By Emily Gillespie The Columbian
VANCOUVER, Wash. — While sports fans across the country are gearing up for the most-watched football game of the year, Pat Kuiper is bracing herself for a wave of grief.
For the Vancouver woman, Super Bowl Sunday is the anniversary of the murder of her son, Donald Brown.
“Super Bowl, for most people, is a fun time to get together with family and friends, but for us it’s a trigger,” Kuiper, 66, of Vancouver said. “It’s a trigger that causes so much pain, from having that be the worst day of our lives.”
Brown was 39 when he was stabbed to death in his Vancouver house, 9704 N.E. 104th Court. His girlfriend came home about 11:40 p.m. Feb. 4, 2007, and found his body.
Clark County Sheriff’s Office detectives have been investigating the case for seven years, but have not made any arrests.
“It’s cold, but we’re still working on follow-ups,” said Sgt. Kevin Allais, who runs the Major Crimes Unit for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
Allais said he would not discuss potential suspects because doing so would hinder the investigation.
The crime has drastically changed Kuiper’s life.
Kuiper lived in Las Vegas at the time Brown was killed, but has since moved to Vancouver to work on her son’s case. She wants her son’s killer held accountable so that she can remember her son in a different way.
“I don’t want to think about the murder so much. I don’t want that to be the primary memory of my son,” she said. “I want to remember my son for his contagious laugh, his personality and how much fun we had and how much I loved him.”
Kuiper said she has experienced the grief of losing family members, including her twin sister to cancer, but said that grief doesn’t compare the grief of losing a loved one to homicide.
“My sister was with her family and loved ones when she died, and my son was with these horrible monsters,” she said.
Kuiper’s emotions around the pinnacle game haven’t changed. She said she never knows what to expect.
“It just hits you, blind-sides you, and there’s not a thing you can do about it,” she said. “I don’t feel like I can go to a friend’s home, because I don’t want to ruin the party. I tried it once, and I cried in the bathroom during the whole game.”
Even though the sporting event brings back a flood of painful memories, Kuiper continues to try to enjoy the day. This year, she plans to try to watch the game with her dad who lives in Woodburn, Ore.
“It is an exciting day, and fun to watch the game with your family and friends. I can’t do that yet,” she said. “I think one year, maybe I can. I want my life back — but I want justice first.”