AUGUST  17, 2008  8PM

 I WAS DOWNSTAIRS WORKING ON THE COMPUTER WHEN I RECEIVED A PHONE CALL FROM MY WIFE RONNI. BUT IT WAS UNLIKE ANY OTHER TIME SHE HAD CALLED FOR ME. THERE WAS SHEER TERROR IN HER VOICE! I WILL NEVER FORGET THAT SOUND.  HER VOICE WAS PAINED, IT WAS HARD FOR HER TO SPEAK. RONNI  WAS AT BINGO WHEN SHE RECEIVED A FRANTIC CALL FROM JULIE. SHE SAID VINNIE HAD JUST BEEN SHOT TWICE! 

SHE TRIED TO GET JULIE TO CALM DOWN SO SHE COULD FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED.  JULIE SAID THE POLICE WERE HOLDING HER IN HER CAR AND WOULD NOT LET HER GO. JULIE TRIED TO GET THE POLICE ON THE PHONE TO TALK TO US. SHE TOLD THEM THAT VINNIE'S MOTHER WAS ON THE PHONE AND COULD THEY TALK TO US TO EXPLAIN WHAT WAS HAPPENING, BUT THEY REFUSED TO GET ON THE PHONE. RONNI ARRIVED AT THE HOUSE MOMENTS LATER.

WE LOST CONTACT WITH JULIE AT THAT POINT. RONNI WAS IN HYSTERICS!  I CALLED JULIE BACK. SHE SAID THEY WERE TRANSPORTING VINNIE TO SPRINGFIELD HOSPITAL BUT THE POLICE WOULD NOT LET  HER GO WITH HIM. THEY KEPT HER THERE FOR 4-5 HOURS, IN HER CAR. JULIE SAID HER MOTHER WENT TO THE HOSPITAL BUT THEY WOULD NOT LET HER GO IN TO SEE VINNIE. WE WERE SICK WITH WORRY. WE DIDN'T KNOW IF HE WAS ALRIGHT OR NOT.

 I CALLED THE HOSPITAL AND ASKED ABOUT VINNIE. I TOLD THEM WHO I WAS BUT THEY SAID THEY COULDN'T GIVE ME ANY INFORMATION. THEN THEY HUNG UP ON ME. I CALLED THEM BACK AND AGAIN REFUSED TO TELL ME ANYTHING. NOW I WAS GETTING WORRIED. WE WANTED TO BE THERE WITH HIM BUT IT WAS A 3 HOUR RIDE SO BEFORE WE LEFT I WANTED TO MAKE SURE HE WAS THERE AND HIS CONDITION.

 

IT WAS NOW AROUND 9PM. I CALLED AGAIN AND THIS TIME INSISTED I SPEAK WITH SOMEONE IN AUTHORITY. I THOUGHT A DOCTOR WOULD BE GETTING ON THE PHONE BUT INSTEAD A SGT. O'NEILL GOT ON THE PHONE. I ASKED HIM WHAT HAPPENED AND HOW VINNIE WAS AND THAT WE WERE LEAVING TO HEAD DOWN THERE. HE SAID HE WOULD FIND OUT EVERYTHING FOR US AND GET RIGHT BACK TO US. TO NOT LEAVE UNTIL HE GOT BACK WITH US. BY NOW WE WERE OUT OF OUR MINDS WITH WORRY, ANXIOUSLY AWAITING SGT. O'NEILL'S CALL.

 

30 MINUTES WENT BY AND NO CALL SO I CALLED O'NEILL ON HIS CELL, WHICH HE HAD GIVEN ME. HE DID NOT ANSWER. ANOTHER 30 MINUTES  WENT BY AND STILL NO CALL . WE WANTED TO LEAVE TO GO THERE BUT WE DIDN'T KNOW IF HE WAS STILL THERE OR NOT. WE DIDN'T KNOW WHERE TO GO! SGT. O'NEILL WOULD NOT ANSWER MY CALLS. AGAIN NO ANSWER WHEN I CALLED HIM. THIS HAPPENED SEVERAL TIMES MORE WHEN WE DECIDED TO LEAVE TO GO DOWN THERE. IT WAS NOW AFTER 11PM AND WE STILL HAD NOT HEARD FROM HIM. I CALLED O'NEILL ONE LAST TIME AND TOLD HIM WE WERE ON OUR WAY DOWN!

