The night of Jerry's Death
by Erica Duggan
In the early hours of 27 March 2003, I could not sleep. I did not know why but I got up and sat from 2.30 a.m. next to the phone at the kitchen table. At 4.24 a.m. the phone rang. It was Jeremiah. Immediately, he told me he was in deep trouble and I thought immediately that his life was in danger because he had become involved with some sort of violent protest.
Then he said: “You know this Nouvelle Solidarite, and something suggesting he could not do what they wanted. I could hear he was in danger and he seemed too frightened to speak–I knew instantly he was in grave danger. I was shocked.
I got the impression it was dangerous because they would not let him go - he knew too much. So I said to comfort him; ‘Do not worry Jerry because when I was in South Africa I also could not go in for any violent protest. There are other peaceful ways of making a protest’. At that point the phone went dead.
Almost immediately it rang again. Immediately Jerry told me he was frightened. Automatically I said "I love you Jerry", it was an automatic reaction to someone who was facing life threatening situation. I knew he was in extreme danger. I realized then why I had been sitting for three hours by the phone not even knowing why. Then he said with a strong voice: "l want to see you NOW!" I asked him where he was. He told me "Wiesbaden", I asked him how you spell that. He began to spell the first letters W I E S and then the phone cut out.
My mother picked up the phone upstairs and had heard the beginning of the first phone call when he told me about Nouvelle Solidarite. She thought it was a private conversation so she put down the phone. Then when the phone rang for the second time she picked it up and heard him saying "I want to see you NOW!" She then came downstairs and sat next to me at the kitchen table, saying how can you get to him now? What will you do?
I knew instantly my son was in danger. I rang up the police and was put through to Colindale Police Station.
I told the Police that my son was in great danger. Then I asked them if they knew anything about Nouvelle Solidarite. They said they knew nothing but gave me the number of Scotland Yard. I rang them up and was transferred through different people and eventually spoke to a man who seemed furious that l had been put through to him. He kept shouting : “Who put you through? How did you get my number?” This seemed to be his only concern. This made me even more upset. He then said he knew nothing about Nouvelle Solidarite and even if he did he would not tell me. He seemed not to be listening to what I had to say rather trying to interrogate me as to who had put me through to him.
I appealed to him that my son's life was in it would be of concern to the police here? He kept repeating; “We have nothing to do with Germany.” I realized it was useless so I asked him if he could find out about Nouvelle Solidarite and then ring me? He refused to give me his name or number. In the end I felt that no one was interested in helping me and I felt completely defeated and powerless. I tried to make him promise to ring me back but to this day he has not done this. I am still upset when I think of how this man ignored my cry for help.
I then rang Hugo. He said he did not know what we could he do - we did not know where Jeremiah was. Hugo said he would ring me back. Then I got on the Internet and started researching things. I found a lot of extremist radical groups somehow clustered around Wiesbaden.
Then I found Maya, Jeremiah's girlfriend's phone number. I rang her. She told me that someone called Sebastien had rung her up to say that Jerry had disappeared. She gave me Sebastien’s mobile number. She told me that she had also received a phone call in the night from Jeremiah and apparently it was an hour earlier than the phone call to me. She was worried about him because he said he was under too much pressure and she knew something was very wrong. He told her he was worried they had done something harmful to him. He spoke about learning about something so secret that he could only tell her when he returned to Paris. They agreed he was to return that day Paris. The last words they spoke were to exchange vows of love to each other.
I rang Sebastien’s number but he put the phone down on me.
Then at 10.45 am when I rang Sebastien again he spoke to me but there was a great deal of shouting in the background. Also it sounded as if Sebastien could not understand my English. He passed me to someone who identified herself as Ortrun Cramer. I asked her who she was and she kept repeating: “We are a News Agency and we take no responsibility for the actions of our members.” She said they were not a political organization, but the shouting in the background continued. I then heard her say to the others “die mutter” and then there was immediate silence.
I told Ms Cramer about Jeremiah's phone call. She asked me if my son had some psychological problems. I answered that this was the opposite that he was a very positive person who did not have psychological problems. But I said that in the early morning he had rung me to say he was in big trouble. She said does he have paranoia? I said the only thing he does get sometimes is asthma and that as a child that had been a problem. I asked her to ring round the hospitals to see if he had had an asthma attack.
Ortrum Cramer told me my son had gone missing and she would ring the hospitals and that she would send Sebastien to report this to the police and they would let me know if there was any news. I repeated to her that Jeremiah had told me he was frightened and that he wanted me to come and rescue him because he was in deep and big trouble. I repeated that I knew my son was in danger and that he had appealed to me to help him.
I then contacted the British Consul in Germany. I told the FCO that I suspected my son had gone to protest against the war and mistakenly found himself amongst dangerous people and wanted to escape. I asked for their help. I said my son is in danger and appealed to them to please find him. I kept ringing Sebastien but as soon as he heard my voice, he hung up.
We decided that if we did not get any news Hugo would come home from his work and we would drive to the airport and fly to Wiesbaden.
Louisa, eldest daughter, my mother and I were waiting at my mother's house. Hugo arrived at 15.45 hours, closely followed by 2 police officers. They said that Jeremiah was dead. He had committed suicide by running into the road at 6.10 a.m. on a dual carriageway outside Wiesbaden. That was thirty five to forty five minutes after he had spoken to me on the phone begging to be rescued.
When they said "Jerry is dead. We believe it is suicide." I shouted at them many times that it could never be suicide because he had rung me and told me he was in danger. I was appalled that our police in Colindale had never told anyone and now more police could come to the house the same day and tell me my son had committed suicide when I was telling them for hours my son's life was in danger. Again I felt powerless to get anyone to listen to what I was saying. I wanted to go that minute to Wiesbaden and speak to these people in Nouvelle Solidarite. The police officers said I should wait till the next day and not try to speak to any persons on our own as there were a lot of dangerous people out there.