After Rachel called Brian and told him over the phone that she wanted to break up. He got very depressed and told me he had nothing to live for. I took off work and stayed by his side and begged him to never say NEVER say that again! I told him that it would kill me to lose him…he promised he would never take his life. That was in August of 1997.
Brian went back to school and although very sad, started to go on with his life without Rachel W. It is then that I think Brian turned to liquor. He said everyone drank at college and told me not to worry…that he was fine and having a good time with his friends. He finished the school year in May of 1998. It was that summer that he met Rachel H. and they started dating. Brian was also working for the State of IL. that summer getting some engineering experience.
Rachel H. seemed like a nice person, but one that had problems. She was verbally and physically abused and her Mom and Stepfather didn’t seem to want her around that much. Rachel also had a problem making things up…fabricating stories. She professed to be a model and that she was looking for her big break…that she had lived out East, but had come home because her sister was very ill. My Brian and our whole family believed her. Unfortunately, that was the worse mistake we ever made.
Brian and Rachel’s relationship was tumultuous. She would play “mind games” with him…telling him she could have any man she wanted, but that she wanted him. She was very flirtatious when they went out…trying to make Brian jealous. Brian and Rachel H. would go out to a local nightclub and they would drink and dance and she would drink and begin flirting with other men. They had only been dating a few weeks when Brian got upset and told her they were leaving. She got angry with him and he stopped the car and told her to get out…that he didn’t want a woman who acted like that. He let her off a block from her house and he drove home.
Two hours later I was woke up by the doorbell and it was Rachel…standing there crying, saying she was sorry and wanted Brian back and that she couldn’t go home. I let her in. The next morning she begged Brian to forgive her and to take her back, promising she would never do that to him again. My Brian forgave her…he knew what she faced at home and he took her back thinking he could change her and make a better life for her. He loved her so we forgave her too and loved her…my heart went out to her, she seemed to be like a “little lost kitten”…we took her into our family…we even took her on a 2 ½ week vacation with our whole family, my husband and I paid for everything.
When Brian was ready to go back to school that fall, he wanted Rachel to go with him. Brian hated to be by himself…he’d been like that ever since he was a little boy…I have no idea why to this day. We were against it, saying that she would distract him and he needed to concentrate on his studies. He left without her, but was coming home a lot to see her and it was 3 ½ hours drive one way. They finally convinced Dick and I that she would go back with Brian, they could get an apartment together, and she would get a job while Brian was going to school.
Things were going pretty well, Rachel had a job and we were also sending money to help out with rent and utilities. Christmas came and they both came home. Rachel told us that she didn’t have a lot of clothing and between Brian, my parents, and Dick and I, we spent over $1000 on Christmas gifts for Rachel.
Looking back now I can see that Brian had changed, the light in his eyes was gone. Oh he pretended to be happy, but he wasn’t…things weren’t as good as he told us they were. After the Holidays they went back to school and when my husband and I received our credit card bill, we discovered that Brian had charged almost another $1000 buying things and trying to make her happy…he did…but it never lasted. We confronted him about the charges and took the credit card away from him…we were very angry…oh God how I wish he would have told us what was going on with her.
Brian and Rachel were home for the weekend because Brian was celebrating his 22nd birthday Friday, April 17th. They went out for dinner that night and went bar hopping and then to a nightclub where they could go dancing. Little did we know what Brian had been through Thursday, April 16th.
