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DonM

Tragic Death of Eagle Scout

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This week in my community, we've learned that a local Eagle Scout was killed and 4 other local teenagers have been arrested, charged with his murder.

 

The story I've copied below describes the situation surrounding the death of Matt Silliman as we know it now. This is an unbelievable tragedy, not just for his family but for all the families involved. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to them.

 

When I went to my first scout training class, they told us that all teenage boys will join 'gangs', peers who will influence them more than their parents. They might be good 'gangs' or they might be bad. Scouting gives us a chance to help them become connected to a positive group of friends. It appears that Matt hooked up with another group with this sad result.

 

Please remember all of them in your prayers, give your kids a hug, then take a look over your teenager's shoulder to see who they're chatting with online.

 

Don

 

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Teen victim suffered storms in life

Raleigh News And Observer, 12/5/2008

Mandy Locke and Thomasi McDonald, Staff Writers

 

RALEIGH -- This fall, life bore down on Matt Silliman.

 

There was the on-again-off-again love affair with his girlfriend. His dad didn't like his new style: dyed hair and gothlike clothes. Since he turned 18 in August, he had set out to find the mother who gave him up for adoption when she was a teenager, said Taylor Cross, a friend from Apex High School.

 

"All of this was just stacking up," Cross said.

 

Matthew Josiah Silliman, 18-year-old Eagle Scout, was found dead Wednesday in a mobile home used for storage in the rural community of New Hill, in southwestern Wake County. Four teens, friends from western Wake County, have been charged with his killing.

 

In late September, Silliman posted on his Facebook page a vulgar and desperate message, then suggested he would kill himself. Two days later, he was in a psychiatric ward at Holly Hill Hospital in Raleigh, according to Cross and Silliman's Facebook postings.

 

So, when Silliman disappeared the night before Thanksgiving, friends assumed he had run away. His parents called police, concerned that their son had vanished without his medication. They told friends from church that he'd probably gone camping, said his Scout troopmaster, Bart Vashaw.

 

No one thought Silliman, who thrived outdoors, could be in danger.

 

"He was the kind of kid you could imagine dropping off anywhere and he'd find his way home," said Brian Blum, a Boy Scout leader. "He was that confident in the woods."

 

Thursday, a medical examiner studied Silliman's body for clues about how he met his death. Wake County Sheriff's investigators concluded it was murder the day before and arrested four suspects: Drew Logan Shaw, 16; Ryan Patrick Hare, 18; Allegra Rose Dahlquist, 17; and Aadil Shahid Khan, 17.

 

The teens, split among two high schools in western Wake County, were a tight group brought together by courtships and middle-school friendships.

 

One by one, the teens faced a Wake County District Court judge Thursday afternoon and heard just how deep their troubles are. Judge Jennifer Knox told them they were too young to be executed for the crime but could spend the rest of their days behind bars. Their relatives wiggled in the courtroom's hard benches, pressing tissues against their noses as they tried to catch the eye of their teenagers. Dahlquist stood 5 foot 2, her jail-issued jumpsuit swallowing her thin frame, surrounded by grown-ups using words such as "bond" and "indigent."

 

Each remained silent, nodding to indicate he or she had or needed an attorney.

 

Judge Knox sent all of them back to jail without bond and warned them to not say a word to one another.

 

Two of the suspects' families have already hired high-profile lawyers. Joseph Cheshire, who represents Dahlquist, said Thursday that it's too soon to know what happened, but that the tragedy of this case is touching many. Raleigh lawyer Douglas Kingsbery, who is representing Khan, said the teen is "terribly sorry" for Silliman's family.

 

According to arrest warrants, deputies believe the suspects killed Silliman on Nov. 30, four days after his parents reported him missing. Deputies haven't said what they believe happened in the days between or how Silliman died.

 

On Wednesday, Wake County Sheriff's investigators pulled Silliman's body from a deserted double-wide mobile home. The trailer belonged to Dahlquist's mother.

 

Neighbor Dickie Miller said he would see Dahlquist and a collection of teenage boys roam the property from time to time, playing paintball and knocking out windows in an abandoned car.

 

The group didn't do drugs, friends said. Only one, Hare, had been in trouble with police. In March, Hare was arrested on charges of firing a paintball gun at a school bus.

 

On Thursday, Silliman's murder brought the parents of the teens face to face, several for the first time. In the lobby of the jail after their children faced a judge, they shook hands, embraced and exchanged phone numbers. The dynamic among their children -- who led, who followed -- was not as clear.

 

The families brushed past reporters, declining to comment.

 

Friends cannot imagine Silliman could have been killed and his four friends blamed for it.

 

"Never in a million years can any of us imagine them doing anything like this to him," Cross said. "They were friends."

 

Silliman and his friends tended to dress in goth-style clothes -- black from head to toe.

 

Billy Schenck, 18, of Apex, a friend of Shaw's, came to court Thursday to support him. He said the group was often misunderstood because of their fashion.

 

"We're not a gang. We're not violent," said Schenck.

 

For Silliman, the goth image was a new phase. He was a longtime Boy Scout before aging out of the program this fall. He's spent Sundays with his family at Peace Presbyterian Church in Cary. Until this year, Silliman's hair was cropped tight against his scalp.

 

This summer, Silliman came to a troop meeting with his hair dyed bright red, Vashaw said.

 

Silliman's father, Ben, a professor at N.C. State University, had urged his son to call his troopmaster before attending to make sure his hair would be OK. Vashaw remembers laughing and telling Silliman to get to the meeting.

 

"Matt was just the kind of kid who liked to experiment and try new things," Vashaw.

 

Silliman was a serious Scout. This summer, he began teaching younger Scouts how to light a campfire and cook outside, Blum said. And he worked as a counselor at Camp Millstone, a 4-H camp. Ben Silliman works for the Department of 4-H Youth Development at N.C. State.

 

This fall, it was Matt Silliman who need help.

 

Silliman emerged from Holly Hill in October with some prescriptions and a new explanation for his depression. Cross said Silliman told her that doctors thought he might be bipolar.

 

In the weeks that followed, Silliman's Facebook wall bore traces of his emotions.

 

On Oct. 21, he wrote: "Matt is numb....just numb and all I can say is its for the best."

 

Ten days later: "Matt is now filled with the hope and joy of something new."

 

Nov. 7, less than three weeks before he disappeared: "Matt keeps spiralling down."

 

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This is in my area as well. I want all of you to think about the boys in your unit and consider just how little it takes for one of them to end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

 

Josh changed. from the article:

"Silliman and his friends tended to dress in goth-style clothes -- black from head to toe.

His dad didn't like his new style: dyed hair and gothlike clothes."

 

His dad was right. Some of these "fads" are very destructive.

 

Keep a sharp eye out for things like this.

 

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