Justice for Craig
By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on October 26, 2008 2:00 AM
Craig Doubt holds back his tears about the murder of his only son, Craig Doubt III, seen in the photograph. The 18-year-old died Sept. 8 after he was shot in the head at 1722 E. Maple St.
Craig Doubt stands over his son's grave at a cemetery on Central Heights Road.
Craig Doubt digs a hand into a mound of dirt nestled deep inside a cemetery off Central Heights Road -- carefully, so not to disturb the flowers and stuffed animals still covering his 18-year-old son's final resting place.
"This is not OK," he mutters, tears running down his cheeks. "This is not OK."
He stands, but keeps his eyes focused on the placard bearing the name of his only son, his namesake.
"This is not OK," Doubt says again, only this time, in a loud, stern tone. "This is not God's plan."
His son died Sept. 8 at Pitt Memorial Hospital, a few hours after Goldsboro police found him lying behind a home on East Maple Street and he was airlifted to Greenville.
He had been shot in the back of the head.
By the time his father reached him, Craig was "slipping away" in the Intensive Care Unit -- bleeding from his mouth and nose, unconscious.
"I was saying a prayer with the chaplain, and I saw a single tear run down Craig's face," his father said. "That's when I let him go."
Less than 48 hours later, Goldsboro police had identified his alleged killer as Monterio Devon Newsome, a 20-year-old from the neighborhood who, nearly two months since the shooting, is still at large.
Doubt "just can't understand."
So even though he "let Craig go" in that moment, he admits there will be little peace until his son's killer is brought to justice.
From an office inside Chevrolet-Cadillac of Goldsboro, Doubt and his first wife, Leigh A. Doubt Monroe -- Craig's mother -- flip through some photographs of their son.
There he is as a 3- or 4-year-old in his father's arms.
There is that "beautiful smile" he wore to his mother's second wedding.
"He picked out his own tuxedo," Mrs. Monroe said. "He said, 'I want a suit with a bow tie.'"
They flip to a memorial bearing Craig's likeness, the same one hanging on a wall in that office, a gift from the 18-year-old's co-workers at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.
His father looks down and starts to cry.
"I shouldn't be looking at memorials," Doubt said. "I should be looking at my son."
He wipes away the tears and musters half a smile when he gets to the next image, one of Craig playing football for Goldsboro High School.
But both the mother and father break down when they get to the last picture taken of their son.
He is wearing a suit in this particular photograph, too, only this time, Craig is lying lifeless in a coffin, the eyes that used to make his mother "light up" forever closed.
She turns away.
"I'm not saying my son was perfect. I'm not saying he was a saint," Mrs. Monroe said. "But he didn't deserve this."
Doubt can't make himself turn away from the picture.
"Why did they take my boy," he says over and over in a whisper. "Why did they kill my son?"
Goldsboro police still know little about what happened Sept. 7.
The information they do have from eyewitness accounts is still sealed as the investigation, and the hunt for Newsome, continue.
But Mrs. Monroe said the night of the shooting was not the first time Craig had been "targeted" by his alleged killer.
In fact, he had come home "bloody and bruised" many times in the weeks before but refused to press charges against his childhood playmate.
"I went to the police, but they said, 'He's 18. There is nothing we can do unless he comes in and files charges,'" Mrs. Monroe said. "I told Craig, and he would just say, 'I can't. They are going to think I'm a punk.'"
She was worried but never thought the violence would escalate beyond typical fighting between boys.
Neither did his father.
"When I was a kid, you got into a fight with your boy and then a few days later, you were best friends again," he said. "I just don't understand. What does that say about our society?"
Mrs. Monroe starts crying.
"Why take his life?" she said. "Beating him down and sending him home bloody and bruised wasn't enough?"
Beyond the grief, both mother and father find it "tragically ironic" that Craig was killed just a few months after the birth of his own son, Cameron.
For years, his parents were worried about the company he kept -- concerned about the bruises and the blood he often wore home from school -- so much so, that they sent him to live with his aunt in Pennsylvania until last September.
"I brought him home because I missed him so much," Mrs. Monroe said.
"She brought him home, but I didn't stop her. I missed him, too. I thought he would be OK," Doubt added. "I kept telling him there is more to life than this -- more to life than what you see out there in the neighborhood. And when he held his baby, you could see in his eyes that he finally believed me."
Craig came back to Goldsboro determined to get his GED, to follow in his father's footsteps and join the Air Force, his parents said.
But those dreams died with him, and the son he took so much pride in is now among those left behind.
"Who is going to be there to protect (Cameron)?" Doubt said. "Who is he going to look up to? Not his daddy. Not anymore."
Doubt gets out of a car and makes his way to the spot on Maple Street where his son lay bleeding roughly six weeks ago.
"His head was down right there," Doubt says, pointing to the makeshift memorial now at his feet. "At least somebody around here remembers him ... Most people, outside of the people who knew him, don't care. ... To them, Craig is just another kid who got shot in the projects."
The father admits it would be selfish to think only of his son while others around the city are still grieving losses suffered under similar circumstances.
So he allows himself to feel their pain, too.
"It's not just my boy," he said. "No parent should have to go through this."
He knows what it is like to speak at his child's funeral, to "have to be strong" for the family left behind and "bury the pain."
He knows how hard it is to let go of the little things that still remain -- like Craig's favorite jacket his 14-year-old sister wears from time to time.
Mrs. Monroe can't even open his bedroom door.
"Oh God, I can't," she said. "I don't want anybody to go in that room."
"When you can't even wash the last glass he drank out of, that's some hurt right there," Doubt added. "That's some hurt most people will never, ever understand."
He wonders if his son's killer will ever be brought to justice.
"This guy is still walking around town. People have seen him recently," he said. "Somebody knows where he is at and won't turn him in."
But most of all, Doubt wonders if he could have done something to save his son.
"If I had said a certain thing, if I had done a certain thing, would he still be here?" he said.
Maybe that is why he finally decided to share his pain with others -- so that other parents who try to let their children "find their own way" think long and hard about the dangers young people face, so that they might hold their son or daughter a little tighter each time they embrace.
"I can't bring my son back. I have to come here to see him," Doubt said. "But I can tell his story so that, hopefully, this won't happen again. No parent in this town should have to feel the pain I feel."
Back at the gravesite, Doubt sprinkles the dirt he grasped moments earlier over Craig's grave.
Tears are still falling.
"There are no words. You are constantly saying goodbye with every step you take," Doubt said.
So as he left, he said it one more time.
"Catch you later baby," he said. "Catch you later."
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