My first book "Finding the Me in Me" focused on my thoughts as a parent after then death of Becca. Now I write the story of the legal process that her death required. Not only dela;ing with her death, but dealig with the legal component of murder. I suppose the hardnest part is being a mother you think you always have a say so in your children's lives - whether they like it or not. Legally you find out you don't.
This is a journey I would hope no parent ever needs, but will provide some insight into the legal process as you learn to cope with the death of a loved one.
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Read an Excerpt
Death Til the End
By Glenda Barnett-Streicher
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Glenda Barnett-Streicher
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Beginning
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, and the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. Genesis 1: 1-5 KJV
There is always a beginning to everything. As we waken each morning we know not what lies ahead. The kind of night we had affects what we have to look forward to and what our reaction to the day will be. We open our eyes to prepare for day, dressing for work, getting kids ready and to school, making phone calls to outline all that is on our calendar, and in general just facing the day with most often a decent attitude. I have come to live by the rule that today may in fact be the last day of my life and try to do what God would expect and set an example for those around me. You see my life changed forever just a few short years ago and that is the story I share with you now.
Friday morning November 9, 2007, at 1:05 a.m. I received a phone call from Thomas Coons. "Well he did it – Jimmy killed Becca."
I'll forever and ever hear those words in my head. Thomas-Jimmy's brother- explained to me that Jimmy had called him from a pay phone and asked that he and his mom come pick him up. Once they got him they drove back to the apartment, where according to Thomas he tried to do CPR on Becca, but couldn't save her and that the paramedics were with her at the time. I screamed at him and called him a liar, told him that this was a cruel joke, until he let me talk to the EMT who confirmed my baby was dead. I then asked God to care for her and to give me strength to forgive. Nothing in my world will ever be the same again.
In order to begin this chronological accounting of the trial process and how coping became a part of my life, the events leading up to it and the first days need to be documented as well.
By profession I am a Registered Nurse and frequently travel as a part of my job. When I received the early morning phone call I was in Shelby, North Carolina, a drive of approximately eight to nine hours or a short plane ride away from my home in Nashville, Tennessee. I was scheduled to return home late that Friday afternoon, but of course I couldn't wait. I had to get home to Becca. I couldn't think straight, much less phantom attempting to drive that distance. I already had a flight for my return trip home. Could it be changed, who was with Becca, what had he done, why was this happening? There were so many thoughts running through my head and I really didn't know what to do first. As previously stated my thoughts went to God — to take care of my baby, to give me strength to forgive and to give guidance to make a difference in another's life because of what Becca had suffered.
I first called my husband – Doc, he had to go be with Becca, I didn't want her alone, then my pastor - Buddy, then the Administrator of the clinics I was visiting on this trip – Jan. Jan was going to call and change my flight home and then come to the hotel where I was. All I could do was pick up clothes and throw them in the suitcase and pace the floor. Who could I talk to, who did I need to talk to? Then it hit me - I better tell the clerk at the desk to expect Jan so they would let her in, after all it was 1:30 in the morning. Had to call Lisa (my older daughter) she had to know, then call my boss and call Tim and Sue they would have to tell Leslie and TJ –Becca's daughter and son. Oh, God what about the kids?
Jan was able to get me on a flight and back to Nashville by 8:30 a.m. As would be expected there were minutes of tears, and just withdrawal – I was alone like my baby was. How could I just be sitting and waiting and not be moving? When was the plane going to leave? It had to hurry and get me there, no delays were allowed. The flight gate attendant saw I was crying and asked if she could help. I explained my baby had just been murdered and I had to get home to Nashville. When the plane finally arrived at the gate they boarded me first. I was able to sit alone on this early morning flight. I remember looking out the windows at the clouds and in my mind actually seeing Becca dancing there. The clouds appeared to be soft and fluffy, pure white and to be open with beauty. The back ground was the most beautiful shade of blue – soothing. Throughout the flight of only about 45 minutes the flight attendant would come back and hold my hand and talk to me.
Finally, I got to Nashville. I still had to get my luggage from baggage claim and go to my awaiting husband. Becca lived close to the airport so my first trip was to her apartment. There was no where else I wanted to be. Adrenalin was rushing through my body, as were the thoughts in my head. Never before had the ride to her apartment seemed so long. The door to the apartment had a biohazard sign. They had removed her body just a short time before I arrived. I can't imagine my baby lying on that hard floor for over seven hours. Who was in her house going through her things, trying to figure out what had happened? The apartment supervisor said I couldn't go in yet, that the crime scene hadn't been released. I just wanted to hold Becca ... was she warm, were they being kind to her? Why couldn't I have gotten there sooner? If I had just seen her before they took her away.
