Rod says he’s determined to prove that his brother’s shooting death two-and-a-half years ago was murder — but it’s tearing his family apart. Is he willing to give up his fight to save his family? And, Rob and Veronica say their marriage is on the brink of divorce after their 13-year-old son was killed nearly three years ago. Can this couple learn to grieve as a united front and save their marriage?
“It’s been two-and-a-half years since my brother was murdered,” says Rod.
“He was brutally shot in an alleyway six times — four of them were kill shots,” says Rod’s wife, Lori.
Rod admits that he spends every waking moment investigating his brother’s death and that it’s destroying his marriage and tearing apart his family. “I’m only focused on one thing and that’s finding the truth, no matter what. This investigation has totally taken over my life,” he says. “I’m not there for my wife. I’m not there for my kids. I’m not there for my job. It’s almost like I’m in some sort of a trance. I think about it. I dream about it. I wake up and it’s on my mind. I wake up and my teeth are clenched together. I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel revengeful.”
Lori adds, “I feel like I really don’t have a husband anymore.” She says that they are also struggling financially, and the burden has fallen on her. “I don’t have the ability to send my daughter to college, and I don’t even have the ability to pay our bills.” Lori says something must change. “I would never tell my husband to stop his fight, but I don’t know how much longer I can stand by his side,” she shares.
Dr. Phil asks Lori, “Would you agree that he’s obsessive about this?”
“I think it’s consuming him,” she says.
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Fearing for Their Father’s Life
Rod and Lori’s daughters, Taylor and Karina, say they fear their father will end up dead, if he continues to investigate their uncle’s death.
“The only thing my dad ever wants to talk about is my uncle. He’s very obsessed,” Taylor says. “When I come home from work, I come in, and there are just papers everywhere. He’s never happy. He’s always upset, and he’s always angry.”
Karina says that she has grown distant with her father since he’s been so focused on the case. “My dad’s very easy to set off. He gets upset over the littlest things,” she shares. “I feel like my dad could be definitely putting his own life in danger.”
Taylor adds that she, too, is concerned about her father’s well-being. “He’s already had a heart attack. It happened when I was about 10, and it was extremely scary,” she reveals. “He’ll snoop around, and he’ll go and follow people, and he’ll show up at people’s houses, and he’ll go anywhere that people are that he’s trying to hunt down. If he puts himself in danger, he can hurt himself, which affects everybody else.”
“My dad’s told me several times that it’s just better off if he leaves, no one needs him, and he’s more of a problem than anything else,” Karina says.
In studio, Karina and Taylor tell Dr. Phil that they fear they’re going to lose their father. “It’s scary when he goes and puts himself in situations,” Taylor says.
See what Rod carries with him at all times. And, hear why Lori says she and Rod are on the brink of divorce.
“Are you willing to destroy your marriage and your family trying to find out or hold someone accountable for your brother?” Dr. Phil asks Rod.
“I would never be willing to destroy my family for any reason whatsoever,” Rod says. “I’m terribly sorry for what’s going on, but it’s like something’s pulling me to keep going. If it comes down to me losing my family, I will stop. I promise.”
Dr. Phil asks Rod if he’s ever truly mourned and grieved his brother’s death. “Have you ever allowed yourself not to be working on his behalf but to just tend to your own feelings, your own pain, your own hurt?” he asks. “Emotionally allowing yourself to admit and acknowledge that he’s gone, admit and acknowledge that there is an injustice that may never be changed and that you’ve lost your brother, whom you love so much.”
“I can admit that he’s gone, and I know that there was an injustice done. I’m not so quick to give up the fight, though,” Rod says. “If I keep fighting, I can get what I’m after, and that’s closure.”
“Do you feel that if you go on with your life, instead of pursuing this case, do you feel that that’s a betrayal of your brother?” Dr. Phil asks.
“Yes, I do,” Rod says.
Fighting back tears, Karina and Taylor confront their father. “I want my dad back.”
“It is not a betrayal of your brother to live your life with balance and to pursue this with passion.”
Rod addresses his family. “I’m truly sorry, from the bottom of my heart, for putting all of you through this, and I want so bad to get back to being myself,” he says.
Dr. Phil offers to provide Rod help, and he accepts.
A Marriage Falling Apart
Two years ago, Veronica and Rob’s 13-year-old son, Little Rob, was with a childhood friend, when he was shot in the face. His friend told detectives that he accidentally fired his stepfather’s shotgun, while showing the gun to Little Rob.
During a news interview, Rob is asked, “Do you think it was an accident?”
“No,” he replies.
Veronica adds, “He pointed it in my son’s face, and he pulled the trigger.”
Veronica says that her son was the only thing keeping her and Rob together, and now that he’s gone, she says she’d rather be apart. “Since my son’s death, my husband and I have been doing nothing but arguing and fighting,” she shares. “He treats me like a child. He talks down to me.”
Rob adds, “Our son’s death has torn us apart.” He admits that he has shut down emotionally. “I think I’m trying to escape from reality.”
Veronica says she’s told Rob she wants a divorce. “It’s so hard, because all I want to do is lay down and die with my son,” she says.
“I failed my son in life — I wasn’t able to protect him — and I failed him in death, because I wasn’t able to get justice.”
Veronica tells Dr. Phil that in some ways, she blames Rob for their son’s death, but she says she also blames herself.
“You are venting on each other, just because that’s who’s there to vent on,” Dr. Phil tells the couple. “Your job is to make certain that the legacy of Little Rob is not to look down at the destruction of this family — the destruction of his father, the destruction of his mother.”
Rob says, “I don’t know how to talk to her. I don’t know how to tell her my feelings, because I was always taught the man is supposed to be the strong one, that he’s not supposed to cry, that he’s supposed to take care of things.”
“You were taught like I was: Big boys don’t cry. But as I grew up, I learned big boys don’t cry, but men do,” Dr. Phil says. “It’s time to be a man.”
Dr. Phil takes Rob and Veronica through an emotional exercise.
Dr. Phil offers to provide the couple with additional help.