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.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

No Public Outcry

No, there is never going to be a public outcry regarding Kevin's death but there should be. Each loss of life deserves scrutiny and investigation to determine the cause and we didn't get that. Even if a person did committ suicide , the authorities should be as sure of that as reasonably possible. This didn't happen in Kevin's case at all. I've spoken about that before. Under Suzanne's Law, an extension of the Amber Laws, an immediate investigation should have taken place. That didn't happen. Nothing happened.

I read in the paper the other day that a young guy had been killed in Brussels, Belguim, at the train station ,I believe. Two young thugs tried to steal something of his. I don't know whether they got it but they stabbed and killed the kid. There was a massive rally protesting what happened even though they had video footage of the two who did it - but no arrests yet.

This morning I took Kevin's suit out of the closet again. As I said, before that the suit was in a carrier and so out of my view. Now it isn't. I vaguely remember Kevin's cloths, and it seemed like a thousand t-shirts, some I had given him too, but none of them stand out as much as the suit does, not even his "drop-kick murphy" t-shirt which he was supposedly wearing the night he disappeared. I wish I could have seen him in his suit. I guess that's part of it. I have pictures of him, some of the last taken of him around April 18th, I think, three months before he disappeared. There is also a picture of him sitting on his Dad's couch, no jacket, but his silver gray shirt. Very clear and upclose like one of those pictures that seems so real, more so than others, and almost like you can reach in and touch the person.

So once again I am mad and frustrated. Where do I go? What do I do? What do we have in this world of 4 billion people? Most of us have our family, our friends, our loved ones. Most of us really only know a handful of people in our entire life. Those few relationships are it. Maybe most of our lives have no more significance than that of a common fruit fly or gnat. We don't know how to treat the living but we usualy give a little more aclaim and respect to the dead. Most people, sad to say, get more acknowledgement in death than they do in life. But if that's the way it is, I at least want that much for Kevin. I want to know what happened to my son. He deserves what every other living person deserves. To be honored. To be recognized. To have an investigation into the cause of his death. A proper, thorough, investigation which he did not get. Am I on the police departments "S" list because I had the collassal gaul to question them? To ask them why they couldn't do something or other regarding Kevin's disappearance? A majority of people are lucky. The police dept., like most other things, especially institutions, in life, are not what they're cracked up to be. For those who never find that out or have to rely on it, to test it, they can still maintain the charade. They're lucky.

So, there isn't ever going to be a public outcry over the death of Kevin Martin. And that's a crime. To "blow off" the death of just one person, any person, especially a young life as Kevin's was is an horrendous crime. I've said it before, I'll say it again. One crime, something left undone, the blatant disregard for even one life affects us all in the end. I feel sorry for what I've seen at the police station. Not all of it, but in this case, most of it.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Nothing Changes

It's almost a month to the day, March 27th, when I spoke to Lt. Tunks about a couple of my concerns. I wanted to get the phone records which Kevin's step-mother had paid for through the private investigator and had wanted someone to sit down with me and go over Kevin's case. To this day I only know bits and pieces, very little coming from the police, and a little bit more coming from my own inquisitiveness. But still I know nothing. Patsy had mentioned a piece of information in passing, about Kevin going off of the Walnut St. bridge. I had not heard this before and told Lt. Tunks so. I was in New York, as I've mentioned before. On my many trips back and forth I'm sure I didn't ask the right questions, probably not as prepared as I should have been but I always made contact with them, the police. They called me when they found Kevin's remains. That was about it. The detective at the time did go over a few things with me on my trips out here but that was over a year ago. I want to give credit where credit is due but it seems that I've been "blown off" since I've been back in Des Moines as of last August. I'm sure it was a lot easier to appease someone who was going to be here for a few days and then return home 1100 miles from Des Moines.

Lt. Tunks told me it would take him awhile to read Kevin's file and then he would get back to me. I'm sure he's a very busy man but he must be somewhat familiar with the basics of the case... So how long does it take to review the file? He's not going to tell me any names of witnesses or who they interviewed or didn't interview. Who saw Kevin heading toward the Walnut St. bridge? At the time, August, 2004, I was told that Dustin who was supposedly last with him couldn't even tell them what direction Kevin went. At that time apparently no one saw Kevin or identified him as being at the Royal Mile. Not one of the owners, bartenders, or waitresses said they recognized him but, the latest, I was told, was that witnesses or a witness saw him go toward the bridge? Now, I'm being told that? For so long I couldn't understand why not one person came forward (other than people who were with him) to say they had seen him. My girlfriend couldn't understand that either. She felt Kevin would stand out in a crowd more so than some others. So then March 27th, over a year and a half later, I hear about "witnesses"?

