News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

November 11, 2012

Ten years after disappearance, Merv and Doreena Javins continue on, reach out to others

TERRE HAUTE — Ever since her son went missing more than 10 years ago, Doreena Javins has worn an angel-shaped pin with a charm in the shape of a heart, and on that heart is engraved his name: Scott.

Twenty-year-old Scott disappeared May 24, 2002, and what followed was a five-year nightmare as Doreena and her husband, Merv, searched, waited and hoped for the return of their son.

While they did eventually find him, he never returned home.

On Oct. 12, 2007, police found Scott’s car, and his remains, in the Wabash River just south of Fairbanks Park.

Scott may be physically gone, but as far as his parents are concerned, he’s with them every day.

“He’s my guardian angel. He watches over me now,” said Doreena, who also wears a Pandora bracelet with Scott’s initials, birthstone and charms symbolic of the son she lost.

“We think about him every day,” Merv Javins said during an interview at their home Nov. 1.

While they’re remodeling their North Terre Haute home, they have pictures of Scott in “every room but the bathroom,” Doreena said.

Merv, 57, says they have been able to go on with their lives. “You can’t stop living your life. You’ve got to continue on. It’s tough, though, with Scott being our only child,” he said.

They wonder who will take care of them as they grow older.

“Sometimes it gets kind of lonely without him,” he said. “Especially when you’re with people and they’ve got grandchildren, and you’re kind of thinking, gosh, we’ll never have grandchildren.”

They are thankful to good friends Ed and Cindy Ping, who along with their family, have embraced the Javinses. When Scott disappeared, Ed Ping stepped forward and organized search parties.

The Pings’ daughters call the Javinses “Mom and Dad 2,” and the Pings’ granddaughter, 5-year-old Ayla Wheeler, “calls us grandma and grandpa,” Doreena said. The families are planning a trip to Disney World.

“How do you thank somebody like that?” Doreena said. “I tell them all the time how much we appreciate it.”

Ninth annual candlelight vigil

The holidays are especially difficult for those who have lost a loved one, and the Javinses are preparing to host the ninth annual Candlelight Vigil and Christmas Tree Lighting at 6 p.m. Saturday. The event will be conducted at the Ribbon of Hope on the south side of Terre Haute City Hall.

The Javinses began the program the year Scott disappeared.

The vigil is intended to honor all victims of crime, missing persons and all military, past and present. The program includes posting of colors, music, poems, speakers and lighting of two trees, one for victims of crime and missing persons, and the other for military.

One of the trees will be lit by Malissa and Wesley Owens, whose son, Leylahnd, died in a motorcycle accident earlier this year. The driver of the car that hit him was later arrested on two counts of driving while intoxicated resulting in serious bodily injury.

“We thought it would be a good thing to reach out and help some of the other families cope during the holiday period,” Merv said. “It gives families an opportunity to come out during the holidays and share stories and talk about those they have lost.”

The public is welcome to attend, and after the vigil, refreshments will be served in City Hall.

Last year, the vigil occurred on Nov. 19, which would have been Scott’s 30th birthday. The refreshments included a birthday cake.

“We do it to help other families get through the holiday,” but also, to honor the memory of their son, Doreena said.

For the Javinses, questions remain

Scott was a 20-year-old Indiana State University student when he disappeared in the early morning hours of May 24, 2002. He was last seen leaving a party near 22nd Street and First Avenue. Other than a phone conversation with his mother that morning around 2, Scott was not heard from again. He lived with his parents, and had told his mom he was on his way home.

Over the next five years, police investigated and received numerous tips –  some of them false — but none led to Scott. It was as though he simply vanished into thin air, and over time, chances of solving the disappearance appeared bleak.

Finally, on Oct. 12, 2007, Scott’s car and remains were recovered from the Wabash River near a boat ramp in Fairbanks Park.

After a forensic investigation, officials declared Scott’s death an accidental drowning. They concluded that Scott drove into the park, parked his Honda Civic Si in fifth gear on the decline of the boat ramp, then went to sleep. Fifth gear did not hold the car in place, and it slowly rolled into the river, where Scott drowned.

At the time, Vigo County Sheriff Jon Marvel stated that unless the coroner presented new information, “We will consider this case closed.”

But in November 2012, 10 years after Scott disappeared and five years after his remains were recovered, the Javinses don’t consider the case closed.

“There are still a lot of unanswered questions. The story that was told back when they recovered Scott almost looked to me like a Hollywood script that was put together,” Merv said.

Supposedly, a witness saw Scott’s car stopped the night of his disappearance and a burgundy Buick behind it, Merv said. Later, months after Scott’s car was pulled from the river, a burgundy Buick was recovered from the river, Merv said. They say they’ve asked questions but never received answers.

