Author Topic: Owen, our beloved mystery man  (Read 47708 times)

owensmom

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 71
  • Owen texting, age 20
    • View Profile
    • mysteryoriley
Owen, our beloved mystery man
« on: July 09, 2007, 06:24:58 PM »
My son, Owen, would have been 21 on June 13, 2007.  He passed away under mysterious circumstances somewhere between May 30 and June 2, 2007.  He was looking forward to his 21st birthday, and had so many plans for his future.  My husband, Dave, my ex-husband, Michael (Owen's father), his brother, Nat, and our extended families are hoping to find the answer(s) to what happened to Owen. 

He was found dead in the Petaluma River on June 2, after missing for four days.  I had filed a missing person's report on the evening of May 30, when he failed to show up at work.  I was working out of town that day, and had received a phone call from his cell phone at 9:43 a.m. (Wednesday), and knew something was wrong.  Owen worked mostly nights at our local movie theater, and was rarely awake at that time of morning for just a chat.  I could tell someone was on the line, but couldn't hear a voice, so said I'd call him back.  Whoever had his phone at that time (this is still being debated), turned it off then, and over the next few hours/days, our family kept leaving messages until the inbox was full.  I stopped by the theater on my way back into town that evening to make sure he was okay, knowing the moment before I turned the corner, that something had gone terribly wrong.  He had not shown up, and it was 15 minutes after his start time.  I went home and called the police. 

Our local police department didn't want to take the report at first, saying, that since he was 20 and a guy, he was probably just out partying with friends, or had met some girl.  I explained that although he did like girls and liked to party with friends, he would never be a "no show" at work.  The officer came up with reason after reason why there was no need for a missing person's report.  I kept coming back with every reason to believe something bad had happened.  When the officer finally took all the information, he ended our phone call with, "Don't worry, he'll show up.  99% of them do."  I was half crazy at the end of that call, because Owen and I had a pact about knowing where each other was at any given time.  We had been through some rough times a few years back, and were very close.  What 20-year-old guy calls his mom on his 10-minute breaks at work?  Owen did.  And, that's probably the only reason the officer bothered to take my report.

For the next three days, our family and friends launched our own "missing person" campaign by questioning kids and managers at the theater, kids and adults on the streets, and by posting flyers all over town.  I rented an airplane and pilot on Friday, to take me up to search by air and took digital pictures of areas I thought might be of interest, and we organized our own search parties in two different areas.  I went to the local fire department on Friday evening and asked if they could help or had any suggestions, since the police department's response seemed sluggish.  Jeff, the firefighter I spoke with, said to simply go around the police department and call Search and Rescue directly the following morning, as they would not be answering calls in the evening.  I called them at 8:10 Saturday morning, and after 2 hours, they agreed to send up "Henry 1" our county's rescue helicopter, but that this was "political now" since they were agreeing to help with a search from a private citizen's request, rather than the police department -- so they could not fly over the Petaluma River, nor any other city airspace.  I said fine, we were out in the county areas at that time on the suggestion of a couple of Owen's "friends", and with thousands of acres to search, had less than 20 people in our search parties. 

No one seemed to take our missing person's report seriously, until it was too late.  As soon as Search and Rescue agreed to send up the air search, I called our friends and coworkers in the ground search, and told them to go home, that I would let them know how the air search went.  I came home where my ex-husband was manning the phones, and soon others from the search parties showed up.  My husband, whose mother has stage 4 cancer, had driven up to her house to stay overnight while her brother was out of town, and was driving back at this time. 

There were some kids in town who had been helping us by giving us hints, tips, and suggestions.  There is little doubt now, that our search in the hills west of town that Saturday morning was intentionally meant to keep us away from the river.  Once everyone had left our house to go into town to continue looking, I got a phone call from a sheriff's deputy, stating he'd like to come talk with me.  I knew at that moment that they'd found Owen, and that he was dead.

When the deputy and a police detective showed up, I was home alone.  I pointed to the flyer on the door and said, "This is my kid.  Is he dead?"  What happened next was so unbelievable, and straight out of a movie.  They told me that someone had seen a body floating in the river at about 1:20 that afternoon, and that the fire department's boat was dispatched.  They had identified the body as my son. 