The phone rang around 1:00 AM April 18th and woke my husband and I up…our world was coming apart that very moment. It was Rachel’s Mom yelling into the phone that Brian had beaten her daughter up and that she was going to see to it that he would be “sent up the river”! I started crying saying, “NOOOOOOOO…NOOOOOOOO…my Brian wouldn’t do that…there’s no way!!!!!!” About that time, Brian pulled into the driveway and then came in the front door, he saw me on the phone crying. He said, “Mom…Mom what’s wrong…Mom what’s the matter?” Rachel’s Mom hung up on me and I turned to Brian and said, “ Oh Bri, that was Rachel’s Mom and she said you beat Rachel up and that they were calling the police.” “Mom, she’s crazy, I never hit her, I wouldn’t do that!” Brian started down the hallway to his room and started to get undressed. When he took off his shirt he had fingernail scratches from his right shoulder, across his chest and down to his waist. I said, “My God Brian, what happened???” “Oh Mom it was horrible. Thursday night before we came home Rachel “got crazy” on me. Mom, she was chanting and talking about the Anti-Christ and that she was supposed to be his bride…Mom she was drinking heavily and she wanted me to take her out, but I told her no cause I had a test that next day Friday, April 17th. Mom, I thought she was going to kill me. I went to bed to try and get some rest and I could hear her out there ranting and raving and chanting and every time she came into the room I set straight up in bed because I was afraid she was going to kill me.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing…I said, “My God Brian, why didn’t you tell us what was going on…we would have gotten you away from her!!!” He said, “Mom I wanted to help her so much…I wanted to make a better life for her cause I know what she went through…all the mental and physical abuse and I was just hoping she would change. Oh Mom, Rachel had tried to take her life…she cut her wrists and I had to break into the bathroom to stop her and I wanted to break up with her, she told me she would kill herself if I left her. Oh God Mom, I couldn’t have that on my conscious…that’s why I stayed with her. Tonight I just couldn’t take it anymore, we were at the Starlight Nightclub and she had been drinking a lot and she was flirting with all the guys there and then she bared her breasts to the DJ and asked him to play a certain song. I went up to her and said, “Come on Rachel, I’m taking you home.” She got really angry with me and when I pulled up in front of her house I told her it was over…to get out of my car. Mom, she went crazy…she started hitting me in the back of the head and on my forehead. I put the car in park and got out of the car and Rachel got out the other side. She was yelling and screaming at the top of her lungs and I remembered that her Mom and Stepfather said they didn’t want to lose this house or be evicted…they told Rachel and me a few weeks ago, so I went around the car and tried to put my hand over her mouth so that she wouldn’t wake the neighbors. She was struggling with me and I heard her stepbrother on the front porch calling her name and Rachel just slipped out of my arms to the ground. I just turned around and walked away from her…I thought they could deal with her because I had had enough!!”
A few minutes later the doorbell rang and it was 2 Police Officers…they were there to arrest my baby for beating up Rachel. As Brian was being led away, he said, “Mom, please don’t cry…I’ll be alright…I love you Mom.” One took him away to jail and the other one stayed for a moment to tell us in a very matter of fact way that he was sure Brian was guilty. I was shocked and sickened and I said to him, “You don’t even know my son…how can you make that statement?” He said, “I’ve seen lots of these cases and I know a guilty one when I see one.” I said, “Well officer you are wrong!!! My son is innocent and I want you to leave my house…I’m calling a lawyer.” Brian had never ever been in trouble before in his life…not even a traffic ticket! I didn’t know where to turn, so I called my neighbor and she suggested the name of a lawyer here in town. That was a huge mistake!
My husband and I went to the police station to see about posting bail for Brian, but were told that he would have to spend the night in jail and bond could be posted Monday, April 20th at 10:00 AM. Our life was a nightmare!
We called the lawyer on Sunday morning and he agreed to take Brian’s case. We posted bail on Monday and my husband and I drove Brian back to college. We found a new apartment and I took a Leave of Absence to stay with my son. His nerves were shot and he was facing finals and I am so glad I stayed with him. I would take him to class and pick him up and fix him meals and do his laundry and give him all the love, encouragement, and support that I could give. It was totally draining, but I would not change one minute of that entire month I was with Brian. I had to take him to the doctor to get something for his stomach because his nerves were shot and he was so worried about his finals. The weeks passed quickly and Brian passed all of his classes and we went home for the summer, but, during the month Brian and I had to make several trips back home so that he could appear in Court.
