March 8th, 1962 to December 30th, 1999
Son, Brother, Grandson, Father, Companion, Friend
Michael was an extraordinary, unique man. He was creative, witty, charming, very compassionate. He had eyes that grabbed your heart, and a smile that would make you smile when you saw him.
He enjoyed life every chance he got. He had a daughter who was his heart and soul, a Harley Davidson that was his pride and joy - his "big boys have big toys" toy, and a 73 Chevy canary-yellow "race truck" that was a custom project he almost completed. He was as happy working on an engine as he was landscaping the yard or just spending time with family and friends. He loved to fish.
These are the things that made him happy, he liked simplicity. He never hesitated to help someone, all they had to do was ask.
December 30th was a typical day. We started our plan of attack for the day. His mother and one of his sisters were coming for a visit, and we had finalized plans for a cookout with neighbors for New Years Eve. His mom, sister and her baby arrived around 2pm. He met his baby nephew for the first time that day. We visited with them, then he took a short ride on his Harley; he wanted to fuel it up for the holiday weekend. He came back and continued his visit.
I decided to run a couple of errands, and I told him I'd be back shortly. He told me not to be long. When I left home at 3:30, Michael was still visiting with his mom and sister. His mom told me they left at 4:00. Michael had asked her to pick up a microwave.
When I returned home at 5:10, I walked in and found Michael on the couch, covered by a pillow, and he was already gone. I took the pillow off him, he had a laceration across his forehead, was covered in blood, and had been stabbed in the neck.
Half of me died in that room that day, and I haven't been back in our home since.
The suspect in Michael's case was arrested that night, just a few hours after, and still in the area of our neighborhood. He had just been released from prison in July 1999 after being convicted of arson. He set fire to a church 4 blocks from our home in 1996 during racial disturbances in St. Petersburg. He is now 20 years old.
He does not live nor has ever lived in our neighborhood. We tend to attract trouble to this neighborhood as it has a problem with drug dealers locating here and setting up shop.
What we, his family and friends have lost can never be measured, due to the void that his death has left in our lives. At 37 years old, he still had a lot of living and life ahead of him, and he was judged unworthy to complete his living by a known drug dealer who wanted money and to make a name for himself as a "thug".
He was the most important man in my life, and my best friend. The loneliness I feel without him, and the love I have for him suffocates me sometimes. I miss the sound of his voice, his dirty work boots and greasy tools all over the place, nudging him for the remote to change the TV off the , his loud music and dancing around the house. He loved jazz, old Motown, and the "old standards".
My life is kind of surreal to me right now. Michael was violated in so many ways; not being able to see his daughter grow up, not being able to make peace with God, say goodbye to his family and friends, and the ultimate violation of taking his life for $230 and 2 credit cards, in essence, nothing. The nightmare of this will stay with me forever.
Michael deserved better.
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