One of the detectives along with Lt. Tunks mentioned how the case was still open since all of Kevin's remains were not found. This was my refrain. I was the one who made a big stink about the fact that Kevin's skull had not been found, not the police. Now they're using it for whatever reason? Maybe the police have done everything humanely possible. Maybe there is no fault here but then where does a person go who doesn't agree with their findings. They're the experts? There are no experts anywhere, just some people who are more knowledgeable in their fields (granted, sometimes a lot more so) than most others. But that doesn't mean they're 100% right.

Also around that time , perhaps the same day, I stopped by the Iowa Dept. of Criminal Investigation and had a nice talk with one of the investigators there. They do not get involved in cases under the police jurisdiction unless they are asked. Obviously, they weren't asked even though the police repeatedly told me, ad nauseum, that they didn't have the resources... budget cuts you know. The investigator did say that they were working on a "cold-case" unit as most large cities have one but Des Moines doesn't.

So nothing has changed and probably nothing will change, either, but this is the way it has been all along. Nothing will change with the police.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Suit

Just recently Brian, Kevin's brother, needed a suit carrier for a trip he was going to make to his grandmother's funeral in New York. He called to ask the where-abouts of Kevin's suit which was in a suit carrier and which I had kept for sometime now in my closet. There are many pictures of Kevin in his suit, a suit he had gotten for his 21st birthday along with a beautiful and very expensive pair of shoes and a silver gray shirt which was also hung with his suit beneath the jacket. Brian had called very early in the morning and so in the dark I took the suit carrier out of the closet , removed the suit, placed the suit back in the closet and left the carrier on my door as I left for work. It was all very quick but on a subconscious level I guess I had continued to think about that suit. It was always in the carrier, I knew it was there, but I had never seen it. I had never seen Kevin in his beautiful dark gray manly suit, I had only seen pictures.

This morning I reached in the closet to pull out a dress, it's dark in the closet, poor lighting, and my arm brushed against something, his suit, which even felt a little silky or maybe it was because of the lining. I had forgotten about the suit in the over stuffed closet which has things I usually don't wear and many of my boxes still packed with collectibles. I took the suit out and held it silver gray shirt and all. I almost held it as if Kevin was still in it. As if I was hugging Kevin and then, as I usually do, I forced myself to put the suit back, or,as on other occasions when I'm thinking emotionally, to stop dwelling on whatever it is I'm thinking about and move and get on with what I have to do. I put the suit back in the closet.

This morning I felt really good, was even playing my special cd that a friend had taped for me and wondered what Kevin would have thought if he had seen me dancing around the apartment to a couple of my favorite songs. Of course if he was here I would have shared this cd with him right away. I call it my anti-depression tape because as soon as you hear these songs it makes you (me, anyway) want to get up and dance. I don't know why the suit touched me so deeply but it did. I have other belongings of Kevin but the suit touched me in a different way. Why.

When I drove here in Des Moines the first time, over four years ago now, I did one of the express buses, the E.P. True. Kevin told me he and his friends, school kids, always wondered what the 9EP true was. I still don't know who or what E.P. true is. There was a young man who road that bus. He probably worked for Principal or one of the other large insurance companies downtown. He reminded me very much of Kevin and was even built just like him. I'm sure in his off hours he dressed very much like his peer group but going to and from work he dressed like an up and coming successful young man. He got off at one of the very nice apartment complexes in West Des Moines. This is what I hoped for for Kevin.

But don't get me wrong, Kevin would have been a success even if he never wore a suit. He would have worn one, though, at different times, for special occasions. He would have worn that very suit to his grandmother's funeral. I don't gage success by whether a suit is worn or not worn. It's something more or something else.

