No child should die before their parent. That's what they say. No one knows that better than Marshall Eames.
He had four sons. He has one left alive.
“You feel like Job sometimes in the Bible,” he says.
His 17-year-old son, Darin, was shot to death at a miniature golf course in March 1983. Eric, 20, died five weeks later when a drunk driver hit his friend’s car.
And now his 30-year-old son, Robert, was shot to death Monday confronting would-be burglars outside his Balch Springs apartment. His killers have not been caught.
“All three of these guys were good guys. No drugs. None of that,” he says. “I mean it’s almost hard to believe, isn’t it? It’s been pretty tough, but you got to remember there ain’t a damn thing you can do about it.”
Marshall once ran a profitable concessions business. These days, he’s got congestive heart failure. He lives out in Hutchins, Texas on an acre of land.
Darin and Eric were his sons from his first marriage. They died before their younger brothers were born. They grew up hearing about the tragic deaths of their elder brothers.
“You just can't imagine how something like this could happen,” Marshall said.
Marshall fondly recalls each of his sons.
Darin was the motor cross champion. Marshall took him to competitions all over the country. He treasures the yellowed newspaper clippings detailing his son’s motor cross feats.
“He just couldn't be beat hardly,” he says, just like any proud father.
Eric was the Bible student. He wanted to be a youth minister. The night he died, he attended church and had gone out with friends.
“I said, ‘Have fun when you get there,' and I never saw him again alive,” he says.
Robert was the new father. His son, Hunter, was born one week ago. He worked as a supervisor at a metal recycling business.
“This was absolutely terrible,” he says. “He had everything going for him.”
He dropped by Marshall’s house on Christmas Day with the baby. He told his dad he wanted him to see his grandson.
Two days later, his fiancée came to tell him Robert was dead. I asked Marshall what he'd like to say to Robert's killers.
“It depends if I had a gun or not, but I don't particularly want to go to prison right now,” Marshall said. “I'm not going to forgive them. I don't care what the Bible says. I'm not going to forgive them.”
He says he just doesn't want to -- at least not right now. He’s too angry even for tears.
“Am I a good father? Sometimes I don't think I am,” he says. “But all my children knew I love them. They know I'd do anything in the world for them."
His sole surviving son, Williams, lives with him.
“He’s real upset. He’s hurting big time,” he said.
Eric, Darin, and now Robert, are never from his mind.
“I still think about them. I think about the injustice of all of it,” he says.
Why him? Why his three sons? Only God has the answer to that one.