The lawyer we hired advised Brian to plead guilty and to beg for the mercy of the Court. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing…I challenged the lawyer and we had words. I said, “You don’t even believe my son, do you? You think he’s guilty!” He said, “I don’t have to believe him…I just have to represent him!” I said, “Well, you are doing a piss poor job of it!” We had already paid this man and since we had never had to hire a lawyer before I didn’t know I could fire him and get another one…God how stupid I was!!!! I did hire a Private Detective to check out Rachel H. and we found out that she had been found guilty of Domestic Violence herself and had served 90 days in the Adams County Jail and had a restraining order placed against her!!! I brought that to the attention of our “so called lawyer” and was told, “she could be a slut or a whore and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference!”
Brian pleaded guilty and was given a year’s probation, he had to attend counseling, and he had to pay back restitution of $3000 and he was also forbidden to see or even be in the same place as Rachel. That was just fine with him, cause he didn’t want to see her. He would go out with his friends…he always had someone with him so that they could be a witness because Rachel kept trying to see Brian. Brian, Dale, and Eric would go out on a Friday night and they would always run into Rachel…she would come up to Brian and tell him how sorry she was and he would tell her that he couldn’t be around her or he would get arrested and Brian and his friends would have to leave. This was very frustrating for him since he knew he was innocent. After finding out that Rachel had a criminal record, we understood why she “set Brian up”, if she would have been investigated and found guilty, she would have to had to do “Jail Time”. We were also told by my Private Investigator, who was an off duty police officer, that the lawyer I had was “into drugs”, but they couldn’t prove it and that if I ever wanted to go “up against him with a complaint” that I better be prepared to “leave the state”. She also told me she would never testify in a Court of Law about what she told me about the lawyer.
Brian worked very hard over the summer and reduced the restitution to $1500. Brian would ask someone out and they would accept and when he called them or came by for them they would tell him, "I’m not dating a guy who beats up on women!" That really upset him…he knew he was innocent but how could he ever make them understand. Rachel would also try to get guys to pick a fight with Brian…she knew he would go to jail if he did fight. She was a very devious person. He was ready to go back to college and August came and Brian went back to college to share a room with his best buddy, Dale.
Brian was trying to put this behind him, but, he had to go to counseling every week for 2 hours and he was placed in a group of people who were women beaters, drunks, and criminals. They would try to council Brian…they would ask him questions and he would tell them the truth and they would call him a liar. That upset him a lot…he called home and told me about it and I told him to tell them what they wanted to hear…to pretend it was a part in a Play…that he would have to portray that part to get through this and so he did. The councilors would give Brian homework and Dale would help Brian answer the questions the way they thought the councilors were looking for.
November 1st arrived and our oldest son Jason was in a car accident. He is a teacher and was on his way to school when his car hydroplaned, flipped, and caught fire! Thank God he was able to crawl out unscathed! My husband and I drove down to help Jason find another car because at that time Jason’s wife, Vonna, was still in college getting her RN degree. It was a 5 ½ hour drive to see Jason and we drove down on Nov. 4th and came back on the 6th. On the way back, my husband and I were in an accident…we were rear ended…double impact and now I have an injured disc and nerve damage. On November 19th, while remodeling our kitchen, my husband came very close to cutting his left ring finger off with a power saw…he had to have emergency surgery.
Brian came home for Thanksgiving and we had a very nice Thanksgiving…although Jason and Vonna spent Thanksgiving with her parents. That Sunday, November 28th, we had just finished our meal when Brian said he had to tell us something. "Mom…Dad, I don’t know how else to tell you this other than just saying it…Mom…I think I have Herpes…Rachel cheated on me Mom…she cheated on me with a black guy…I’ve known ever since last Christmas, but we’ve had so many things happen to our family I figured you and Dad didn’t need anymore. I just had to tell you Mom…that’s why I stayed with Rachel for as long as I did…cause I didn’t think any girl would ever want me ever again. Mom, how could she do that to me? I was faithful to her Mom and I gave her everything…if we got low on money, I would not eat so that she could…I bought her all kinds of things Mom…why did she do that to me??? Why, Mom?" I took him in my arms…held him so very close to me and told him that everything would be alright…that we would go to the doctor and get some medicine and that by the time he met the lady he was supposed to be with they would probably have a cure…not to worry…Dad and I loved him with all our hearts and we always would. That was the last time I saw my baby alive…13 days later he was dead.