So the suit. Maybe it represents the future that will never be or the death of my hopes and dreams and wishes for him. When I see the pictures of him in that suit it is the man, Kevin. It is what he would have become. There is no doubt in my mind that he would have worn suits like that frequently, if not every day on the job but, now, we will never know... I could save Kevin's t-shirts, and hats, Kevin dressed like his peer group too, but for some strange reason I will keep and cherish "The Suit". It was a Kevin I never got to see and represents a precious life that never had a chance to express itself.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

What Does It All Mean

Everything is in full bloom in Des Moines. We had those couple of days of severe weather and inches of rain followed by a week of above normal 70 and 80 plus degrees temperature. I don't pay attention to the weather as much during the warm weather months (no freezing roads) but I think tomorrow, Easter Sunday, is suppose to be a beautiful day. The daffodils and Magnolia trees are still blooming but some of them are dying already. They blossomed, lost their leaves, and that's it untill next year. Maybe that's what we do to. I tried to "dry" a couple of the Dahlias that Mr. Harper had given me last Novenber, to preserve what I thought was an incredibly beautiful flower, but it didn't work. I guess that's what really bothers me about flowers, they don't last long enough. Incredibly beautiful and then they wither and die in a very short time.

This is going to be a particularly beautiful Easter as it is late(in April) and so many flowers are in bloom.

If I was planning to attend an Easter Sunday sevice I guess I would go to Pastor Arontsen's church. The pastor who was at Kevin's memorial service. But I won't. Instead I'll take my long walk and appreciate all the beautiful flowers and think of Kevin in light of the Resurrection. What the Resurrection means to me and what Kevin's life and loss means to me. And I guess what it means to me is that we (our spirit, our true self) out-lives our body. We rise from the dead as Jesus Christ did. And Kevin's spirit, his true self, is alive and immortal.

Also when I get up in the morning I'll re-read the chapter in Emmett Fox's book, "The Power of Constructive Thinking" on life after death. It's very positive and uplifting. He was a pastor in New York City around 1950, I believe. It's spiritual writing and his interpretation of prayers and bible stories. So, what does it all mean? I guess we spend our entire life trying to figure that out and especially when we have an horrendous loss in our life, the loss of Kevin, the question becomes more pronounced and urgent.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Updates and a Couple of Not so Minor Additions

The Des Moines River is so high. I've never seen it that high but, then again, I've only lived here a short period of time. Hopefully, I'll never see it as high as it was in 1993. When I was here for my first stay, 2001-2003 I doubt if I paid much attention to the river. Now, sad to say, I do. If I had known more about it last August I would have done things differently. I would have done a small earch on my own since the river was so low and sandbars everywhere. I don't believe that Kevin jumped but he was found in the river and so the Des Moines has become linked to his death. I even found comfort sitting on the sandbar near where his remains were found. Rivers and bodies of water can be and are destructive but they can also bring peace and calm while near them or on them. The water was half way up the circular stairs in front of the Embassy Suites.

Well, I didn't find my cake pans at 1505 Pleasant Street, Kevin's first apartment, but I did find out that they were planning to move the house to a vacant plot on 16th Street right behind Kevin's yellow house. I thought that was kind of ironic. A young couple is planning to have it moved and then restoring it. I think they got the house for nothing (I hope so) as long as they got it out of its present location at 1505 Pleasant. This morning I spoke to a woman on Sherman Hill and she said the man who owned a couple of those plots finally sold a couple of them and so they were bringing in at least two houses and possibly a third one. Another house is coming from 6th ave. she said. I wonder what Kevin would think about all of this?

Awhile back I started a new run as we do three times a year. It's the number 1 route which takes me past Flanagan's and then out to 4th and Elm, Valley Junction. When I came out for my visit in April, 2001, Valley Junction was one of the places he took me to see. When I moved here months later I don't remember if we got back out there again, and so when I saw it for the first time in years I was amazed at how much it had grown. So many more shops and really kind of a pain to navigate through the main street with the bus. Fortunately it's only a block or two in order to get urned around. It's a Saturday and so especially now with the warm weather there are cars every where. Keven would have loved to see how it has grown with all of the exclusive shops.

A couple of weeks ago I did go to the police station to see if I could get additional information on Kevin's case. I couldn't. I did make an appointment to speak to the Lt. regarding sharing their findings with me. I met with him March 27th and he was going to get back to me. He needed to review the material in Kevin's case file or whatever you call itand then he would give me a call. Waiting. I spoke to a gentleman at the public safety dept. regarding private investigators. A real rip-off. No regulation and they charge $75.00 per hour for nothing. I also spoke to an investigator at the Iowa Dept. of Criminal Investigation. They can't help out on cases which fall under the jurisdiction of the police dept. unless they are asked. If the police had limited resources as I was repeatedly told , why didn't they ask for assisstance from another agency?

