There have been many rumors about what happened, and they are hurting my family. I'm telling you this story hoping that if someone tries to tell you differently that you will correct them. The worst and scariest time in my life has happened just recently.
I almost always do my homework in my room-except for that night, I was in the living room giving my speech to my parents. My little brother was in his room messing around, when he heard a strange noise. He came running out of his room screaming, "There's something out there! Something broke Naomi's window!" We didn't believe him, we told him to go look outside. Slowly, he made his way toward the door with a flashlight in his hand. After a few seconds he came running back in saying, "There's someone in the garden." We all laughed at him, (we thought he was playing around). "That's a good one Bill," my dad said. Billy, in tears, said "It's not a joke!" My mom made my dad go outside and look, I went along.
We were standing outside when my dad shined the light over the garden not expecting to see someone, maybe just a deer. Slowly, the light moved over every aspect of the garden, when bam! We saw it-a butt hanging out from behind the tree. We were all in shock. Then dad asked the person, "Are you ok, do you need help, who are you?" The person jumped up and ran toward a beet field on the other side of the road. "Go get the pickup!" shouted my dad. Billy ran and fetched the pickup. By the time he brought it over, my dad had followed the person over to the road where they had jumped the ditch.
Using the lights off the pickup my dad shined them over the field the person went into. While my dad and Billy were outside, mom and I stayed in the house. I called the police and talked to the operator most of the time everything was going on outside. After about ten to fifteen minuets, the cops showed up. By then the perpetrator had hidden in the field. Two of the sheriffs' deputies started the search while the other took our statements. One of the officers came and talked to me last. He looked at my window and searched the area (my bedroom) for any usable prints for evidence. When he finished he asked me to call the nearby neighbors and tell them what was going on and to keep an eye out.
Almost everyone I called came out and helped search. Even my brother came, and with him his wife, kids, and a couple of friends. They all split up and took an area. They were out searching the ditches, fields, roads, lots, and anywhere else they could think of. In a way, I found relief in the way everyone came together to find one person; it made me proud. They were out searching till around midnight-that's when the cops decided to look other places. Personally, I think they just gave up. The neighbors kept looking several hours after the cops had left. I had to stay by the house most of the time, because if I did find the person, they might try to take or hurt me. That is what I was told at the time anyway. In the end, we still did not find the person. Now, I had a broken window and a deep fear that the man would be back. I could not bear to sleep in my room that night, or the next, for that matter.
The next day my family and I went to Wal-Mart and Home Depot to try and get some plexi-glass to put over my bedroom window that had been broken. My window is unfixable. The rails had been bent to the point of breaking. The plexi was going to be installed that evening, so I could sleep in my room again. While we were in the check out aisle we got the call, the call that hurt me more than any criminal could have. The call that told us that Mike had died. "How could that happen? Why? Who found him? Was he alone when it happened?" All these things ran through my mind. I tried to hold back the tears but I'm not that tough. I ran to the bathroom and cried; I just wanted to be alone. When I got myself under control I went back out to my family, who looked as bad as I felt. I would have been fine but my sister had to hug me, and again I started to cry. I didn't want to make a scene but at that point I didn't care any more.
For the next few hours I was numb, and thankful that I was. I didn't know what to say or do, but then I didn't really care. All I could think about was everything Mike had done for me. He was my tutor, my friend-someone that I could come to for anything. If my family or I ever needed help, Mike was there for us. That night I slept in my own bed; I didn't care that we hadn't fixed the window yet. I wanted to cry alone, not on the couch. That night and every night after, I have had a nightmare about what could have happened to him. The next day we found out that he was found in a ditch, and his arms were crossed over his chest. The coroner said that he'd had a heart attack. Our first thought was of how we had asked him to help us look for the perpetrator. We all felt so bad. "Had he died defending his neighbors, searching for the intruder?" With this thought you can understand how upset my family was when rumors started flying. Everyone wanting something to gossip about, forgetting what a good man Mike Barlow was, forgetting all that he had done for so many people, always trying to help someone, always there for those who needed him. People started calling all the time, asking "Did Mike do it? Was he the intruder, the guy you were looking for?" UNBELIEVABLE! Have they nothing better to do than to spread vicious rumors and stories. How dare they try to sit in judgement. Believe me, it is no humanly being that has a right to judge another. Only God has that right!
On the day of Mike's funeral we got a call from Mr. Ellsworth. He told my dad that there was a rumor going around that dad had ran Mike over with the four-wheeler, and that is what killed him. ARE YOU SERIOUS? Hearing this, my dad fell apart. Mike was like his brother; they were best friends. On top of that, just a couple of days before, a man at the store was arguing with my dad about what happened that horrible night. That man was not even there that night. Hearing that information, my dad fell apart-that was the first time I ever saw my dad cry, and that was the scariest part of my life. Now that you know the story, please don't help hurt my family or Mike's poor family anymore. Do not let people ruin Mike's legacy. A legacy of a man who served his country bravely, and who gladly served his fellow man without selfish thought. Remember, rumors are a deep root of evil, and the only place the root goes is down.