Toriano Porter

The story of my murdered son matters. And this Missouri family’s son does, too

As the parent of a child who was murdered, I know the sense of helplessness and the wrenching heartbreak that surviving family members grapple with every day.

My son, Toriano II, was shot and killed at age 16 about 10 years ago in north St. Louis. I still weep for him and for the pain his mother, grandmothers and siblings have suffered.

During the last decade, nothing has brought closure. But justice is another matter. I still hold out hope that detectives there will close the case, but the odds are long.

Even now, I have no words to explain the agony of burying a child. The road these last 10 years has been long and treacherous as I’ve tried to navigate life after my son’s death.

For Lisa Patrick and her husband, Martin, it is a painful journey that has just begun.

Lisa Patrick’s son, Micheal Brewer, should have turned 30 on Friday. But last August, police found the bullet-riddled bodies of Brewer and Keith Wasmer in a wooded area near Longview Lake in Jackson County.

The case is currently unsolved. A $10,000 reward awaits the person who helps detectives secure a conviction. For now, police are chasing leads, but they have not identified suspects.

Lisa believes she knows who killed her son and and Wasmer, who was engaged to marry Micheal’s sister, Charlsea Brewer. She has urged people who called themselves Micheal’s friends to come forward as witnesses.

Micheal Brewer’s bullet wounds were so severe that his family cremated his body.

“Nobody deserves what they did to Micheal,” Lisa said.

Martin Patrick, Brewer’s stepfather, said that “if they’re a man enough to kill somebody, be man enough to sit down and say ‘I did it’ and do their time. Problem is, they’re not man enough.”

Lisa struggles every day to make any sense at all of her son’s death. She and Martin are trying to somehow balance being effective parents to seven other children combined and 10 grandchildren while still grieving for Micheal.

“I’ve been trying to stay strong for all of them,” Lisa said. “But it has been hard.”

The family gathered last week at the crime scene to celebrate Micheal’s birthday. The balloon release and candlelight vigil were an opportunity for those who loved him to celebrate his life.

The family gathered last week at the crime scene to celebrate Micheal’s birthday. The balloon release and candlelight vigil were an opportunity for those who loved him to celebrate his life. It won’t be their last trip to that spot.

“I just miss my son,” Lisa said last week at a meeting of Corey’s Network, a homicide survivors’ group. “The daily phone calls. I miss everything about Micheal.”

Last week, six family members made the three-and-a-half-hour drive from the Lake of the Ozarks to the survivors’ group meeting as they tried to find ways to cope with Micheal’s death. The sessions at an Independence church have helped. Sharing stories about Micheal is therapeutic. Voicing frustration about the lack of progress in the case is normal. So are the anger and the tears.

“They have been steadfast and determined in their quest to solve Micheal’s case,” said Michelle Metje, founder and president of Corey’s Network.

Micheal was as an avid wrestler as a teen. He was skilled with his hands — he could almost fix anything. But he struggled with substance abuse as an adult, his mother said.

He left behind a 12-year-old daughter and a family who loved him. Micheal Brewer was more than a blurb in the newspaper, a blip on the nightly news or a recovering addict. His story matters.

So do the stories of the 135 homicide victims in Kansas City in 2018 and the 22 people who have been killed so far this year.

My son’s story definitely matters. I want to believe that his assailants will answer for their violent deeds. But like the Patrick family, I realize that no day will ever be quite the same. And no, time does not heal the wounds of losing a child.

Anyone with information on the death of Brewer, Wasmer or any other homicide victims in Kansas City should contact the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477.

Toriano Porter is an opinion writer and member of The Star’s Editorial Board. He’s received state-wide, regional and national recognition for reporting since joining McClatchy in 2012.