Over the next few days, the news reporting was a disaster, with misquotes from several people, things taken out of context, and simple misinformation.  The coroner's office gave preliminary findings of Owen's death to the news wires before they gave the information to me, his next of kin.  Everything was such a nightmare.  It was as though someone had written a really bad screenplay and we were all characters suffering through our awful lines, wishing we could have the curtain come down and go home. 

Because of all the difficulties with poor coordination between our county's authorities/agencies, and the fact that all of Owen's belongings (that we know he had with him) are still missing, I've felt compelled to continue doing much of the work of the investigation myself.  I don't know how many letters I've written, how many law enforcement officers I've spoken with, nor how many sleepless nights I've spent imagining the different scenarios of Owen's demise.  Our police captain told me two weeks ago that Owen's death was likely to become an "urban legend" since there are so many versions of what happened, no evidence, and no "credible" witnesses. 

I only know that while I certainly felt the pain of losing him from that first night I went to the theater, that all the things we had to do on our own have delayed this deep grief...and that now it's hitting me so hard I can hardly breathe. 

The story continues, unfortunately.  The details are too unfathomable.  We still have no actual cause of death, nor date of death.  Six weeks ago today was the last time I saw my son, my Owen.  I still can't imagine my life without him, and am afraid that I'll wear out the rest of my family and friends with how I'm getting through this.  It's true that if you haven't lost a child, you can't imagine it.  I've lost so many other loved ones, and this pain is different.   

His brother, my older son, Nat Riley, is an EMT and entering paramedic school soon.  While he cannot adequately define his pain over losing Owen, his best friend, he can define his need to help others diminish their own pain, hopefully, before their loved ones pass on.  He is suffering in such a horrifying way, trying to be strong for me and the rest of the family.  We talk a lot, and help each other cry.

My husband and I spend time talking and crying, remembering the years we had with Owen, and the funny, quirky things he did and said.  He was brilliant, talented, and had a very sad and awkward view of the world.   As his godmother said at his memorial service: "He tried on this physical world like it was a size 12 shoe.  But, Owen wore a 13, and the world did not always fit him comfortably."  We hope his new world is a fit. 
« Last Edit: July 14, 2007, 07:55:15 PM by owensmom »

lainie

  • nospam
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 181
    • View Profile
    • www.beheartstrings.com
Re: Owen, our beloved mystery man
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2007, 07:00:11 PM »
Dear Owen's Mom,
I am so saddened after reading your tragic story.  I am glad that you have found this place to communicate.  There are wonderful people here who will understand this awful pain.  My 12 year old daughter Brynn was killed, hit by a truck in January, 2007.  I live this agony, too.  It is so hard to have so many unanswered questions.  I hope that some peace comes your way and this horrific tale will unravel, because of course, as parents,  we just feel we must know.  You are in my thoughts, I am sending hugs your way.  Please write more when you can.  We are happy to share stories of Owen's life.
Truly,  Elaine
(Brynnie's mom, Dec./94 - Jan./07)
My beautiful Brynn
Dec. 14/94 - Jan. 2/07

owensmom

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 71
  • Owen texting, age 20
    • View Profile
    • mysteryoriley
Re: Owen, our beloved mystery man
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2007, 08:05:17 PM »
Hi Lainie,

Thanks for reading my post about Owen.  It simply can't be told in a short-cut. Long posts usually scare people away. 

I'm sorry you live this pain everyday.  I'll be thinking of you and Brynn and the rest of your family, as we all grow in different ways now.

Linda
Owen's mom


Debh

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 797
  • Forever Loved, Forever Missed, Never Forgotten
    • View Profile
Re: Owen, our beloved mystery man
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2007, 09:00:55 PM »
Linda I am so sorry for the loss of your son Owen.

What you went through with the police department and all those first days should be unheard of but unfortunately we parents who have lost a child hear this alot. We are left trying to find the answers to what happened and why on top of the sorrow and grief of our loss. A child who has so much life left to live taken so soon becomes a nightmare to live through but we do moment by moment... I see we do find our way through this horrible sadness and grief of the loss of our child. I hope the answers are found to what happened to Owen.

Long posts don't scare people away here Linda. When I came to this board I think I was known for the long post queen and so thankful for all those that stayed with me through my hardest times. I am just so sorry and wished no parent had to experience this pain and wish children couldn't die. Its all so wrong.

