Friday, July 25, 2008

April 1, 1991

No April Fools Joke!
(Rated T---Tragic)
April 1, 1991, I had been on the police department, lets see, five years, 2 months, and a few days. I had been assigned to the mid-watch shift which means I was working 7:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. My days off were Sunday, Monday and I loved that. Of course after working Saturday night/Sunday morning I hardly ever got off on time. You could pretty well count on getting a DU I every Saturday night, the bars close at 2:00 so by 2:30 you could find, or they would find you, DUI. Then it would take about 2 or 3 hours to finish that call from the stop, arrest, impounding the car, breath test, and of course the paperwork. That makes you getting home around 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning and of course you have to wind down before going to bed. Needless to say Sundays are tough days because you can't sleep all day like you are used to because you need to sleep that night on your day off. Then you hope to go bed half way early on Sunday night and sleep pretty soundly. The phone rang Monday morning, early. I don't remember what time it was. My husband, a juvenile detective answered the phone I heard the conversation, but I was tired and I was used to him getting phone calls about work all the time. I usually had to wake him to answer the phone. The momma in me heard it on the first ring. He on the other hand had to have it ring a few times to wake up. "I'll be right there" I hear him say as he hangs up the phone getting out of our water bed. He goes to work on Monday mornings, this is just a little earlier. But I remember the date, April 1st. April fools day. People at the police department are ALWAYS playing jokes on each other and I figure this is another one of those days. We ( I mean they) have been know to call someone in the middle of the night to ask them if they needed to pee!!?? Just to wake them up. Silly I know, but I tell you police officers are just weird people, do weird things, and used to be a very strong brother/sisterhood. ( I don't feel it is that way now, certainly not at the department I worked at!) So as Tim got up and got ready for work I figure he will get there and they will say "April Fools" but since he is already at work, he might as well stay! It was only like a couple hours early. I don't remember even asking him what the call was about, I didn't really care, it just means I have to get up and get the kids ready for school instead of him taking care of that.
I roll over, go back to sleep, I have a few more hours till I have to get up. And go back to sleep I do. The phone rings....I grab it with a weak hello and it's Tim. I once again figure an April Fools comment is coming, I am not really in the mood, and I hear him say, Mike killed his wife and the kids were there with him!! Mike? Mike? I know three Mike's at the department and I know Mike A has been having troubles at home but I can't believe this. Then I hear him say Lisa, Mike killed Amy! Amy? That's not Mike's wife's name. Her name is Linda, what is he talking about? My head is starting to clear a little and the names are starting to come together. I say to him, this is not funny, don't kid about stuff like this. And he says to me in a serious tone," I'm not kidding." I start to believe him as the sleep fog is lifting. "There is an arrest warrant out for him and if he comes out there to get his boat or anything, you have to arrest him!" Mike, boat, Amy, crap, I know who he is talking about..... my husbands dear friend, Mike who is going through a horrible divorce but got out of there with "his boat" and parked it at our house for safe keeping. No, this is not funny you guys, Mike would not do this. This is NOT a funny April Fools joke.
Mike had about 17 years with the police department, several years with the military, and several tours in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot I think. He had been my husbands partner at work and they liked to fish together some as well. When we had our babies we got each other gifts, if someone needed something or help, we were there for each other. Mike had worked about everything there was to work at the police department and now he was assigned to the DARE division. He worked with kids of all ages and loved it. And more than anything else, he loved HIS kids. He had two sons from his previous marriage, he had adopted Amy's daughter from her previous marriage, and then they had a daughter together. Mike LOVED his kids more than anything. But as most police marriages, theirs was going south real quick. It was becoming pretty violent, Mike would call Tim and say that Amy was breaking up his stuff. She would call and say Mike was hitting her, or he was breaking her stuff. It went back and forth. Tim finally told them to not call him, but to call the department and report it if it was such an issue. I don't remember what all they ended up doing, but they went to court, they were getting a divorce. And it was NOT a pretty divorce. Court ordered home evaluations, children interviewed and evaluated, blah, blah blah. Mike did a lot with his children, honestly, probably more than a lot of dads. He took them fishing, and to the lake, they hunted, they spent a lot of time together so this divorce was very hard on him.
Sunday Jessie had called and asked her daddy if she could go to church with him. He said she would have to ask her mother, but it was fine with him. She was only five but she could use the phone and call daddy. He liked that. She ran in to ask her mother but Amy said no. I don't know why. Maybe she had other plans, maybe she didn't want to get her ready, maybe she didn't want Mike to have her even for Church. I don't know but she said no. Did it anger Mike? I don't know that either, but I would say yes. He went to church without her.
What happened next is really hard to explain, really hard to grasp, and really hard to talk about. This is not just "a case" to work. Where you detach yourself and work it.