I was talking to someone recently and I remembered that I had left a couple of things out when I was talking about suicide. Suicide usually happens very close to home. I remember Sgt. Rush from the Scotia police told me(I think) that it usually happens within a quarter of a mile from the persons home. The other thing is that suicide victims want to be found.

Last but not of least importance is Kevin's Pinky Blanket, which I have. I had it for many years and put it in the car with me on a couple of trips I took before coming out here. When I got here in 2001 I gave the blanket to Kevin which he used on his bed. When I was on my way out here in July, right after Kevin had disappeared, I knew something was missing in the car. I had a shawl that Brian had given me. A Steelers sweatshirt Terry had given plus a Steelers pillow, and a shawl my mother had knitted. Something was missing though. When I had gotten out here and had gone to Kevin's apartment for the first time everything had been cleared out except the dresser, the bed, and there on the bed, folded neatly, was Kevin's Pinky Blanket. That's what was missing from the car. Something of Kevin's!

And I've learned how to "edit"! Now I just have to learn where the spell-check is!

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Day That Would Have Been, The Day That Is

April 7th, Kevin's birthday. 23 years old he would have been today. A handsome, intelligent, talented, young man who still hadn't reached his full maturity and who should have had his whole life ahead of him. Today, I would have made a cake for him although Kevin wasn't really big on sweets. Kevin and I would have gone to A-Dong, his favorite restaurant, and a place we've gone many times before. Perhaps on the weekend or even tonight, since his birthday falls on a Friday, we would have gotten together with Brian and Jaylynn. Well, he would have celebrated with them and his other friends. Too late for me and since I would have seen him early in the day that would have been perfectly okay.

I think I mentioned before that Kevin was very easy to buy for. I would always ask him what he wanted, birthday or Christmas, and he would always reply in the same way. "Oh, just my two front teeth". Of course, he had those. I'm so happy that the year before he died, meaning his 21st birthday, (actually only 3 months or so before he disappeared, I did send a birthday package to him from New York. A shirt, a book he was interested in, and a couple of other things. Maybe Irish coins. A set of Irish coins, mounted and framed. Kevin liked and collected coins. At times I feel sad when I walk through Younker's, the mens section, and I see a shirt I would have liked to buy for him for his birthday. Or when I go by Christopher's, a coin store, because perhaps this year I would have gotten him a coin for his collection for his birthday. So many things which just aren't going to be anymore. In other words, no more shopping or preparations for his birthday. Last year at this time we were waiting for the results of the DNA testing which came back around the 15th of April. Already we had started to plan for Kevin's memorial service, plans which would be finalized once the results came back. This year those things are over and gone and so his birth date seems to stand out so much more to me.

So, the day that is is me sitting at the key board at the library trying to type meaningless words which could never express how I feel and the abomination of this whole thing and the loss of Kevin Russell Martin. I feel like someone reached in and tore my heart right out of my chest while I was wide awake. So, today, his birthday is hard to focus on although later on I'll get busy and be able to think in a more positive, spiritual light. As the pastor said, Kevin is free now, unencumbered by a body, sorrow, and all the other earthly garbage. We should think that he is the lucky one although that is hard to do, especially on holidays and birthdays as I've said before. Those days seem to accentuate and magnify the loss.

So, the neat day that isn't going to happen and the struggle to put the day that is into perspective with all the sorrow, increased memories(which has seemed to happen on these special days - well, I guess because one makes them more special and so would tend to remember them) questions, frustratations, and a lack of answers and closure...

So this is Kevin's birthday, today, and a "birth" day for me 23 years ago. That, and all the birthdys inbetween.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Kevin's Birthday

Today is April 5th. Friday, April 7th is Kevin's birthday. He would have been 23 years old. Hopefully I'll be able to make it to the library on Friday but I might not be able to. A few irons in the fire which means I'm a little harried but it's a good harried. Sad to say it's not that I'm making progress regarding Kevin, I'm not, but a little extra busyness on other things is good. It gets my mind off of Kevin for awhile and so hopefully a fresh perspective on things. So already I've started to think about Friday, his birthday, and, again, one of those days, anniversary days, which is so sorrowful. But it is also a "birth" day for me, as well, as I gave birth to Kevin and so one of those extraordinary days in a persons life, in my life, when the recollections are more vivid than usual.

