A son remembered: Richard Miles' mother shares her story
Richard Miles was born on Mother’s Day in 1989.
He always said he was his mama’s boy.
He was a Tar Heel fan, a hard worker and fearless friend.
“He’s always been like that. He’s got to be the coolest,” his mother, Ginny Jerkins said. “Just an absolute goofball who wants to be the center of attention.”
Three months after he turned 21, Richard was shot and killed Aug. 29, 2010, around 2 a.m. outside Midtown Sundries in Denver.
Now Ginny finds it hard not to think about her youngest son.
“We used to do yard work. Richard was so like me. We planted all this stuff out back. And now I go out there and think, ‘Richard planted that there. Richard cut down that tree.’ ”
Richard went to East Gaston High School and then worked at P.C. Godfrey Plumbing.
She pointed to a photo of one of Richard’s tattoos. “I always told him no tattoos, so on his 18th birthday he comes home with this big heart with ‘Mom’ on his arm.”
He and brothers Tony and Michael went to Safari Miles on Aug. 28 to watch a football game. Later, they drove to Midtown Sundries.
Others told Ginny her sons left Safari Miles about 1:30 a.m. “And I don’t know why they didn’t come home. I don’t know why they went to Midtown.”
The group Richard was with got into an argument with Jason Eastridge, who later shot Richard, deputies said.
What caused the fight?
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” said Lt. Tim Johnson, the major crimes unit commander with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office. “It was all about some ball team. That’s what the whole thing was about.
“One guy had on a (University of North Carolina) hoodie, and someone on the patio said something about Carolina. They were mouthing back and forth. And that’s when (Eastridge) got mad.
“Jason opened up the car door and pulled the gun out of the back seat. Another guy tried to stop him. But then (Eastridge) shot. He jumped in the car and drove off.
“It was really just mouthing that went too far. And there was probably mouthing on both sides, but that still doesn’t give enough reason to pull out a gun and shoot somebody.”
Sheriff’s deputies arrested Eastridge later that day.
And as the investigation went on, Ginny Jerkins said people began criticizing her son.
“They keep saying, ‘He was drinking beer that night.’ Well I was 21 once, and I don’t know many 21-year-olds who don’t drink sometimes. I know that’s how it goes, that people turn things around. I expect there to be some lies. But I’m going to be there to dispute every one of them.”
Ginny has a photo of Richard taken that night at Safari Miles.
“He doesn’t even know these people,” she said, pointing at a photo in an album. “He’s just a goofball, jumping in behind them.”
The phone call
“At 2:01, my cell phone rang and woke me up,” Ginny said. “It was a boy named Scotty screaming into the phone. He kept saying, ‘Richard got shot! Richard got shot!’”
After a blurry few minutes of confusion and getting dressed, Ginny and her husband, Alan Jerkins, drove to Midtown Sundries.
“I tried to run to Richard, and a cop stopped me and said, ‘It’s okay it’s alright We’ve got it under control,’ and I thought, ‘OK, so it’s not bad.’”
She looked around for her other boys, and when she found them, they were unintelligible.
“I remember the person that was helping Richard just screamed, ‘I need some damn help!’ And I turn around, and my husband was putting Richard on the stretcher.”
A helicopter took Richard to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. Ginny and her husband arrived first.
“We were downstairs for probably about 30 minutes, and we saw them bring him in. And I remember thinking, ‘Why are they walking so slow? They’re just taking their time.’”
They took the family up to a room in the Intensive Care Unit to wait.
“This doctor came in, and she was really pretty, but she was young. She kept looking at me and looking away, but she was really good. She said to me, ‘Your son was shot through the left eye. And I remember thinking – I might have said it out loud – ‘That’s good. I lost my right eye to cancer when I was a child. That’s okay, I lived my whole life with only one eye. I’ll get him through it.’
“And so I said, ‘Good, so he’s in surgery?’ and she said, ‘No, I’m sorry. He didn’t make it.’”
Ginny begged to see her son.
“They said that I could go see him, but I couldn’t touch him, I couldn’t hold his hand or anything. But I touched him anyway. And I laid across his chest, and I told him how much I loved him. And he was so cold. I asked somebody to get me a blanket because he was so cold, and they wouldn’t do it. Then I kissed him on his forehead and told him I loved him. And that was it. He was gone.”
Ginny has had a hard time dealing with her loss.
“I’m at my best when Tony and
Michael are home.” Though she owns a cleaning service – Five Star Maid Service in Stanley – she lets her staff run it most of the time. “Thank God, I’ve got some awesome employees.”
“My whole personality is different,” Ginny said. She visits Richard’s grave every day, sometimes more than once.
“He didn’t do anything wrong,” she said. “He didn’t deserve this. I want someone to know how good he was. He was so good.” q