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A Shot at Redemption

The Three Men Killed in a Remington Recovery Home Last Month Weren’t Just Three More Baltimore Murders

Photos by Frank Klein
SHOULDER TO SHOULDER: Neighbors and family mingle at a Jan. 17 memorial for the victims of the Remington murders; Bennett Gulliver, the late Nathan Gulliver's brother, is second from left.
DUST TO DUST: Mourners at Antown Arthur's funeral
Leon Gulliver, Nathan Gulliver's father, leans against the house his son called home during the last months of his life.
ROCK 'N' ROLL HEAVEN: Jeff Coulson (right) leads the band at Steve Matthews' memorial service Jan. 30.

By Ron Cassie | Posted 2/16/2005

A week before Christmas, John H. took his 15-year-old son Josh over to the home of friends a few blocks away from the recovery house in Remington where he had been living for the past six months. For H., a 44-year-old alcoholic, the opportunity to spend some rare quality time with his son, who lives with his mother in Westminster, and decorate the place that had been his home since his release from the Baltimore City jail in July 2004 was significant.

“It was such a good day,” H. says. “We had our little project and we just interacted so easily. I felt like we were connecting in a more genuine way than we ever had before.”

As they entered the house where his friends lived at corner of 27th and Sisson streets, another recovery residence, Antown Arthur, a hulking 38-year-old African-American man, was in the kitchen cooking an early dinner.

“Antown looked like a gangbanger—I don’t know how else to say it,” says John H., who is white and from Reisterstown. “He wore the baggy sweats and the bandanna and he was big—like probably 350 pounds. But when he opened his mouth, all that image just fell away. He and Josh started talking while I was doing something else, and I don’t even know what they were talking about. But he made Josh feel comfortable right away. It didn’t even seem like a big deal at the time, but later on that night it kind of struck me—Josh had met a few of the guys before then, and he didn’t always warm right up or look at them in eye. But he did with Antown. And I don’t know how many black guys Josh even sees in Westminster. I don’t think there are more than 20 in his high-school class.”

Arthur, a convicted drug dealer, had been out of prison for roughly a year and a half, and had been trying to stay clean and sober since his release. He had relapsed once since he began renting a room at the private recovery house on Oct. 15, 2004. He was under no legal compulsion to be there—he had chosen to rent a room at the house voluntarily, to help his struggle with addiction. He had begun attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings on a regular basis, and friends say he was beginning to turn a corner.

With little family to speak of and old friends he didn’t need, Arthur had spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s—sober—with his five housemates. He and the other guys, who support themselves through a variety of full- and part-time jobs, had chipped in to buy turkey, ham, and sweet potatoes—the works. Together they watched the ball games on television and celebrated the holidays with dozens of other addicts and alcoholics who lived in other similar homes in the area and stopped to visit.

But 10 days into the new year, Antown Arthur’s troubled past returned and snatched back his life, as well as two of his housemates’ lives, in a brutal triple homicide. The execution-style murders took place just a few steps from where he had engaged H.’s teenage son three weeks earlier. Along with Arthur, 49-year-old Nathan Gulliver and 36-year-old Steven Matthews were killed early Monday evening, Jan. 10, in the rowhouse above the former home of the neighborhood’s old Democratic Club. A fourth housemate was shot three times before escaping by diving out a second-story window. He is currently in stable condition, expected to make a full recovery, and under police protection in a Baltimore-area hospital.

This is partly the story of those men who were murdered that night—the one that is usually only told in a line with their name, age, address, and arrest record. But it is also a story of how often the city takes the nature of its murders for granted, and how little we sometimes consider what we lose.

 

Antown Arthur had spent most of the past year and a half since his release from prison on a federal drug-trafficking conviction in a supervised halfway house and his cousin’s home in West Baltimore, his aunt Cassandra Perkins says.

West Baltimore was home for Arthur. Given up for adoption by his birth mother at 6 days old, he was raised in various West Baltimore neighborhoods by Sarah Woods, another aunt, and her live-in boyfriend, Nathaniel Glover. While Woods and Glover never married, they did, Perkins says, provide young Antown with a stable home life.

“They gave him everything he ever needed,” the 54-year-old adult-day-care worker says a week after her nephew’s murder. She recalls that, as a youngster, Antown usually stayed in the house after school and on weekends, too. “He liked watching movies and television, playing video games, and playing basketball, too,” she says. “He liked all sports, period. But at his size and with his asthma—that was hard on him. He was sick a lot.”

