes at the foot of Tommy's bed, and ran down the side of his bedspread. Red hot wax sinking into the carpet where they fell.
I immediately picked up the board and placed the now empty glass holders back on it. At some point I must have asked Alex to get my cigarettes because I was smoking one. I then sent him for an ashtray.I placed the ashtray on the floor and sat down rubbing my sons cold feet.
Suddenly the room was swarmed by three more officers. One stood next to Tommy, the first to respond stood next to the door. Then the other two began to search Tommy's room on opposite sides of his bed. Each had flipped up the bedspread and looked under his bed. They opened drawers and cabinets. One picked up a small piece of tin foil from the floor and said it had probably held drugs. I told him Tommy didn't do drugs. Then he reached up and took down the very old crossbow my father had given Tommy just before he had passed away 2 1/2 years ago. It was so old the wood had split in two pieces. I rushed over and explained it was a memento and didn't even work! That was when they decided I had to leave the room. Then they closed the door.
The coroners assistant arrived and disappeared into the room. When she came out I asked her what the time of death was. She stated midnight, with no explanation offered. As others filtered from the room and stood outside the closed door I attempted to go back in. They tried to convince me I didn't want to go back in. They had moved him and I might not want to see him that way. I told them I did and I would. That I had brought him into this world and I would see him again before he left his room. Gratefully my mother stepped in assuring them to let me in as there was no way they were going to stop me without a physical battle.
As I walked into his room a officer followed me. I think it was the sheriff. I said I wanted to be alone with my son, he stated he could let me. The door closed behind me as he sat on my son's bed. I stood there looking at my son now in a sitting position leaning against his bed. I saw the brown paper bags they placed on his hands and calmly said they could take them off. I told him Tommy and Alex had been out target shooting just minutes before he left last night. Well, they needed to run tests he said. I reiterated that more than likely they would find gun shoot residue because he was shooting a gun like 5 hours before he died!
I ruffled Tommy's hair and realized how short he had just cut it. I asked for a piece of his hair and was told I'd have to ask the coroner for it. I wanted again to hold him in my arms. To feel his whiskers against my cheek just one last time. I tried to smell his cologne but he must have left in such a hurry last night, there was no scent. I just wanted a few minutes alone with my son and they wouldn't let me have even one more second. I could see no wound so I asked how he died. The officer didn't say a word. He took his hand in the form of a pistol grip opened his mouth and pulled the imaginary trigger!
There is so much more I need to share....then you will understand why we believe Tommy was MURDERED!!!!
I will post again.
I am at a loss for words, I am so very sorry for your loss. It hurts my heart that your son and you found Tommy like that. Sounds like the police made lots of mistakes from the very start I can't believe he moved the gun then to knock the shelf down nothing like making a real mess out of the crime scene. Your words were the same as mine,,, my son made it to the hospital but when the Dr. came and told me they had done every thing they could but Jimmy didn't make it my exact words were No, No not my Jimmy. From the action of the officer sounds like he decided right then that it was suicide.
Shirley Jim's mom
Just wanted to let you all know I had written part 2 but somehow lost it before it posted. My mother just had a heart attack so been busy. When my head can find the peace to write again I will try to do part 2 again.
I just read your nightmare. I pray you and Alex are being comforted day by day. Even though I have had a similar experience in that my son was murdered and it was ruled a suicide, your story is heart wrenching. God has given me a lot of comfort in many ways, but I miss my son every day, as I know you do. Tonight we watched fireworks with family, and I missed him. I know you know what I mean.
Did you have any success changing the ruling from suicide to homicide and getting an investigation? I read that your mom had a heart attack, so you are going through a lot again. I will look forward to hearing from you.