A journey into the workshop. #16: Being there for one of my best friends... I NEED TO VENT. NOT FOR THE FAINT HEARTED!!!

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Blog entry by dbhost posted 10-05-2009 05:22 PM 1997 reads 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 15: More storage improvements. Part 16 of A journey into the workshop. series Part 17: Coming clean sure is dirty work! or. A little pictoral evidence for Jim.. »

I sat in my shop, more or less leaning on the bench, kind of staring at the mess, and the equipment, not really getting anything done…

I had just gotten off the phone with one of my best friends from high school. The guy that was the best man at my wedding, and has been there for me through thick and thin… And I’d like to think I have been likewise… But the news last night was a bit much to take. I am pretty sure I sounded like a fool on the phone, but what can you say?

This friend was one of the guys I was in high school wood shop with. I remember the Oak kitchen table he built way back when, out of white oak and oak veneer ply. It was gorgeous.

This friend lived across the street from me back in my home town through Junior High and High School, to say the least, we knew the family, and we knew his dad was a violent man. Never fully able to blend back in with society after coming back from Vietnam.

There was a history there, going back as long as I can remember, of violence, death threats etc… That led to the divorce of this friends parents, and several slap on the wrist prison terms (less than a year at a time) for the father. To say the city, county, and state had to have a dedicated file cabinet or two just for his files is probably an understatement. There is NO WAY that they can claim they didn’t see this coming. We all did…

About 10 years ago, the dad in question threatened a small town grocery store checker with a kitchen knife, and was interred into the state mental hospital, and granted 100% disability for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Now I am no psychotherapist or qualified to make a medical judgement in any way, shape or form, but my spider senses detect pure Barbara Streisand on that one… The history of violent behavior, and run ins with the law for things like assault and battery predate his military service.

Now my friend, when he found his dad was to be released from the state mental hospital earlier this yearl, well he had gotten married, and had children of his own during the time his father was in the mental hospital, had a mortgage on a nice home, had a nice car for his wife, and was driving his dream car. He was living the middle class dream. Well to protect his family, has walked away from that mortgage, that home, those cars, etc… and is now in hiding.

His younger brother has literally tried disappearing into the woods, living in a small trailer, and working cash jobs so he can “stay off the grid” to stay away from Psycho dad…. His sister has married, and moved quite far away, and remains out of sight for good reason… While still in high school, this same younger brother, after taking a particularly vicious beating from the hands of his father had been arrested, tried, and acquitted of attempting to solicit murder to finally rid the family of the long standing violence of this man. I am NOT saying that choice was right, but you must understand, the police, the courts, the state did NOTHING to stop this man from physically, and mentally abusing his family for DECADES. This was the desperate act, of a desperate young man that got tired of pleading for help and being ignored by those with power and authority.

So now that the history of fear and violence has been laid out for you…

Toward late July, my friend’s dad came back into town, and assaulted his ex wife, my friend’s mom (one of countless arrests for this…), he was arrested, and she went into hiding… The local police QUICKLY released him from jail.

Then two weeks later

An elderly woman, wheelchair bound, and stricken with Parkinsons disease, the best friend of my best friend’s mother was found dead in her apartment in my home town. Bludgeoned to death with a ball peen hammer. She was found by a cable repairman who had actually been let into the wrong apartment by the apartment management. Police have tied blood, DNA, and fingerprint evidence to my friends father. Including the murder weapon. He has been arraigned on charges of aggravated murder.

I know this has to bring a LOT of emotional baggage up for my friend and his family. I am not sure how I can be the most supportive friend I can be. Should I express my anger at the city police that repeatedly failed to protect the citizens? The courts? The State? The Veterans Administration?

As much shock as has been expressed to the incompetent news media in that small town, nobody that knows the family is shocked at all. Disgusted that the state would let such a known violent man back out of the mental hospital,

So now, here I sit, the next day, not really able to work, or think of much at all, I want to cry for that old woman’s family, but I cannot. I am simply too angry to cry… I am tired of my home town, well actually, my home state coming off looking like Hazard County when it comes to law enforcement, and protection of the citizens. What’s worse is that I am almost afraid I might recieve a subpeona to appear before a court halfway across the country. I would LOVE to cooperate with the state and get this man off the streets, and away from where he can do any harm, but I have no faith that the particular state is actually compentent to do the right thing… Decades of experience tell me that.

I wish that he lived closer, not that I want to be any closer to his maniac dad than I am, but rather, offer up some shop time for him to get his mind on something other than that situation…

Thanks for understanding folks, I just needed to vent. I hope and pray I didn’t violate any LJ rules. Wasn’t my intention. Just sometimes you need to vent you know?

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

18 comments so far

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3173 days

#1 posted 10-05-2009 05:46 PM

That story is just so shocking and painful on so many levels. I wish your friend and his family peace, luck, health, and safety.

Quite often (do as I say … not as I do, here), the best thing a person can do to help, in a situation like this, is just to listen.

Best of luck … with … your involvement in this … and with its effects on you.

-- -- Neil

View dbhost's profile


5711 posts in 3231 days

#2 posted 10-05-2009 06:13 PM

Thanks… Honestly it was a bit heart wrenching to write. Sometimes you just need to let some things out. I hate that I had to pick here. But I felt that since this was something that impacted my woodworking (as well as other work) that this was probably the right place to vent…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Abbott's profile


2570 posts in 3302 days

#3 posted 10-05-2009 06:43 PM

Heck of a story, good luck with all of that.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View Mario's profile


902 posts in 4050 days

#4 posted 10-05-2009 06:58 PM

There are times when word fall short and only a sholder the presence of someone who cares can help. My prayers are with you the family as they go thru this difficult time.

