Stephen loved sports and seemed to do very well at them. He and his siblings would regularly engage in everything from tree climbing to playing baseball in the front yard.
When Stephen was 8 years old he and his brother Dan were playing baseball. It was getting close to dark when their mother called them in. It was Danís turn to be up to bat and he wasnít happy with his motherís call. He angrily threw the bat into the air. It hit Stephen in the back of the head. This was the first real trauma to Stephenís head. It was not to be the last. From this time on Stephen started to change.
He began to have fits of rage and violence that were uncontrollable. He started having trouble in school and with some of the kids in the neighborhood. His grades in school dropped drastically from ďBĒ honor roll to almost all Fís. The only class he maintained a passing grade in was his art class, only because he loved to draw. Teachers were calling complaining about his attitude in school changing so much and began to call him a troubled child. One teacher called and told my wife that she thought Stephen was mentally retarded because of the changes in his attitude.
By the time Stephen reached the seventh grade his attitude towards school itself began to change to the point that he no longer wanted to go to school. When he was in eighth grade we had to take him to school. If we didnít he would roam around town all day and show up at home after school was out. It eventually got to the point that Stephen would come back home instead of running around town. We would drop him Off at school and he would actually beat us home.
Since Stephen didnít like to fight, the neighborhood kids began shoving him around and started bullying him. They would beat on him and he would just lie on the ground and cry. He was nine or ten years old at this time. He also had a boy pull a knife on him while he was collecting for his paper route and tried to take his money. Stephenís older brother Dan came to the rescue and cracked the kid across the back with a big stick.
We had some testing done to see if some damage from the blow to the head could be detected. The neurologist ruled that out and said nothing could be found to substantiate any damage. The doctor said Stephen was just suffering from a personality disorder and would grow out of it. We have always wondered about that since he had been such a happy go lucky little guy up to the point that he was hit in the head.
Even with the rage and violence Stephen dealt with he seemed to have a knack for drawing people to him. He loved to clown around and make people laugh. He was very good at it and it often got him into trouble at school.
On September 28, 1991 Stephen and Jamie became husband and wife. That seemed to be one of the happiest days of Stephen's life. He and Jamie made a beautiful couple. They had 2 lovely children during their marriage, Nicholas who was born March 21, 1992 and Katelyn who was born June 28, 1995. Stephen also had a daughter by a previous girlfriend. Her name is Stephanie and she was born December 3, 1989.
For 3 or 4 years Stephen and Jamie seemed to be quite happy in their marriage. Then things started happening. Stephen began drinking more and had met a young man that was supplying him with acid. Stephen and Jamie began to fight more and more until they finally separated. It was a very bitter separation that seemed to fuel Stephen's rage. He became more violent as time went on.
They began battling over the two children. Stephen wanted visitation rights and she didn't want him to because of his drinking, rages, and violent attitudes. In all of Stephen's rage he never once hit Jamie. Several times they tried to make things work out for their marriage, but it always ended the same, in separation. The separation in late 1996 was the last. There was no reconciliation between them.
From 1992 until his death in 1998 Stephen suffered three more severe head traumas. One was severe enough that it put him in the neurological care unit of one of our local hospitals. He had suffered a minor skull fracture and fractures to the orbit of the right eye. He also developed a problem with brain swelling that caused an extremely high fever. Stephen being a fighter bounced back.
In mid 1997 Stephen suffered another severe head trauma. He was riding a bicycle late at night when he was the victim of a hit and run. He was thrown from the bicycle to the ground and the left side of his face hit the curb. He suffered fractures of the cheekbone and a shattered orbit to his left eye. It was at his point that the doctors told him one more head injury could kill him.
Stephen and his wife had been separated for over a year and were having constant battles over his seeing his children. He had found a girlfriend and was living with her for about 8 months. She really treated his kids well, but Stephen's wife wasn't happy with them being around her. It really turned into a vicious battle between them.
On Jan. 21, 1998 Stephen and his girlfriend went to a local bar to shoot pool. They got into an argument over something and she threw her drink on him. Stephen reacted by pushing her against a pool table. On Jan. 22 about 1:15AM Stephen was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence from the incident. He did not give the police any trouble when he was arrested and that has been verified.
Once in the county jail an altercation took place between him and 3 of the jailers. He ended up with a felony charge of assault on a lawenforcement officer. He was arraigned and bail set at $10,000 on the felony charge. Up to that time and after, he was not allowed to call anyone or talk to anyone from the outside.
On Jan. 22, 1998 between 2:30PM and 3 PM Stephen met with a representative of the Public Defenderís Office. She stated that at that time Stephen did not seem to be suicidal. She also stated that Stephen complained about his left arm hurting and how he had said he thought the jailers had broken his left arm. Stephen was also left-handed. We have no idea if Stephen tried to get medical attention or if the representative from the Public Defenderís Office tried to get medical attention for Stephenís arm.
On Jan. 22, 1998, being a diabetic, he was given his insulin around 3:30 PM and at 4 PM was given his supper. I might also add that he was not in the cell he was assigned to, but in a defective cell that had no light and no water. This cell is called the "hole" by the inmates and is used like solitary confinement for inmates. After he was given his supper at 4 PM no one knows what happened. He was found hung in the cell on Friday morning Jan.23, 1998 around 6:55 AM.
An autopsy was performed on Stephen by an outside medical examiner called in by the county. According to the autopsy report the time of death was calculated as occurring between 4:30 PM and 9:30 PM on Jan. 22, 1998. It also stated that it didnít rule out the possibility that death may have occurred at an earlier time. It was estimated also that Stephenís body hung in the cell for between 9 Ĺ to 14 hours before being discovered at 6:55 Am on Jan. 23, 1998.
It was discovered also that the jailers did not perform state mandated 30-minute checks on the inmates that night. Instead, they admitted they had watched movies all night. They had also commented that they thought Stephen was suicidal but failed to put him on suicide watch. As a result of their admissions, six jailers were charged with felony charges of official misconduct according to the State Department of Corrections Policies and Procedures.
At between 9 AM and 9:15 AM the coroner and county sheriff came to the house to notify us of Stephen's Death. At the time I was alone at home and because of my work hours I was just waking up. The sound of their knocking on the door will echo in my head forever. It is a sound I shall never forget along with the words of the coroner, "I'm sorry Mr. Carson, there has been a problem at the jail. Your Son Stephen was found hanging in his cell, apparently a suicide.Ē
I had always thought that nothing like this would ever happen to me. I had read countless newspaper stories of people dying by suicide and never believed that anyone in my family would ever die by suicide and put my family through such torment and pain.
From that time forward though my life would never be the same. It had been turned upside down and inside out and ripped apart. The person I once was will never be again. I have lived with nightmares, anger, bitterness, and pain. The grief at times is almost unbearable. I wonder constantly, ďWhy my son? Why did he have to die this way?Ē
I have also lived with guilt that I didnít do enough for him, that I wasnít the father to him I should have been, and that if it hadnít been for my alcohol and drug abuse, maybe Stephen wouldnít have gotten wrapped up in them. I feel guilt thinking that I didnít spend enough time with him talking and listening to him.
Through all the grief, pain, and turmoil we have survived. The family seems to be drawing closer together and mending the differences between us. We continue to work through this horrible life we have been thrown into and can only hope that it will get easier as time goes by.
Stephen was gone. We would never see his smile, hear his laughter, or hear his voice again except in our memories of him. He is gone from us in the flesh but will forever remain in our hearts.