My son Nicholas Samuel Markowitz is dead because of Jesse James Hollywood. Jesse had him murdered to cover up his own crimes and stay out of prison. And worse, he had someone else do the dirty work, and then took off to let him take the consequences. Little did I know that as I was paging my missing 15-year-old son, he was on his way to his execution.
I died that morning when the crew of detectives came at 6 a.m. to tell us that they had found our missing son. The look in their eyes said it all, but it was their job to deliver the news verbally. Their words were, “Hikers had found Nick’s duct-taped, bullet-riddled body in a shallow grave.”
It was the moment that I shut down and went into denial. I stayed busy getting pictures of Nick and allowing them to search the house for something, anything to make sense of Nick’s execution. I would start to cry and then stop myself. This wasn’t real, things like this happen to others.
The first six and a half years, after hearing of my son’s murder I wanted to die, and almost succeeded several times. I would mix alcohol and pills to the point where I had to have my stomach pumped. Thirteen times, I ended up in the hospital because of suicide attempts and depression. I hung on solely because I wanted to make sure there would be justice for Nick. He deserved this, and so much more. It was the least I could do, but I didn’t realize it would take so long.
For five years, while Jesse was one of America’s Most Wanted, I drove with “Wanted” poster billboards on my car. When I was not looking for Jesse Hollywood, I went to every trial and parole hearing for the other selfish cowards involved. I traveled as far as Canada. I believe that Hollywood may have taken the ferry that was on in Canada shortly before me. I left thousands of “Wanted” posters and key chains everywhere I went, and it didn’t frighten me to think we might bump into each other one day. I knew I was not capable of committing murder for revenge as he had done. I also knew I would not lower myself to the embarrassing level of immaturity and callousness that his family had, such as when Hollywood’s own mother stuck her tongue out at me, flipped me off and screamed profanities.
When I visit the site where Nick was killed, I lay in the make-shift grave where Nick’s ruby red blood drained from his beautiful body. I try to imagine the fear he must have felt in those final moments. His arms and face bound with duct tape, seeing a gun and a grave, he knew he was not going home—ever. Jesse James Hollywood should have been charged with two murders—mine as well as my son’s.
My son, Nicholas Samuel Markowitz, would have been 25 on September 19, 2009. These past nine years have been filled with thoughts of who he’d be today. Would he be in the film industry, a psychiatrist, or still working with his dad? My heart still skips when I see a teenager with a backpack and grocery stories still have me cry over his favorite foods. I wonder, of his size 14 shoes and height of six feet, would he ever have stopped growing. And it tears at my heart to wonder what he would have named his babies.
I am stuck in the past; but I allow myself to think of the future. The long, drawn-out court proceedings have somewhat been a blessing in disguise because they gave me a reason to stay alive—I felt I needed to stay alive long enough to see each of my son’s kidnappers and killers brought to justice.
What it comes down to for me is that my son was murdered, for no good reason, because this man didn’t feel like dealing with any consequences. My son was tricked into thinking he was safe and would be going home. Instead, he was marched up a mountain and shot. Later, Hollywood was out partying with his friends as usual. As soon as my son’s body was found, Hollywood skipped the country. While I was in a mental hospital struggling to find a reason to live, this man was living it up on the beach in Rio.
I hang onto believing in this justice system of ours, that it can see the truth behind the eyes of what may appear to be another human being. Years of watching the defendants squirm made me feel I was in the right place. Watching Jesse Hollywood drink his Smart Water and eat an apricot as the juice drooled down his chin immediately after seeing a picture of my son’s skull with a bullet hole in it confirmed that he is America’s most despicable.
When it comes to justice, it should not enter into the equation how much money you have, or the attorney you hire to make a wrong into a confusing right. The consequences of our actions are sitting in our prison system one in particular: Jesse Hollywood, bragging about the system using presidential caravans and all their expensive toys on him.
I am very thankful that the jury in this case was able to see through the nasty tactics meant to confuse them and allow Hollywood to get away with murder. It was not until this trial that I witnessed such heartless attacks and actions directed to the victim and his family.
I now ask for an appropriate sentence to put an end to this very long quest for justice. My son was stolen from all the people who loved him, and we are irreparably broken. But despite the terrible picture the defense team attempted to paint, we are together. We are grieving and we are aching, but we are all doing our best to honor Nick, and we love each other. I wish Nick could have known his nieces and nephews, and been the best man at his best friend’s wedding. I wish for things every day that will never come true because my son was stolen from me.
I hope it is not forgotten that this would never have happened if it were not for the orders given by Jesse James Hollywood.
Nine years later I still wake up every morning with a gut-wrenching emptiness. But I must continue to be strong and share the story about my stolen son, and encourage people to think of the consequences before making a choice.
Nick, I promise you will never be forgotten.
Nick deserves justice and as the voice of my son I am asking the court to sentence Jesse James Hollywood to the maximum extent of the law.—Susan Markowitz, Nick’s mom