Behind the Headlines
"I worried most every day what he might get into or try," Tricia says. "[Jeff] was always taking things to the highest level you could push it. We were just always holding our breath."
Dennis and Tricia say they warned their kids about high-risk behaviors like underage drinking and drug abuse, but, like most parents, they weren't aware of this "modern-day Russian roulette."
"He wasn't drinking," Dennis says. "He wasn't driving fast. He wasn't doing any drugs. He wasn't doing any of the things that we always made sure our kids didn't do. ... In his mind, he wasn't doing anything that would violate or hurt us."
As Dennis thinks back over the summer, he remembers one subtle hint that Jeff was involved in something dangerous. He says the he saw Jeff wrapping a rope around his neck in the backyard one afternoon and asked his son what he was doing. Startled, Jeff gave his father a believable excuse, and Dennis let it slide.