On the ride from the airport, Doc didn't talk at first, allowing me to just think and not question if I was okay because it was a given fact no mother would be okay when her baby was dead. When I finally got up the nerve to ask questions he filled me in as to what he had seen when he got to the apartment before the police took Jimmy. He made it clear to me that Thomas had no blood on his clothing or hands so he could not have tried to do CPR on Becca. There was a large amount of blood from the wounds so if he had in fact tried to save her, there would have been blood on his hands or clothes. Guess he just wanted me to think he was some sort of hero – fat chance, I know his history. There had been TV coverage because it was a stabbing and of course the media covers all the bad stuff in the world. I think we need some good news coverage once in awhile. That isn't really fair to them because they are the local news and murders are news. They released Becca's name about eight that morning after the medical examiner had gotten there and the body had been released to the morgue. When asked why it had taken so long to get the scene processed and Becca moved, it was stated that there had been another murder about the same time that had tied up the coroner.
Doc explained to me that Jimmy is the one that actually called the police. He had evidently called his mom and brother first, and then, after Thomas and his mom picked him up, they went back to the apartment, the call was made to the police and the three awaited their arrival. I called Thomas and Donna after landing, to let them know I was there and on my way to the apartment. They were also on their way back to the apartment with a truck to start moving things out. Thomas said the supervisor at the apartment told him everything had to be out by midnight. Can you believe that? My baby was dead and all they cared about was vacating the apartment.
With the biohazard sign on the door, we had the supervisor of the apartment complex contact the police to see when we could enter the apartment. They advised her they had all the information they needed so it was okay for us to move whatever needed to be moved – which was everything since we had a midnight deadline. Everyone else went in first to see what needed to be shielded from me. They tried to cover the blood on the kitchen\dining room floor with trash bags so I wouldn't see it. Duh, how obvious does a trash bag make things look? Did they think I wouldn't pay attention? I knew my baby had died in that apartment and I was ready to walk thru the door and take what I needed for the moment.
Once Thomas got there I couldn't think about what I really wanted and didn't want, so I grabbed a few things – wallet, Becca's Dale Earnhardt coat, mom's sewing machine, key chain that said "speak out against domestic violence", a few other items and told them to do whatever they wanted with everything else. I couldn't deal with it right then. I had no doubt they had planned to claim everything as Jimmy's anyway. I didn't have use for her clothes so I just let them clean up the mess and take everything. Looking at her wallet which had her bank account information, the first thing Doc and I did was go to the bank to close the account, to the post office to cancel her PO Box and then to the funeral home. It's interesting that when we got to the funeral home and started filling out papers one of the things we had to do was to provide information for the Obituary. I remembered to mention her Nanny and Pappy (dad's parents) who are both deceased, but it has since been called to my attention that I totally forgot to even mention her biological father. He just simply did not come to mind because he had chosen not to be a part of her life. It wasn't an intentional oversight, it just didn't happen.
Doc talked about how he wished he had killed Jimmy, that he was supposed to take care of family and he hadn't. I thanked God that he hadn't carried through those thoughts because then he would be in jail instead of Jimmy. Since Jimmy was in jail somebody had to handle things and she was my baby so I took control. I would hate to think what would have transpired had someone told me I couldn't. They always say you should never cross a mother and her cubs – well this was my baby cub. I was her mother and I had to take care of her, it was the last thing I could do for her.
That first day was pretty much a blur of details, just getting family in, making phone calls, and doing a lot of wandering around doing nothing. Lisa (Becca's sister) was on her way from North Carolina, my mom was in Knoxville so Lisa would stop and tell her and then bring her to Nashville also. The medical examiner was supposed to release the body to the funeral home about 4:30 p.m. They had to do an autopsy because of it being a murder. Wish I didn't know all the details about autopsies – all the TV programs cover them and I am a nurse with basic knowledge.
