Diary of a Mother's Mission

My son, Kevin Martin, disappered under mysterious circumstances in the wee hours of July 18, 2004. His partial remains were found on February 1, 2005 in the river. The Des Moines Police have not been helpful and this is my blog to tell what I have done as it's done.

Monday, February 27, 2006


As most people know by now because it has been mentioned in the paper or, I guess, initially, on the tv right after Kevin disappeared, a couple of Kevin's supposed friends said that Kevin was or had been suicidal. I even think at a later date, perhaps when I was here for the search in early November, one news station said Kevin was at Flanagan's, said, "where's the river?" and took off from there to committ suicide. Obviously that was totally wrong. I didn't see any of the newscasts, and not that one either, but I learned many years ago that papers and news broadcasts can make mistakes and do. What they report can be very inaccurate as, in my case, it was when I was in a bank robbery. I was a teller at the time, was right there in the middle of the whole thing. The next day I read the account in the paper and there were alot of inaccuracies. Anyway, a friend of mine did call the news station and told them that they were wrong - not that it did any good - regarding Kevin's situation.

To date I haven't had the time to research "suicide" but I have talked to alot of people about it and "self-mutilation", too, over the past year and a half. Alcohol is a depressant as most everybody knows. I'm sure that made Kevin depressed at times. Self-mutilation, I've been told, is not indicative of suicide. Even one of the police detectives told me that. Suicide usually happens very close to home and not on a Saturday night while someone is out with his friends. That's another persons opinion. There was no note which happens sometimes. Kevin didn't give away things that belong to him as happens also if someone is planning to kill themselves. As I said before, his apartment was as he left it and as if he planned to return to it. I don't know whether impulsivity is a factor in suicide but I feared that Kevin got a notion in his head and then impulsively did something. When I visited the Royal Mile Bar and realized how far it was from the river it eased my fears. As despondent as he might have been it was a long walk down to the river and plenty of time, sights and distractions to break any suicidal thoughts he might have had while sitting at the bar.

Years ago I had read an article in the local paper. It sticks in my mind at this point. Once again one persons opinion but maybe someone expert in the field. It said that depressed persons aren't the ones who committ suicide. It's almost that they're use to feeling low and despondent. Maybe, too, it's their way of coping and perhaps it works for them. It seems more to be the person who hasn't had to deal with depression who is more apt to committ suicide when something goes wrong in their life. Then there's drinking. True or not, although I tend to believe it, people who drink too much don't tend to kill themselves. I guess you would say that they are, but in a different way, and more slowly...

So I don't believe the suicide theory. Actually it's amazing to me that so much credibility has been given to Kevin's friends' interpretation of Kevin's mental state...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Yellow House and Yellow Flowers

Lately I've been thinking of houses and so perhaps that's why I started thinking about the house Kevin lived in. I don't think so, though, since I do go by it every day. There are different owners now but I'll always consider it to be Kevin's house. The house is yellow. I don't know whether Kevin's father had it painted or the previous owners had painted it yellow. At one point I couldn't understand the color as it really isn't "Sherman Hill" color, in my opinion, from what I've seen of the houses that have been restored. But that's okay. I was told that the color yellow was or meant joy. Whether or not that is true or not, I don't know, but it certainly seems that yellow is a bright sunny joyfull color. It has always been a favorite color anyway so it brings me joy to go by the yellow house on the top of the hill. Sometimes anyway. Other times it brings sadness as my first visit out to see Kevin was spent at that house.

I can hear Kevin telling someone, I forget who, about how I was paranoid about being in bed at 7:00 p.m., and this is true thanks to my bus driving and early hours, but yet I drove straight through from Schenectady, N.Y., to Des moines and got here at about 7:00 a.m. the next morning. The door was open and so I went in, scolded Kevin for leaving the door open while waking him up, I'm sure way too early, and then settled in for a few days visit with Kevin and Des Moines. Kevin had told me about the house and what they had done in their few years there. I stayed in the room facing East, as I mentioned, and got to see a beautiful view of the Capital in the evening as well as the morning. Kevin, at that time stayed in the back room facing West. All in all my trip toward the end of April, Spring break for the N.Y. schools, was really neat as Kevin showed me around and I got to see a little bit of Des Moines before my move out here.

