Thursday, October 13, 2005

10/13/05 Beautiful Boy

“Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful, Boy…...” Those are some of the words to a song by John Lennon called “Beautiful Boy”. Those are also words used by a mother to describe her young missing adult son. While he’s no longer a child as Lennon lovingly sings of in his song, her son will always be her child, regardless of his age.

The song continues:

“Out on the ocean sailing away
I can hardly wait
To see you come of age
But I guess we’ll both just have to be patient
’cause it’s a long way to go
A hard row to hoe
Yes it’s a long way to go

But in the meantime
Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you
While you’re busy making other plans….”

I don’t think this young man or his mother planned what happened in their lives. His mother lamented: “Whatever happened has cheated him out of his life. He should have finished college, married, had children, grown into a man's body.”

And yes, it’s been a long way to go for his mother.

Her pain did not decrease with the passage of time. It was evident in her writing and in her eyes when I saw her speak at the Cue Center Conference last April. Linda Miller is a beautiful woman. Her long blonde hair frames her face and her sad eyes. She fights to keep the memory of her son alive in the hearts and minds of others so that she can find the answer to the mystery of his disappearance.

Linda's son, Jeffrey Lee Ben, was last seen leaving his uncle's house at around 1am on January 29, 2001, right after their Super Bowl Sunday get together. A close knit-family, Jeffrey hugged his uncle and cousin good-bye. He drove his father's truck down the road. Just 15 minutes later, neighbors heard a crash and voices near a bridge on the Kiamichi River. Authorities say that Jeffrey missed a turn on Nine Pine Road and the truck slammed into a tree. There was little damage to the truck and also no evidence that Jeffrey was badly injured as there was no blood, and there was also no Jeffrey.

“…Close your eyes
Have no fear
The monster’s gone…”

His hometown, Clayton, OK, has a population of less than a thousand people. It's one of those places where everyone knows each other. That makes it difficult to fathom that no one knows what happened to Jeffrey. Whose voices did neighbors hear? One theory states that the river near where the crash site was swollen because of heavy rains in the area. Police were unable to search it at that time because the river level was unstable, although searches were done later on. Police, however, suspect foul play. There has been no activity on Jeffrey's bank account or credit cards since that night and no solid leads. The family has placed a lockbox near the accident scene so that tips can be given anonymously.

Since Jeffrey disappeared, two other young men--Joe Keys and Darrell Hammons, have also disappeared in the local area. Very little information is available about these cases. Linda fears that these cases may be tied to the drug activity that exists locally. "When drugs are involved, you just don't know," she said.

Family is very important to Jeffrey. When you read more about him, you get the strong sense that nothing would keep him out of touch with those whom he loves. He is a hugger, and demonstrating his love of family and friends was the norm for this popular and much loved young man. He was crowned the Homecoming King in high school, and was active in sports, including basketball and baseball.

In a strong parallel to my own son's story, Jeffrey dreams of being a sportscaster. He is a walking sports statistic machine, with phenomenal knowledge of a myriad of sports. I'd love nothing better than for these two to get together and compare their “internal” sports databases.

Linda describes Jeffrey: "He is the most beautiful young man in God's creation: tall, dark, handsome and physically perfect. I miss EVERYTHING about Jeffrey, his voice, his touch, his smile, his hugs, his scent, his presence,...EVERYTHING. Everything about his existence had meaning to me."

Although you cannot look at her, you can surely "see" the pain in Linda's words when she speaks of this life-changing event: "It has changed our lives forever. I have lost some of my innocent naivety. Our family circle has been broken and there is a sadness there that will never disappear until Jeffrey is home. I am frustrated by the lack of law enforcement aggression, laws that protect the criminals, and lack of empathy from others. It is not their problem. It does not affect their lives personally. It makes me angry that there is a coward out there that did this and is getting away with it.

I fear that something terrible happened that night and I cannot even bring myself to say that word. I pray constantly-I have two small children that keep me grounded and I know they cannot live without me. I have a daughter that I mean everything to me, and she cannot live without me, so I deal with what has happened to him by putting them first. It is a very hard thing to deal with and I have such vivid emotions at times that without God, I think I would have surely died."

Like so many of those of us who live in the “not knowing”, Linda wants to see change in how these cases are handled: “Let’s get laws changed so that every missing person case is treated as a possible homicide so that evidence will not be lost right from the beginning. The last place a person was should be searched without actual physical evidence of a crime. Let's take missing person cases seriously. Require law enforcement to take classes on how to react when a person becomes missing and know what to do.”