Perkins says he attended Douglass High School and, although she doesn’t know if he graduated or not, she adds that he liked to read—“mostly history books.” He also liked comic books and drawing. “He was good, real good, at drawing when he was 12 and 13,” Perkins says. “I always said he should’ve gone to art school. I don’t know why he never did.”

Arthur, she says, only met his biological mother, Marie, once or twice and had little or no contact with his other siblings raised by his mom. He never knew his biological father. Glover, who did construction work, and his adopted mom, Woods, who did domestic work, died two years apart from one another when Arthur was just entering his 20s. It was then that easygoing and quiet Arthur began venturing outside.

“I knew him my whole life, and he was a very kind, bighearted kid,” Perkins says. “He would give you anything he had and never think about it. He was very good to his mom and dad. He never gave them any trouble when they were alive. But once his mom died—I think he was 21—he started having a hard time. He was on the street, selling drugs, after that. He got into a lot of trouble.”

Before long, Arthur was rumored to be a member of a gang. There’s no question that he eventually became a convicted felon and a drug addict. After his last stint in prison, Arthur had spent the seven or eight months immediately following his release from prison in a traditional halfway house with curfews and a house manager, and had done well in that environment, Perkins says. After leaving the halfway house, he lived with Perkins’ daughter in West Baltimore for several months.

“He cooked and cleaned and baby-sat her kids,” Perkins recalls. “She liked to run the streets herself, but Antown would stay home and take care of the house. But he eventually went back out [on the street] there, too. Later, he told me he had called his parole officer, said he was getting high again, and asked if they would come get him again and put him back in the halfway house.”

A decade and a half after his adopted mother and surrogate father had left him with no real family and few friends, Antown Arthur showed up with his parole officer on Manley Cosper’s Remington rowhouse sofa. Cosper, along with Bill Cunningham, is one of the principal directors of the nonprofit corporation Club 12, which owns six houses in Baltimore from which they rent out rooms to recovering alcoholics and addicts. While Arthur’s initial halfway-house stay was part of his release from prison and maintained a slate of strict rules (a curfew, permission required for weekend leave or visitors), the Club 12-owned houses, like many other such houses in business throughout Baltimore City, have no such guidelines. They are not affiliated with or licensed by the city or state in any way, do not accept public funds, and do not offer treatment or medical services. They simply rent out rooms to people sharing a common problem—addiction to alcohol and drugs—in hope that they can help each other.

As Arthur and his parole officer sat on the sofa, Cosper ran down the straightforward rules he gives to everyone: “The deposit is $150 and the rent is $75 a week. If you don’t have it we will work with you. There is no curfew. You are an adult. You come and go as you please. We offer you a bed, linen, cable TV, local phone, and kitchen—you have to buy your own food. Don’t drink and don’t drug, in here or outside of here. Don’t become a thief. Don’t put your hands on anybody. Try to get along with everyone. If you don’t do those things, I will have to put you out. If it is freezing and snowing and I have to put you out, you will have my empathy but not my sympathy—I will put you out. I suggest you go to [Alcoholic Anonymous or Narcotic Anonymous] meetings and find a higher power—other than yourself. This is what has worked for me and others.”

Cosper and Cunningham both are in recovery and have a decade-plus of sobriety. “I’m just trying to give back what I learned and what was given to me,” Cosper, who lives in Baltimore, says of his vision for the recovery homes.

When Arthur’s parole officer asked Cosper if he wanted to know his client’s background or what he had been incarcerated for, Cosper said no, in fact, he did not. “We are all the same here, no one better or worse than the next,” he recited, as he always does. “Just alcoholics and addicts trying to get better. I don’t need to know, nor do I want to know.”

Arthur entered the residence on Oct. 15 and suffered a drug-related relapse on Dec. 19. Relapses, like rehabs, are often numerous and usually par for the course, even for addicts and alcoholics ultimately successful in recovery. Contrary to the usual references in mainstream media, people in recovery do not refer to themselves generally as ex-addicts or ex-alcoholics. There is no cure for their disease, they believe—and the medical community concurs—it can only be arrested, one day at a time, as the cliché goes. The ability to keep the disease in “remission” is why, they will tell you again and again, regular meeting attendance, working a 12-step program, working with other alcoholics and addicts, prayer, meditation, and living in a supportive community are critical.

At first, Arthur showed no interest in attending Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings, telling whomever asked that he met regularly with a counselor (part of his parole requirements) and that was enough. But, surrounded by others in recovery, his resistance began to crumble.

