August 5, 2007, I got a phone call from Steve (Zach’s dad). “I know this is going to sound strange, but , have you seen Zach?” Zach spent the night at his dad’s house that night so he could tell his dad, step-mom Laurie, brother Blake, and step-aunt Angie all about his trip to England he just returned home from on August 2nd. Actually, he was suppose to come home on August 4th, but I told him to just spend some time with Angie while she was in town and he could come home after church on the 5th.
“No…he was suppose to come home after church but I haven’t seen him yet. Did he go to church?” I missed church that morning and was sitting in a chair doing a word-find when Steve called. Steve told me that when Angie got up, Zach’s alarm was going off, but he was nowhere to be found. He said he was forming a search party to find him. He laughed and said, “Knowing Zach he’s curled up at the bottom of some tree after taking a midnight hike because he couldn’t sleep. He was having trouble sleeping because of the jet lag, you know.” I knew. He had trouble sleeping the night he came home.
I had a bad feeling in my stomach but thought Steve was probably right. I was annoyed that he allowed Zach to leave the house in the middle of the night and thought that was too much freedom for a 15 year old, but we disagreed about that. The whole summer, actually starting the latter half of Zach’s freshman year, Steve and I had several heated discussions about Zach, and cars, and living arrangements, and rules. I consulted an attorney in June or July for advice on what to do about Steve “luring” Zach away with promises of a car, no curfew, choice of going to school in a town far away from Davenport, among other things. Her advice was that he would eventually see through it and if I let him go, he would come back. She recommended that I let him go with some very clear, well-stated restrictions, on a trial basis. Then she said something I’ll never forget, “Besides, what better, safer place for a boy to be than at a Boy Scout Camp.”
It was almost 2:00 p.m. and I hadn’t heard anything. I couldn’t stand it any longer and had to call. Tim and his step-son were standing in front of the t.v. talking. I went to the kitchen and called Steve. When he answered, I asked, “Did you have any luck yet?” The next voice I heard was unknown to me. “Ms. Dreyer? This is Officer ____(I can’t remember his name).” I think my heart stopped beating as I felt it drop into my stomach. “Yes? Where’s Zach? What’s going on?”
“Ms. Dreyer, there’s been an accident. I’m going to need you to come out here so we can discuss some things with you. Is there anyone who can drive you?”
“Yes. Somebody can drive me. Is Zach alright? Can I talk to him?”
“We really need you to come out here. I can’t discuss anything over the phone. Steve wants you to bring your father. Can you arrange that?”
“Ummm, I think so, I’ll get there right away. I need to know about Zach.”
“We’ll talk when you get here.”
“O.k.” When I hung up the phone, my heart had sprang up into my throat and was beating wildly. I yelled for Tim, “Tim!!! Oh my God!!!! Steve wouldn’t talk to me and handed the phone to some cop and he wouldn’t tell me anything and said I needed to go out there and that I needed to have someone else drive and they want my dad to come with and they won’t tell me anything and I need to see Zach !!! Why won’t they tell me anything?! We have to go, we have to go now! I’ll call my dad. Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God. Please let him be o.k. What if he’s hurt? What if he drown? We have to go. I have to get out there right now!” I remember speaking faster than I’ve ever spoken before. Tim said a bunch of things to me, but I don’t remember anything he said. I don’t even think I heard him. He started to get ready and I called my parents’ house. Nobody was home. I got dressed and got my shoes on. Tim was getting ready the way he always does. I yelled at him, “You don’t have to do all that! You don’t have to be pretty! Just get dressed and let’s go. I need my boy. I need my boy. I need my boy….” He stopped what he was doing and got dressed.
It was the hottest day of the year. The high temp that day was ______ and the humidity was _______%
I rocked back and forth and cried on and off the whole way from Davenport to Camp Loud Thunder. The drive was excruciatingly longer than usual. I kept saying over and over, “Zachy will be o.k., Zachy will be o.k. Please God, let Zachy be o.k. Why are the police there? What won’t they tell me? That can’t be good. I hope he just got in trouble or something. Maybe he tripped and fell in the lake. Maybe he’s in a coma. Maybe he’s paralyzed. It’s alright, we’ll help him through it, it’ll be o.k.” I knew it wasn’t o.k.
When we pulled up the driveway, I saw so many police vehicles and there was ugly yellow tape blocking the way. There were lots of people standing in groups of three or four. Tim told me to stay in the car while he found out what happened. I started yelling again. “I’m not staying in the car! I’m going to find out where my boy is!” I started walking toward a group of officers behind the yellow tape. They started to hold their hands up to keep me back when they heard what I said. A very large African-American uniformed officer came up to me along with a short light brown haired plain-clothes officer. They were trying to get me to sit down in my car. I refused to sit down. I told them I was absolutely not getting back in my car. I did a half sit-stand against the front of somebody’s minivan. “There, I’m sitting, is this alright with you? I’m NOT getting back in my car.”
I saw Steve up a small hill close to the house pacing. He saw me and looked away. I saw that my brother and Dad were there, “How did they know? Oh, that’s right I called Dad’s cell phone. Muscatine must be closer than Davenport.” I thought to myself.
I glanced over at my brother. He was fidgeting and looked angry and uncomfortable. I saw a man I didn’t know standing there. He looked to be about 60 or so and had a weird grin on his face. I wondered what he was all about.
The short officer introduced himself. “Investigator,” I thought. “You have the bluest eyes. You look kind. Why are you telling me such terrible things?” I remember my thoughts more than I remember his horrible words. He was so matter-of-fact. He looked right at me and said, “Zachary hung himself.” I was stunned. I was expecting him to say that he was driving his four wheeler and it flipped over and he’s at the hospital or something. “What?” I said