In the night, rather very early morning, Mike broke into the house. He had cut the phone line and I don't know if he had a key or broke the door. He was not suppose to have a key, but he had kids that lived there. The boys had moved in with Mike, the adopted daughter had even moved in with Mike. It was just Jessie and Amy that lived in the old familiar home of several years. In a quiet neighborhood where not much happened, the houses were pretty nice, middle income families, hard working people lived there. And they lived on a nice little cul-d-sac. That is where they called home. But not Mike. He had not lived there now for several months, the divorce was coming to a head, the fight for the kids was fierce, and word was that Amy was moving back to the Northeast to hook up with her ex-husband. Word was that he was into drugs and Mike was not going to stand for it. He was not going to let Amy take their five year old daughter out of the state, to a life of who knew what. Well Mike knew. He worked police work long enough to know. He worked juveniles detectives long enough to know what kind of life little Jessie was getting ready to embark on. But not if he could help it. Mike was one of the kindest men I knew. He was funny, soft spoken, a good cop, a great DARE officer, a good dad, son, and friend. But not that night. No, that night Mike was someone/something none of us knew. He became a murderer. I don't know what happened. I don't think anyone knows. But what I think, feel, believe is Mike went to the house to have it out with Amy. He cut the phone line so she could not call the police. I think he went into her bedroom to maybe tell her how it was going to be. Maybe not, maybe he went into the bedroom to kill her. And kill her he did. He shot her multiply times. That is a sign of overkill, anger, pent up emotions. Maybe he wasn't going to talk, maybe he was just going to take care of her leaving with the kids, maybe take care of her not letting the kids be with him, maybe he was taking care of her being in control, not any more. He shot her something like nine times, in the bed. Jessie was in the other bedroom, he walked in there and picked up his sleeping princess and took her to his suburban. He drove her back to his house. His little house that was not the like the house he had just left. The house that he had spent years saving and working to buy for his family. No, it was not near the house of years gone by. But it had three sleeping teenagers in it. One son was on the sofa. That is where he slept. He laid Jessie down with him, leaned over and kissed her. Then he told his son, I hope you can forgive me for what I have done. Then he was gone. He got in his suburban and drove away. He called the assistant chief and told him what he had done. He had shot and killed Amy. Turn yourself in Mike he was told. No, you know what they will do to me in prison, I can't do that. Speculations was he was probably going to run to Mexico. Live there for the rest of his life. I knew better. Mike was not going to Mexico. My friend was going to El Reno. His favorite place to hang out. His, well Amy, family had land there. Mike knew it well. He had hunted that land for years. He knew it like he knew the back of his hand. I knew that is where he was. We were all told that if we saw or heard from him we had to call the PD right away. We were told to try and convince him to turn himself in. I don't remember all the details, I was not privy to all the details, but it seems Mike went to El Reno like I thought. He was hiding back in the woods and a highway patrol plane flew over the site. Really, every one knew it was a very likely place for him to go. The plane radioed the county deputies where Mike was. With an arrest warrant in hand they crept in to make the arrest. Seems it was late evening when this all occurred. So as the sun was going down, setting in the west, the police officers moved in, guns drawn, rifles loaded, shotguns in ready position. This was not a police officer they were arresting, this was a cold blooded murderer. As the officer approached the truck, Mike lifted the gun, and fired one shot. Mike died of a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head. It was over.
Mike could have killed himself in Enid. At the house. But he could not do that. Jessie was there, she would have found it. His fellow brother officers would have had to work it, and we all know the pictures, and the way investigations go. No, Mike could not do that to his family. Mike left also to make sure that if anyone was going to shoot him, it would not be one of us. You know that I do not know any of this for sure. This is what I think, what I feel, what I believe. It was over? No, not yet. There were four children left behind. I did not go to Amy's funeral, but I went to Mikes. It was not an honorable funeral. The casket was closed of course with a picture of Mike sitting on it. We were all there and I was pretty close to the front. In came the family. In came the children. The boys, young adults were sitting there and Jessie came over to the oldest one. He lifted her up, sat her on his lap and there she sat. There she looked up into her brothers eyes and said, Mikie, where's daddy? She reached up and gently patted Mikies face with her little hands, her little five year old hands that had colored pretty pictures, played with play dough, that had gone fishing, that had folded in prayer, gently patted her brothers face as she softly says once again, I could hear hear her say it, Mikie, where's daddy? I cried. There would be no 21 gun salute to honor her daddy, a war veteran, and a wonderful man that served that community for so many years. No, we were there to bury a man that had robbed these children of not only their mother, but also the daddy that they all loved so much. He robbed them of a life of they will never know. It was the mail two days later, Mike received a letter. He was recommended to get custody of the children. Over? You decide.


Mental P Mama said...

Wow. So very sad. We just had a police officer kill himself a few months ago. His ex wife had taken their daughter and moved to Australia. He, too, was a war very sad.

Eckmama said...

Tragic indeed. My heart hurts after this one. How are the kids now? Do you know? This wasn't exactly the kind of Officer Lisa story I had in mind...I'll be more specific next time. ;)

Tonjia said...

what a tragic story. We never know to what lengths desperation can lead people.

My heart goes out to Mikes family and friends, I can imagine that this impacted the whole department for a very very long time.

Joni said...

wow...what a heart-wringing story...those poor children...I guess they are pretty much grown now since it was 17 years you keep in touch with the kids? What a tragedy!

Train Wreck said...

Oh that is tragic! Divorce brings out the worst in people! It is usually the children that suffer the most! It sure takes a special person to be in the line of work you were in! The sights and stories you must have witnessed!