“In the beginning he didn’t like going, but [Cunningham] and I would pick him up and take him anyhow,” says Gia Vaccaro, 20, of Baltimore, who met Arthur through Cunningham. “I would sit next to him and hold the book up for both of us if they were doing a reading, I would go out and stand next to him and have a cigarette with him if he was smoking. He started to like going after a while. Later, one time he heard me having an argument with my boyfriend on the phone outside after a meeting, and he came up to me, said some nice things, and comforted me. He really was such a sweet guy.”

In fact, Arthur was supposed to meet a housemate at a 6 p.m. NA meeting the night he was murdered. “I don’t know why he didn’t make it,” says Walter P., another resident of the Club 12 house at 27th and Sisson who survived because he was at that meeting at the time of the attack. “I didn’t get a chance to ask him.” (Walter P. has since relocated to a different recovery house.)

Not a single family member or old friend attended Antown Arthur’s Jan. 21 burial service at Trinity Cemetery, tucked in a desolate stretch underneath an I-95 overpass and O’Donnell Street in East Baltimore. Two recent friends from recovery attended, as did Vaccaro, Cosper, and Cunningham—all who had known Arthur three months or less. Funeral director Brian Chisholm and two groundskeepers served as pallbearers. Chisholm read a prayer and Betsy G. led the group through “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” before Arthur’s body was lowered into the ground.

Police say Arthur was killed over a debt of less than $300. Recently laid off from his job at Bruning Paint Co. on South Haven Street, Arthur didn’t have the cash to pay off when the collectors came to his door Jan. 10. Perhaps the money owed was from his last relapse. Perhaps longer.

“Does it matter?” Walter P. asks. “He didn’t deserve this. No one does.”

 

Police say that Nathan Gulliver, Arthur’s housemate and a recovering addict nine months clean, tried to intervene on his behalf the night of the murders. Reportedly, he offered to go to an ATM machine and withdraw what money he had to settle Arthur’s debt and save his life. In fact, while the gunman stayed in the house holding Arthur and the other residents hostage, another man accompanied Gulliver to a cash machine, where he emptied his account to no avail. Gulliver, Steven Matthews, and a fourth man whose identity is still being protected were shot because they were witnesses.

While Arthur’s story fits a stereotypical picture of Baltimore’s inner-city life, tangled up in drug culture and violence, Gulliver’s does not. Gulliver, an African-American, grew up in the Philadelphia suburb of Coatesville and went on to earn a college degree from nearby West Chester State University. He became a probation officer and, later, a mentor to mentally retarded adults. He married and had two children.

He also became a drug addict. His addiction broke up his marriage, but he remained close to his family, some of whom live in the Baltimore area. He came to Baltimore only two years ago, hoping that a change of location would help him stay off drugs. As 2005 began, he was just approaching a year of uninterrupted clean time—a huge bench mark for those in recovery.

“I consider myself a nice guy, a good guy, but he was one of the all-time great guys,” his brother Bennett Gulliver, 45, said at a candlelight service for the victims in Remington on Martin Luther King Day, exactly a week after the shootings. (More than 100 of Gulliver’s family and friends attended a separate memorial service at his church, Morningstar Baptist Church in Catonsville on Inaugural Day morning.) “It’s hard to put into words. He would open doors for people, he was a gentleman. He would do anything for anybody. He was going to church every Sunday and he sat in the front row. He was willing to pay whatever he had to for the mistakes he made.”

Nathan Gulliver had also been willing to do whatever it took to make ends meet during his recovery, Cosper says, including selling bottled water on the street. Most recently, he had been working at a car-rental company and was a disciplined early riser.

“The morning was Nate’s time,” says Walter P., who had known him for five months. “He got up and made his coffee and cooked breakfast. Everyday. We’d sit and have coffee together. He’d cook breakfast and his lunch and dinner, too, all in the morning. He’d eat breakfast, take his lunch with him, and put dinner in the refrigerator. We didn’t talk a whole lot in the morning. Like I said, that was really his time.

“He was quiet, he was serious about recovery, into church, and closer with his family than anybody I knew. When we talked, he was always the same, he listened and was supportive. He was dedicated to his job, too.”