Last Fall while taking my walk and thinking about Kevin I spotted some beautiful yellow flowers. Ever since Kevin's memorial service I've been more aware of flowers and colors. That morning my remembrances of Kevin were particularly strong as I've mentioned they are sometimes more so than at other times, I don't know why. This was one of those mornings where it just seemed like something came over me. I was kind of gloomy and then, all of a sudden, felt elated. Afew minutes after that I spotted the flowers which I found out later were Dahlias. Hugh yellow Dahlias. I thought they were the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen! Seriously. The color, the size, I don't know why but they were unbelievable. It was like I fell in love with these flowers for some reason. I don't know what they had to do with Kevin but they were connected in some way to a very wonderful, warm, memory of him. I don't know whether he liked flowers, although I do know that he gave some to a very special young lady in his life, at one point, and she has not forgotten it, but I think, being an artist he would appreciate beautiful, vivid, colors flowers or not.

So once again I have this memory which at least for today has become very intense where I have connected two very special things - Kevin's yellow house on the top of the hill and the beautiful yellow dahlias down the street in a neighbor's yard, but both bringing me a little bit of joy concerning him...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The American Dream

So what is the American dream? I've been thinking about this for a long time now although at this point I still don't think I have the words to explain what I'm feeling and thinking. The concept is something I feel so strongly about, something I just know in my heart but just can't explain. This is regarding Kevin, of course. It's also something like my ideas about democracy. The fact that democracy doesn't bomb other countries into democracy. It is something that wells up from within and then when the people are ready, they will fight for it. I don't know where this came from other than my accumulated knowledge and education. Not everyone agrees but it is my opinion which I feel very strongly about.As I feel so strongly about the dignity of each individual as well.

At one time I thought the American dream was having a house with the white picket fence and anything else that goes with it. That dream I lost a long time ago. Recently I saw an advertisement for the American dream to end discrimination. That all peoples should be free from discrimination, that is in part or all the "American Dream". Last week I heard the term used in reference to a couple of the Olympic athletes who had lost their chance at the American dream - they didn't get the olympic gold they had trained so hard for. The term is used frequently on the news in many different contexts and so I guess the American dream means many things to many different people.

Lately there has been alot on the news about the administration's use of wire tapping or phone tapping, whatever it is. There has been alot of talk about the Constitution, Bill of Rights, civil rights (with the death of Coretta Scott King) executive powers, etc. Yes, and our society gives alot of "lip-service" to many of these things and not much else, but there are a few bottom lines for me anyway. My sons death was blown-off, as far as I'm concerned, in the greatest deocratic country in the world which supposedly gives value and sanctity to each and every individual life. I guess it is really one bottom line, THE bottom line, which should hold for Kevin as well as everyone else regardless of race, nationality, sex, age, etc. What a joke, as we all know, and unfortunately some of us find out more than others.

Kevin's life wasn't treated with the dignity and respect it deserved, as I've said before, and this is wrong. I know it's wrong, although, as I said, I don't have the words or explanation for it. And ,yes, this is my son so I feel it even more. So many things we overlook because it doesn't involve us, and I am guilty, then it does happen to us and we know, only then, how countless others are feeling or have felt.

So I guess I have re-evaluated my American Dream and it is to have justice for Kevin. To get down to the bottom basic core issues of what our democracy really stands for and fight for that idealism regarding Kevin. It is my duty as his mother...

Friday, February 17, 2006

Someone Knows Something

I don't know why this came to my mind the other day rather all of a sudden. This was said by Montell Williams on one of his shows about missing persons. My girlfriend, Sandra, had told me about it while I was still in New york so that I would be sure to watch it. It was still during the time that Kevin was still missing. Since being here in Des Moines I haven't been able to watch his show because of the time but I think he periodically deals with this topic. My girlfriend did tell me that Mrs. Veronica Freer was on the show, perhaps more than once, concerning the disappearance of her son, Craig, from Scotia, N.Y., my former hometown. He had disappeared a few weeks before Kevin did. I think it was June 26th or 27th. A couple of weeks ago I asked Sandra if there had been any news lately but she said no.

