A Story Never ToldAs the sun rose, I was getting ready for a church council forum held every year. My brother and I weren't very close. So imagine my surprise when I received a phone call from him that morning.
My husband answered the phone. I could tell from the brief conversation that it was my brother. I took the phone and after the cordials, he said "I need to tell you something." I said "What?" kind of jokingly.
He began. _____ shot ______ and _____. I said "What? Where are they? He said "They're gone. He killed them." I fell onto the couch and cried out "NOOOOOOOO!"
The next thing I knew we were making plans. I was the one who would have to go and tell my mother. We planned for me to call my aunt. Then I would go to my mom's and call my brother before I went inside.
I saw my husband outside on the phone. I knew he was calling his family.
I picked up the phone and called my aunt. After the cordials, I told her I had something to tell her. "What?" she said in a very matter-of-fact manner. "MMMM." The words could not form in my mouth. My aunt said "Just say it honey". I cried out to her "_____ killed _____ and _____". She said "What? Honey, NOOOOOO! Some of her family was there and I could hear her tell them in the background.
So now I was charged with the task of telling my mother. Of course, that was always how my sister had planned it. She loved him. She always felt that he would kill himself. She wasn't afraid he would kill her. And she never imagined she would take my niece, too. She always told my niece and nephew that if something happened to her, they were to call their uncle (my brother), who would in turn call me. That is exactly how it happened, except my niece was not there for my nephew. She was now dead.
I had to get dressed. My husband got our six year old ready and I called one of our council members to let them know I wouldn't be at the meeting. They asked why. I cried into the phone, "Because my brother-in-law just killed my sister and niece and now I have to go tell my mother."
All I remember about the 15 minute drive is bringing up my brother's phone number up so it would be ready to dial when I got there. When we got to my mothers, I called my brother, and proceeded inside. My husband took my daughter so she wouldn't have to hear.
I walked in and as usual my mother was watching TV. I said hi and walked to the remote and turned down the volume.
She looked at me and I said "I have something to tell you. ______ just called and told me that ______ killed _____ and _____." Her eyes got really big, almost looking to me for signs of a joke. When she realized I wasn't joking, I called my brother. My aunt called my mom. She let her know she was there for her and did she need her to come. My mom said no. We were just in shock
The next task was to call our relatives. I spent the next hour making sure everyone was informed. I had already had to say it three times. Little did I know, I would be saying this for what now seems like a thousand times. My sister and niece were killed by my brother-in-law.
The final task was the hardest. I had to tell my child. She was very close to them although we lived hours apart. My niece had just visited for what I didn't know was going to be the last time I would see her.
I started by telling my child that I had something I needed to tell her. "______ and _______ were killed by ______." She looked at me and asked "No more ______ and ____?" I said "That's right, no more _____ and ______." She said "What about ____ and _____(the dogs)." I said "He killed them too." She started to cry and asked me why he shot the dogs. I told her the only thing I knew to tell her. I told her they were trying to protect _____ and _____ and the dogs were probably trying to attack him. My child grieved for the loss of her aunt and cousin by grieving for the dogs. She didn't know what it all meant. All she knew was that they were gone.
When something like this happens, you don't really know what to do. It's kind of like watching a major wreck happening with your family members in the car and not be able to do anything about it. The next week was a nightmare. I spent a lot of time on the phone. I had no information except what I read in the town paper (it happened in another city) and on the internet and it was driving me crazy. I didn't understand why my nephew wasn’t telling them the truth. He was telling people he didn't know why it happened because they were a loving family. There were pictures printed of him with various family members. It was just making me sick.
Finally, one day I read the name of the Prosecutor assigned to the case. I was on the phone immediately. I must have spent 2-3 hours on the phone with them that day. I poured my heart out. I didn't know it at the time but I was the only one my sister confided in. It seemed like there was no one else, except for my nephew who knew why this happened.
The funeral was one week later. There was a private funeral followed by a memorial service that evening. At the private funeral, the one thing that sticks out is that there were two caskets, side by side, with no indication of which was which. There was no need to as far as I was concerned. But that was not my decision. I remember my six year old asking who was in each casket. I just told her that I didn't know.
There were a lot of people at the memorial. My sister had helped a lot of people. Two people spoke. We weren't included in that but I didn't mind. I had nothing prepared and was still in shock. But, it really angered me to know that my brother-in-law’s sister spoke. She was a witch. My sister always felt that way, but she got along with her for the sake of family. She started talking about the things they did together and how wonderful their relationship was la...la…la…la... The next week she was telling people the devil had my sister by the tail, which couldn't have been further from the truth. I am a Christian. I am telling you I met so many "Christians" like her in this mess that it really made me wonder what it meant to be a Christian.
When the memorial service was over, my nephew wanted me to come to the house and take a few of my sisters’ things home. It was really weird being there. The bodies had been found in the kitchen. The insurance company had already sent a clean-up crew the first day but I had a picture in my mind of where they were. Red paint was on a door. My daughter thought it was blood, scary. I gathered a few things. We wound up in my nieces bedroom where I found what I consider her last words to my daughter.
