Thursday, December 18, 2008

Denise Amber Lee and setting the record straight

I've read countless blogs, news reports, stories etc... writing about Denise. First let me say most, if not all, have been very moving and supportive. Some are all too true but others have errors. I don't think the errors have been intentional. But it's a complicated case and it's very emotional. You almost have to harden your heart a bit to be able to write about this stuff because some of it is very unpleasant. But then other parts leave a person in awe. Those parts are inspiring. Denise's strength, her heart and her smarts were amazing. I don't know anyone who could have fought for her life harder, stronger and smarter than she did.

For those of you just learning of this story. I'll give you a brief synopsis of what happened to Denise on January 17, 2008. Sometimes I forget how much people DON'T know. Even people who think they do know, have the story skewed because of false information that was reported.

Anyhow, here is an attempt to dispel certain urban legends about Denise and to offer answers to popular questions.

1.) She DID NOT know Michael King.

2.) She WAS NEVER at the post office.

3.) She would NEVER leave her children alone unless she felt their lives were in danger. It is my belief she wanted to get the monster as far away from her children as possible.

4.) We can only speculate as to how Michael King got into the house. She may have answered the door. She was a very sweet person. The windows were open and he may have crept in. She may have thought it was Nathan coming home early. We honestly don't know.

5.) We have no clue as to why he picked Denise. She was a very quiet, sweet, unassuming individual. She was shy. But she was also beautiful. Even without make-up she was beautiful. She was wholesome, petite and simply a nice person. She wasn't in the wrong place at the wrong time. She was home. She wasn't a person to flaunt her boobies on the beach. She was modest. And she certainly wouldn't even have looked at a person like Michael King unless maybe he needed help. She was kind and caring. We know he was stalking at least two other women. We don't know if or for how long he may have been stalking her.

6.) We'll probably never get the truth out of Michael King. His stories have changed far too often.

7.) He's in jail. And the trial date has been moved back now to Aug 2009.

8.) The day she was taken we know Michael King met with an attorney and filed bankruptcy around noon. Then he went to a shooting range. An hour after he was done at the shooting range, Denise was gone.

All I can remember of that horrific day is being at work and receiving a phone call on the work phone. I work in a bookstore. It's unusual for me to receive calls at work. But, there I was being called over the loud speaker to the phone. To this day I've only received one other call at work and let me tell you the hairs on the back of my neck rose, I got goosebumps and didn't want to go anywhere near the phone. But on with the story. Mark, my husband, called to tell me Denise was missing. Huh? He told me Nathan had arrived home from work to find Denise gone. Both boys were home (Noah 2, Adam 6mo) and in the same crib but not Denise. I immediately wanted to have Mark pick me up to take me to the house. (I didn't think I could drive, I was so shaken). My boss kept asking me "would she leave?" "is she like that?" And I kept think "NO!!!" It was incredible. Mark was already on the way to the house so I did have to drive. Oh, was I praying. Shaking. Calling people. Speeding. Oh, I was bad. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it. Anyhow, I kept thinking. NO. Denise wouldn't leave. Then you start thinking.... Well, who knows what goes on in another person's marriage. Maybe she did leave. But it was still, NO! She worshiped the ground Nathan walked on and besides even if she hated Nathan (which she didn't) she would never have left the children.

I get to the house and it's totally surreal. Cops, helicopters, dogs, police tape. Nathan looking as if he's going through hell. (For those of you who don't know, I'm Nathan's mother). It was so heartbreaking watching him suffer and worry. I know I was in the way and he kept telling me I could leave but any mama bear knows you don't leave your young when they're in grave danger. And Nathan was a suspect. They always have to consider the spouse as a suspect. And I wasn't leaving. I tried my best not to hover. I tried my best to stay on the sideline. I tired my best to stay out of the way. But I wasn't going to leave him. He WAS MY BABY.

