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What Really Happened To Adam Prentice?

A Family Asks For Help

What really did happen to Adam Prentice on September 27, 1997?  If you have Adam on his twenty first birthdayany insights or ideas you'd like to share, please sign our Memorial Guestbook, or send Barbara an e-mail.

NOTHING is too insignificant, so don't worry about sounding out of line. The slightest gut instinct could be THE missing piece that will tie everything together. Don't be afraid of hurting us, insulting us or upsetting us. Any news is better than no news! Any information is more than the information we have now!

A Mother Just Has To Know

Adam died over five years ago, yet we still don't really know why he was found where he was found, when he was injured, how he was injured, why he was at a location unrelated to his route home, whom he had been with, where he was coming from, or where he was going. There really is no logical reason for "why" he would have been where he was. If he truly was coming home from a party at Pufton Village, the greenhouses were unrelated to the route he would have taken! 

If Adam left the Pufton Village party between 12:00 a.m. and 1 a.m., as his friends recalled, he would have arrived back at his dorm at approximately 1:00 to 1:30 a.m.  Yet, instead, he was found semi-conscious, writhing, moaning and bleeding outside the greenhouse so badly that initial responders had to cut his clothes off. Why? Over the years, I have beaten my head against a parking lot and a cement bench asking myself these questions.  Why? 

Apart from losing Adam, the worst is not knowing what or why; not having closure when I know that someone out there knows exactly what happened, and why...

It is obvious that Adam wasn't alone. During the time he was walking home, campus is at its busiest. The bars are closing, the fraternity parties are in full swing. He was in the center of campus, on the busiest weekend of the year, during warm weather. Reports indicate that, between midnight and two a.m, over five hundred people alone were walking down the middle of North Pleasant Street in the area of the greenhouses visiting fraternity parties. Somebody saw him. Someone was with him.

If you haven't viewed the University of Massachusetts campus map yet, please do so now. Start at the very top where it says "Wysocki" (this is diagonally across the street from the Pufton Village Apartment complex where the off-campus party had been held -- Pufton, however, is not shown on the map) and follow the main street (North Pleasant) into the center of campus. Take the fork to the left as soon as you pass the West Experiment Station on your right and the East Experiment Station on your left. This will bring you past the Marshall annex. Keep walking east past the chancellor's house. Behind it toward the right border of your monitor, you'll see "Orchard Hill Residential Area." Adam lived in Field dorm, which is back-to-back with Grayson dorm. This is the shortest route from the party back to his dorm, and the route he always took when walking from the north end of campus back home.

Now, go back onto North Pleasant Street where you forked left at East Experiment Station and walk south along North Pleasant Street (walk toward the bottom of your monitor.) Go past the Morrill Science Center. Zoom in here if you have to. The greenhouse is the unmarked building located in between the part of Morrill marked "III" and the big white parking lot marked "62."

This area simply has no relevance whatsoever to Adam's pathway home. So what was he doing here? The only explanation is that he ran into trouble walking home, or those friends with him from his dorm were not telling the truth. I have talked with them all personally, and believe they were. Consequently, what did he walk into? A fraternity party, a drug bust, someone else calling for help? The police? Was he chased, pushed? Did someone dare him, and he took them up on it? It would be out of character, but it is a posibility.

What isn't a possibility is that Adam was alone. What, why, where, when, by whom? I pray, pray, pray that I will know the truth one day.

The What and Why are Unbearable

This is why I plead with you to share your reactions. Please don't hesitate to be honest.  As I said earlier, perhaps your feedback and reflections will be the piece we've missed.  This is my only hope.

I don't know what brought Adam to the greenhouse that night, but I do know that, as a loving mother, there has never been one day I haven't thought of him, haven't thrown my hands to the heavens in screaming, "Why, Lord?  Why my family?  Why me? Why Adam?"

Learning to Cope

I still await the answer.  Some days I am more patient than others. As a Christian, I know that one day I will have the answers, but I just don't know if it will be here, or when I'm with Adam again.  On the days I am at my weakest, when I just can't imagine going on without knowing, on these days my God makes me strongest.  Though He has chosen not to answer my pleas, He has remained beside me, enveloping me with a comforting blanket of steadfast security only a loving parent could provide.

Losing a child to sudden trauma is like being hit by a trailer truck.  If one survives, recovery is slow, painful, and filled with setbacks verging near death.  That first year, I was this survivor; so weak and vulnerable I don't even remember the impact of being hit.  The year was a murky black grog of mood elevators, anti-depressants, anxiety attacks and hyperventilating every time the telephone rang. It got so bad that I had to shut off the telephone ringer, turn down the volume of the answering machine, and let it pick up our calls. To this day, I know longer answer the telephone. I return messages, but I won't answer the telephone. Not since my conversation with Dr. Tehrani.

I weaned myself too quickly from the anti-depressants, and the fog lifted without warning. Before I knew what was happening, I had sunk into the raw pain of relentless grief.  Once, I thought I was sinking through the floor at the grocery store (I was having a panic attack). Another time I ran blindly out of the house and through the woods during the night; I was trying to outrun the acute searing from being torn apart inside. Yet another time, I bashed my head against a rock because the pain was less intense than the thought of life without Adam. 

Re-Learning How to Live

How did I emerge from this hell? And how did I survive when I was so vulnerable? By grace I survived; by faith I was slowly able to keep my head above the surface. I knew Christ before, but had lost touch with Him during the intensity of my pain. I still prayed, but I was in such a fog that all reality was distorted.

Finally, I remembered Him. I felt Him first, then I heard Him.  He had been there all along; I just hadn't thought about Him, or asked Him for leadership.  I was so distraught; like the "Footprint in the Sands" poem, I am sure He carried me during this time. He is always there for those who love Him, sending us signs and messages, but He is a loving father who allows us the free will to seek Him first.  Ask, and He will answer... Knock, and the door will be opened.  Seek, and you will find.

I finally remembered to seek, and there He was, just as He promised — I found.

He has taught me how to walk again.  By spoonful, He quiets my hunger. He pulled me out of the darkest valley of despair, and He has never let go of my hand.

In quiet moments, I sense His touch, hear His whisper, and know that nothing, anywhere, will ever satisfy me again, nor can anything replace the intensity of my relationship with Jesus.  He is Abba, father, brother, best friend, Lord, master, holy of holies, Savior, King.  There is no other.

There is no such thing as healing from the death of a child; my wound is always raw and bare to the bone. But through my faith I have learned how to live without Adam.

I now lead my life by prayer. Everything I do is a response to prayer. Prayer has brought me to this point today, where I write to you and ask for help. I pray I will one day know what happened to Adam, but either way my faith gives me the peace in my heart needed to carry on.

On behalf of Adam's family, thank you for visiting, and thank you for any information or intuitions you choose to share.

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