Suicide or Murder… Will we ever have rest?

My husband and I sat, drinking our coffee, watching the morning news like we do every morning. One segment was a preview of CBS’s 48 Hours for tomorrow, Sept. 27th. It was a slap in the face for both of us. Anyone who has read my blog or anyone who knows my husband and I personally, knows the unanswered questions we will always have due to the circumstances surrounding our son’s death. As we watched this segment about this couple,(
we realized the uncanny parallel to our own story. Our son’s story. It brought up the ugliness of our situation and all the injustices that we have had to endure.

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Several things are identical to what happened in our son’s death..and life. For starters, both he and his wife had depression. ( M. was taking zoloft 100 ml a day…Brandon told me he was taking half of hers because she seemed to improve and he thought it would also help him but at some point in time he decided not to continue) Depression in the Bender couple was something they also had in common. It may have been the common ground they shared, but in the end it killed one of them.

My son was left handed. His wound to the head was just above and behind his right ear. A very important fact to consider.
The man, Bender, was shot in the same place and also was left handed.

Bear with me because this his how it will be for my husband and me, for the rest of our lives. I have told this before on my blog but I have to revisit it when things like this episode creep up and prod my inquisitive, despairing, maternal curiosity, when the pain of injustice and no resolve appears like the cancer that it is.

This preview brought my husband and I back to the anger of not knowing. As life has continued for us, we have had to accept the “cause of death” done by a coroner who told me personally that all she went by was the GSR (gun shot residue) on our son’s hand…that there was nothing else to consider….not even whether or not there was residue on the other two who were present (Melinda, the wife, and Jeremy, the so-called BF.) They did not conduct tests on these two at all. How’s that for professionalism! These two knew our son’s depression very well. Yet, they did nothing to help him. In fact, they antagonized him with their open flirtations with one another. We were told this by a close (no longer close) friend of the “grieving widow.” No one in the stupid, evil, corrupt Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Dept. investigated anything but what was in front of them. There was a history that would have helped to come to a conclusion other than suicide. No one cared. We were not emotionally equipped to do what had to be done. It was unbearable to go into the investigator’s office and ask the questions we had to ask. We were made to feel like parents in denial..dismissed with inhumane callousness by a man who had watched too many CSI: Miami episodes.

WARNING: Go no further if you are a parent/sibling whose loved one has died by gunshot, as I describe a suicide scene, not in detail but that was directed and starred in by Brandon.

We believe “these two” could have possibly planned our son’s death. There were two other things that we have had to consider. Because Brandon was an avid and creative movie maker from his teen days I have videos of his keen, yet unique and creative “movies” that he and the BF had made in high school. Just a few months ago, I tried to watch one of them not knowing what I was about to see.

The BF was filming Brandon..(hint: Quentin Tarrintino, Cohen Bros. were producers/directors that Brandon admired) he was mocking a suicide. After he stops his truck, which he and BF are in, he takes a handgun (pellet gun, actually) off the front seat beside him and walks into a field by the road. He puts the gun with his left hand to the left side of his head and pretends to die by falling to the ground. The BF brings the camera to the field and just stays on Brandon. I was completely repulsed by the whole thing. It was typical Brandon to make quirky films but never like this. I had to stop watching the videos and have not watched any since. Why I even tell about it now is because the BF was in on this film. Besides the impact that the entire scene had on me was the fact that Brandon used his left hand. I have struggled with whether this is the evidence I needed in spite of the fact that it actually enacts the very way he died…or so it was decided. The investigator could argue that it was proof that he was suicidal, although, it was filmed when Brandon was in high school. I am so confused. I am so frustrated. I wonder if we didn’t do enough to pursue what we think really could have happened. We are not wealthy people of position and so therefore we are easily dismissed.

Another thing…during their eight month separation, Brandon lived with Jeremy at his apartment. Mike and I had never been there. Among Brandon’s things was what I think was the very last video he made. Coincidentally, it was in that apartment with BF standing in the kitchen exactly on the spot where Brandon died. Behind him is the stairs to the second floor, on that wall to the kitchen. Anyone could have come down those stairs and pointed a gun up close with ease at our son, on his right side. BF was supposedly upstairs when Brandon died. BF also was told not to wash his hands but was caught by one of the police on the scene washing them. It is in the police report.

I have never been able to look at it ever again but that one time when I was desperately looking through all things belonging to my son. I scoured his book bags, his videos, his journal, his pocket of every single jacket and pants, his wallet, his phone, his audio tape recordings, etc…I had to know why my brilliant, sweet boy could have carried out an act that was so unlike him even though he was in the midst of turmoil. He had always conquered trials before. He spoke like a warrior when facing his giants and relied on prayer and my prayers for him.

And so life continues…but not as before.


8 thoughts on “Suicide or Murder… Will we ever have rest?

    • Yes, indeed. There is too much that shouts that it was not as it seemed. If there is never justice in this world for Brandon, there will be in Christ’s court. I love you, Brando’s “big” sister. ( I used to call him “Brando” when he was making his movies back when.)

  1. Dale, this is awful. It smells like an attack from the Enemy…
    I read on your blog how you recently helped turn a hater into a lover -she was previously blasting-those who died from suicide. That was probably enough “provocation”
    to get enemy action started…

    “Not knowing”-as agonizing as it is-can destroy our focus on anticipating our future. All vengeance is the Lord’s–HE loves our kids even more than us, and will ensure justice is done. We are not to preoccupy ourselves with all the “what if’s and woulda coulda shoulda self shattering…! God knows our HEARTS, our INTENTIONS and will make EVERYTHING “right” in the end.

    It is completely understandable to be in utter turmoil with your suspicions-but self destructive to YOU. Don’t let another life be taken even while you’re still physically here. Let GOD do His job-“Vengeance is Mine, sayeth the Lord-I will repay.” Our job is to trust in our futures and to let the pain-filled past left to God to enact justice, repair and restoration. (Easier said than done, though). Stand firm! Put on ALL your armor-! I keep you in prayer. Ps -unable to fix any typo’s-phone used.

    Love, Donna

  2. This is really sad. I’m truly sorry. It always comes as such a shock that humans can commit such heinous acts. I know of a widower who has had to fight for justice for his daughter against the most powerful people in society. For every victory, he has suffered major setbacks. It is painful to watch; But he has hope. We can only imagine what you have been through. Even then, we could not really understand what you have felt. The fact that you have fought so long says a lot about your inner strength. You also have hope. My hope for you (and prayer) is that one day you will have your dream fulfilled and find some form of peace in your life. RIP Brandon.

  3. Oh, Brandon’s Mom, the painful unanswered questions you live with… But you are absolutely correct that there will be justice in God’s Court as there is no doubt He saw it all. Dale, I am so very sorry.

  4. I didn’t realize the extent of this – I’m sure I still don’t. Hard enough to live with the death of your child, then all this? You must be haunted; all you can do is let your love for each be front and center.

    My love and prayers are with you, Dale xoxoxoxo

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