Sunday, June 24, 2012

Jarret's Journey

I recently heard from Tammy Slater, a mother who wanted to share both the fact that she read and enjoyed my book, “I Have No Intention of Saying Good-bye” along with the information that her son, Jarret, had been murdered three days after his high school graduation. In great detail she told me her story in an email. I have summarized some of the story but left most of the factual information as it was written to me.

Jarret Austin Clark, an only child, was raised by his mother and stepfather. He was active in Boy Scouts, football, baseball, basketball, soccer, skiing and weightlifting. He even enjoyed spending time with his grandparents shooting turtles and snakes at their pond.

“Jarret had a way of capturing your heart with his sense of humor, his personality and his charisma. He could always make his family and friends laugh and everything thought him fun to be around.”

His plan after graduating was to join the Army. But three days after he graduated on May 11, 2006, he was murdered.

“May 14 was Mother’s Day, and we were all going to my parents home for lunch. He had spent the previous night at Wahoo Bay camp site at Ft. Gibson Lake with four other friends. But he never came home that day”.

Authorities believe Jarret flirted with one of the girls and a fight broke out. It is thought that Jarret was knocked out and the group thought they had killed him, when in reality he was just unconscious. They panicked and tossed his body in the lake. The medical examiner ruled cause of death drowning. Jarret was alive when they put his body in the lake.

A massive search began for him and continued for five days. Jarret’s body was recovered from the lake on May 18.

“Those five days of searching were a journey all in itself. You see this type of news on TV and it happens to other families, not your own. Some things I remember very vividly, some things not at all. What I do know is that I couldn’t have made it through those days of searching without the support of my family, friends, co-workers and many volunteers.”

“We went through a grand jury process in December 2008 in Wagoner County. Dealing with the judicial system and the hoops you have to jump through can be very tiring, both physically and emotionally. Strangers volunteered to help gather signatures in order to even have the grand jury. The verdict was no indictment due to lack of evidence. However, as a parent, I felt it was a process well worth our time and effort. It was something we had to do for Jarret.

“Jarret’s murder is a huge challenge to deal with, knowing who took Jarret’s life and knowing they are not being held accountable. I have mixed emotions. I’m angry at those responsible for his death, the justice system, how Jarret’s case was handled and how politics played a part. I’m hurt and heart-broken because my son doesn’t get to continue with his life and live out his dreams while the one’s responsible do.

Over 400 students attended the funeral. “That meant a lot to me. It tells me Jarret touched a lot of lives.”

How did Tammy endure, survive, move on with her life and what she is doing to this day to keep his story alive. Read the conclusion of her story below in last week's column. (Sorry, they were published in reverse order.)


  1. My beautiful 23 year old son, Graham, died suddenly 5 weeks ago in a tragic accident. My husband, daughter and I are struggling with total devastation and pain. I feel desperate that I somehow need to turn back time and undo what happened.
    I've been searching online for blogs and sites that offer comfort and guidance. I've been gathering the ones that I've found so far onto a single site to make it easier for me to access them and I hope you don't mind that I've included your blog. I also plan to read your books soon.
    Please feel free to share this link to other parents like myself

  2. Holy god, your story of losing your son is so similar to ours of losing Owen. We still don't know what happened on his last night on the planet, but the story of how your son lost his life is a likely version of how Owen lost his. Thank you for keeping our kids alive. In loving spirit, Linda