You always hear the body is treated with respect so you have to believe that. The autopsy process then means I won't be able to see her until tomorrow, I just need to go to her, I need to hold her and let her know I am here. The police say she died instantly and didn't suffer, but how do they know? They weren't there and it sure wasn't them, they don't know what she was feeling. I remember from TV shows how families go to the morgue to identify the body. I suppose that due to Jimmy being on site that no one needed to identify her, but I wanted to go to her and I couldn't.
As that first evening back at home without my baby in the world began I found myself at a loss of what I was supposed to be doing. If I had arrived home at my normal time then I would probably be on the phone right now telling Becca all about my week and finding out what she had been doing. Our usual routine was to talk at least once while I was away and then when I got home so she knew I was back and safe and I knew she was okay. Mom, Lisa, and Doc were all at the house with me, but no one was really taking control of conversations. I remember there was food prepared but as could be expected food was not on my mind. I had thousands of thoughts going through my head, but none connect with each other. I felt I had to do something to figure out what had gone on.
Our wonderful world of technology allowed me to go on line to the Metro Nashville Police Department website and obtain a copy of the Media Release. It was strange reading on a website, actions that had happened to your own daughter. It also listed a lengthy arrest history which included aggravated assault for kicking and punching Rebecca Coons in the face in November 2002. Not my daughter, but his first wife. I had never known his prior wife was named Rebecca also. He was convicted of misdemeanor domestic assault and ordered to spend six months in jail. Again in August 2005 he was arrested for harassing his wife – again not my Becca. I think this time it might have been even another wife. James Coons III according to the media release is being held in lieu of $500,000 bond on a charge of criminal homicide. I wish now I had thought to check police website before Becca ever married him in 2006.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surley goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalms 23:4-6 KJV
Death is final, no matter what your beliefs may be. Death is final, for the human body. The spirit then takes its place in heaven if you are a believer of God, as Becca and I are. Others are entitled to have their own beliefs. I would say to you to know that the way to heaven is through Jesus Christ and the day will come when I meet not only my Jesus but my family again.
What is important to remember is the human body ceases to be as it has always been known, no matter what your belief may be. How do you begin to cope with that death, that loss, that person you can no longer reach out and touch, or tell your darkest secrets to? No matter the age of the person, the gender, or the relationship, all people that had a chance to know the person will be impacted to some degree. I think what I miss the most is her sweet voice saying "I just wanted to talk to my mommy." I heard her voice over and over in my head, the words that are so dear to any mother, and these were actually the last words I heard her say.
Grief and Loss Expert, Dr. Kirsti A. Dyer advised that "Sometime the best you can hope to do during times of challenge is remember the basics and take things one minute at time, one hour at a time, one day at a time."
When faced with a loss, a significant life change or a death, one of the greatest challenges for the person is figuring out what to do to make it through the first few hours and the first few days.
TAKE CARE of Yourself
The TAKE CARE acronym was developed by Dr. Dyer to be a useful reminder that helps grieving people focus on the basics following a loss, a death or other when grieving any significant life changing event.
Time is needed to handle the grief. Avoid alcohol and other medications. Keep to some routine or schedule. Eat a balanced diet. Focus on healthy foods and water. BLDBLDonverse with others, especially those that have "been there" and "survived that." Art projects can keep worried hands busy, whether journaling, building, crafting, knitting or in other ways. Rest and Sleep are important to help the body heal. Exercise to reduce stress and improve one's mood.
These are the areas that a person needs to focus on during the initial shock phase, when coming to grips with a loss or death.
Remember to Breathe
In addition to taking care of oneself, it is also helpful during times when things get to be overwhelming to remember a simple mantra and breathe ... just breathe. Using this simple mantra can be a helpful way to calm oneself during times of anxiety or stress.
How Sudden Death Differs from Normal Grief
For the family left behind, coping with the loss of a child due to a sudden cause can be very difficult. The grief response following sudden loss is often intensified since there is no opportunity to prepare for the loss or say good-bye. The shock and grief following a sudden death can be overwhelming.
Excerpted from Death Til the End by Glenda Barnett-Streicher Copyright © 2011 by Glenda Barnett-Streicher. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 – The Beginning....................1
Chapter 2 – Celebration of Life....................21
Chapter 3 – Time Keeps Passing....................29
Chapter 4 – Will It Ever End....................55
Chapter 5 – When you're Alone....................65
Chapter 6 – As Life Continues We Go On....................77
Domestic Violence Statistics....................79