Hope for Jimmy: Father reflects on missing son’s struggle with addiction | New
CHARLES TOWN – Gary Kerns still hasn’t given up hope for his missing youngest son, Jimmy, 39.
“I don’t know if something happened this time that couldn’t bring him back. I don’t know, said the father. “Everyone thinks he could walk out the door. All the details I hear, it doesn’t sound right, but we don’t know anything for sure yet.
These details are part of a missing person case for James “Jimmy” Kerns of Ranson, a father of three who has struggled intermittently for two decades with drug addiction.
It was a drug addiction that put Jimmy in dangerous situations surrounded by questionable people.
“He made some bad choices, and I guess he made a career out of it, that’s what happened,” Gary said. “It’s a shame. It’s a fucking shame.
Police initially charged an acquaintance of Jimmy in connection with his disappearance within the past eight weeks. Then on Monday, police charged another acquaintance with his alleged murder. Charles Wilbert Cook Jr., 40, of Kearneysville, faces a charge of second degree murder. Amanda Lynn Frey, 41, recently from Gerrardstown and previously from Hagerstown, Md., Faces a felony charge for concealing a human body that police believe is Jimmy’s.
Jimmy’s body has not been found. But a motel mattress stained with human blood and bodily fluids led the police to lay criminal charges in the case.
On May 30, Jimmy’s brother reported him missing and police launched a public appeal for information on June 27. This same police notice also requested information to help locate Frey.
According to police, Frey was staying with Cook in room 120 of a Motel 6 off the coast of US 340 at the time of Jimmy’s disappearance. Jimmy was known to visit the motel to acquire the illegal street drugs that numbed his mind and crushed almost all his ambitions except chasing the next summit.
Initially, Frey allegedly told someone police would not yet name that Jimmy had died of an overdose, according to a criminal complaint filed in Jefferson County Magistrate’s Court. She reportedly told the person that she had tried to revive Jimmy with an injection of Naloxone, but the medicine used to stop the opioid overdoses had not worked. She then claimed that she and Cook buried Jimmy’s body in the woods next to the motel, police reported.
A group of local police searched the woods and discovered a backpack containing Jimmy’s personal belongings. But his body has not been found.
Meanwhile, the blood detected on the stained mattress and in the sink and tub in Room 120 did not match Frey’s version of events.
Then on Monday, while awaiting a preliminary hearing in Jefferson County Magistrate’s Court on human body concealment, Frey changed his story, according to court documents.
When questioned at the Eastern Regional Jail where she was being held, she argued that Jimmy died after Cook stabbed him in the chest with a pocket knife during an argument in the hotel room on the evening of the May 24. After Jimmy’s death, Frey claimed that Cook and another man put Jimmy’s body in a dumpster behind the motel.
When questioned repeatedly by police, Cook, the person who rented room 120, whom he last saw Jimmy on May 24. That day, Jimmy had fallen asleep in the motel room, and Cook and Frey woke him up and made him leave, according to statements Cook gave to police.
Cook told police Frey and Jimmy “didn’t like each other” and that he and Jimmy “had a few minor arguments, but they never got physical,” according to a criminal indictment document.
Held at the Eastern Regional Prison instead of $ 500,000 bail, he awaits court hearings on the murder charge, for which a conviction can carry a sentence of up to 40 years in prison. .
During this time, a conviction for concealing a human body carries a sentence of one to five years in prison or a fine of not less than $ 1,000 and not more than $ 5,000.
Frey is serving a 90-day prison sentence at the Eastern Regional Jail for illegal drug possession. Police found drugs in her purse when they arrested her at a Gerrardstown apartment on July 6 on charges of missing Jimmy Kerns.
In a conversation last week, Gary Kerns said he had kept his distance from the police investigation, but was aware of some details. “The hotel room and the way they found it doesn’t sound right,” he admitted. “They got the girl who was in the room with him.”
He said he had never known or heard of Frey before.
Although Gary has said he appreciates the thoughts and prayers people have offered Jimmy, he does not accept condolences for the slightest idea of his son’s passing. Speculation about Jimmy’s disappearance has spread on social media and Gary is keen to correct the inaccurate claims that Jimmy’s body was found.
“They don’t yet know what happened,” he said then. “It’s still under investigation as far as I know.”
