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The phone rang in the middle of the night. I squinted in the direction of the alarm clock as Gene reached for the receiver. It was 12:35 a.m. Who would be calling at this hour? Listening to my husband, I instantly knew he was receiving dreadful news.

Gene pulled the receiver back and haltingly choked out the words. "J.P. has been arrested."

I was dumbfounded. What illegal act could my son possibly have done that would have resulted in an arrest? My husband continued speaking with tears spilling down his cheeks. "He's been arrested for the first-degree murder of Douglas Miller Jr."

My feet hit the floor as I tried to get out of bed, but my legs were incapable of holding my weight. I slumped to all fours. Nausea swept over me. I began crawling toward the bathroom where I could throw up, but everything was in slow motion. I had never before experienced shock. No strength. Wave after wave of nausea. Dizziness. I had to remind myself to breathe.

Thoughts began swirling in my head. This must be a mistake. Or a cruel joke. Perhaps it's a case of mistaken identity Maybe I'm living inside a horrific dream. Surely this news is not true. Someone is playing a perverse game. My son is not capable of taking the life of another human being, much less a premeditated act of such violence. This is not happening. My son is a dynamic Christian, He's a graduate of the United States Naval Academy. He defends American citizens; he doesn't destroy them. I will go back to sleep and wake up in reality.

Our daughter-in-law, April, was still on the phone and through hysterical sobs of her own, she verified that she had just received a call from Jason at a jail in downtown Orlando, Florida, and he had been arrested for the murder of her ex-husband. Gene ...

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August 2004

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