My dearest brother:
So many years have passed and the pain of your death remains with me, family, friends, and others. It is a constant, nagging pain, and one that will always be with me no matter where I go and no matter what I do. I left America in August 1986 and took an assignment with the US government living and working overseas. In each country where I lived and worked, i.e. Japan, England, and Iceland, I always thought about you. Yes, I was the first in our family to earn an undergraduate degree, a Master’s Degree in Education plus approximately 125 post graduate credits in professional certification and technology.
Your tour as a sailor in the US Navy, afforded you the opportunity to see parts of the world beyond Roanoke Rapids and North Carolina. I remember at one time you saying, "I have seen six of the Seven Wonders of the World, but there is no place better than home, Roanoke Rapids, NC.” I often wondered, were you there in Japan, Iceland? I could feel your presence with me while living in those countries and a strong sense of your presence and spirituality was with me, especially so when living in Iceland. I felt so close to the heavens and could see you sitting on the throne next to our Supreme Being and his son, Christ Jesus along with his angels.
What a fantastic experience for you to see six of the Seven Wonders of the World. God has truly blessed the two of us. We came from such humble beginnings and who were raised by our grandmother, a share cropper. We shared a four room shack with 14 others. A shack/house without running water, toilets and was heated by a wood burning stove. We walked at least 3 miles to school, to a two-room school house each day. Although our family was poor and lacked material possessions, we always had much love from our grandmother and our school teacher, Mrs. Gray.
To me, your sudden death was a catastrophic historical event, with masses of people, members of the surrounding sheriff and police department, letters of condolences from local, county, and state dignitaries who were in present at your memorial services and burial. The small country church was packed with spectators spilling out of the church. There appeared to be hundreds of cars parked alongside the road. The theme was, “Deputy Sheriff Killed.”
At your burial site, you were given a military funeral. The ceremony included the folding and presenting of the flag of the United States to your wife and the playing of Taps and lastly, the draping of a flag over your coffin. Perhaps, one day there will be a movie about your life and death which can be shared with people all over the world. If this happens, this will certainly be a blessing from God.
Throughout the years and to present, we continue to grieve your loss and will continue to celebrate your life. We will continue to ask, “What, in fact, was the cause of his death?” I have sent numerous written requests to law enforcement officers, FBI, and the Governor of the State of North Carolina requesting an investigation of your death. I was given promises for an investigation; however, never received any results other than “there are no findings” which led me to believe that an investigation, in fact, never occurred.
I just want you to know that you have and will always be with me and family members who are still living, friends and others who would like to know what caused your sudden death. Very soon, God will grant us the vision, spirit, and wisdom to learn “who” took you away from us. We must “wait and watch and watch and wait” for the Lord to help us find the truth about your death. Hurt through loss, I’ve become yet a wiser person. Sisterly Love, Cozie M. Goodwin Lassiter.
Cozie M. Goodwin Lassiter
May 6, 2016