Having worked in the Mental Health field for years (working with computer now )I kow how the system has failed and the workers who feel powerless to do what they need to do end up carring the blame and weight of the failures.

-- Hope Never fails

View Don Newton's profile

Don Newton

716 posts in 3617 days

#5 posted 10-05-2009 07:01 PM

Dbhost…..Thank you for sharing your tragic story. Lumberjocks is the place where friends come together and sometimes the best way to help is to listen. I listened. The fact that you are angry demonstrates your concern for your friend. Tell him you are there for him. Explain that you probably won’t have the answer, but you can listen. Shop time may not be the answer for someone so distracted, you be the judge. An evening at a game or dinner may provide a small distraction. Just be his friend.

-- Don, Pittsburgh

View cstrang's profile


1832 posts in 3167 days

#6 posted 10-05-2009 07:16 PM

I am very sorry for what happend to that lady and my thoughts and prayers are with you all, and as for not being sure if this was the right place to post this, well you couldent have picked a better place. We are one big group of friends and family not only here to help one another with our woodworking but also to help with day to day life and we all understand the need to tell someone else what is going on and we are all here to listen.


-- A hammer dangling from a wall will bang and sound like work when the wind blows the right way.

View Karson's profile


35121 posts in 4399 days

#7 posted 10-05-2009 07:17 PM

I’m glad that you feel comfortable enough to bring your story to us. We are also at a loss in being able to help but if we lived close to your friend we could also offer some shop time to help him unwind from the problems of his dad.

My prayers are with you and your friend and his family.

God Bless.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View dbhost's profile


5711 posts in 3231 days

#8 posted 10-05-2009 07:18 PM


I don’t blame the mental health care workers in the slightest. Descisions were made by the empty suits at pay grades much higher than even the doctors to let this man back out on the streets…

I do also feel for the mental health care professionals. I am pretty sure they are going to take a beating over this, and the release was due to budget cuts…

Actually I have offered to put my friend and his family up where we are, half a country away now… That should be far enough. And I have far more faith in the law enforcement in Texas for sure. My home town PD is more interested in handing out speeding and parking tickets than solving and preventing crime…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Rob Drown's profile

Rob Drown

789 posts in 3832 days

#9 posted 10-05-2009 08:49 PM

Very very sad, The poor old lady and that guy’s whole family. I’ll be praying for you. Hang in there friend.

-- The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools. Confucius, 经过艰苦的努力的梦想可以成真

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3269 days

#10 posted 10-05-2009 09:05 PM

Unfortunately it is a fine line between the rights of one vs the rights of others….even though it is apparent to folks that a specific person is a danger to themselves and others….the law cannot impose without some sort of action…we do this to protect all from the possiblity that the law might be coopted and be used as a tool against people that someone may not like…or someone that they need to get out of the way perhaps…

That said….it is still not right when an entire family and community is terrorized by the actions or possible actions of some yo yo…This person should have been placed in a institution in order to protect himself…and the community….unfortunately, now a days we play politics with finances…and those types of dangers are often left to the citizens to deal with….It is a sad dilemma….and one that will be very hard to find a solution for….

I have my opinions…but an old saying…stay away from religion and politics if you want to keep friends…so I will just stick to passing on my sympathy for your friend, his family and the women who was killed…

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View patron's profile


13603 posts in 3340 days

#11 posted 10-05-2009 09:41 PM

a sad truth of our times ,
and the human condition .

my prayers to you ,
and your family .

and to his and his siblings .

it seems the ones that make the decisions ,
are never affected by them .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4124 days

#12 posted 10-05-2009 10:25 PM

Sympathy here, and no more answers than you’ve got.

I’ve had several reminders recently that the ways in which we as a culture deal with mental illness is broken, but I’ve no clues how to go about fixing “the system”. Balancing the safety of the public with the rights of the individual with the American belief in self-responsibility leads to people falling through the cracks, and for all the brickbats I can toss at our system, I can’t look at another one and say “they got it right”.

How can you be there for your friend? I don’t know, but I’d say above all listen without judgment. Hear his concerns, acknowledge that he will need to lash out at something, anything, because aside from his father there won’t be any clear culpable villains, as much as we’d all like to have easy answers.

And keep breathing, and remind your friend and his family to keep breathing, because if we stop doing that everything else goes to hell.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4173 posts in 3163 days

#13 posted 10-06-2009 03:24 AM

Grieving is a terrible and complex process, and we all go through it at some time. I think Neil’s comments sum it up. We are here to listen to you… you can listen to your friend. You are grieving in a sense, as well.

I’ve been there personally, I was the close friend, and I was the only available professional. I needed people to listen to me, so I could listen to my friend. I had to vent. It was a different time and place in a close tight knit community, if only a temporary one. I will never forget how people helped me to help someone else.

Time will make the grief bearable, for your friend…and you, but it will never quite go away. When it is painful, then it is time to talk it out, and that is the best thing for you, and therefore the best thing for your friend.

We’re listening.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View dbhost's profile


5711 posts in 3231 days

#14 posted 10-06-2009 04:49 AM

Thanks Jim! This sort of hit at a funky time too. LOML and I are busy beyond belief with other issues… As soon as I get a chance I think I want to bounce this off of my pastor… I am not a person prone to angry responses, But I guess it is a natural thing…

Sometimes life slaps you upside the head with a 2×4 you know?

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View mgb's profile


24 posts in 3212 days

#15 posted 10-06-2009 04:52 AM


That is a sad sad story. It is a shame that empty suits do nothing about the violence that is spreading across this country. I agree with every one here, just listen. My prayers are with all concerned.
God Bless

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