They also don’t believe Scott would go to the park by himself. “He wouldn’t go anywhere by himself,” his mom said.

And, they said, Scott knew better than to park on a boat ramp. “He went fishing with his dad numerous times … He knew not to do anything like that,” Doreena said.

Vigo County Sheriff Greg Ewing said that after he took office in 2011, he met with the Javinses to hear their concerns and open the lines of communication. If any new information were to come forward, the case would be re-opened, he said.

At the same time, “We may never absolutely know what happened that night,” Ewing said.

The sheriff said he feels for the Javinses, who lost their only child. “I can’t fathom what it would be like,” Ewing said.

Regardless of whether the Javinses ultimately find answers to their questions, “You can never have closure,” Merv said. “A parent should never have to bury a child.”

They cherish the memories

The Javinses described their son as a typical young man who loved cars, fishing, music and basketball. “We never had any problems with him,” Doreena said.

He was getting good grades at ISU as he pursued his degree in safety risk management. He lived at home, and on days when he wasn’t working, Doreena would leave a list of chores for him to do; Scott would check them off as he completed them.

The five years he was missing was “a nightmare,” Doreena said. “You don’t wish that upon anybody.”  

For five years, “It just consumed us,” Merv said. “Other than our jobs, that is basically everything we did was try to search for Scott” and try to keep his story “out there.”

The Javinses appeared on the Nancy Grace and Greta Van Susteren programs, and even The Amazing Kreskin, a nationally known mentalist, came to Terre Haute to help the family.

The couple was sustained by the support they received from friends, family and the community. Doreena also went to a counselor. “I had to have someone to talk to,” she said.

They found the strength to keep going. And hoping. “You just don’t give up. You can’t give up,” Doreena said.

Now, when they learn of other cases involving missing children in the area, they offer their support. “If it hadn’t been for Ed and Cindy Ping, I don’t know what we would have done,” Doreena said.

Doreena also has been involved with Compassionate Friends, an organization that supports bereaved families after the death of a child.

Both inside and outside their home, reminders of Scott are everywhere, from the pictures in each room, to the statues and plaques in the front yard.

Scott’s bedroom has been painted twice, and Doreena now uses it for scrapbooking, but, “It’s still his room,” she said.

The room has photos and collages that tell Scott’s story, from pre-birth — when Doreena was pregnant — to a photo taken on Mother’s Day just a few weeks before Scott died.

The photos show a little boy holding a basketball, the family’s last vacation together in Branson, Mo., and Scott’s first Halloween, when Doreena took a snow suit and made it a bunny costume.

She’s made scrapbooks of his school years and basketball years and now is working on one that tells the story of his life.

Sometimes, the Javinses’ “adopted” granddaughter, Ayla Wheeler, asks them about Scott, and Doreena responds, “We tell her he’s in heaven, and we’ll see him again someday.”

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
  • MET 072514 WWI 01MORAHN.jpg Postcards from the war front

    A native of France, Marie Decleir saw humanity at its worst as she experienced the death and destruction caused by World War I, which began 100 years ago today.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • MET 072714 NASCAR STEIG.jpg Watching Gordon make history

    As race car drivers competed on the track on Sunday in Indianapolis, racing fans in Terre Haute gathered around television screens and watched history unfold during the “Crown Royal Presents, The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard.”

    July 27, 2014 3 Photos

  • STATE OF THE STATEHOUSE: Inept amid partisan fury

    Retired Congressman Lee Hamilton has warned of the perils of political ideology, calling the body where he spent 34 years “noxiously partisan.” Now, he worries the divide is downright dangerous.

    July 27, 2014

  • Restaurant Inspections: July 28, 2014

    July 7-11

    July 27, 2014

  • MET 072514 I-70 CONE.jpg Caution zone

    Travel the interstate at your own risk.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • Earl Elliott report1 copy.jpg Report: City‘s general fund to remain in red

    The city’s general fund balance on June 30 remained deep in the red, even after Terre Haute received its twice-yearly property tax check from the state.

    July 26, 2014 6 Photos

  • MET 072314 INTERN 01MILLER.jpg Interns, getting foot in the door, bring diversity to workplace

    Shanya Tompkins interviewed with Coldwell Banker-Troy Helman Realtors, anticipating an eight-week, part-time summer internship.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • MET072514dance porter.jpg Everybody get up and dance now

    National Dance Day promotes dancing as part of a healthy, active lifestyle.

    July 26, 2014 4 Photos

  • Pendergast.jpg Man arrested after rollover kills teen girl

    A Terre Haute man has been arrested and a teenager has died following an alcohol-related accident early today.

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • MET072514 invenadamson step.jpg ‘Minds-on camp’

    Sylvia Ann Adamson longed for privacy, so she invented a solution to that problem at “Camp Invention.”