I remember the show and Montell's voice and final words towards the end of the show. Somebody has to know something. Somewhere, somehow, some person has to have seen or heard something. That isn't a direct quote but that's it. Regarding Craig Freer, Kevin, and thousands of others. Somebody has to know something, has to have seen something. I don't remember the specifics of the cases he had on the show that day but they all were similar in that the person was last seen, whatever the circumstances were and then gone, disappeared. Without a trace. In some cases the police did more. In another case the young person was seen leaving the scene of a car accident but there was no immediate follow up. Just recently I had looked over the initial reports concerning Kevin. Apparently fishermen thought they had snaged a body. They did send divers in the river but because of the rough conditions and high waters they pulled the divers out. The discription didn't fit Kevin. Anyway, what I'm saying is that I don't think that was an attempt to search for Kevin as I originally thought but as a result of a sighting on the part of the fisherman. Thank God for the fishermen. A fisherman found Kevin's remains as most people know.

I remember also the night I went down to 4th and Court on a Saturday night during the Summer to get a feel of what it was like at 2:15 in the morning, the time Kevin supposedly disappeared from in front of the Royal Mile Bar. There were lots of people milling around as the bars were closing and people were heading for their cars or waiting for a ride. I walked down to the Court Ave. bridge, about 4 blocks away, and yes, there were a couple of fisherman on the bridge that night. They told me they were there frequently on the weekends in the Summer. They couldn't remember whether they had been there that night, July 18th, but the point is , there very well could have been fishermen on the river that night too as there were the night I visited. Fisherman or people on their way home, somebody. I still can't understand why no one saw Kevin that night, on a busy Summer's night, in the entertainment district of downtown Des Moines.

I remember the repeated response of the police those first few weeks. There was nothing they could do. If there wasn't a body, or unless someone comes forward, there was nothing they could do. I thought to myself. If someone went to them and said that their car was stollen, would they say there was nothing they could do unless someone comes forward to say they saw the car being stollen or unless they found a dead car? I know, or have heard anyway that police wait something like 72 hours before they investigate a claim of a missing person. To make sure the person is really missing, but as I've said, with young persons, 21 and under they're suppose to investigate right away (Suzanne's Law - an extension of the Amber Laws). Perhaps that always isn't the case either as I saw police and search dogs looking for an elderly man immediately after his disappearance.

So I still hear Montell Williams words that somebody, somewhere, must know something about Kevin. Whether he was harmed, or jumped or fell into the river that night, it seems that someone knows what happened...

Monday, February 13, 2006


When I had gotten here a week after Kevin had disappeared most of Kevin's things were gone from the apartment he shared with a couple of other guys. Most of his things were in his room. Some were in the living area, the kitchen, etc. I guess the plan was that one roommate was planning to move out. Perhaps Kevin was planning to stay and then find another roommate but, of course, we'll never know. Kevin's father did a majority of the packing and moving. There were only a couple of pieces of big furniture left by the time I arrived.

His room was there and his things just as he left it that Saturday evening before he went out with the guys. It was his room, lived in, his special part of the apartment. Right next to the bedroom was a sun porch where he kept two winged back chairs, a special table his father had given him and a bookcase or two with the books that he loved plus a collectible here and there- Marilyn Monroe, Superman, Lord of the Rings and even an angel that he liked. But most of the things were in his own room. I can still picture the room pretty much as it was as I had visited him often. Most of the time I had to wake him up since he kept late hours, so when we had something planned, I was his alarm clock for that day. All of his things were there only he didn't come home. All of the things he loved. His clothes, books, everything that most people have and use on a day to day basis plus the special items. Then the person is gone and all of the belongings are removed, packed away, given away. Just as Kevin is gone his room is gone too. I can still see Kevin in my minds eye and I can still see his room, too, just as it was. The building is still there. I walk by it almost everyday. I look up and remember (it was the third floor apartment)

Things define us. Where we live, the car we drive, the close we wear, the books we read. The things we put our interest in define us. I had talked to a young guy at a "new age" book store in Schenectady. He said he was an intuitive. He asked me all of these questions about Kevin, likes and dislikes, favorite movies, etc. and from all of the things I told him he intuited characteristics of Kevin's personality. It was really interesting. He didn't feel Kevin was a suicidal personality for what it's worth. I've often thought of this young guy and his approach. I've thought alot about Kevin's things, the things he loved and what that tells us about him. Yes, he loved Lord of the Rings so what does that say. He liked his possessions. I use to call him my little material boy... So when the things are gone what's left. When Kevin is gone, his material body that is, what's left. I'm still trying to come to terms with his beautiful, idealistic spirit and what it is and what it stands for and what all of Kevin's beloved things say about him...

