The couple is talking about Jacob Skowronski and his death in hopes that sharing his story will prompt someone to come forward with information, but speaking out is painful.
"I’m just tired of such a nightmare, having to re-visualize what we saw," John Skowronski said.
That's why the Skowronskis are offering a $5,000 award to anyone who comes forward with tips leading to an arrest and helps obtain a criminal conviction in their son's Feb. 4 homicide, originally ruled a suicide. Their award is on top of an up to $25,000 award provided anonymously to KC Crime Stoppers for individuals who have information leading to arrests and charges in the case.
Michele Skowronski said she has a hard time believing there was no one around at the time of the killing because she figures there were Super Bowl parties happening at her son's apartment complex near 98th and Hedges in Kansas City. And in any case, apartments are usually busy with people coming and going.
"Someone or several people had to have seen something out of the ordinary or heard something," Michele Skowronski said.
Jacob Skrowronski's parents stopped by his apartment that day, days away from his 26th birthday, with laundry. They found an excuse to go over because they hadn't heard from him in a couple of days, she said. The last time Michele Skowronski saw her son, he had dropped by their home in Lee's Summit with lunch. He wanted to chat while he studied for his Mandarin class at the Longview campus of Metropolitan Community College, she said.
He was taking classes in an array of topics, John Skowronski said. Jacob Skowronski dropped out of the University of Missouri in Columbia years before to pursue a career in music. Although music was one of his passions, his parents said he also loved learning and returned to school because he was unsure he would be able to make a living off of music.
While at Mizzou he studied chemical engineering before switching his focus to math. He took community college classes in everything from art to languages to math and science, his dad said. Education was very important to Jacob Skowronski and his dad could have seen him staying in school forever, he said.
"He didn’t understand why everyone wasn’t going to school," John Skowronski said.
Now, the family is doing their best to honor the man they called "the perfect son."
In the months before his death, Jacob Skowronski had promised to help his mother start a vegetable garden. He was a gardener, she never was. This spring, she started the garden anyway. It is entirely vegetables — with the exception of a rose bush next to a stone inscribed with the words "never forgotten."
Though Michele Skrowronski still isn't great with plants, she's going to tend it with care.
"I definitely have the motivation," she said.
The Skowronksis' Lee's Summit neighborhood on June 30 will hold a balloon release for Jacob Skowronski and other neighbors who also have lost children.
Kansas City police ask that tips be submitted through the Crime Stoppers TIPS hotline at 816-474-8477 or through the organization's website or mobile app, P3Tips.