On Nov. 10, 1992, Lewis Green, then 22, shot himself in the head during a game of Russian Roulette.
That left him partially paralyzed on his left side and with mental problems, his mother said.
Twenty-two years and five days later — on Saturday — Green, 44, was one of three people shot to death at a north side Springfield hotel that often is home to transients, as well as families down on their luck.
"I loved my son," said Green's mother, Kaye Green, Tuesday before she went to start making funeral arrangements. "I loved my son in spite of himself."
Green was living in room 149 of the Economy Inn where he was required to have his address posted online because he was a registered sex offender. Also killed in the same room were Danielle J. Keyes, 29, and Trevor L. Fantroy, 43. One man survived, Christopher K. Freeman, 24. No arrests have been made.
Kaye Green, 63, a former machine operator who retired from Solo Cup after 24 years, said her son moved to the Economy Inn about five months ago. She said he could afford the payments on his checks from Social Security disability and the motel didn't do background checks on who lived there.
The owner of the motel has not returned repeated phone calls from the News-Leader.
Kaye Green said she doesn't think her son's status as a sex offender had anything to do with his death. Police have not commented on whether they are investigating a possible connection.
"Whoever did that was a coward because he couldn't run," she said. "He was trapped in his own body."
Green was playing Russian Roulette with his girlfriend in 1992 in his mother's home with a .38 caliber handgun. More than a dozen times he placed the gun up to his head and squeezed the trigger, his girlfriend told police.
He put the gun away, then got it out again, put a round in the cylinder and spun it, his girlfriend told police. She was too scared to watch as he put the gun to his head again. She heard two clicks and then the gun went off.
"It was his gun, which we didn't know he had," Kaye Green said, echoing similar comments she made in the media at the time of the shooting.
The shooting left Green with short-term memory problems and other mental problems, his mother said.
"They told me all his senses were heightened, his sexuality," she said.
In February 1994, less than two years after his game of Russian Roulette, Green tried to have sex with a 4-year-old, according to court records. He pleaded guilty to rape, according to court records.
Green initially was sentenced to five years' probation but ended up serving almost five years in prison after violating his probation, according to the Missouri Department of Corrections.
Kaye Green thinks he wouldn't have tried to rape the girl if he hadn't been left handicapped by the shooting.
"I know my son wasn't an angel," Kaye Green said. "I've never ever believed that. But he does have family. He has four sisters and brothers. He has a mother. He has a grandmother."
After his release from prison in 2000, Green lived in a series of group homes. He also had more trouble with the law. At the time of his death, he was on probation for failure to register as a sex offender.
Kaye Green said he did everything she could for her son, her middle child, the son who had dropped out of high school and never seemed to find his way. She brought him food, took him to counseling appointments, drove him to his probation officer.
"I did everything I could for him to try to get him on the right path," Kaye Green said. "I put more effort into him than I did the other four children."
Kaye Green, who raised her five children as a single mother after her divorce from their father, said her son hated living in group homes, hated the rules, hated the restrictions. He lived in group homes in Springfield, Republic, Bolivar, Lebanon and other towns she can't remember.
"He had been in group homes most of his life," Kaye Green said. "He wanted to be an adult and live his life."
She said Green enjoyed Economy Inn.
"He was free," Kaye Green said. "He would rather be dead than be in a group home."
She said she and Green's caseworker from Burrell Behavioral Health worried about Economy Inn and the crime there. Police have had 119 calls to Economy Inn in the past 12 months, of which three pertained to reports of drugs, said city spokeswoman Cora Scott.
Kaye Green said she and her son's caseworker had been trying to find another place for Green to live but other places were too expensive or required background checks.
As she makes her son's funeral arrangements, Kaye Green remembers the child who was always a handful, the one who couldn't sit still. And she takes comfort from other members of Pitts Chapel, the Methodist Church on Martin Luther King Drive.
"They all said, 'People know you loved Lewis,'" Kaye Green said.
She said that toward the end of Green's life she tried tough love to try to get him to act his age. Despite their difficulties, she said, her son "always loved his momma."
"I would say, 'I love you too,'" Green said, "'but I wish you would be different.'" ..Source.. by Sarah Okeson, News-Leader