I remember that day very clearly and everything surrounding it. Kevin was over-due, I guess you could say, but I think it was more like the doctors guesstimate was early.(and wrong) He was born in the evening. My mother drove us to the hospital. He didn't pop into this world easily. I'm not sure he really wanted to come out. Anyway, he did. All 10 lbs. 1 ounce of him. He was a chunker and ruddy with peach fuzz hair. At the time I thought Rusty would be a good nickname for him; he looked like a Rusty (Kevin Russell) but Kevin it was. A really good baby. I couldn't nurse him for long since he had too large an appetite. I'd nurse him but he wasn't content. Then I supplemented it with formula and that really did the trick! Filling his tummy was almost like I had given him a tranquilizer. Well, I could go on and on about those early times. When he was a little older, a toddler and beyond, I use to call him Aries the ram, Taurus the bull, and that says alot. He was very good natured and agreeable up to a point. Then, when he reached THAT point there was no reasoning with him. He even at times played Aries the ram, Taurus the bull. Of course, he had his Superman pajamas on at the time. He'd repeat that,(Aries the ram,Taurus the bull) put his hands on his head to represent horns and charge at me as I was sitting on the couch. I can see it so clearly. All of these memories and as I sit here I could go on and on but time doesn't permit.

So over the next few days I'm sure I'll continue to relive those early memories and think about this fantastic little kid. Terry was the sunshine, Brian was the rainbow, and Kevin was my little pot of gold. He was born, came into this world, and left it way to early. As one of his friends said, it was a real waste. But as I think of him this year which would have been his 23rd year I'll continue to think about his life and his purpose here - and to continue to try to honor and remember him especially on Friday, April 7th...

Saturday, April 01, 2006


I laughed three times over the past 6 months. Pretty bad when you can count the times but I can because they were rare, obviously, few and far between. Actually I guess that's an improvement because months ago was the first time I had laughed since Kevin disappeared. I bring this up because Kevin had a neat sense of humor, I think. We're all individual but coming from the same family we all had a similar sense of humor and, or, I might have had something to do with forming his, or at least I really appreciated his humor anyway. Once again I have to say that being his mother I only experienced Kevin's humor and Kevin in a mother- son relationship so my views and opinions are slanted. We all tended to be sarcastic, I think. Over the years I found that one has to be carefull with sarcasm, especially with children because they don't understand it. I was very careful not to be sarcastic with Terry, Brian, and Kevin, but Brian and Kevin tended to express sarcasm in their humor at an early age. But that's something different and I guess I think more of Kevin's quick wit and dry sense of humor. I was thinking of this this morning as I was driving to the library. I could see myself being a Gracey Allen to Kevin's George Burns if I remember those two correctly. Kevin was sort of a straight man and would just say these things very straight faced and with subtle timing. I on the other hand have a dumb-blonde sense of humor bordering on slapstick at times. That's the way I saw it. But as silly as my humor was I could make Kevin laugh and, of course, he made me laugh too. He laughed and shook his head and rolled his eyes, sort of thing, but he still laughed. At times he used humor as a cover too, something I learned to do rather late in life. He would always have a quick, smart-alec or sarcastic reply if you were getting on him for something he shouldn't be doing or something he should be doing.

One thing comes to mind very frequently, as I drive for a living, and so am on the roads more than most people. No one wants to be behind a bus so the name of the game is "beat the bus". On occasion I have to laugh to myself when I get behind someone I don't want to be behind. I call them pokes, short for slowpokes. One day I was telling Kevin about the poke I was behind that morning and he said, "oh, there's more than one on the road?" The implication being that I'm the only poke on the road, of course. Well, so special to me and it was so funny at the time and a special memory.

Have you ever seen pizza in a bag? On my break at Southridge Mall I was eyeing the pizza at the Sbarro concession and decided to buy it. I couldn't take a big box on the bus so I just asked them to stack it and put it in a plastic bag. They were a little mortified but I told them "Just put it in the Bag!" They did, and my fellow driver and I laughed all the way back to the bus. Pizza in a bag! Kevin would have laughed. At me or with me I'm not sure but I would have loved to share this with him as I would have done the next day or so.

My second outburst of laughter was over a bag of pizza, also, but with a different co-worker a couple of weeks later. Thirdly, I was just wound up one morning, thinking of my anti-depression tape, so half dancing,half jumping around, giggling. Of course that ended quickly as I had to start my morning run!

Humor was important to Kevin and we laughed together many times. I can still hear his laughter.