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"The soul that can speak through the eyes, can also kiss with a gaze."
~Gustav Adolfo Becquer


>> Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Hole in a Full House
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
By Kathy Coffta Sims Staff writer
Stephen Holowczenko and Don Hooper are young and single. The two friends share a common interest in chatting online and playing video games. Both drive 18-wheel trucks for Land Air Express.

In the aftermath of the death of a woman they both had children with, they'll share something else. The two have decided that the best thing for Karen Jones' three children would be to work together as a parenting team to raise them.

Holowczenko, 30, and Hooper, 32, know they have made a decision that will change their lives.
"It's what Karen would have wanted," Hooper said last week. "Hopefully she can rest in peace, knowing we're doing everything we can for these kids."

Jones, 29, died Sept. 15 at University Hospital as the result of injuries she suffered in a beating the night before at the Bridgeport home where she and her three children lived. Her boyfriend, Jonathan R. Amidon, 31, of Brewerton, is charged with second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and first-degree assault. He pleaded not guilty to the charges Tuesday in Madison County Court.

The beating took place at the home Jones and Holowczenko shared at 1534 State Route 31. Jones had three children: an 11-year old, Zachary Conners; a 7-year-old, Nathaniel, who is Hooper's son; and a 4-year-old, Leah, who is Holowczenko's daughter.
Jones and Holowczenko (pronounced hollow-CHENKO) were not boyfriend and girlfriend at the time of her death.

"We were very, very good friends," Holowczenko said.

"We were all really, really close," Hooper said. "Other people may not understand it, but it made sense to us. We all always hung out together."

Holowczenko said he wanted the three children, who are close to one another, to stay together after he and Jones split. So he told Jones she could live in the house on Route 31.

Now Hooper, who lives in Syracuse, is planning to move in and share child care duties.
"We have the same employer, so it will be easier for them, schedule-wise," Holowczenko said.
"It's just better for them (the children) to have two parents," Hooper said. "We want to keep them together."

The men say Zachary's father, whom they did not identify, has agreed to let the boy stay with them and continue with school at Bridgeport Elementary with Nathaniel. Legal issues concerning custody of the boy will be decided at a later date, they said.

The men said the children appear to be handling Jones' death incredibly well.

"They're doing better than the rest of us," Hooper said.

Marilyn Tickner, a volunteer facilitator who works with children at Hope for the Bereaved, says Holowczenko and Hooper are doing the right thing.

"It's wonderful that they're stepping up to the plate. But, it will be complicated, even for the adults involved. Grief is work."

Tickner said the men need to make sure that they use all the professional services they can, including pediatricians, school psychologists and groups like Hope for the Bereaved.
"They are in this for a long haul," she said.

Hooper and Holowczenko said that Jones and Amidon were together as a couple less than a year. The men said Jones met Amidon online and that there were a couple of incidents before the alleged Sept. 14 attack that gave them cause for concern. Neither man would elaborate on those.
"Karen was forgiving about a lot," Hooper said. "She really was just looking for what everybody's looking for. Being alone is tough. We've all gone through parts of relationships where they are healthy or unhealthy. She was trying to follow her heart."

The fathers said they were at the hospital when Jones died, and both were able to tell her goodbye.

"There's never enough words," a tearful Hooper said.

Both men agreed that Jones was a good mother.

"Karen was a loving mother to her three children," Hooper said.

The men say they don't have time to worry about Amidon or what will happen to him.
"We're dealing with something that's been forced upon us by somebody else's selfish act," Hooper said. "The kids are what we're concerned about now. We may not have Karen, but we all have each other."

The fathers say the school has been very supportive of the children since Jones' death. A pile of construction paper sympathy cards from Nathaniel's classmates sits on a coffee table in the living room.

Leah is not in school and will need full-time care until she starts kindergarten next year, they said.

The fathers realize that the going is likely to be difficult.

Hooper said his dad died when he was Zach's age, so he knows what the kids are going through.
"I was bounced around in foster care. As a parent, I know all the things I don't want to be. We're just trying to be the best dads," Hooper said.

"The kids' school is prepared to provide counseling," Holowczenko said, "and we'll do whatever the kids need."

Those tasks have already begun.

Holowczenko struggled Thursday morning in a Camillus funeral home when he helped Leah say goodbye to her mother.

"She knows her mom is never coming back, but she just didn't want to say goodbye forever," he said. "I had taken my tie off after the funeral. Leah and myself put my tie in the casket with the long-stem rose that was already there. That's what she wanted, so that's what we did."

The Post Standard Article

This was a local news item for me. What this article does not mention, though it is mentioned in prior articles, is that that the mom, Karen, was beaten to death, in front of her 11 year old child.

I'll keep watch over this particular news story and how this plays out. I am familar with Judge Biagio DiStefano, the Madison County Judge that is presiding over this murder case, as I was often in his courtroom when I used to work out in Madison County.

I am sickened over this.
Completely sickened.

My heart goes out to this family and I view these two awe-inspiring gentlemen as with the upmost respect and admiration for what they are doing.

What role models they are to other men and fathers.
And what a way to off-set the horrificness of this DV murder.



2 Reflections:

Chopper 7:09 PM, September 27, 2007  

I'm quite proud of the two gentlemen for stepping up and performing these responsibilities. Such a change from a full time professional driving job, requires an unelievable level of time-management. Its good to hear that Land Air is understanding in this matter, and that such a transportation company is especially understanding in the ever-changing family roles, vs. only understanding how to make money for themselves.

I'm also especially sickened to learn tht this had taken place in front of the 11 y/o child, but even more, that Amidon had plead 'not guilty' to the charges.

GreeneyeZZ 8:38 PM, September 28, 2007  

I really hope they both are going to have strong supports around them, professionally and personally. Like the article said...they are in it for the long haul, and it certainly isn't going to be easy.

I hope he's found guilty and that Destefano throws the book at him. My heart goes out to all involved, particularly the 11 year old, who not only was the one who witnessed that horrible crime, but who's father is Not either of the two involved.

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