Harley S. was Nate’s roommate for several months before being kicked out of the house on Thanksgiving Day because of a relapse; after staying clean for a month and attending regular NA meetings, he was allowed to move back into another Club 12 recovery house. “Nate was in recovery and very proud of his clean time and grateful for it. His birthday was three days before he got killed, too,” S. says. “The last day I saw him was Saturday morning [two days before the murder]. I stopped by to grab something up on my way to a meeting and Nate answered the door. We spoke briefly, and he gave me a handshake and asked how I was doing—which made me feel good. He said he was doing great. It was brief, but that was the last time I saw him.”

In the evenings, the guys at 541 27th St. mostly watched television. Previously, they had been into sci-fi stuff and movies, but as the group mix evolved with Arthur and Gulliver in the house together—the alleged gangbanger and former probation officer—football and basketball dominated the set more and more.

At the memorial vigil, Bennett Gulliver told how his brother Nate had loved to play basketball, sinking baskets on the courts up the street from the house where he rented his room, and how affectionate he was with his grandnieces and -nephews.

“I was jealous—I thought they liked him better, than me, their own grandfather,” Bennett Gulliver, a big man with a warm smile, said. “He played with them all the time. He used to call one of the boys, the 2-year-old, ‘Jamal,’ for Jamal Lewis, because he was so fast and hard to catch.”

 

Steven Matthews had two other major preoccupations in his life other than his addiction; one of them was music. An accomplished percussionist, he had played with band members from Prince and Patti LaBelle’s bands and Earth, Wind, and Fire, his sister Elizabeth Jones says. In fact, he was scheduled to play with local singer/songwriter Jeff Coulson at the Horse You Came in On in Fells Point several times over the next month at the time of his death. A mutual friend in recovery says she was on her way to pick up Matthews to take him to a rehearsal with Coulson the night Matthews was shot to death.

“In fact, I’m going to be recording some new tracks for an upcoming CD, a project I’m real excited about with Mitch Allen producing it at Dave Grohl’s studio in Virginia,” Coulson says. “Steve was going to be a part of that.”

A former Baltimore City public-school music teacher, Matthews had 10 years of clean and sober time at one point before relapsing on the road three years ago. He had a terrible time since trying to regain a life that had been lost, friends and family say. His steel drums, a cherished possession, are still in hock at a pawn shop somewhere in Baltimore, his sister says, adding that his family is now trying to locate the set.

Matthews, who was white, grew up the youngest of four children in Flagstaff, Ariz. His father, Harry, was a university professor who often took his wife, Harriet, and his family to the West Indies on research vacations. It’s there that Jones, at 43 the eldest of Matthews’ siblings, says young Steven developed his love of Caribbean, Afro-Cuban, West Indian, calypso, salsa, and Latin music. He played the congas, bongos, the vibraphone, drums, and “his marimba, which is beautiful and sits in my living room,” Jones says.

Matthews’ alcohol and drug problems first surfaced while he was in still in high school. He dropped out but eventually attained his GED and attended at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond in the late ’80s. He was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder while in school, though Jones says that, with medication, his condition generally remained manageable.

After college, he went to work teaching in Baltimore City and Baltimore County schools before losing his job because of music-program cutbacks. Matthews then took part in a retraining program and became a welder, eventually working on the World War II Memorial in Washington. “He liked working with his hands, no matter what it was,” Jones says.

He also worked over the past few years as a short-order cook at vegan restaurant the Yabba Pot, on St. Paul Street. In fact, he was supposed to start a new job as a line cook at Remington’s Paper Moon Diner, on 28th Street, the morning he was killed. Apparently confusing his scheduled shift time, he told Cosper he thought he was a half-hour early for his first day of work, but was sent home, told he was actually a half-hour late. Later, Matthews went to a noon Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting. “He was at the Chip House”—an AA meeting house—“every time I ever went there,” Dale S. says. “Everyone knew him around Charles Village, at Eddie’s, all over.”

Matthews’ Jan. 30 memorial service at the Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation in Charles Village evolved into a four-hour live concert featuring many of his former band mates from Richmond-based BanCaribe as well as local musicians such as Coulson, Misty Letts, and Damian Wolfe, all playing Matthews’ favorite songs.

“He played with me for years,” singer/guitarist Letts says. “Whenever I had a gig, I would always invite him to play with me. He was great to play off of, he had a way of always adding something that was a little unexpected, something that would make you look over at him—and be like, ‘OK, I see what you’re doing.’

“But when he started drinking again, he wasn’t dependable and I couldn’t use him anymore—which he understood,” she adds. “We would still have coffee together once a week. I never gave up on him. He was like my knucklehead little brother.”

