As a former staff writer for the Daily Breeze and the San Diego Union-Tribune newspapers -- and a contributor to the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Diana Chapman has covered the issues peoplefind important. In this blog, she focuses on the community programs and resources that benefit children and teens. Also visit her blog: http://www.secretlifeinmybackyard.blogspot.com. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org @
Sunday, November 18, 2012
O'Kane Children Not Likely to Bury Father
Johnny O'Kane and son, Jonathan Andrew "Drew" O'Kane
O'Kane Children Reeling From Father's
Double Shooting Of Himself And Girlfriend Now Face Another Front When "Estranged"
By Diana L. Chapman
Johnny O'Kane's children who wanted to
bury their father next to their mother who died of cancer in 2005 might not get
the chance after his second wife resurfaced recently, claimed his body and had their
father's account frozen, according to her face book page.
The O'Kane children, dealing with a deep
grief after their 55-year-old father shot his girlfriend, Michelle
"Shellie" Stamper, 45, twice on Nov. 2 and then turned the gun on
himself dying in a hospital two days later, were stunned when Jennifer O'Kane
reappeared -- a marriage, they said, they thought had completely crumbled and
one they believed was annulled.
"We have the annulment
papers," said the son, Jonathan Andrew "Drew" O'Kane, 23.
"But they were incomplete. She's been gone for two years. She contacted me
right after (the shootings) and showed up at the hospital. I just want her to
go away. She's taking the body away and I've come to the conclusion that that's
what's going to happen.
"She can take the body. But Honor
(his sister) is not o.k. with it."
As far as Jonathan and Honor, 19,
are concerned, their father told them he wanted to be buried next to their
mother, Maggie. He had the tombstone and plot ready and visited her grave
frequently. The account was frozen, he said, when the children and Jennifer
O'Kane disputed ownership. The house is not in dispute, however, as their
mother put it in a trust for the children, the son added. They will received it when Honor turns 25.
Jennifer O'Kane with O'Kane at festival.
But because Jennifer O'Kane is still officially married to their father, the
law is apparently on her side. Jennifer O'Kane, who says she owns and operates
a legal brothel in Battle Mountain, Nevada, called the Calico Club, contends she and O'Kane still visited each other
via flights and kept their love alive, she explained during a phone interview. She adds that she is keeping the account
frozen to pay off O'Kane's bills and doesn't understand why the community is so angry
with her. She is grieving his loss along with everyone else. No one a the Calico Club could be reached for comment.
O'Kane, she argues, never wanted to be
buried at Green Hills Memorial Park and wanted to have his ashes scattered at
sea and not have his body "in a metal box." His body, she said, is
currently at Green Hills and will be released to her Nov. 27.
She will scatter his ashes at sea.
"I am not putting my husband in a
metal box," she said from the hotel room she is staying in in Torrance. "I'm not disgracing my husband in any way,
shape or form.
didn't come here to start a problem. I didn't come here to be shunned."
But Jennifer O'Kane's reappearance has mystified
many in the community who haven't seen her for at least two years and others
have written not-so-friendly comments on her face book page. She said during the interview that she and O'Kane married in May 2010 and she moved away the following November.
O'Kane, a popular iron worker union
leader, stunned the San Pedro community when he shot and killed himself and his
girlfriend. The killings devastated both families and became more cruel,
O'Kane's children said, when the "estranged" wife showed up and took
over O'Kane's body.
Feeling ridiculed, Jennifer O'Kane defended
herself saying O'Kane would have divorced her if it was officially over and
wrote this on her face book page:
brothers and sisters of local 433 and all whose lives Johnny touched- I want everyone to know that I have not taken Johnny's
body out of San Pedro. I have not taken any money from any bank accounts, I
have frozen all bank accounts because at this point i felt it best for anyone
not to take the money until everything settles down. I also need everyone to
know that I have not taken any of mine or Johnny's personal stuff out of the
been told that the brothers and sisters of Ironworkers local 433, were told
that I have done those things and you are very angry. I honor and respect you
as Johnny did and on his memory I swear-First thing is, I have not done these
things. Secondly, if I was an "estranged wife" I
would have let anyone do with Johnny as they pleased. The last words my husband
said to me were " I can't deal with my personal life anymore Jennifer
please help, I only want to be a Ironworker; that is who I am.) (Sic)
with what happened with their father, Jonathan O'Kane believes his father --
who befriended all classes from tough blue collar workers to upper middle class
folks to his daughter's teachers and Girl Scout leaders-- must have snapped
that evening he killed Stamper. His father periodically got angry "from
time to time" but not enough to kill someone.
everyone," Jonathan O'Kane said."He cared for everyone. He just
didn't think anyone cared about him."
Jonathan both went to Michelle Stamper's service because they liked her and
also her children, Jonathan said, adding that he believes the children are not
blaming them for what happened.
O'Kane also had
a third son, named Alex, 21, who took a week off from his mechanic job in
pretty shocking," Alex said sitting with his half-brother Jonathan at
Walker's Cafe. "It was unbelievable. He was nice for the most part and was
not a violent man. Even my mom said that about him."
A wake was held
for O'Kane Saturday and was packed with hundreds of iron workers, friends and
relatives. Jennifer O'Kane was not welcomed to attend.