EVERETT — Tall and athletic with a big smile, Nicky DeSimone was the kind of soccer player who never hesitated to reach out a hand and help an opponent back up to his feet.
“He was all about sportsmanship,” his mother, Evie DeSimone, said Wednesday. “He lived to win.”
Nicholas “Nicky” DeSimone, 19, a former Mariner High School soccer star, was killed Monday. Police believe he was shot in the head while he slept at a girlfriend’s home near Stanwood, court documents said.
His family and friends plan to celebrate the teenager’s life today with a funeral Mass.
“I always knew God would take him back,” his mother said. “I didn’t think it was going to be this soon.”
On Tuesday, Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives arrested Dustin Maurice Jackson, 18, of Everett for investigation of first-degree murder. He’s being held on $1 million bail.
Jackson had dated DeSimone’s girlfriend, 16, and was angry about the new relationship, court documents said. He is accused of making threats on DeSimone’s life.
Early Monday, police believe Jackson entered the girl’s home through an open sliding glass door. About 4 a.m., the girl’s father found DeSimone injured, documents said.
Bad news travels fast. It wasn’t long before the phone rang in DeSimone’s Martha Lake-area home. Something was terribly wrong with Nicky, the youngest of three children.
The family piled into a car and headed north.
“We prayed the whole time,” the mother said.
Word of the popular teenager’s death spread quickly via text messages and phone calls. MySpace.com Web sites soon carried the message “R.I.P. Nicky D.”
A makeshift memorial appeared on the steps of Mariner High School, where the teenager graduated in 2006. Relatives and friends started gathering at the DeSimone home at the end of a cul-de-sac.
On Wednesday, the street was clogged with cars and each room of the family home overflowed with people. Flower arrangements filled tables. Piles of photos of the slain teenager were passed around.
Many pictures were of his lengthy soccer career. Nicky DeSimone dreamed of being a professional soccer player, his mother said.
“His true love was soccer,” Evie DeSimone said.
At age 5, he followed his older brother Mike, now 20, into the sport. His father, Vince, has coached both boys and girls teams at Mariner. A full-size goal post sits at one end of the family’s back yard.
“My fondest memories are driving him all over the state” to soccer games, his mother said.
Nicky DeSimone played soccer at Edmonds CommunityCollege last year. He planned to follow his older brother to Bellevue Community College this year, family said.
“He’s my brother and he’s like my best friend,” Mike DeSimone said. “I love him to death and will miss him forever.”
Vince DeSimone said he’s stood with other parents who have lost children. Standing in those shoes himself is “like someone just took your heart out,” he said.
Nicky DeSimone’s family expects to bury him today. They know there will be a tomorrow.
“We have to go on for Nicky,” his mother said.
Already there is talk of how his name will live on. Maybe there will be a Nicky when grandchildren come. Perhaps a new family dog will answer to the name. Some think a memorial soccer tournament would be a fitting tribute.
In addition to his immediate family, DeSimone leaves behind relatives in Arizona, Samoa and Italy.
It’s hard to take it all in when the house is full of people, Evie DeSimone said. But when she puts her head down to sleep there is no avoiding the loss.
“All I can think about is his beautiful smile,” the slain teen’s mother said. “This will be the worst week of my life. … We have faith we will see him again.”
Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
@2. Breakout Header:Memorials planned
A funeral Mass is planned for 11 a.m. today at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, 6511 176th St. SW, Lynnwood. A graveside service is scheduled immediately following at Cypress Memorial Park, 1615 SE Everett Mall Way, Everett.
Donations in the teenager’s memory can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank branch location.