A longtime alcoholic and addict who had done jail time for heroin possession, Matthews moved into the recovery house on 27th Street just five days prior to the shootings. After becoming intoxicated on New Year’s Day, Matthews had been kicked out of his prior recovery house in Charles Village and had been living on the street, apparently in Fells Point, for several days before Cosper got a telephone call. He offered Matthews a bed and laid out the terms. Matthews, by all accounts, was extremely happy to be at the house and have another chance at recovery—not everyone is.

Matthews left behind a 10-year-old daughter in Baltimore from whom he had been largely separated for two and a half years following his relapse. He and his ex-wife separated after his relapse and she later remarried, but Jones stresses that her brother wanted desperately to re-establish his relationship with his daughter. It was, she says, what drove his desire to stay clean again. “We have pictures, boxes of pictures, of him and his daughter,” Jones says. “He loved her so much.”

 

Derrick Taylor, 26, of Baltimore was arrested three days after the killings and charged with three counts of murder in the first degree and three counts of conspiracy to commit murder. The investigation and search for at least one other person is ongoing at this time. Taylor’s girlfriend, Inshallah Owens (aka Ellowens), was arrested and charged with the same crimes on Feb. 9.

All three men killed were rounded up in the second-floor common living area and shot in the head. The fourth man who was shot survived by leaping over the back of the sofa, diving out through pulled blinds and a closed window, and landing on the concrete sidewalk below. Police found him lying a block away after being alerted by neighbors.

The initial coverage of the murders by local TV news and The Sun reported the crime and police investigation and then focused immediately on the legal, licensing, and zoning status of group homes like the one Club 12 owns at 27th and Sisson. “Three men are found fatally shot in halfway house in Remington,” The Sun trumpeted on Jan. 11; a front-page story headline the following day declared, “Triple homicide brings attention to city’s unlicensed group homes,” with the subhed “Victims were residents of addict-care facility.”

This kind of coverage upset not only Cosper and Cunningham, the principal owners of the home, but also the men who lived in their five other small group homes as well. The Sun’s Jan 11 piece, for example, never made perfectly clear that the triple homicide was committed by someone who did not live in the house.

“Where would we all be without these houses?” H. asks. Cosper and Cunningham “are saving peoples’ lives.”

Bill D., a carpenter who has never lived in one of the recovery houses but has done work in Club 12’s homes, adds, “I want people to hear of the success stories.”

Despite apparent efforts by reporters to drum up a “not in my backyard” response from area residents, nothing significant developed. Neighbors have said they weren’t even aware what the home was used for—probably as good an indication as any that the Club 12 houses have been quietly effective.

In fact, some neighbors are happy the houses are there. “The Church of the Guardian Angel has been in this neighborhood for 100 years, and has always been involved in the life of the people that live here,” Guardian Angel Pastor Alice Jellema says. The small, activist congregation had organized the candlelight vigil held for the victims, families, friends, and neighborhood on Jan. 17. “We serve and have had many people in our community who have faced addiction or who are in some way powerless,” Jellema says. “Addiction is one of the toughest battles anybody can face. I’m grateful we had so many people come out and pray for the guys in that house. We’re grateful for the people who live in those houses, we want houses like this in our neighborhood. They are a beacon.”

By the time Jellema had led the small street corner vigil, the Sun’s coverage of the triple murder had begun to shift. Gulliver, it turns out, is a first cousin of Sun columnist Gregory Kane. A brief bio of Gulliver appeared in a Jan. 13 article that identified the victims. By the end of the first week, The Sun had a run a positive front-page story on a women’s recovery home in the Hollins Market area. Sun columnist Dan Rodricks had contributed a piece about the problem of addiction and drugs in the city Jan .13; two weeks later—after Matthews’ sister fired off an angry e-mail about the Sun’s focus—Rodricks wrote a more fully fleshed-out story on the musician’s life, rather than his death.

And following the vigil in Remington, which he attended, Kane, on Jan. 19, wrote a column that expressed equally his fondness for his cousin and his anger at the city for allowing such violence to take place on a seemingly everyday basis. He also railed against the city’s misguided effort to find a nonexistent, unrequired license for a simple group house that met all relevant codes. He said that his cousin needed the city’s protection from murderous thugs and wanted to “remind our august leaders that a nonexistent license didn’t kill my cousin.”