Linda is right in that these cases need to be taken seriously and action should occur immediately. Training is a huge issue in many jurisdictions. The money is just not there unless it becomes a priority.

She pleads: “Imagine for one moment that this is your child, feel that pain long enough to want to find this person. You are not promised a tomorrow so make sure today that your loved ones KNOW how much you love them and take time to enjoy every precious moment God gives you with them.”

“…Before you go to sleep
Say a little prayer
Every day in every way
It’s getting better and better
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy….”

Jeffrey is forever Linda’s beautiful boy. She is grateful for the 18 years she had with him. She won’t let him be forgotten, either. “We have an annual candlelight prayer vigil downtown Clayton where he disappeared from. We have a float in the annual homecoming parade for Jeffrey. The local media will then tell his story again. I put articles in the paper from time to time. These efforts tell this town that we will not forget Jeffrey.”

For now, Jeffrey lives on in her memory but Linda has hope she may kiss him goodnight once again, and that he will be there to return her love with his strong embrace in the morning.

“…Darling, darling, darling, darling Jeffrey.
Goodnight Jeffrey, see you in the morning.”

Please learn more about this “beautiful boy” at his website http://www.jeffreyben.com/

Updated on 4/3/06 with a tribute to Jeffrey:
http://voice4themissing.blogspot.com/2006/04/4306-beautiful-boy-has-gone-home.html

19 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That makes me cry.
I am speechless. You know what I want to say. What I feel.
I know what you are going through. Be strong, even when you see no hope at all.

Women

They smile when they want to scream.
They sing when they want to cry.
They cry when they are happy and laugh when they are nervous.
They fight for what they believe in.
They stand up to injustice.
They don't take "no" for an answer when they believe there is a better solution.
They go without so their family can have.
They go to the doctor with a frightened friend.
They love unconditionally.
They cry when their children excel and cheer when their friends get awards.
They are happy when they hear about a birth or a wedding.
Their hearts break when a friend dies.
They grieve at the loss of a family member, yet they are strong when they think there is no strength left.
They know that a hug and a kiss can help to heal a broken heart.
Mothers come in all sizes, in all colours and shapes.
They'll drive, fly, walk, run or e-mail you to show how much they care about you. The heart of a mother is what makes the world keep turning!
They bring joy and hope. They have compassion and ideals. They give moral support to their family and friends.

However if there's one flaw in a mother, it is that they tend to forget their worth.

Elaine (elaineel@usc.edu)

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that makes me cry i cant belive jeffery died well hopefully he will come up and you guys will find him and bring him home well god bless him and his family!!!!!!!!

4:32 PM  
Blogger Kelly Jolkowski said...

We don't know that Jeffrey died, but we thank you for your kind thoughts.

10:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had the pleasure of meeting Linda in my high school years. I am currently 19 now she shed some light on my problems at the time and I hope and pray that one day someone will come corward with information and help uncover what truly happened that night. God bless you.

12:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello Linda I never got the chance to meet Jeffery and I hope that one day I can.I'm sorry that you are heart broken and i know that you are in pain I to have lossed my son for 8 years and now he is home with me!but I think I have some information about jefferys where abouts why dont you ask the cops to talk to John Paul Brumfield!he is in Antlers,Oklahoma I hope I have been some help.

7:18 PM  
Blogger Kelly Jolkowski said...

We have received word that Jeffrey has been found deceased. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family at this difficult time.

Kelly Jolkowski, author, Voice for the Missing

10:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have visited this site before and sent prayers up for Jeffrey to be found. I don't know what sent me here, today. I am so sorry for his Mother's loss. My thoughts and prayers are with his Mom and family. May God give each of you the strength you need now and forever. Blessings, Mother of a son, also.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello i truly hope that someday there will be a closure for you and your family. I will keep your son in my prayers and rember where ever he is he is with god and he is with you always and when your time here is done you will meet and hug that wonderful son again. love and kisses the riggs family

7:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

THIS CASE HAS EFFECTED SO MANY PEOPLE ACROSS THE COUNTRY, FOR YEARS WE SAW MISSING POSTERS AT STORES, AND EVERYTIME I WOULD SEND A PRAYER UP TO FIND THIS YOUNG MAN AND BRING HIM HOME TO HIS LOVED ONES. IT MAKES YOU THINK THAT THIS SORT OF THING HAPPENS EVEN IN SMALL CLOSE KNIT COMMUNITIES. TODAY JEFFERY WILL BE LAIN TO REST.... GOT BLESS HIS FAMILY, JEFFERIES TOIL IS OVER AND HE IS IN THE ARMS OF JESUS. DOREEN

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have met you before Linda at the health dept., and know that you are a great woman! You don't deserve the pain and aganie you are going through! I once heard out of a mans mouth "Elmer Masters", that it was ashame for what they did to Jeffrey! Please ask the police to question his brother Dewey Masters,and Jeffreys cousin Shannon Ben again! It may also be helpful to question Gentry Hopkins! I hope that this may be helpful to finding out the truth! And I pray that those who caused Jeffrey pain realizes that it could have been their child, and not just a kids from down the street! That it was wrong of them, and prayfully they will turn themselves in! May God Bless You, and the Family, Jeffrey left behind!

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Linda,

I just found out that it was Jeffery that they found. I'm truely sorry. My family and the Ben family have been friends. I grew up in Yanush. You and your family are always in my prayers!

Leonard Dean Kirkes

12:51 PM  
Anonymous sabrina estrada said...

I visit this amw's website quite often and the reason is because my fiance is an over the road truck driver and I go out on the road with him and you never know who you will meet or run into. I came across Jeffrey's profile a few months back and I was checking the site out again and happened to notice he was no longer listed as a missing person he was listed as a deceased person so I clicked on it and was saddened to read that he was found deceased. I know I dont know any of you guys nor did I know Jeffrey but to what I have read and seen on this site is he was a very loved person. I have a friend from elementary school that went missing from a local store less than 2 blocks from my house and even still to this day she has never been found. It has been almost 14 years and I hope someday her family will be able to get some answers. No one knows what happened except she waited outside the door of the circle k waiting for her sister to come out of the store and when her sister did she was gone. May God be with all his friends and family and hope you guys get all the answers you are looking for regarding his death. I wish my friends family would get some news of some kind just so we can all move on. I have four kids of my own and I couldnt imagine what I would do if one of them turned up missing. I would lose my sanity. My kids are my life. If anyone would like to contact me please feel free to do so at sabrinae2424@yahoo.com or aol.com. My prayers are with you all. God bless.

1:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

linda, hi it's me chris I just can't believe this all it brings a tear to my eye everyime i see him now! were the people above that were mentioned questioned i desperately want u to find the truth so the savage beasts can be brought down.......... with all the love i posess and may it keep u strong and going on! i love you linda and the rest of the family too!

6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i found this site through looking for a friend's website, he 2 is a missing person and has been for 3 years, i looked at jeffreys photo (one with him looking up at the camera)and tears just rolled down my face, u could just see in his eyes how caring and kind he was. i was saddened to see the positivly matched above his name, at least u know where he is now, may u take closure from that, u where blessed by an angel, he has made me take a new look on life, i wake up each day and thank god, he has give me another day, god bless u! jeffrey really does feel like a friend to me now! all my love, bec

8:11 AM  
Blogger Hildur Sólveig said...

Dear family, i'm greatly sorry for your loss... i accidentally stumbled upon this website. Jason was clearly an aspiring young man and enriched the lives of those around him. Be thankful and treasure all the great memories you shared :)
Love
Hildur

4:26 AM  
Blogger Hildur Sólveig said...

i'm sorry, i meant jeffrey not jason

4:27 AM  
Blogger Joe Feret said...

Just wanted to express my sympathy to Jeffrey's family. I read it and felt so saddened by it all. I hope it is all out in the open and someone pays for the pain they have made. Take care and God Bless!

Joe Feret

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Ben Family,

I am a resident of Mcalester, Ok. and I remember the photos that you had up everywhere and I prayed for him every time I saw one. He was a beautiful boy. I have been thinking about him lately and came on the internet today with intentions of seeing if he had been found yet. I'm so sad to find that he is no longer with us. My heart and sympathies go out to your family. I wish with all of my being that those responsible be brought to justice. Peace be with you all.

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's weird i'm from antlers oklahoma and everytime i go through antlers i still get chills seeing his picture up on that poster....it makes me wonder wat really happened and if we'll ever know the whole truth

1:08 PM  

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