Everybody's Friend Leonard

by Tom

My next door neighbor and the best friend I've had in a long time was murdered, dismembered and burned November 18, 2009. His son stands accused and is awaiting trial. It took almost 4 months to the day for the coroner to release his body for the Catholic funeral. The funeral church service and grave side service was all over in an hour and 20 minutes with no one that knew him saying a public word. I was so mad I didn't go into the reception hall afterwards, I just drove home. The past 8 months have been horrific with all the stuff going through my head all the time.

Let back up some here to share a bit of my background. Back in high school a friend was killed by a drunk driver.

Twenty one years of military service did not result in life long friends because I knew that we would soon be separated and move on to new duty stations.

My wife and I bought our first piece of real estate in 1993 and I retired in 1994. In 1995, we got new neighbors. A dysfunctional group, but nice friendly neighbors.

Over the years we remained friendly/neighborly. Sharing water when a well went out, catching each other's critters that escaped their confines etc.
Leonard was a drinker, but a friendly one. I too, was a drinker. One drink is too many and two isn't enough, but I did stupid things when I drank - so I quit a lot of years ago. Anyway, I came to accept his drinking, he didn't drive after drinking, which was a huge issue for me, and he was a pretty funny guy, drunk or sober.
Almost 2 years ago he was injured when the school bus he was working under was driven over him. His wife had moved out and the two boys had lives of their own.

Anyway I was helping with his therapy, usually walking and talking about this that and the other thing. Getting to know each other kind of stuff. Wow did he have stuff going on. (Sorry I can't publicize until after the trial, I do not want to jeopardize the case.)

There was a fire next door that Wednesday morning, no answer at the door, so I went on back to put some water on it. Got the fire department out for the overhaul and I went to work. Got a call that Leonard was missing, did I know who might have given him a ride somewhere. I gave up the names I could think of and on the way home I came up with another one. Went over to tell the officers present and was told "Problem solved, he's here." So I went back home, did my chores, had dinner and went to bed.

Next morning the sheriff is still there - something is wrong. So I go over - Leonard was in the pit in the barn that burnt. The son was arrested Wednesday for numerous parole violations (yeah he has a history of making bad choices) and by Thursday morning they added murder. A few interviews later, we pretty much figured out what happened, but still no answer as to why.

I've got to go see my counselor and then off to work.

Thank you for reading and letting me share. There is so much more to this and my mind goes there all the time. But even so, some days are good and some are horrific. So far today is ok.
So long for now.

Comments for Everybody's Friend Leonard

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Jul 16, 2010
Thank you Brenda
by: Tom

My sincere condolences for your loss. We're not supposed to outlive our kids.
As for my drinking - it was a military thing - sailors drink. So when I was away from my family and alcohol was available, I drank to get drunk. I don't have to leave any more and that lifestyle is just a memory (well some of it, ha, ha, some good, some not so good.) The rest is hearsay and no pictures or other evidence of proof that I know of.

Finding the mental tools to use from family, friends or support groups can be difficult enough because not everyone uses the same tools the same way. Then having the courage and determination to put them to work has it's own challenges on an ongoing basis. Week to week, day to day and even minute to minute if I'm having a bad day.

I frequently thank "The powers that be" for the blessings I have in my life. My lawn maintenance customers and my wife have been wonderful. Although none of them have been through anything this horrific they do lend an ear when I need to talk. Believe me, talking helps a whole lot.

Coping with the lack of control in the situation seems to be the hardest. If only I had done such and such or so and so - I could have prevented this - well not true. Some things are just not meant to be under our control. I'm beginning to get a grip on this but... some issues still haunt me, and probably always will. I know my life is changed forever, and sooner or later I will be able to put this chapter on the shelf so to speak, but still within reach to revisit as needed to cope.

Keep talking to anyone that will listen, there is no timeline, there is no schedule and worst of all - there is no control. Keep talking, it has helped me - do NOT keep it in - it will tear you apart.
Hope this helps,
Most sincerely,

Jul 15, 2010
by: Brenda

I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. I lost my 27 year old son on May 21, 2010. His name was Cody Lee Cole. He was diabetic and a drinker. Not a good combo. He was going to AA and trying to stop. He lived with his cousin and she had a boyfriend who drank. He would come to my sons' home to visit and my son would beg him not to bring alcohol. But his cousin never would say anything so John would come over drinking. The temptation was too great for my son, he starting drinking with John. Within 3 weeks he was dead. My son had many problems but he was a fun person and a good person. My heart is broken and I miss my son so much. I am glad that you had what it takes to realize what drinking was doing to you and that you were able to stop.

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