There, at the foot of the bed, was a gift bag already packed with a card inside. We had planned to visit in about a month during the next holiday. She already had it waiting. The card was addressed to my daughter. It had little x's and o's all over it. Inside it told of the love she had in her heart for my child. I don't remember what the gifts were. The fact that it was there in the first place was the most amazing, biggest gift of all. It broke my heart, but it made me smile--one more time. We finished packing the truck and said good-bye to my nephew. I asked if he wanted us to stay; he said he could handle it. Famous last words of a fool.
By the time we got home, which was a four hour drive, the phone was ringing as we unlocked the door. It was my nephew. He said "They just towed the trucks." I said "Who towed the trucks?" He said "I don't know, I just looked out the window and they were driving away with the trucks." I told him to let me make a few calls in the morning and I would get back with him. My nephew's Dad had two trucks. My nephew had them both at his apartment complex for safety. The only one I knew to call was the prosecutor. I told them what happened and asked if they did something we weren't aware of. They didn't. As it turned out, his Dad had taken a loan out on one truck and used the other as partial collateral. The bank had them repossessed. They had someone camp out at the funeral, not the memorial service, and follow my nephew to his apartment. Then, when both trucks were there that night, they took them. No late payments or anything, they just took them. Said they had the right. And they did. I no sooner hung up the phone with my nephew when his Dad's sister called me. I told her what had happened and that we needed to find my nephew a lawyer. She said she was going to call him so she could call him and make arrangements to come pick up the antiques they had been given. The vulture had landed and was beginning to peck.
My sister was the only “real” friend I had. She was like my second mother. At the time of her death, she was angry with me and hadn't told me she was filing for divorce, but my niece had told me. She had left him one time eleven years before and I was angry with her for going back. I didn't talk to her for two years, even though she tried. If I had it to do all over, I might have threatened to call child protective services on them if she went back. But she loved him.
They were married thirty years. In the beginning, they were a really cool couple. They used to take my brother and me camping with them. They would invite us over for the weekend. I basically grew up knowing him as my brother. I grew older and we moved to another city. We saw each other at least four times a year. We considered vacation as going there or they came here. She got pregnant with my nephew. I was very excited I was going to be an aunt. She became pregnant again in a short period of time with my niece. They were 15 months apart. When my niece was three days old, my brother-in-law’s Dad died. After that, it was like he turned into his Dad. He started drinking. Life got the better of them and she left him when the kids were 11 and 12, I think. Actually, she said he told her to leave. He had already pulled a gun on her twice that I knew of by that time; always when he was drunk.
It came out in court that he had taken a baseball bat and broke all of the windows in the car. She didn’t tell me that. She did tell me some of her windows were broken and she had to replace them before she left, but she didn’t say how. He was sure willing to tell the police though.
She came to live with my mom and filed for divorce. A year later she returned to him. He said things would change but they didn't. He became very greedy, only wanting to put in his fair share, even though he made a lot more money than my sister. If he did spring for something like a pizza he would ask for the change. The house needed repair. Did he care? No. She even had to call my mother for money to finish her education (she had returned to school while she was gone).
He was never physically abusive to them. He was physically abused as a child himself. His dad beat him senseless and he ended up in some biker gang as a teen. He was very psychologically damaging to my sister and the kids. To him it was a game they played. He called it "sins of the father's". The stronger she became, the more she spat back. His alcohol started causing major health problems. She told him that if he didn't get help she would divorce him and take 1/2 of everything he had. He didn't. And he wasn't letting her have half of anything.
My sister and I were seven years apart. When I was younger, she helped me somewhat through the teen years. As I got older, we would talk to each other on the phone for hours. I became her confidant. I remember the family going to visit them and all I could do was cry when we left. I knew what I was leaving them to. My sister really loved my daughter. She was teaching my daughter to make a kissing sound and would have kissing contests with her over the phone. My sister was a lover of life. She loved helping people. She was very talented in arts and crafts. Their yard always looked beautiful when she stayed at home. She did it all herself. She could make a Picasso out of just a few items. She became a nurse and was very good at her job.
My niece was just like me. She was also my namesake. Even though she mostly favors her father, my daughter somewhat looks and acts like her as she has the mannerisms of my niece, to a tee. She would call my daughter and let her talk to the dogs on the phone. When they came to visit, they would dote on her like you cannot believe. My niece had just started to stem out with her driving and the last trip she made to visit us was the first long trip she had taken by herself in a car. She had her first job and was moving up in the company.
I had to make a crime victim statement telling them what this has done to my life. It destroyed my very existence. He not only took the two people who were closest to me, he also took the two people closest to my daughter besides my husband and me. It tore my heart out.
My nephew was the little love of my life when he was born. He had been in a lot of trouble in his teen years, even a stint in prison (drugs) but he had started to straighten out his life. He had a job as well. As a matter of fact, they all three worked at the same company. Major loss of talent. I was worried about not seeing him. I should have known better. By the time of his accident eight months later, he had visited eight times. He was running away. The prosecutor told me to expect him to go downhill.