I don’t know why Jannifer has been on my mind lately.
Sometimes I think it is odd how a person’s life and death can affect someone.
Jannifer was someone I thought I was going to get to know better, and then didn’t get to do so. My friend Leslie ran a program popular with a lot of homeschoolers called Children’s Garden, and Jannifer had generously allowed full use of her house for the myriad of art writing and music activities Leslie had created for them. Jannifer herself wasn’t there during Children’s Garden most of the time. I do have memories of Jannifer handing over delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies to a swarm of kids; her helping with the May Day Maypole dance (Leslie was famous for these…..what a tangled cheery funny mess!), and sharing a rolling eyes humorous moment when her son and Leslie’s son had been tormenting my daughter Jenna with a dead lizard. Jannifer was easy to be around and possessed a very kind and bright spirit.
Nine years ago, I got the children herded like cats into the van and headed to Leslie’s house…..Children’s Garden hadn’t been held at Jannifer’s for some time. I rarely watched or listened to the news so was oblivious to what was going on in the world. Hopped out of the van and was immediately greeted by Leslie flooding with tears with the news of Jannifer’s murder. I and other moms did our best to shake of the daze of the how – what – why – impossible – no no no no no no no! experience so that we could be there for Leslie whose pain was like that of someone who had lost a sister.
The Herald Times description of that day is here:
A normally quiet neighborhood southeast of Bloomington awakened to sounds of gunfire and police helicopters early Tuesday morning.
Most of the residents of Bluebird Lane and Robin Road were moved to safety or evacuated from the neighborhood between 4:30 and 8:30 a.m., after a report of a man with a gun was received by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.
Robert Boles shot his ex-girlfriend, Jannifer Cockrell, while she slept in her home on Bluebird Lane.
Because Boles was armed, police blocked off the area and evacuated many of the neighborhood’s residents while they searched for the man, who later shot himself in a nearby wooded area.
About 15 people, including Cockrell’s 14-year-old son, were evacuated by bus about 8:20 a.m. and taken to Jackson Creek Middle School, where the Red Cross set up a shelter in the school’s auditorium.
Prior to all of this Robert had doused his apartment with gasoline and set his apartment complex on fire destroying his and his neighbor’s apartment and sending all of the residents out onto the street for safety. He then gained entry into Jannifer’s house, let her 14 year old son outside, and proceeded to kill Jannifer.
Jannifer had a restraining order against this man. He had transformed from a person who she had thought cared about her into someone whose intense hobby was to control her and make her miserable. He was very good at his hobby. There were plenty of people who spoke about how nice of a man he was and how shocking it was that he would do such a thing. This is a very honest truth from their perspective. What people don’t realize is that most abusive partners look and act just like the rest of us in their non-intimate relationships. The clues you will get about abusive partners are going to come from their victims, not from the abuser.
As I said at the start, I am baffled as to why Jannifer has been popping into my head so much. It bothered me and I looked it up…..the anniversary of her death is tomorrow. I don’t think its about not letting go of grief. Perhaps it is a need to examine it. I am getting older….she’d be 53 going on 54 now, just like me. She would still be playing her mandolin and I’d be still wishing I could make music like that.
If you have a chance to share a Maypole dance with a bunch of kids please do so and sing and dance a bit for Jannifer too.