The third strike of murder

This story starts what seems like a million years ago… in December of the year before last. After the injury, but before surgery.

I started talking online to a guy I will call Chef.

Chef was a guy a few years younger than me, living in the same town but on the opposite side. About a 20 minute drive or so away.

Shortly after we started talking, he’d told me he was essentially only looking for friendship, which was completely fine with me.

He told me that he had full custody of his 5 year old daughter… that her mother was a mess who lived with her parents and had all sorts of men in and out of her life… that he’d found out she was cheating on him with multiple guys when she found out that she was pregnant and wasn’t sure if he was the dad. They split, then divorced… tried joint custody until she was 3 but the mom just wasn’t keeping her end of things and was leaving her own parents to deal with the girl while she was with various men (and was frequently unable to keep a job), so he went back to court and got full custody, but still had a very good relationship with his former in-laws, so they still had his daughter about one weekend a month and off and on other times, and so the girl’s mom got to see her while her parents had her over.

He also told me that his wife had been his high school girlfriend, so he’d been extra heartbroken… and so hadn’t dated since out of a mix of being the stable parent and keeping his daughter protected from people coming and going into her life, and just his own being very unsure of himself around women.

Completely made sense… totally understood… not an issue.

So we became friends.

And we chatted, a lot.

He was on disability for several different medical conditions, so he was home during the day.

So we chatted off and on during the day… when things were slow at work… when I couldn’t sleep at night.. while making dinner… just whenever.

Chef had a background pretty similar to mine as far as employment.. working at various call centers, and having worked in a small town as a police dispatcher.

But, he loved cooking, and hoped to someday get the medical conditions under control enough to be able to work professionally as a chef.

In working with the medical conditions, he was also in the process of losing a ton of weight… so he was a great resource in chatting about making things healthier while still keeping them tasting decent, and of ideas on trying to get my extremely picky eater to try things.

At one point, he had shown me his concealed carry permit photo to show me the weight loss difference, so I knew he had no major legal troubles in his past, or massive mental health issues. He’d talked about guns and stuff before, and sent me pics of his… and talked about taking me to the range with him sometime to show me the differences in styles, so this wasn’t any sort of shock or anything that he had it, or that he carried a gun on him at times.

So, we talked about food a lot, and single parenting, and just general life. He was someone I could talk to about how life was really going without feeling like I was just whining at them all the time or having them start to act like I might be suicidal or something… and I liked hearing all about his day, seeing pics of his daughter being silly with him, and just how things were going with him when a lot of times his life was rocky physically.

And given that I was really low on friends to just talk with in general, it was a welcome addition.

But, as might be expected, things got highly flirty, mainly taken there from his side.

We met in person a couple of times… brief times for lunch, etc.

The first time, I was pretty surprised that things in person were completely non-flirty. At all.

I considered a comment at one point, but decided that it was probably best knowing his situation to leave that ball in his court, and just wrote it off that he was nervous from the lack of experience with females and the pressure of hoping the in-person matched the already stronger online friendship.

So, back online, the flirty nature was back. So, ok. Maybe he’s just not quite sure if he wants to go there yet. I just sort of shrugged… didn’t worry about it too much. I rather liked him, but I was enjoying the friendship too, so whatever happened or didn’t happen, I figured it best just to play it by ear and leave it in his court still.

But after a time when he’d come over in the afternoon and watched a movie with me, sitting right next to me but making no contact even on hand holding… after having been really direct more than usual beforehand (telling me he wished I could come cuddle up and take a nap with him instead of going to work), I was starting to pretty much figure that he was interested personality-wise, but not interested physically.

So.. this went on… for 4 or 5 months.

And then, out of the blue, he disappeared.

I’d been talking to him about 9pm one night… he dropped off like he had gotten busy… but then, I just never heard from him again.

Now, I knew that he was only online from his tablet… and didn’t have a computer… and was supporting his kiddo on just his disability income with no child support help, so replacing it was unlikely if it had been broken. So, my first thought was actually that he was having technical problems, because he also stopped posting on facebook completely.

So, I sent the random occasional "miss you" messages, which were never marked as received, but that I figured he would get when he came back online.

I knew that his cell phone was a flip phone, an "obamaphone" as they get called that was a government sponsored one that only had like 250 minutes a month and deducted a minute for each text, that he only used for communication on kiddo visitation stuff. And that he had issues with the ex running him over minutes, which he was pretty sure was intentional on her part.

So, even though I had his number, I didn’t want to call.

But as time went on, more and more I wasn’t sure anymore that I wasn’t just in denial over being ghosted. That maybe he’d gotten a new girlfriend, or back with the ex as he’d mentioned that she still wanted to get back with him…. and he just didn’t want to go through the awkwardness of telling me that he’d really been interested more in a romantic prospect than a friend and so no longer had an interest. Or maybe he was seeing if it panned out first, before committing to ending possibilities.

It seemed like since he had my number as well, as well as knowing where I lived, that if he had just had technical and financial issues, he would have made some sort of contact to let me know that.

So, with his birthday coming up, I was considering sending him a physical card.

I had his address, but I wasn’t really sure how well it would be received even if it was just as friends… with his daughter and/or a new gf seeing it.

So, knowing he was close to his brother, I decided to facebook stalk his brother… mainly looking to see any pics that might show Chef with a female, or any mentions of something similar.

Instead, I saw a post, asking if anyone wanted a pet rabbit or cat, and giving descriptions of Chef’s daughters pets. Pets I knew their names, and had multiple pics of.