One thing that really bothered me about law enforcement that night. One of the Charlotte County officers (I won't mention his name) was almost flirting with me. I guess he was trying to make me comfortable. He was saying stuff like "your too young to be a grandmother........". He wasn't hitting on me, he was just annoying me with that talk. I tried to be gracious but..... it was just weird. Then later he kept wanting me to go over and distract and occupy Rick (Denise's father). He said "can't you distract him and talk to him for a while." As if Rick was in the way. I can't remember the exact words but he asked me to do that 3 or 4 times. I kept saying "Rick doesn't want me to do that" and "no, I can't".

Geez, my son's a suspect, my daughter-in-law is missing, I'm a wreck wondering if she could've left on her own, I'm thinking the unimaginable, knowing the worst and that just seemed bizarre to me. And I say I knew the worst because in my heart, I knew for a fact, Denise would never leave Nathan and the babies of her own free will.

Now this is where I'm going to have trouble separating the emotional parts of what we were experiencing as a family and what was going on at the sheriff's office.

I think I'm going to stick with my experiences first, at least, for that first night. Then tomorrow I'll get into what went on in the CCSO. And I'll alternate.

So, at the house we don't know what to do. All the babies clothes, bottles, diapers, sheets etc... were in the house. Of course, the house is sealed off because it's a crime scene. Earlier, Sue (Denise's mother) had taken the babies to her house. Nathan's being questioned. The North Port investigator was very kind. He needed to ask Nathan some horrific questions because he was a suspect but he also knew that he could possibly be a victim.

Then we get news that Denise was alive. That she was definitely abducted and that she made a 9-1-1 call from her captors cell phone where she stayed on the line 7 minutes. Poor poor Rick. He had to listen to it to verify it was indeed his daughter and not a prankster.

You wouldn't believe the nut cases that come out during these kinds of tragedies. It's awful.

so HOPE! She's alive. She's smart. She's still in North Port. She confirmed what we had been saying all along that she was taken against her will. Oh the beautiful brave baby. I'm in tears thinking of how smart she was.

Then another 2 hours go by and nothing. Nothing. No sign of her. Where'd they go? The police go to Michael King's house and no one is there. There's hair and duct tape but no persons.

Huh? We're all in disbelief.

Finally around 9 PM they tell Nate to go home. Rick stayed and assured Nate he'd call. But Nate needed to see the babies. So, I had to drive Nate home. It was awful. We were both numb. He kept saying "I hope he hasn't hurt her" because we're still thinking she's alive. We're stopped by a cop who shines a flashlight in our car. We don't tell him who we are but we're thinking "wow, their searching everybody". This is good. The exits on and off of I-75 are closed. We're thinking this is good.

But then the phone call at 9:15PM. We're almost home when Rick called Nate. Poor poor Nate. Rick says they found Michael King, they found the car, and they found her ring, but not Denise. This we know isn't good.

I was driving. Oh my. What do you do? Your son's life is being shattered before your eyes and there's not a damn thing you can do. Oh the hell.

So, I take Nate to Rick and Sue's to stay so he could be close to Rick and any news. He's broken up. It's more than any person can stand. The not knowing. The pain.

I picked up Noah and brought Noah home with me. Sue kept Adam.

At our house Mark had picked up his mother who was in the guest bedroom prostrate with grief and worry.

The boys didn't have any of their toys from home. The cops picked out some clothes from the house and threw them in a clothes basket. They sent them out of the house for the boys. In the basket were some of Denise's clothes and underwear (it was awful) and not one matching pair of socks for the babies. No stuffed animals, no favorite toys just mismatched clothes.

added edit: We had to go out and buy diapers, bottles, wipes, Binkys, clothes, socks, food, formula etc...... IMO that was bizarre. Thank goodness we had the money. This stuff's expensive. Imagine poor families who have lost loved ones to murder and they don't have an extra $150 to go out and start buying stuff. Plus, we're numb. It's midnight. And we have to go shopping at Wal-Mart? Poor Mark. He's the one that had to do that. He didn't know what he was shopping for. These are the things you don't think of. And all the while we're not knowing where Denise is.

Too surreal for words.

It was too sad to be a nightmare. There's no word to describe it.