In August, 1998, my brother, Lawrence Scott Wikso, was marched into a wooded area in Loxahatchie, FL, shot in the back and left to die, alone. His body was ravaged by the South Florida heat and indigenous animals and he was just bone matter when he was found on 9/23/98. He was 36 years old. For seven years, we had no idea what had happened. Despite a missing persons file, including dental records, he was not identified. In 2005, a cold case detective in the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office requested all missing persons records. When he got to my brother's file, something seemed familiar. He was on the scene when my brother's remains were found. My brother was 6' 5" tall, so that was a fairly unique characteristic. The detective pulled out his "John Doe" file and matched the coroner's x-rays to the dental x-rays in the missing persons file, right at his desk. Larry had busted his front teeth as a teenager and was having his caps replaced, so his teeth were rather unique and easy to match. He then sent everything to the coroner for confirmation. That was July 15, 2005. On July 19, 2005, my mother was notified, in NY, by two Suffolk County, NY Detectives. It took 2 weeks to find the box with Larry's remains, have him re-autopsied and issue a death certificate, and secure his remains for transport to NY for burial in the family plot. He was finally laid to rest on Monday, August 15, 2005 in Bay Shore, NY, less than two miles from where he was born and seven years after he was brutally killed. His death certificate was intentional falsified. They used a prior address to protect the identity of the woman whose house he was renting at the time of his death, so that we wouldn't call and "bother" her for any information she might have. That's what they told my mother.
Larry had battled drug problems and had been "clean" for several years, when his second wife died in 1997. He returned to drugs to deal with his grief, but called our mother in August 1998 and said he was checking into rehab. In fact, the P.B.S.O. website says he was in rehab at the time of his murder. How he got out is anyone's guess. As a voluntary admission, he would have had to sign himself out. To my knowledge, he never did that, as there is no record of him ever doing so. The P.B.S.O. link can be found here: http://www.pbso.org/index.cfm?fa=unsolvedHomicides2&id=110
To add insult to injury, he was also convicted of a crime in Florida in 1999, almost a year after he was murdered. That can be found here: http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/Content/OGC/Legal-Bulletins/99-03--A-Review-of-Selected-Cases-Of-Interest-To-F.aspx
(See item #70) I am giving you all the information I have so you can see the facts for yourself and so you understand that we have nothing to hide. I firmly believe that any "crimes" my brother may have committed were paid for with his very life. His family lives with what happened to him every day and we have committed NO crimes. This is where I need help.
Larry and his first wife, Adrienne, had one child, a boy named Derek, my nephew. They live in New Smyrna Beach, FL. Derek was 11 years old when his father went missing and 18 when his father was finally identified and laid to rest. For seven years, he thought his father had abandoned him. He then had 27 days to come to terms with the fact that his father didn't abandon him. His father was, in his words, "shot in the back by a coward and taken from him". That's an awful lot for a young man to absorb in such a short time. A few months after his father's death, he and his mother went to their local Social Security Administration office, death certificate in hand, to apply for my brother's death benefits, retroactive to 1998. They made more than one trip and were told that there was no precedent for this, they should have filed at the time of the death and there was nothing that could be done. Since we didn't even know he was dead and couldn't produce a death certificate, how COULD they have applied? They were told not to come back. That's it. End of story. How can that be? Our government can give out BILLIONS in bailout money, but can't manage any money for the family of a murder victim that couldn't possibly have applied at the time of the murder because we didn't even know what had happened and which we, unlike the recipients of the bailouts, are entitled to. Adrienne was diagnosed with MS, is on Federal Disability, has a mother with Alzheimer's Disease and is in danger of losing her small home. Derek, now 23, is the father of a beautiful little girl named Alana. She, obviously, will never know her grandfather. Derek, Alana and Adrienne all live in one very small house and are in danger of losing that.
Last year, I reconnected with an old neighbor, named Laurie, through Facebook. She was in contact with my brother just prior to his murder and drove him to rehab. She has the name, social security number and current address of a man who threatened to have my brother killed because he believed my brother robbed him while working on his house. He was so angry, he even tried to have Laurie arrested for recommending Larry. I gave this information to the detective on my brother's case last August. As of this writing, he has yet to contact her or follow up in any way on this information. This is the first credible lead in almost 12 years and he can't even make a phone call? She lives in Palm Beach. It's not even a long distance call! I shouldn't be surprised. It took him two YEARS to return numerous calls to update our contact information after my mother died in 2006.
By now, you must be thinking that no one family could go through all of this. I assure you, it's all true! Larry's not even the first unsolved murder in our family. Our first cousin, Debbie Wikso, was killed in Delaware in 1996 when the apartment building she was living in was intentionally set ablaze. The smoke detectors and sprinkler systems were "disabled" and she was burned beyond recognition--2 murders, 2 unidentifiable bodies. She also left one child, a 16 year old daughter. Her case is still listed as an unsolved homicide. That's also not the first fire in our family. This past September, on 9/9/09, my house in NY burned down, destroying everything I owned, yet I am thankful that no one was hurt--or worse. The insurance company has denied the claim, so our only recourse is to sue.
I wish I could hire a high priced attorney to handle all of this, but I too, am physically disabled. After receiving radiation treatments for uterine cancer (during which time I didn't miss a single day of work), I was diagnosed with a progressive spinal disease, a direct result of the radiation, the year before my brother's murder. Last year, I received $8,646 for the year. I'm really glad I paid into "the system" from the time I was a teenager, only to be given a pittance in return. Thank you Social Security. I'd love to know how, with the poverty level over $20,000, one is supposed to live on less than $9,000 a year! I just found out that my sister in law, Adrienne receives even less than I do. How is this possible? I don't even want to be on disability, but my disease and the heavy pain medications I must take to manage it, render me, basically, "unemployable". In fact, I work a part time, seasonal job every summer and generally earn less than $1,000. Guess what Social Security does? They take back EVERY penny! I haven't received my SSI benefit in over a year because their computers aren't designed to keep my employment information from year to year, but the I.R.S. has no trouble remembering and taking their cut! I have an honor's degree in Communications from NYU with minors in Advertising & Speech, yet my diploma is still in the tube in which it was mailed to me. I'd love to have a career and some semblance of a normal life, but clearly, that is not in the cards for me. I don't think I'm asking for a lot, but I honestly don't know what to do anymore.
I would like nothing more than to have my brother's death benefit paid to his son and ex-wife, Social Security to explain their ridiculous practices towards the disabled and for someone to follow up on this lead in my brother's case. I realized long ago that my brother's killer would probably never be brought to justice given the seven year time lag from the discovery of his remains to his identification. I've said many times that as long as I know that everything that could be done has been done, I can leave it up to God to dole out the justice and I can live with that. I just don't know what to do anymore. I became the matriarch of my family at age 40 when my grandmother and mother died within 10 1/2 months of each other and within 13 months of Larry's funeral and am finding it a difficult responsibility to bear.