On Tuesday, after hearing about the murder charge filed against Cook in the death of his son, Gary said he was preparing for any such news.
“I expected a phone call,” he says.
A father’s point of view
Gary describes his youngest son as a good, outgoing and sympathetic person. “It’s always been a lot of fun to be around him – lots of jokes,” he said.
But Gary also admits the many years of heartache, worry, and bewildering frustration that Jimmy’s addiction has brought with it. In some ways, the father started to lose his son years ago.
Drugs entered Jimmy’s life when he was around 18 or 19. Keeping track of Jimmy was difficult. He has become elusive. He slipped away for days and weeks when his family didn’t know where he was. Over time, they figured out what he was doing when he was gone.
Emergency injections of Naloxone saved Jimmy from fatal overdoses at least twice before his family knew it.
“You kind of lose touch and then you kind of stay away,” Gary said of his son’s life as a heroine. “I did a lot for him, as much as I could for him. It hardens your heart, mate. It does. “
Jimmy was a good worker and he had good jobs and employment opportunities, Gary said. Jimmy worked as a waiter and bartender at the Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown. His last job, before the pandemic, was a union position in a sheet metal shop in the Washington metro area. But few of those jobs lasted because of drug addiction, Gary said.
The best and longest time of his adult drug-free life was when he lived with one of his brothers for about a year and a half, Gary said. His brother tried to keep an eye on Jimmy, but Jimmy didn’t really like someone looking over his shoulder.
Yet Jimmy had amassed money in the bank and he was paying his bills. “Then he came back to the same thing. “
In the face of addiction
In cycles of hope and then failure, Jimmy repeatedly tried to quit drugs. Family sacrifices and interventions did not last either. Half a dozen times or more, her family pooled her savings to send her to rehab treatment centers costing thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, he returned to drugs each time thereafter.
Then there was the seemingly endless turnstile of court hearings and meetings with defense attorneys and addiction counselors that went unresolved. Gary attended so many of them. Jimmy always promised to quit using drugs after getting into trouble with the law, but it was always a temporary excuse to avoid momentary consequences, his father said.
“It’s been like this for 20 years,” he explained. “He goes and gets help, then they check the box, then they let him go.” Then he goes out and returns with the same friends.
Gary said he has grown cynical about the profit industry that has surrounded drug addiction. Those who were making salaries and making careers from the drug epidemic did not seem determined to fix Jimmy’s problem, he said. “Many had his best interests at heart because it was their job,” he said. “I don’t think they followed.
“All of this makes you bitter against the agencies and the system. “
Time and time again Gary has told court officials and counselors to be tougher on his son. His son had to be tested for drugs every day, he said. “I would wake up with that in mind. I was going to sleep with it, ”he said of his son’s addiction. “There comes a time when you say you have to be insensitive to this. Hard love, whatever you want to call it.
Even now, as a father, Gary admits he can’t comprehend the allure and power of Jimmy’s drug addiction. Her son loved her three children, but the all-consuming priority of pursuing the next summit left those precious relationships behind.
Why Jimmy turned out to be so different from his other sons, Gary can’t tell. He coached all three sons for years in baseball leagues. “My other two oldest sons are good fathers,” he explained. “They are involved with their children.”
“He’s not the same Jimmy I raised,” he added of his youngest son who fell into a life of drugs.
Gary recalled growing up in the ’60s and’ 70s when the most rebellious things about teenagers were having a few beers or smoking some marijuana. Then these adolescents became responsible adults.
“Marijuana is nothing compared to what they do now,” he said of too many young people and adults today. “They still hunt this high from what I understand. And then what they do – the heroine is not enough. They have to put fentanyl in it or whatever.
“So what’s the next step? Do you know what I’m saying? “
Gary said he read in newspapers over the years the names of men he trained as a child who got involved in drugs. Some died of overdoses. Some have gone to jail or jail.
“When I was coaching I would always say, ‘Guys, nothing is more important than your family and doing the right thing. I don’t want to see your name in the paper for committing some kind of crime or something like that, ”he recalls.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that nearly 70,000 people died from opioid overdoses last year.
Gary stressed that the statistic only reflects a glimpse of the health crisis. Many other sons and daughters still struggle with drug addiction. Behind them are also torn families.
“My wife and I talk about the death of these kids all the time,” said Gary Kerns. “It’s sad.”