Two teen deaths leave fathers looking for answers, justice
In two separate incidents, months apart, two teenagers were severely beaten and abandoned along a road in Spotsylvania County.
One died hours after his attack. The other committed suicide a few months later.
They didn't know each other but had a lot in common, including their wounds. No one has ever been charged in either incident, but now their families wonder whether these incidents are related, coincidental or hate crimes.
A memorial marks the spot where Kevin Sullivan was found unconscious one year ago. The 17-year-old was part of the drama club. Facebook friends wrote of his talent, energy and humor. Bullying drove the 110-pound teenager from high school.
His family says he got his GED “just to get away from it.” Sullivan had texted his father that he got a ride home from going out last November. Hours later someone spotted him at the side of the road.
“I think he got beat up and left there,” said Kevin Sullivan Sr., the teen’s father.
Investigators labeled his death a hit and run even though doctors told his father his son's head injuries did not appear to come from a car.
“The injuries to the person were such that they could have been caused or created either way,” said Mike Timm of the Spotsylvania County sheriff's department.
Kevin Zackary was found three miles from the location of Sullivan’s one early morning in April. The 16-year-old had left home late at night. He weighed about 100 pounds.
Zackary was unconscious and had a traumatic brain injury. Unlike Sullivan, he recovered. His father says after the beating he grew increasingly troubled. Zackary said he didn't remember who attacked him. A few weeks ago, Zackary Wells took his own life.
His father says his son had no enemies. "This is so sad. We must do something about bullying. Young lives are being ended for no reason,” a friend wrote on a memorial page.
Both fathers wonder whether they ever will get justice for their sons.
Investigators acknowledge they initially suspected someone targeted Sullivan because they perceived him to be gay.
“Kids tended to torment them but you know we didn't reveal anything to substantiate that in our investigation,” Timm said. Authorities say the investigations still are open.