Yvonne Hollenbeck: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO JACK? | TSLN.com


            Almost daily, some news item or something in a conversation conjures up an old memory of someone, and you wonder whatever happened to someone. or something, a business, structure or even a favorite candy. Fortunately, with the advent of the computer age, we have a lot of information at our fingertips and it helps in finding answers to your query.

            This past week, I found myself thumbing through my senior-year high school annual.  I graduated in 1963 (sixty years ago) and the first question that entered my mind was, “How did the time go so fast?” It does not seem possible that I could have graduated that long ago. There is a class reunion planned for this upcoming September so I wondered how many classmates were still alive and how many I might see at the reunion. I also saw several names and photos of people I had not heard from for a long time and wondered whatever happened to them. One was a classmate named Jack.

            Jack and his family (which consisted of mother, dad and three brothers) moved to our town the summer before our senior year, as his father was to become our new high school superintendent. He seemed to fit right in as if he had been in our class for years. He was an active member of band, chorus, sports and well-liked. There is a photo of he and I in typing class sharing the same table and I had to chuckle, as I was the fastest typist in our school and he used to grumble about having to sit next to me as he struggled with typing, as did most of the football boys. We went to the same church where he sang in the choir and I played the organ, and attended our weekly youth group meetings. Although we did not hang out together alot, Jack was my friend, but after graduation I lost track of him. Most of the boys in my class were drafted and sent to VietNam, but I don’t recall whether or not Jack was one of them. I knew he was going to college but whether or not he did, or where he went, I do not know.

            Because Jack never attended any class reunions since graduation, I wondered, “Whatever became of him?”  I went to my computer and googled his name. I was mystified at what popped up, but because his last name was unusual, I feared it might be him and hoped it was not. It seems that sometime after graduation, Jack entered a life of crime. He worked occasionally as a truck driver, but was mostly a drifter of sorts. He was arrested in California for sex crimes and served 23 years in prison. In May of 2012, because he wanted to clear his conscience, Jack flew to Iowa and walked into the Court House at Waterloo and confessed to a heinous double homicide of an elderly couple in their home; a couple he first robbed and tortured and killed 31 years prior. This was a case that had gone cold but still haunted the community, so his confession brought relief.  He was immediately charged with two counts of first-degree murder, plead guilty, and now resides in an Iowa State Prison after receiving a sentence of life without parole. Iowa does not have the death penalty, so that was the maximum sentence.

            Unfortunately, I found out what happened to my old classmate, but I will always wonder what really happened to him? What happened to this seemingly normal boy from a good family? I also feel sad for his siblings and family members as they probably also ask the same question, “Whatever happened to Jack?”