Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Alex Teehee (Charlotte Sun)

Please keep this family in your prayers. I have no words. Just prayers, feeble and as humble as they are.

This family needs justice. They need it ASAP. And Alex? He needs to be able to rest in peace.

Family hopeful arrest will be made soon in death of Alex Teehee

Staff Writer

NORTH PORT -- This week marked the year anniversary of Alex Teehee's death, and his family has been told that people of interest have been identified and an arrest will be made in the near future.

On July 13, Alex, 20, was struck by a van while walking on the edge of Sibley Bay Street around 11 p.m. in Port Charlotte, where he had just moved from North Port.

He was flown to Lee Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead the next day.

Alex would have celebrated his 21st birthday June 16. He is survived by his two sons, who also celebrated birthdays in June -- Kaden turned 4 on June 23, and Eli turned 3 on June 2.

Alex's sister, Jana Thompson, said the family is doing all right.

"The boys are doing great," she said Tuesday. "My parents are doing OK. My dad is probably doing better than my mom.

"We want justice, and we're not ever going to be able to fully recover. And we can't grieve properly either, because we're distracted by the no arrests."

The family continues to offer a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect. Hand-written signs advertising it have been posted around North Port and Charlotte County.

Thompson said the Teehees have been apprised of the ongoing investigation being conducted jointly by the Florida Highway Patrol -- which is in charge of the investigation into Alex's death -- the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office and State Attorney's Office. She said the investigation is at a critical stage and so they have been asked not to make public comments about the investigation at this time.

In March, FHP Lt. Chris Miller said he understood the family is frustrated.

"We have not treated this as a cold case," Miller said at the time. "In fact, we have had new leads and have spent time investigating. What has made things hard is some of the witnesses have left the area."

FHP could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

"We believe that the individuals who are responsible for Alex's death have been identified, and we are hopeful charges will be forthcoming in the near future," Thompson said.

Thompson said there is also some survivor's guilt that comes into play "because you're enjoying life." She said there have also been a lot of misconceptions about Alex's death.

"He didn't take his own life, he wasn't involved in an accident, or suffer from a medical condition. Someone chose to take his life, and I think people don't understand that," she said. "People think we want attention, when we really don't. People don't think about the difference, and I think the grieving process differs in each instance."

Thompson said some of his friends still post messages on Alex's MySpace page, saying they can't get over his death.

"It affects everyone completely different. Hopefully everyone will learn from this, and learn that life isn't peaches and cream," she said.

On June 13, friends of the Teehee family held a fundraiser at Charlotte County Motorsports Park in Alex's memory. Children of the Milthaler family, also of North Port -- who Thompson called "rabid race fans" -- asked their parents if they could do something to honor Alex. The two families didn't really know each other well before Alex's death.

"I think, one of their older sisters knew Alex, and he had been over to their house. He was like a big kid, he always played with the little kids, so they really liked him," Thompson said. "And the parents, they were struck by him. They've been good to the boys, bringing them presents at Christmas and Easter. We're blessed to have them in our lives."

Thompson said her family just wants to make the community aware that there hasn't been an arrest.

"And we're confident that the people responsible are from North Port," she said. "We just don't want this to happen to someone else."

Anonymous tips about the Teehee case may be left at the Crime Stoppers tip line at 941-366-8477.

E-mail: annek@sun-herald.com