In short, as the predictable story angles about urban violence fell away, what should have been clear from the beginning was finally coming to bear. This was a home invasion. The three men who were gunned down execution-style by sociopaths for what amounted to pocket money were victims of a tragedy—and just as they were getting their feet underneath them. While Arthur had a criminal past, he taking baby steps toward recovery and a new way to live. These men were workaday guys doing the best they could, like most of us. No one brought this horror on themselves.

“I have never in my 12 and a half years in the city heard of anything like this,” city Health Commissioner Dr. Peter Beilenson says in a phone interview a week after being quoted in the Sun’s Jan. 12 article describing the house where the murders took places, and houses like it, as “a totally unregulated, uncatalogued set of services. There are many hundreds, if not thousands, in the city.”

Confusing the issue—among the media, general public, and apparently even among the professionals in charge of overseeing the city’s effort to help addicts—are examples in the news around the country of criminals serving out the end of their sentences in government-supervised so-called halfway houses, escaping, and committing crimes in neighborhoods where they live. But despite early portrayals of the Remington house as a “halfway house”—meant to characterize an intermediate step between prison and complete freedom—the murders took place when someone from outside this private recovery home (as such houses prefer to be categorized) and its neighborhood entered the house and began waving a gun. The Club 12 homes, like many in the city, serve addicts and alcoholics voluntarily seeking shelter and help with their desire to overcome their disease—not as an alternative to mandated prison time, although the group homes around the city do vary greatly in terms of what they cost, how they are funded, and what they have to offer.

As for the murders, they “could’ve happened at Belvedere Square, or [in] any other rowhouse in the city,” Beilenson says, adding that the house is no longer under any investigation. “These homes are key to addicts changing the ‘people, places, and things’ in their lives. They are part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

That said, Beilenson thinks that it would be good for the city to keep better tabs on recovery homes in future: “I would like at least to compile a voluntary listing of these type of houses in the city, so the courts, hospitals, and halfway houses and rehab places would have somewhere to refer people.”

For his part, Cosper says he likely would choose not to participate in such a listing request, seeing such a step as the first toward further government regulation, interference, zoning, and costs.

Everyone seems to have their own take on the core of the drug blight. Many recovering addicts say they’re encouraged that city finally seems to be recognizing the desperate need for attention to the “demand” side of the drug equation, rather than just the “supply” side.

“I think what the city is doing in terms of a new focus on treating addicts is long overdue,” John H. says. “I don’t think we’ll ever close the borders or stop people from selling this stuff as long as there is a demand for it. [Former mayor] Kurt Schmoke was raked over the coals here years ago just for trying to bring decriminalization into the conversation—not even for advocating it. And I don’t know if that’s the right answer. I’ve had friends go to Amsterdam and tell me about the scenes over there. There must be middle ground.”

 

Perhaps the city will some day find a way to curb its rampant drug-addiction issues, and that will perhaps curb its wholesale violence. Those solutions will arrive too late to do any good for Antown Arthur, Nathan Gulliver, and Steven Matthews. John H. was on his way to the house with Jack R. after an AA meeting the night the of the murders. They couldn’t get close to the house because of the police-tape barrier around the area and didn’t learn until hours later exactly which house was at the center of all the attention. They had no idea the helicopters noisily circling overhead were looking for the men who had killed their friends.

“I realized that could’ve been me in that house,” H. says, recounting his thoughts as he lay in his bed later that night, unable to sleep. He had gotten Cosper’s Club 12 phone number from another inmate while incarcerated for a crack cocaine possession charge six months earlier. When his stepbrother picked him up after his release from jail and asked him where he wanted to go, he called the number, the only option he had other than a park bench. He got the usual rules from Cosper and was later picked up at a nearby AA meeting that night. Today, he’s back working in the computer field.

“I thought, Well, if it had been my time, that would have been OK. It would not have been six months ago,” H. says. “I’ve reconnected with my family since then. I know my kids again, my ex-wife, my dad, my stepmom, my brother. I’ve made a start at amending those relationships. Six months ago, I hadn’t didn’t have any of that.”

The only thing possibly sadder for the men killed, or their families and friends, would have been for them to have been taken earlier, in the midst of addiction.

“At least they were with each other,” Matthews’ sister Elizabeth Jones says. “The police said they were sitting close enough together that they could have been holding hands.”

“I know at least one of the guys was well on their way,” Guardian Angel Pastor Alice Jellema says, referring to Gulliver’s nine full months of sober living. “I know the other guys must have been trying as well or they wouldn’t have been there.

“The only thing worse, more tragic,” she adds, “would to have passed and not have felt that hope of recovery at all.”

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