Thursday, February 09, 2006


A week has gone by. I was so apprehensive about the February 1st anniversary although there are others. Even St Patrick's day was a special day for Kevin and so me as well as I would ask him about his preparations at Flanagan's for the big St. Paddy's Day celebration, corned beef, cabbage and hugh out door tent as well. He made the paper one year. A picture taken with his boss and so we bought a few papers that day. Kevin liked that, liked having his picture taken and was quite a little ham in his earlier years. So another sad day as I know Kevin won't be there. I was afraid about the 1st as I was about the July 18th anniversary. That passed as did this one but I think maybe it was other days that bothered me or the feelings just welled up, built up, and then came out perhaps just touched off by a little thing, a memory or maybe something completely unrelated which just openned the flood gates. Then all the emotion and sorrow and grief and sadness comes out. So I don't know about all of these dates. Yes I remember them, dread them, but they haven't turned out to be as bad as I expected. I guess it has been other days, when I wasn't expecting it, that turned out to be the worst.

So I've been thinking about the human psyche. Does a person fully comprehend what has happened when their loved one has died? The capacity for the human mind to protect itself is incredible! I wonder to myself if I fully realize that my son is dead. I believe that he is alive elsewhere. At times I can't believe he is gone because the memories are so strong, his presence is felt as if he were in the next room... Is that my rationalization, cultural or religious, to protect me from the
horrid reality which I do not want to face? And at times I feel that the fact he was missing for 6 and a half months was merciful as we had time to digest the magnitude of what was happening. Was hope mixed with despair better than knowing the horrible truth right away?

Alot of confusion as this anniversary approached as I'm still trying to work through so many things regarding Kevin. What direction to go... It's the death of my old life as it was. As I was getting more settled here in Des Moines I thought if only Kevin was here, alive, things would be perfect. But that isn't the case. There has been so much cloudyness lately, the past week, but Saturday morning when I went out to do my walking the skies were clear. I looked East toward the Capitol building which Kevin had first pointed out to me from the second floor window of his house on 15th St. The clouds had gone. It was so clear and I wished that my mind could reflect the clarity of the skies that morning. In due time I hope...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Anniversary Dates

A year ago today they found Kevin's partial remains. The police called me on the 3rd of February when they felt that it was Kevin. February 7th I gave samples to be used for DNA testing which came back (the results), I think, April 15th. On this date,Feb. 1st, I guess we really knew , or I guess I should only speak for myself, I really knew that Kevin was gone. We did ask for additional DNA testing because although the police were sure it was Kevin, we needed to be 100% sure or as close to that as possible. But that isn't our only anniversary date as perhaps most people know. July 20th I got the call from Kevin's father that he was missing.( July 18th) I can't go back to that date in my mind as I get panic stricken when I reflect on that night, my horror and shock, disbelief, grief...I bought the suicide story until I got out here and started to talk to a few people. At that point I started to have hope that he was alive, maybe because I just couldn't face the truth that Kevin, my son, was dead. But he was missing so we knew nothing. May 7th, another anniversary date, we had Kevin's memorial service, that at least a more positive anniversary if you could ever say that anything associated with the loss of a loved one is positive.
That brought a little closure as many people came to honor Kevin and acknowledge his young life.

Because of the circumstances surrounding Kevin's death (missing for 6 and a half months) this wasn't the norm. A person dies and then is burried a few days later. But maybe this is more like a situation where the loved one is terminally ill. You are told the reality of the situation. You know the person is going to die but you continue to have hope that the person will pull through. The doctors weren't right. You pray to God. You know on one level but still fight to maintain your hope. One moment you know the truth without a doubt, the next moment you dream and hope and pray and believe that the person is going to live. Kevin is alive. Well I guess February 1st of last year I knew he wasn't. But then on another level I guess I really knew when I got his father's phone call... Kevin never would have taken off without telling his family and friends. He wouldn't have taken off period.

So is this the Anniversary of Kevin's death? (Well we know he died before that date) Or was it July 18th? (Actually we don't even know whether he died on that night either). Or do we give more credence to May 7th, his memorial service, which, as I said, was a positive, beautiful experience for me anyway where we acknowledged his spirit and his eternal life? I can't forget all of these dates as I can't forget his birthday (April 7th) either. I guess they are all a part of his story but I will try to focus on his memorial service May 7th for now.