The Rest of the Story…
In September 2001, just a few days after 9/11, a young man of twenty going to the
, lost his mother. She was
murdered by her fifth husband. In 2013 that young man, now grown and an English
and Creative Writing professor, published a book about this tragic event. It
became a “best seller” and garnered the author his fifteen minutes of fame if
not a little more. The title of the book is Son
of a Gun and the author is Justin St. Germain. University of Arizona
This book came to my attention in the spring of 2014 when I was in
. I had gone over to help
a friend who I had met a few years earlier when I lived in that area as she packed
up to move. She mentioned a book she’d discussed with others in a book club
there. As she talked about it, a faint prickle of concern slipped down my
spine. Finally I had to interrupt her. “What did you say the author’s name
was?” When she told me, I sank onto a stack of boxes, briefly stunned beyond
speech. I could hardly believe my own ears. There really are no coincidences... Silver
Although it is not likely to get published, much less gain any fame and gushing reviews, here is the rest of the story. In 1983 my husband and two younger step children were living in
about forty miles north of .
I was working at McClellan AFB in a job I disliked but had promised my daughter
she could finish high school there. When
she did, I had already begun to search for a place to transfer and move to. The
same year her brother enlisted in the Marines. Sacramento
We moved back to
that fall and eventually settled near .
Jennifer went to Cochise College for awhile, ran through a few boyfriends and
even managed a small thrift story for a charitable organization in Tombstone,
just about twenty miles east of our home. Our VFW Post was often involved in
joint activities with the Tombstone American Legion and one school district
encompassed both communities. So we
almost had a foot in each community.. Huachuca City
David did a total of eight years in the Marines, getting out 1991. Over the course of his enlistments, he brought several friends home on visits. The last one was a few years his junior and also on “Motor T” or transportation. The guy’s name was Ray Hudson. For some reason, Jennifer and he hit it off and seemed to fall in love very quickly. We suggested she postpone marriage until he did the year in
for which he already had orders. She did and they were married on September 25,
When he returned from Okinawa, Ray was stationed at
where my husband had ended his Marine career in the early 1960s and become a
city policeman for several years before coming back to Bisbee. On November 14,
1990, Jennifer’s first child, Jarrod William Hudson arrived. After a year or
so, Ray did not get the promotion he needed to continue in the Corps and they
moved back to Yuma . He drove a beer
truck briefly and then became the animal control officer in Huachuca
City Huachuca City
while he completed training to become a licensed police officer in . Then he joined
the small force in Arizona . In January 1992,
they had a second child, Rhiannon Mehgan. Within a few months, Jennifer was
pregnant again. Ray wanted her to have an abortion as he said they could not
afford another child. She refused. Caitlynn Marie was born a year and two weeks
after her sister. Ray never did make the third child feel welcome. Huachuca
Not too long after that, Ray left the
department and became a deputy to
the Tombstone City Marshal. A few months later, he left Jennifer and moved in
with a woman about ten years his senior who lived in Huachuca City . Her name was Her
name was Deborah St. Germain, mostly known as Debbie. Rumors gave her an
unwholesome reputation and she was called “the black widow” for an alleged
practice of taking up with men, getting everything from them that she could,
and moving on. She may just have copied ZaaZaa Gabor who said she was always a
fine housekeeper: when she split with a man she kept the house. Tombstone
After some unsuccessful but mandatory counseling, few sessions of which Ray attended, Jennifer filed for divorce. Before it was final and child support orders were issued, Ray quit his job by the simple expedient of not going to work. He did not get unemployment since it was voluntary and thus had no income to be attached when he ignored the court order. He also made himself scarce as he and Debbie traveled around the country camping and riding horses for many months.
Jennifer could not pay for the van or the mobile home they had bought or much else with no income. We could not pick up those debts either. Things were very rough for her and the kids for some time. For all practical purposes, Ray disappeared although he was seen off and on, always in the company of the woman he now lived with. They seemed to be virtually joined at the hip.
Meanwhile Jennifer struggled, having few marketable skills, limited no work experience, and three children in the five to ten year old age group that required supervision. Her dad and I helped as we could and her former husband’s mother and step father did also, but it was still hand to mouth for the small family. It was not an easy time for any of us.