I will keep you, Owen and your family in my thoughts.

Love
Deb



luckyladyb

  • Guest
Re: Owen, our beloved mystery man
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2007, 09:52:53 PM »
Oh sweetie, I am so sorry for your loss and all that you've had to endure the last few weeks. 
I lost my only son April 28th. Sudden death due to a genetic heart disease that we never knew he had.
It's hard to find understanding after the "newness" wears off so to speak. This forum will be so much comfort to you.
Pour your heart out ........ I read the whole post and didn't consider it too long. Do what you need to do. We're here for you.
Blessings your way ....
Jason's Mom, Bonnie

Lonnie

  • Guest
Re: Owen, our beloved mystery man
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2007, 10:42:52 PM »
Hi Owen's Mom: You have surely landed in a safe place to share your heart, your pain, your sorrow, and your good memories too! These are the most wonderful people on the boards, filled with love and compassion for each other. I am Lonnie from the Main Board, and I just wanted to say that I was filled with rage while reading of how the police didn't want to file the report. This makes me so angry because we all know (from watching tv) that the first 48 hours are the most crucial. Why they hesitate doesn't make sense, because sometimes they might be able to save a life if they would immediately start searching and investigating. I don't know if that was true in the case of your son, but you did a wonderful job organizing your own investigation and search. When you say some of his friends gave you hints-do you think they know what happened or have some idea? Have you been able to find out who he was with before he went missing? I am so sorry for all that you have had to endure, and it sounds like you are still in shock, with some of it starting to wear off now. You have been so busy just trying to do what needed to be done.  Please let us know if you find out anything more, and I will keep you and your family in my prayers. I hope you find the answers you need and deserve. Hugs-Lonnie (Main Board)

owensdad

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Owen, our beloved mystery man
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2007, 11:27:53 PM »
I am Owen's dad, actually step-dad, but I was with him for 16 of the 20 plus years he blessed those around him with his presence.  I feel blessed that I had even one day to call him my friend.  Linda and I have, had, 5 children.  2 fabulous sons and 3 beautiful daughters.  We all went through some very difficult and trying times as Linda and I grappled with the difficulties of raising 5 kids from 2 blended families, with biological father and mother still very much in the mix.  This combination of personalities made for some very interesting and volatile, how should I say, encounters.  Through all this, the children who had all matured and grown to be absolutely the most wonderful and understanding adults you would ever want to be associated with, loved us and all the blended siblings as if they were all blood related.The loss of our, Linda and my, youngest child is a tragedy the masters will never be able to duplicate.  I can't talk about the sadness I feel for fear that the next second I will not be able to function in this or any world.  The anger I feel over the ineptness of the authorities "handling" this case I have no problem talking about.  The problem is that the sadness is going to be with me for the rest of my life.  The anger will go away.  My question is " How do I get to tomorrow"?Linda is the love of my life and I see her as my strength.  The problem here is that I am known as the strong one.  She is crumbling!!!Our children need for us to be there for them to love.  To call.  To send pictures of the new grandson.  To call when the car breaks down, which means a down for the next one.  To just say HI.  How do we get to the next page?Thank you for being there,David

CRCmom

  • nospam
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 227
  • My precious child.
    • View Profile
    • Christian's Memorial Website
Re: Owen, our beloved mystery man
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2007, 03:53:05 AM »
To Owen's mom and dad,

I am so so sorry for the tradegy of losing Owent and all the complications that came with it.  I lost my almost 16 year old son Christian in 2005 to a sudden pulmmonary embolism.  One minute here, the next minute gone.  Devastating.  I struggle every day.  The jouney is made easier because of everyone here on the board that have walked through this journey with me.  I hateit when new people come to the board, but am grateful  that you have found us for support, love, understanding and what little comfort can be given.
LOVE AND GRACE ON THE JOURNEY,
PAULA


JenKellisMom

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 215
    • View Profile
Re: Owen, our beloved mystery man
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2007, 05:20:37 AM »
Although I hate why you're here, I'm happy you and your husband have found us.  I look forward to hearing more about Owen.  He sounds like an exceptional young man.


Jeanneb

  • Guest
Re: Owen, our beloved mystery man
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2007, 06:18:32 AM »
Dear Linda and David.

I am so deeply sorry for the loss of your precious son, Owen.  The nightmare your family has been through is just overwhelming.  I will keep all of you in my prayers.

