The funeral director told me I needed to call the Missouri coroner, because they would not release Robs body. I didn’t know what to think but called as directed. The coroner stated that as long as Robs death was under investigation, his body would have to remain there. What investigation? They had said he committed suicide. I was then told to call the County Sherrifs office. I was told by the detective that a note threatening Robs life had been found near Rob so they were investigating further. He said he didn’t think any thing would come of the note, said it had been written by his ( the detectives) uncle, and that he would be taking himself off my sons case, but that all the evidence pointed to suicide. My children and I had no idea what to do next. We had a thousand questions, no answers and all we could do was wait. Later that day another detective called us back. He said he was handling the case now for the other detective. He said the other detective was a good guy and he had gone to school with him.
They released Robs body for transport on Friday morning and he arrived at the funeral home on Friday night. My son Mike, my brother Doug and I all went to see him. Rob was lying on a stretcher. His head was swollen and slightly contorted, and there was a little beard on his face. I hadn’t seen him for almost a year, and He didn’t have a beard then. On his right temple was a perfect round circle about the size of a quarter where the bullet had entered. There was no exit wound. I was numb. I kissed his forehead . All I could do was keep asking him ” why son ” ” why did you do this to yourself “. I asked the funeral director about his autospy, and he said that none had been performed. We questioned why not but he had no answers. It was too late to have a service on Saturday, but Sunday was Mothers Day and my sister Debbies birthday. I couldn’t ask other mothers to attend a funeral on Mothers Day so we planned for the service to be held on Monday, and went back to my sisters house.
I put in a call right away to the detective, to ask him why no autopsy had been performed. He said in cases of suicide they were not necessary. My brother called the local coroners office in Illinois and they said they do autopsies on suicides, but since Rob died in Missouri it was out of their jurisdiction. They said they could do an autopsy for a large fee, something I did not have.
The next two days, we kept ourselves busy getting ready for the funeral. My pastor was unable to come from Virginia for the service, so we found a pastor at a local church. We bought clothes for Rob to wear and I bought a 3 gold hearts with keys, for Robs brother and sisters. They would keep the hearts and the keys would be buried with him. I picked out his coffin and a tombstone for his grave. Each of the kids picked a songs that they felt should be played at the funeral and we put them on a tape. We put together a collage of all the pictures of Rob to display at the funeral home. Sunday I went to church.
Robs relatives were coming from Missouri, and my aunt and grandmother flew in from Arizona. I hadn’t seen my grandmother in years. How sad it was that this was the reason for seeing her then. It happened that my aunts mother in law also passed away that weekend, so she would have two funerals to attend that week. Because I had already buried two loved ones everyone kept asking me how I could do it? Where did I get the strength? All I could say was God. My pastor called me frequently from Virginia. I told him I wanted, needed something good to come from Robs death. He suggested I write my feelings down and read them at the funeral. I was so comforted when a pastor from Missouri called and said not only had Rob been attending his church, but that he had been saved and baptized just the month before.
I had decided on a closed casket for Robs funeral, but Kelli was having a hard time accepting he was really dead. She hadn’t d gone earlier to see him and feared we had made a mistake. I made arrangements for the casket to be open for a short time for close family. I explained to the people in the hall that we would have a private viewing family and then they would be invited in. I walked in there with the kids. They had a netting over the casket, and I pulled it back so Kelli could see it was her brother, but still she didn’t believe, until I pointed out the freckles on his hands. I placed the keys to the kids hearts in Robs pocket and kissed him. I don’t know what happened, but next thing I knew everyone was walking past the open casket. I stood there as people asked what happened to his? He doesn’t look like his pictures! I was still numb and if I answered, I don’t recall. From then on it seems I lost control of the situation. When it was time for the service, I sat in the front row with my other children. I had given the I wrote for the pastor to read. I just couldn’t do it.
The Pastor was a southern man with a very strong accent. I can’t remember most of what he said, but I can remember a voice coming from behind me asking someone ” where did she get this character “. I’m still not sure what he meant. The pastor read what I wrote. It was about that God doesn’t make bad things happen, people do. God gives us the choices, and it falls on us if we make the wrong decisions. That I was thankful that Rob had been saved and I knew I would see him again one day, and hoped they could all say the same for themselves.
The kids and I carpooled to the cemetary in our own vehicles. My ex would be leaving from there to the airport in the rental car. As we pulled up to the grave site I could not believe my eyes. There on Robs fathers grave was a piece of plywood and chairs for the family to sit. Did they really think I would sit on his father grave? Needless to say we all stood. The kids and I stayed at the grave site along time. It was hard to leave. We played the tape of songs we had made.
I ended up driving after leaving the cemetary. I don’t even know who’s car it was. Everyone else had gone on ahead to the American Legion hall where Doug had made arrangements for us to gather. My son in law drove his van with the grandkids, and my brother frank. The girls rode with me in the car I was driving. The American Legion Hall was about 45 minutes drive so we had agreed to stop at a gas station for a drink and to use the restroom. I followed my son in law. We were on a highway and he pulled on to the next off ramp with a service station. The girls took the kids to the bathroom and the guys went to get drinks. OI stayed in the car. Next thing I knew we were surrounded by police cars. Someone had accused my son in law of almost running him off the road when getting on the ramp. To be perfectly honest I don’t know if he did or not. I just don’t recall. I could hear telling the police how they ( my son in law and his passengers ) were just a bunch of Jesus freaks. Apparently, some had written in the dirt otf the back window of my son in laws van, ( We miss Rob, want to see him again. Find Jesus! ) I explained to the officers that we had just left the cemetary and he let us go. At the hall I saw cousins and people I hadn’t seen in a long time. All exclaiming what a shame it is that it took something like this to bring us together. All talking about making plans for a family reunion. Then it was time to leave.
Things weren’t over yet. There was still work to be done. Next the kids and I would be leaving for Missouri that night, to try to find out what really happened to Rob. That I will write in part 3