    July 25, 2014 5 Photos

  • Linda Tincher.jpg Riley lion’s roar goes global

    Linda L. Tincher has become the first woman from Indiana elected to serve as an international director for Lions Clubs International. She was chosen earlier this month during the clubs’ 97th international convention in Toronto, Canada.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET072514 SPPRAK glasses.jpg Kindness ‘undercover’

    Hundreds of people gathered at Bob Warn Field at Sycamore Stadium on Friday for a night of baseball, music, the “Green Man” and green shades.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Residents ‘stuff the bus’ with pencils, notebooks, backpacks

    After exiting a Wal-Mart store in Clinton, Roger E. Richardson stopped his shopping cart Friday in front of a large yellow South Vermillion School Corporation bus.

    July 25, 2014

  • Man faces 9 charges in homicide case

    A Solsberry man faces nine criminal charges related to a July 18 homicide and rape in rural Greene County.

    July 25, 2014 1 Story

  • maroon truck.jpg UPDATE: Rockville man dies after head-on collision

    A Rockville man has died from injuries he sustained this afternoon in a two-vehicle, head-on crash on U.S. 41 north of Lyford.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • red truck.jpg Head-on crash leaves Rockville man seriously injured

    A Rockville man was air-lifted to an Indianapolis hospital with serious injuries this afternoon following a two-vehicle crash on U.S. 41 north of Lyford.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vigo County Jail Log: July 25, 2014

    The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Thursday and Friday, based on jail records.

    July 25, 2014

  • Measles case confirmed in Central Indiana

    INDIANAPOLIS — State health officials have confirmed a case of measles in Central Indiana. The Indiana State Department of Health is working with local health departments and health care providers to identify additional cases of measles, and to prevent further transmission of the disease.

    July 25, 2014

  • Fast food workers prepare to escalate wage demands

    CHICAGO (AP) — Fast food workers say they’re prepared to escalate their campaign for higher wages and union representation, starting with a national convention in suburban Chicago where more than 1,000 workers will discuss the future of the effort that has spread to dozens of cities in less than two years.

    July 25, 2014

  • 4 doctors arrested after Indiana clinic raids

    CARMEL, Ind. (AP) — Authorities say four doctors have been arrested on charges of improperly prescribing a drug used to treat painkiller addiction from several Indiana offices.

    July 25, 2014

  • holiday world thunderbird.jpg Holiday World plans new winged roller coaster

    SANTA CLAUS, Ind. (AP) — The Holiday World amusement park in southern Indiana is building a new $22 million roller coaster that it says will launch riders to 60 miles an hour in 3.5 seconds, with a 14-story loop and four inversions.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Indianapolis pulls future support for Amtrak line

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — City officials in Indianapolis have cast the future of an Amtrak passenger line between Indianapolis and Chicago into doubt after deciding not to provide any additional money to subsidize that line.

    July 25, 2014

  • Pence leading annual governor’s motorcycle ride

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Mike Pence is leading the annual governor’s motorcycle ride from the Statehouse through southern Indiana.

    July 25, 2014

  • State asks judge to delay right-to-work ruling

    CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) — The Indiana attorney general’s office has asked a judge to put on hold his order striking down the state’s right-to-work law.

    July 25, 2014

  • MET 072414 HOESS 01KOR.jpg Voices from Auschwitz: Ties that bind

    A message that has spread like wildfire across Europe can easily translate to America.

    July 24, 2014 4 Photos 1 Story

  • Minimum wage frozen after 5 years

    Thursday marked the fifth anniversary since the federal minimum wage was increased, a wage U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez contends should again be raised.

    July 24, 2014

  • MET072414 CANDLES shake.jpg ISU, CANDLES join to ‘illuminate the world’

    Indiana State University and CANDLES Holocaust Museum are joining forces to educate current and future generations about the Holocaust, genocide and related issues.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos 1 Story

  • MET072414 JA hadley.jpg 50 years later, still business as usual

    Junior Achievement of the Wabash Valley marked its 50th anniversary hosting a luau Thursday at the Ohio Building in Terre Haute.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Two semis collide; one driver injured

    A semi-trailer driver from North Carolina was airlifted to Methodist Hospital Thursday after his vehicle collided with another tractor-trailer on Interstate 70 in far western Vigo County.

    July 24, 2014

  • Valley talent returns for show tonight

    Local musical collective Lunes Domingo is scheduled to be back at The Verve tonight to perform the last installment of its 2014 series.

    July 24, 2014

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma Raw: Violent Clashes Between Libyan Militias Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Video Shows Smiling American Bomber in Syria Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Fox Dons 'Bondage Strap' Skirt at Comic-Con Raw: Sirens After Explosions in Israel Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con
NDN Video
Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity