This letter by Melinda
Rector (Chris' aunt) explains what happened to Chris as well as anything
I've ever seen written:
My name is Melinda Pittman Rector and I am the daughter of Joe and Joy
Pittman. I want to share a little of them and our lives with you, so that
you may better understand our position.
So Many times since “that day”, I have had to ask myself, “What would mom
think?” or “what would daddy do?” Throughout the ordeal of the aftermath
and trauma since they were killed, I have followed the wisdom they both
instilled within me. That is what started me in on this journey and landed
me here, with this letter.
There are no words to accurately describe the days following their deaths,
for the loss of them in such a horrible manner left an indescribable
disbelief of the reality of the situation. Healing and grieving are
difficult processes in which a wide range of emotions must be sorted and
adapted back into a useable emotion for the continuance of our own
existence. It takes time. Had either my mother or my father, survived the
other in this tragedy, I would of course have to allow them the same
grieving process and fluctuation of emotion that all humans endure after
the loss of a loved one. My parents were wonderful parents but still human
after all. So when I think about what mom would think or do in this
situation, I can honestly say to you that I knew my mother well enough to
know that even in her grief, she would be searching for the “whys” of it
all. My mother, Joy, was compassionate and forgiving. My mother was also
strong in her determination as well as an analytical individual where it
came to issues that impacted her family.
I have no doubt, that my mother, if she were here today, would tell you
that it was not in her grandsons character to have reacted the way he did
that night. She would probably also tell you “That Thing” or that person,
was not my grandson”.
I also believe that she would be here for Christopher today, even knowing
she would have to relive the horrible details of that fatal night. Perhaps
she could fill us all in on how someone enjoys an evening at church with
her husband and grandson, stop to take a sunset photo on the way home and
then be murdered by your loved one, just a few hours later? This is a not
normal, at least not by our family values.
My Daddy, Joe Frank, was outdoorsman and hunter all the years I can
remember him. He was at ease with nature and could track an animal almost
of good as the top scout in an old western. We didn’t get by with much as
children because of his eagle eyes and his natural talent for deductive
Being daddy’s only girl, I got many lessons on trying to overcome my
emotions and thinking things through logically. So you see, I can tell you
what my daddy would have told me to do and what he would have done. He
would have told me to put aside my emotions and look at the facts. Find
the clues and track them back. He would have looked at the situation and
picked out the things that were not normal in its pattern, much like the
“find the hidden pictures in a picture puzzle he used to do with me”. So
he would have found the same abnormalities that I have found (and probably
more), and then he would have hunted down the source and done everything
in his power to stop it from ever taking a human life.
So here is where everything really started coming to together, when I
stated pulling out the abnormalities and correlating them with events.
My nephew, was normally quiet, shy, well mannered and a good sport about
things. Their mother abandoned both him and my niece at a young age. All
of the nearby relatives and family friends made sure that they never
lacked for love. They got a bigger family than most just to try to fill
the hole their mom left them with. Other “surrogate” moms came and went.
Not their fault. Life is just not fair sometimes. But “Nana & Pop Pop” (as
the grandchildren called my parents), filled the gaps quite well, so
things were pretty normal until 2001. Chris was turning 12 and getting
irritable, anxious and moody. He was not acting like himself, he was
acting like. <Pause> well <<>> a 12 year old boy hitting puberty. That was
what my mother and I concluded. It was what children do when they begin to
grow up. They start to hate their parents, get in scraps, sleep and eat a
lot, become grouchy and then break out in pimples.
Events seemed normal to us.
Then he ran away. Maybe this would be considered unusual behavior to most
people but not so much out of the norm that it was not manageable. It just
meant, that he was having problems adjusting or dealing with an issue.
There was a lot going on his life at the time and we knew he had some
adjusting to do.
I ran away from home when my little brother was born. I was 8 years old &
packed a peanut & butter sandwich in a handkerchief & took my dog Queenie
with me. I got scared at dusk & daddy came to bring me home. I was angry
that he had known where I was the entire time but so relived that he came
We talked about why I ran away & I was reassured that his love for me
would never falter because he more than enough love to go around for all
of us. I would always be daddy’s girl. He was right. Should I have been
sent to a detention center and/or put on antidepressants? I am so very
thankful that I was not.
The love that manifested in my heart from that day & the wisdom I
absorbed, gave me the stable footing I would need later in life.
My nephew’s attempt to flee his problems came at a different time.
Lifestream intervention: He was picked up by the Florida State Troopers,
at an interstate truck stop not too far from his home. He said he was
trying to catch a ride to SC to be with his Nana & Pop Pop. He was put in
an intervention program for runaway children and things really got weird.
Family was not allowed to visit.
My husband and I spoke with him while he was in the facility. He was
agitated, loud, rude and had difficulty focusing on the conversation. Not
normal behavior for Christopher but we could only guess it was the
influence of the incarcerated boys in within the facility, It wasn’t until
I got the highlighter out to organize some legal docs that I noticed that
Christopher was put on Antidepressants (Paxil) at the facility.
My brother complained to me that day that something was wrong with Chris
and did not feel he was safe or properly cared for there. He took him out.
Chris remained moody according to my parents but was beginning to settle
back down. My mom told me that the psychatrist at Lifestream recommended
that Christopher spend some time with them s o he could have some alone
quality time without his sisters. They thought it would do him good also.
They were also told to take him to counseling and follow up with a doctor
when they arrived. They did. He was prescribed Zoloft by Dr Nauuman.
I spoke to Christopher on the phone over the thanksgiving holiday and he
was not quite himself. I asked him what the trouble was and he complained
that the meds made him feel weird, that his skin felt like fire underneath
and he was having trouble sleeping. I told him to tell mom and dad how
they made him feel and to tell the doctor too when he saw him again. I
talked to mom and she said would take him for a follow up soon. She took
him to the doc on Monday and the doctor increased his dosage. By Weds, he
was expelled from the bus and my parents were killed. Not Normal by any
That person, that “thing” in handcuffs I saw that resembled my nephew, was
not my nephew. That Thing, with the black unmoving eyes of a shark & the
reddened ruddiness of a man run to hard in summer, was not my nephew. We
all felt an even greater loss then for Christopher was now among the dead
He remained in lock down or isolation a good portion of the first few
months of prison. Each visit was like visiting a zombie of sorts. He was
there and then he wasn’t. Mostly he wasn’t. Some visits, he looked down
continually at his shoes or was overly aloof. Other times he would fidget
and pace. His eyes were always darker and red rimmed. I tried to talk to
him but got very short replies. One of my questions was how he was
sleeping. He told me not very well but “they “ were giving him sleeping
pills to help him.
Then around March of 2002, I saw my nephew, my loving and kind nephew for
the first time since that horrible night. I cried.
I also asked his psychiatrist about his improvements and what was causing
him to improve so dramatically. I asked if Chris was still taking sleeping
pills. I found that there were no sleeping pills. Instead, the pills were
an antidepressant (paxil) and he was taken off them recently.
When everything is not normal and then normalcy returns, it was much
easier to see the most significant factor of change. No meds=normal
What would my daddy do? Do his very best to help Christopher rebuild his
Melinda Pittman Rector