“An End”




We all thought she was trouble.

Roxanne had been dating Brian Jones for several months. She was an attractive blond with empty eyes. She was much younger than Brian, not a departure from the norm. She was extraordinarily jealous of his affection for friends, let alone any perceived attention paid to potential female competitors. In an environment of the weird and wild, most of us believed she might be crazy.

She was given to hysterics at the slightest precipitant. She flew into tirades over the smallest of issues. She was beyond normal reason. Finally, Brian told her it was over.

She called the T-Bird early one morning a few days later and asked to speak with him. She was calm and controlled. Against his better judgement, Manager Mac passed the phone to Brian. She seemed very together. She asked that he come by her residence in the mobile home park. She needed to talk. She wanted to remain connected. She was looking for guidance. She wished for his help and sought nothing more than amiable resolve and closure. She still loved him. She only asked for friendship. She knew he would understand.

She fired six times and reloaded. She emptied another four rounds. Then she called the police.

The face of the victim appeared under screaming headlines in the Flint Journal. She had empty eyes.

Roxanne was released on bond and waited for Brian’s trial. It was he who would be judged. The newspaper had told it all.

She had shot only in self-defense. He had “attacked her”, regardless of all physical evidence to the contrary. Brian Jones was an unconvicted criminal and insidious dope-dealer of the lowest order. He had owned a biker bar where only the most thoroughly disreputable would be found. He had enticed young Roxanne into the use of cocaine and had involved her in questionable business dealings as part of an evil initiation into a world of relentless temptation and unimaginable sin.

My shock over Brian’s death was magnified tenfold by irresponsible journalism of towering dimension, written with blatant disregard for anything other than shock value . It would not be left unchallenged.

I wrote and recorded the following, which ran every hour from Noon Saturday through Midnight the following day:

This is Peter C. Cavanaugh with a special WTAC Editorial  of an admittedly personal nature. We don’t run “Editorials” regularly anymore, just once in awhile when we feel something’s important enough. This is one of those times.”

“On the front page of  Friday Night’s Flint Journal, the headline screamed “Flint Bar Owner Shot To Death”. The story underneath, written by Michael Amsbaugh, seemed to be about a monster. If I didn’t know Brian Jones, I would have concluded that Brian needed killing.  Maybe that was your impression, too. Well, the coverage was a lie. He didn’t deserve to die.”

“Brian Jones was shot to death early Thursday afternoon by a female acquaintance. We will certainly leave it to others in determining the morality of her actions and won’t deal with that here. I will, however, offer comment on the Flint Journal and what I consider irresponsible reporting. Our local newspaper presented as fact a number of rumors and allegations which are completely untrue.”

“I personally knew Brian Jones for more than fifteen years. He may well not have been a paragon of virtue, but whom of us are? I thought of him as a friend. He was intelligent and wise. He was thoughtful and considerate. He was a patient and caring man.”

“I spoke with the newspaper Friday evening and provided the names of  a dozen responsible contacts who would be glad to offer comment and critique at substantial variance with information given by those anonymously quoted in the Journal’s  published accounting. So far, not one has been approached or reached by phone. They’re waiting.”

“Meanwhile, please know that Brian Jones was not without friends. Speaking for myself and many more, Brian; we’d like to say that we loved you and will miss you.”

I read the editorial over instrumental passages in “The End” by the Doors from the soundtrack of “Apocalypse Now”. I also included one stanza of Jim Morrison’s powerful lyrics and several lines by Martin Sheen regarding untimely death and unearned dishonor.

While no major revision was offered, the Journal did qualify further stories on Brian’s death and backed-off on rhetoric. They’d had plenty left for Jay “Jammer” Johnson before the year was out.

Brian Jones went on trial after a few months. Roxanne had obtained the services of the county’s best defense attorney and had accepted Jesus Christ as her Personal Lord and Savior. The Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office went through the motions. Popular public opinion had been shaped by the Flint Journal’s initial story. Brian Jones wasn’t there to defend himself and, more importantly, he could no longer vote. Justice was blind and also deaf, dumb and disassociative.

Roxanne was found “Not Guilty”. The jury determined that she had shot in self-defense. Why else would a good Christian kill someone? Detailed study only brought confusion. What if she had loaded the gun again and fired into a corpse? After all, she was frightened. He might have twitched!

What if there was testimony that she had invited him over and that he hadn’t just “burst through the door”. He’d made her sin before The Lord. He’d made her have sex. He’d made her do cocaine and marijuana and who knew what else? They weren’t even married!

The jury’s only major disappointment seemed to be they couldn’t have Brian dug up for some proper public hanging. Roxanne freely skated to the West Coast. She couldn’t leave Flint fast enough. There were too many memories differing from those to which she’d sworn. People could be so cruel!

I have since seen “Justice”, at best, being little more than the fair flip of a coin. Even measured against such a standard, injustice prevailed for Brian Jones. One can only hope that he may have temporarily enjoyed some great  head and a fine piece of tail, but that’s as far as any coin-flipping metaphor might offer consolation. Both parties met the wrong person at the wrong time. I’m confident that Roxanne would have ultimately preferred hanging-out with Brian rather than signing-up with Jesus. Although the Lord may have called Roxanne in a mysterious way, I doubt they’re still dating.

WTAC remained for sale. I was somewhat surprised when Frazier Reams, Jr. called me in late February for another meeting. Normally, protocol dictated that further exploration on a purchase would be channeled through Joe Windsor in Georgia.

Frazier and I met again at the Canopy in Brighton. His direct approach then made complete sense. He was still unsure whether or not WTAC might make an interesting acquisition, but he was certain about me.

2 Responses to ““An End””

  1. Wendy Says:

    What was Roxanne’s last name? Also, what year did this take place? I am looking for information and can’t seem to find details…any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • petercavanaugh Says:

      You know, I can’t recall, but there should be loads of stuff in the Flint Journal archives during that time frame. It got continuous major coverage at the time of Brian’s death and Roxanne’s subsequent trial.

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