I talked to Brian on December 10th…he was so excited that the week was over…it was Friday night, Dale was celebrating his 21st birthday and they were having a big party. Bri and I talked for a little while and he asked me to be sure and call him next week…it was his week of finals before coming home for Christmas…he said he would be home on December 16th…"Please Mom…call me…be sure I’m up…I don’t want to miss my finals!!!" I promised him I would call and he asked when Jason would be home…he said he couldn’t wait to see him…they were going to have so much fun!!! He gave me his Christmas list and I assured him that Jason was looking forward to seeing him too “Mom, I gotta go…we’re having a party and the doorbell is ringing.” I said, "Honey, have a good time, but don’t drink too much, and Brian…I Love You." He said, "I love you too Mom." That’s the last thing we said to each other….
Saturday morning we left our home around 8:00 AM and were going to pick up my parents…then head to Springfield to do some Christmas shopping as I hadn’t done any because of my back. My parents had just gotten into our car when my husbands beeper went off…He said, "I don’t recognize this number…probably a wrong number, but I’ll cal anyway just to be sure." I was talking to my Mom when Dick laid down the cell phone…I looked at him and he was ghostly white…I said, "Dick what’s wrong?" He said, "Brian is deceased" I said, "What??????" He said, "Sherry, Brian is dead."
"NOOOOOOOOOO..NOOOOOOOOOO…not my baby..not my Brian..NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!." I couldn’t quit crying or screaming or moaning or whaling…I cried for 18 hours that day. We had to drive 2 ½ hours to Champaign knowing that my baby, my sweet, wonderful son was dead….
My husband was in shock…we all were…it had to be a mistake…they were wrong…oh God how I prayed they were wrong! We arrived at the police station where we met Dale and his girlfriend Sarah and some of Brian’s friends. Dale found Brian hanging by his belt in Brian’s closet. By the time they found him, it was too late. It seems Dale and Sarah went back to Brian and Dale’s apartment around midnight and Brian went with some of his other friends to other apartments. Brian had met a girl a week ago and she was at the party and they said Brian walked her back to her apartment and asked if he could come in. She didn’t feel like she knew him well enough…she had no idea how sweet…gentle…kind…loving…and considerate he was, so she told him no. Kelly was crying when we talked to her…she kept saying she didn’t know…she didn’t know that Brian was a wonderful young man and that he wouldn’t have hurt her. I told her that it was not her fault…to stop blaming herself. I told her to go home for the Holidays and spend Christmas with her family and that in no way was she to blame for what happened to Brian.
I think my Brian had such a terrible year and that he had too much to drink and that he knew when he went back to the apartment Dale and Sarah would be there and that at that particular moment in his young life he felt all alone…I believe that perhaps he wanted to see what it would feel like…I believe that he thought he could reverse the situation if he wanted to, but, what he failed to realize was that the alcohol had affected his judgement and his reaction time and he made a fatal mistake that cost him his life…
The autopsy showed his Blood Alcohol Level was 1.37 at the time of his death…it had been higher earlier in the evening they told me…at one point it was 2.37!!! Brian didn’t consider alcohol as a drug…he was into bodybuilding…never smoked…ate the right foods…worked out twice a day, 6 days a week…Alcohol clouded his judgement and it took his life.
At the Coroner’s Inquest, Brian’s death was ruled "Hanging…Accidental."
This is Brian’s Story…it’s taken me a while to get up the courage…get through the tears to write it. I shall never ever forget my sweet, wonderful Brian….
"HE’S NOT GONE, HE’S JUST AWAY"
04/17/77 – 12/11/99
"I am One day-One hour-One minute-One second closer to you Bri"