I am very disappointed that I couldn’t attend my brother, Chris’, funeral. If my mom was looking down from above she would be very sad until she realized that missing Chris’ funeral was not entirely my fault. I broke my pelvis in a mountain bike accident and it is much more painful than an ordinary broken bone. Unfortunately that prevents me from flying to Boston and going to Chris’ funeral.
I am sorry to everyone that I missed the funeral and I ask for your forgiveness. I especially apologize to my brother David who arranged for the funeral service down to the very music that Chris listened to while he was alive.
I had long ago promised my mother that I would look after Chris. He was a severely disabled child and she was worried about his future as a disabled adult.
I grew up babysitting (my mom worked evenings). I remember changing diapers and playing the “Put Diana to Bed” game that involved a lot of pushing and shoving. David and Chris liked to rough house (and so did I). I also read to them before bed but that wasn’t until after they had forcibly shoved me into one of their cots and selected their favorite reading material (Paddington Bear). They both knew the words by heart and recited them as I turned over the pages.
Chris was severely dyslectic and had a hard time reading and writing and even graduating from high school. There was a lot of pressure on him to do well in school but no matter how many classes he took or how many tutors he had, he was never able to conquer his dyslexia and learn to read and write. It made it hard for him to get a driver’s license, bank account or apply for a job. His mental disability made him feel inadequate and vulnerable.
After high school Chris met his future wife. He fell in love they married and had two lovely children. Chris also played chess (he was better than I was) played hockey and went to the beach with his family. In the beginning I was good friends with his wife and step daughter and so we hung out together quite a lot when I was on the east coast.
Chris was a natural skier. We skied together while I was home. Those were good times until the drugs took over. I was in Law School when I first started noticing alarming changes. It wasn’t just himself who was adversity affected by drugs. It tore apart his whole family and caused a lot of hardship and misery.
Because of the drugs their house was in total disarray with food all over the walls and dirty cloths and diapers on the floor. Nobody took care of the house except my mother on occasion and there were two very young children living there. Chris’ step daughter had to do most of the work. It was a totally dysfunctional household and you can’t blame it all on Chris’ wife. Chris never lifted a finger either.
Chris’ stepdaughter was taken out of school when she complained that her mother was drunk all the time. Then the social workers got a hold of her. If you look at the documents that our attorney subpoenaed for trial, you can see how she was feeding Chris’ step daughter information and rewarding her when she parroted the right answers.
You have to remember that in the beginning she never complained about Chris and only complained about her mother, her primary caregiver, being drunk. After a while she changed her story and said Chris molested her and that my mom changed the lock the door of her bedroom in our house to keep Chris out. The only locks we had were the locks that were on all the doors when we bought the house. We had no keys to any of them and my mom specifically told her not to lock her door so she didn’t get locked in by mistake. The social worker implanted false memories in the child.
The records showed how the social worker suggested all these things to Chris’ step daughter and rewarded her if she said that she remembered being molested by her step father. This is a common tactic but Chris’ lawyer couldn’t cross examine her about it because it would look like he was taking advantage of a vulnerable little girl.
Of course she didn’t want to go over all that. She had already committed to a new version of events which she totally believed in by that time. Chris’ lawyer couldn’t ask her about it without her becoming upset and crying. The jury took her side and never listened to what the records said. They were too dry and boring.
Against his lawyers instructions Chris insisted that he never did drugs even though there was overwhelming evidence that he did do drugs. This destroyed his credibility because like most drug addicts he never could admit to having a habit.
In his first trial it was a deadlocked jury and the second trial lasted until the last day before Thanksgiving and they came up with a quick verdict – guilty so they could be home with their families for the holidays.
Chris had been dealt a bad hand. (there but for fortune go you or I ). He overdosed on heroin after our dad’s funeral when David and I left to go back home and he was all alone.
I can’t say that I blame him for putting an end to his life. He was a convicted sex offender with serious consequences. He faced the force of a society bent on holding him down to the point of oblivion.
A friend from Lowell said that she had seen a gang of grown men running after him banishing sticks and knives yelling that they were going to kill him. Chris told me that someone used a knife to cut up the tires on his bicycle. They found his tent and cut it up too. He couldn’t even stay overnight at my dad’s condo.
When he got out of prison he was a parole. It was like Jean Van Jean in Les Miserables. After getting caught stealing some bread for his sister’s starving children, Jean Van Jean was issued a yellow passport that forced him to live under severe restrictions. It identified him as a former convict and immediately branded him an outcast wherever he went. This is done today on the internet and in Chris’ case on Facebook.
Chris got divorced and was separated from his wife and children. His life had its ups and downs but he knew that he could always count on his parents for help.
After the trial it was a nightmare of drugs, prison (he always maintained his innocence) and the mean streets of the city. He was beaten up, conned and the other vagrants tried to steal everything that wasn’t nailed down. He couldn’t find a job and in the end he was homeless and living outdoors. He told me that he avoided shelters because they were where he was being threatened and persecuted.
He finally got a place to live in Lowell with his father paying rent. The apartment building in Lowell was eventually condemned and he ended up sleeping overnight on an acquaintance’s living room floor in Lowell.
Chris’ father was senile and his mother had died ten years earlier. And then he lost his father.
Before my father passed away, Chris had taken David and me for a walk across a bridge and down an overgrown trail where he had a tent standing in a clearing. This was his home; a canvas tent perched between the river and the railway tracks, invisible to from the streets of Lowell. He said that it was the only place he felt safe. He also liked visiting his old girlfriend Karen whom knew from before the trial. She believed in him and asserted his innocence.
After our dad’s funeral service he really had no one to talk to. He walked around tidying up and cleaning the leftovers. Then after everybody said their goodbyes and scattered off to their cars, I saw Chris standing by himself looking lost and alone. He looked like he felt left out. He had no place to go.
He loved his family too much. Then he went back to Lowell, went into his tent and overdosed on heroin.
We will never know if he did it on purpose or whether he overdosed accidentally. He knew the risk and took it. The Lowell police found his body a few days later. His life was tragic and he will be missed more than words can ever express. I love him maybe more than almost anyone who knew him because I was his sister.
There is one last thing that I would like to point out; because I am his sister, I believe in his innocence. However, even if he was guilty of a sex crime, the fact that he has never recommitted in fifteen years should count for something. Because, as he says, he won’t admit to something he hadn’t done he was branded as the most dangerous of sexual offenders. He knew he would wear that label for life. He couldn’t deal with a life where he had no place to go, no family and no place where he felt safe. In the end drugs was all that he had and they weren’t enough.