This journey is the most difficult life has thrown my way.  It will be 4 years on the 21st that I lost my youngest child, my son, Philip at age 17 to a MVA.  You take one minute at a time, one baby step at a time.  Deal with each day as it comes because much more than that can be so very overwhelming.

You will be there for your surviving children it is just going to be different.  Nothing will ever be the same again, you have a hole in your heart where nothing can fill it.  Keep talking to each other, holding each other and remember we each grieve in different ways.  Give each other space when needed and arms to hold each other when needed.  This is a life journey, there is no timetable on your grief and don't let anyone make you think there is.  Please keep posting, you have found a safe place to vent, no judgement just love from those who walk this journey beside you.  I don't know what I would have done without this board to listen and to know that everyone here truly understands.

Love,
Jeanne

Karen Paul

  • nospam
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1181
    • View Profile
    • Chris Bascom Memorial
Re: Owen, our beloved mystery man
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2007, 06:37:11 AM »
Linda and David,

I am so saddened by your tragic story. And so so sorry for your loss of your precious son Owen. I hope you find the answers you so desparately seek.. and I hope you will both find this place a safe haven to express yourselves.. when all the rest of the world seems to be moving on.. we are here..

I lost my nephew Christopher to a hit and run driver in 2003. Chris is the only child of my brother Brian and his ex-wife Amy.. both Brian and Amy had remarried and Chris had a step-dad an step-mom and brother and sister (step-dad's kids) who all loved him very much.. Chris, like your kids, always knew he was loved and grew into a wonderful young man.. just three weeks shy of his 17th birthday when he was killed.

My heart aches for you and your family.. please be gentle with yourselves and take one day at a time.. keep talking even when it gets hard.. and do remember that each person's grief is different and you won't necessarily be in sync all of the time.. as Jeanne so wisely says there is no timetable.. and this is a safe place.. filled with understanding people...

luv and hugs, Karen
proud aunt of Christopher


Marianne

  • nospam
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 460
  • Alek's Mom
    • View Profile
Re: Owen, our beloved mystery man
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2007, 06:54:39 AM »
I am so sorry.  Please know that I understand your loss.  I also understand on some level the pain you are going through by not knowing what happened.

Those of us who have lost a child walk a very sad path of grief.  I was once told to think of it as a path with pot holes.  There will be times when the path is covered with them - deep and dark.  Just remember to always keep walking - there will be times when the path smooths out a little bit.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Marianne (Alek's Mom Forever)

Brenda Taylors Mom

  • nospam
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1378
  • I miss you so much my "big tough guy"
    • View Profile
    • http://www.taylor-lewis.memory-of.com
Re: Owen, our beloved mystery man
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2007, 12:37:36 PM »
Linda and David, I am so deeply sorry for the tragic loss of your son Owen. .. there is no greater pain. we are all here for you.
Love
Brenda

Dena

  • nospam
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1252
    • View Profile
Re: Owen, our beloved mystery man
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2007, 03:09:40 PM »
((((Linda & David))))

I am so very sorry for the loss of your precious son, Owen.  I understand a lot of the frustration and anger you feel for the authorities.  There are no words.

Next month, it will be 8 years since I lost my son, Joshua (14) in a boating/drowning "accident".  For the longest time, I was bitter, resentful & extremely angry with the authorities in our area. We went through grief counseling and will the anger resurfaces from time to time, I have come to a place where I can understand and deal with it.  In time, you will be able to as well.

Please keep coming here. Post when you want to and read.  This is a place of great support and understanding and growth.

Thinking of you,

Hugs,
Dena, Josh's Mom

Wadesmom

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 414
    • View Profile
Re: Owen, our beloved mystery man
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2007, 03:41:57 PM »
I am also sorry for the loss of your son, Owen.  My thoughts and prayers are with you and  your family.
I'm sad you are here, yet glad that you have found us. The ongoing support here is comforting, it's been a source of strength for me the past several months. 
My 15 year old son died from injuries he sustained from a MVA in August of 2006. Our lives have been forever changed- and I still can't believe what has occured.  The individuals here are patient, can sadly relate, they are encouraging and they understand the pain of what you are going through. For me, this is a support like no other.  Please post whenever  you need or want to. 



Wadesmom