This was very odd. Maybe he was having serious financial issues and moving in with the brother?

But then, on the comments, someone had asked why he was giving them away… and the brother replied something to the effect that "family issues, they are out of my brothers house, that we don’t have space to take in"

Ok… so maybe moving in… but… it just didn’t sit right.

In particular, the way he’d referred to it as "out of" the house.

Knowing Chef’s medical issues…. I opened a browser window.. and searched for his name in the local paper website… fully expecting to see an obituary.

I fully expected to find out that he’d passed away.

It pulled back a lot of results…

But nothing of what I was expecting.

Instead, it gave me news articles.

Articles that detailed a local shooting… of a man who had shot his wife, claiming that the gun went off when he was removing it from the holster… while his 5 year old daughter slept in the next room.

Just after midnight, on the night that Chef stopped talking to me just a few hours earlier.

Of the initial arrest under involuntary manslaughter.

Reading the article about the gun, and by the discussion of possibility of it misfiring, knowing exactly which of his guns he’d had on him, and that I had pics of it.

Of the second arrest, under second degree murder charges, after they’d decided they had enough to suspect it might have been intentional but not planned.

Reading the affidavit published about the arrest, that he’d been driving around just prior with a former fiancé, complaining about his marriage.

Realizing that if that’s the main thing the change in charges was about, that the entire affidavit was about… that it mentioned he’d described his marriage as rocky… that he wasn’t happy with her… that if that’s all that they had on motive, then it was very likely that his sometimes heavy flirting with me mainly through facebook messenger was very likely to have been read during the process of a murder investigation, and that the messages he’d sent to me were probably just as likely to be used to support motive as the conversation with the ex-fiancé that was based on her account, not written proof.

Reading the memorial pages and comments on pages about his ex that wasn’t actually an ex. Wondering if maybe they’d been apart but gotten back together, or maybe she’d just been visiting and they’d been apart but not formally divorced legally and that was why she was listed as his wife… but seeing no signs at all of anything like that to the story. Actually, it mentioned he’d left the house earlier in the evening while she was giving the kid a bath.

Reading the article about the charges being changed again after the preliminary hearing, now to first degree murder. Planned. Intentional.

After the whole incident with the sex offender, I’d joked a bit about not being able to do much worse short of finding an axe murder to date.

I now regretted that statement.

It’s now been more than 6 months since I found out.

To my surprise, I’ve still never been contacted in any way by anyone about my connection to him. It’s a murder case based on a rocky relationship as motive, they have to have done the obvious things like obtain facebook messages. But then, it’s pretty obvious if they read them that I was completely oblivious, so maybe the messages he sent to me are the only ones that really matter much. It’s not like I’d have much to add that wasn’t already covered in a more easily proven form.

Honestly, my thoughts are still really mixed about this whole mess.

On one hand, I honestly still miss him.

I miss his friendship.

I wonder how he’s doing.

I’ve thought about writing him.

The jail system here does video visitations, which you can do in video rooms at the jail, but you can also do at home with a webcam. I find myself wishing I could just talk to him.

But, I know, that anything at all involving me right now would be highly likely to be used against him.

I find myself wanting to believe in the story that he gave, that it was an accident…. because I have a really hard time thinking that the guy that I knew, my friend, could ever do something like that.

As much as he was always all about his daughter, I find myself using that as proof…. that I don’t think that he’d ever have done anything like that because he wouldn’t have wanted to hurt her… to have her lose her mother, no matter what his feelings about the mother.

But then, I find myself reminded that never would I have ever believed that he’d been completely lying to me about being married.

Never.

Like with K, I just can’t merge the two sides… the caring friend and the total liar.

I remind myself… that as much as I felt like I knew him, so very much of it was completely and totally made up.

It’s not like it was just his legal status on a piece of paper. Everything he told me about daily life with just him and his daughter… everything he told me of his feelings and past… mr "hurt by first girlfriend turned wife" somehow had a former fiancé, so where in the world was all of the heartfelt stuff he’d told me coming from but thin air?

How is it even a friendship when that much of it is filled with utter baloney?

I miss the boy that I cared about, and that cared about me… but… most of the time I now realize it’s not that he’s gone, it’s that he never really even existed.

I miss my naïve trust… and the smiles it brought even when it was actually completely an illusion being fed to me by someone intentionally choosing to deceive me.

But maybe most of all… I miss feeling like this world is an ok place. I miss not having to wonder if someone who appears to love me like crazy is actually seriously a complete mess but hiding it well, if the sweet guy I’m falling for is actually a guy who has spent time in prison for sexual things he did to a 9 year old girl, and if my buddy or more that spends huge amounts of time talking with me is actually just feeding me a fantasy world.

I came to the realization… that if this were not my life, I wouldn’t actually really believe someone telling me the story of my past few years with guys. I mean, really? If I were writing this in a novel, it would be mocked for being too unrealistic. On this last round, I actually sent direct links to the news articles and chef’s online profile to people that I was explaining the situation to who were out of town, just because I don’t think I’d have believed it if I were them otherwise.

What in the heck happened to this planet?

And can someone please remove the blinking neon "kick me" sign that appears to be hanging over my head somewhere marking me as a target? It’s not like I’m just a completely clueless gullible idiot here who thinks everyone is sweet and innocent… you’ve all ready all of my rather cynical friendship rantings on here… how in the world are these people getting past so easily?

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