 

5 MINUTES LATER I FINALLY RECEIVED A CALL BACK FROM SGT. O'NEILL. I SENSED SOMETHING TERRIBLY WRONG. HE ASKED IF WE HAD LEFT YET. I SAID NO. HE THEN SAID, AND I WILL REMEMBER THIS FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE BECAUSE IT WAS SO COLD AND MATTER OF FACT, "DON'T BOTHER TO COME DOWN. I HATE TO TELL YOU LIKE THIS BUT... A SHOCK WAVE SHOT THROUGH MY BODY BECAUSE I KNEW WHAT WAS COMING NEXT, ...YOUR SON PASSED AWAY ON THE WAY TO THE HOSPITAL!!

I SCREAMED OUT IN AGONY! "NO, NO ,NO, IT CAN'T BE!  PLEASE DON'T TELL ME THAT. IT FELT LIKE MY WHOLE SOUL, MY WHOLE BEING WAS JUST RIPPED OUT OF MY BODY! RONNI CAME RUNNING DOWN THE STAIRS WITH JASON AND VANESSA, SAW ME ON THE FLOOR SCREAMING AND KNEW! I WILL NEVER FORGET THE PAIN, THE ANGUISH, THE INTENSE AGONY THAT SWEPT THROUGH RONNI. SHE SCREAMED WITH AGONY, "NOOO! NOOO! PLEASE DEAR GOD NOOO!! NOT MY SON!

SHE TOOK THE PHONE AWAY FROM MY TREMBLING HANDS AND SCREAMED AT O'NEILL. "WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL US EARLIER? WE COULD HAVE BEEN WITH HIM?? WHY? WHY?" HE DID NOT ANSWER. WE FOUND OUT LATER VINNIE HAD ACTUALLY PASSED AWAY AT 8:39PM, YET WE WERE NOT NOTIFIED UNTIL NEARLY 3 HOURS LATER!! WE COULD HAVE BEEN WITH HIM!

JASON AND VANESSA WERE IN SHOCK. THE GRIEF THAT WAS ON THEIR FACES AND IN THEIR VOICES INTENSIFIED OUR PAIN! MY ANGUISH ONLY INCREASED WHEN I SAW MY FAMILY IN SUCH AGONY. I CANNOT EXPLAIN THE INTENSE HORROR IT WAS TO HEAR THAT OUR CHILD WAS MURDERED! 

AND IT WAS COMPOUNDED BY THE INSENSITIVE AND CALLOUS WAY BY WHICH WE WERE INFORMED! SGT. O'NEIL KNEW WHEN I FIRST SPOKE WITH HIM THAT VINNIE HAD PASSED AWAY, BECAUSE HE HAD ZIPPERED THE BAG VINNIE WAS IN! YET HE DID NOT TELL US UNTIL 3 HOURS LATER!

THEY DID NOT EVEN LET US GO DOWN THERE AND IDENTIFY VINNIE. TO BE WITH OUR SON! FOR SOME REASON THEY DID NOT WANT US DOWN THERE! WHY? WHAT WERE THEY HIDING?

OUR QUEST FOR THE TRUTH WAS JUST BEGINNING. OUR PAIN AND ANGUISH  HAD JUST BEGUN. IT WAS A JOURNEY INTO HELL!

 TIME AND EVENTS WERE NOW ALL JUST A BLUR. WE HAD TO CONCENTRATE ON BRINGING VINNIE HOME. THEY HAD TAKEN HIM TO THE MEDICAL EXAMINER'S OFFICE FOR AN AUTOPSY AND WE WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO BRING HIM HOME UNTIL THEY WERE DONE. WE HAD TO MUSTER ALL OF OUR STRENGTH TO MAKE ALL THE NECESSARY ARRANGEMENTS TO BRING OUR "LI'L VINNIE" HOME!

 WE  HELD EACH OTHER AND CRIED FOR HOURS! HOPING AGAINST HOPE THAT THIS WAS ALL A DREAM. THAT IT WAS NOT TRUE. BUT WE WERE RESIGNED TO THE TRUTH. THAT OUR SON WAS DEAD! MURDERED! HE DIED ALL ALONE. AND THAT HURT SO MUCH, THAT WE COULD NOT BE WITH VINNIE. WE COULD NOT HOLD HIM OR SAY GOODBYE. HE WAS IN A STRANGE PLACE, ALL ALONE AND WE COULDN'T DO ANYTHING TO HELP HIM...





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