Then nine eleven happened and a few days later, a deputy sheriff came to our house. My husband had been in law enforcement most of his career and knew many local law enforcement people. By then David was employed by the Cochise County Sheriff as well, working in corrections. We learned that Ray Hudson’s new wife, since they had finally wed in May 2001, had been found shot multiple times and messily dead in their travel trailer parked in the desert near Gleeson, east of
. Their truck and Ray were missing.
He was the prime suspect. Tombstone
We kept Jennifer and her three kids at our house for several days and all adults went armed since we had no idea what might happen. After a week or so we deemed it safe for them to go home. Jennifer had now rented a mobile, less than a mile airline from our home though a bit more by road, still near enough to call for help if she had to. Finally in December, close to twelve weeks after the murder, a red Ford diesel dually was found near
Lake in . Inside was a decomposing body
with a suicide note and the New Mexico
driver’s license of Duane Raymont Hudson. Arizona
Due to the state of the corpse, dental records had to be used for positive identification. Jennifer offered to go identify the body but the NM police told her no, she emphatically did not want to do that. I expect it was gruesome. The sordid tale was in and out of
news for a short
while but was soon eclipsed by newer scandals. For the living, life went on as
it does. Arizona
Less than a year after that, the following summer, Jennifer and a girlfriend packed up their households and a total of seven kids between them and moved to
. Local kids at North Carolina Huachuca City
school had been nasty to our three grandchildren since nieces/nephews of
Debbie lived in the area and knew her killer was the kids’ father. People did tend to “take sides” as small towns
are wont to do. Thus Jennifer felt she needed a new start. Jim did not see his daughter and grandchildren again since he died just a year and a bit later, in November of 2003. Hudson
We had always thought of Debbie St Germain as a home wrecker since there was no question Ray was still married when he took up with her. I find it hard to believe she did not know this. Our theory was there may have been drugs involved since many local law enforcement people have gotten sucked into the same issues they were supposed to be curbing although we did not know. At any rate, how they managed for a couple of years mostly with neither employed is an unsolved mystery.
We had also theorized that Ray had told Debbie he was the sole heir of his maternal grandparents who lived in
Montana and were fairly well off and of his mother, who had a high level job with Southern Bell and her third husband who was the senior
civilian in the FAA. They all changed their wills after Ray abandoned his three
children but he may not have known that at once.
If any of her reputation was factual, perhaps Debbie found this out. Having by then run through the money she apparently had when they became a couple, she decided her ‘toy boy’ was not so attractive after all and told him to take a hike. He would not have taken that well… Again, we don’t know nor does Debbie’s son since there was no one around but the two of them when the killing took place. Few had even observed them a lot since they had been generally reclusive or traveling all over the country. She was discovered by a friend some hours after she had been shot.
We also learned that Ray had been cheating on Jennifer almost from the start despite his great avowals not to be a bad father like his own etc.. He had always told us said how devastated he was by the fact his father had left when he was very small and that he would never do such a thing to his kids. Well, he lied. I am convinced he was a totally sociopathic person and like many such could do a wonderful Jekyll and Hyde act so as to appear kind, mild, charming and nearly too good to be true.
That he was totally amoral is hardly subject to question, looking back over the situation. At least in dying he did one good turn for the children he abandoned since Jennifer was able to collect Social Security for them until each one turned eighteen which made life at least possible if not comfortable for her and them.
Finally this past week I got a copy of Son of a Gun on Amazon and read it. I was surprised in a few things, hardly shocked and of course saddened. Too many damaged lives had occurred because of two people’s selfish acts.
Yes, the author is a good writer… I suppose that is not surprising although he came from mostly uneducated people; even he calls them trailer trash at times in his memoir. Of course Justin presents his mother in the best light possible although admitting she had bad taste in men and an inability to make a relationship last and work. He managed to pull himself out of the mire of this rather sordid early life and upbringing. I admire him for that and do not begrudge or resent him telling his—or his mother’s as he recreated it--side of the story.
Still, as a Vince Gill song says, “There’s three sides to every story, your side, my side and the truth.” I suspect the truth of the Hudson/St. Germain affair lies somewhere between her son’s book and my recollection of the events from the point of view of several other people who were traumatized by the situation. Jennifer has never remarried and only had one relationship in the years since her divorce. It also ended badly but not with any horror, thank goodness. Her kids are now grown and only Rhiannon has a semi-serious boyfriend. The other two still live with their mother and barely got through high school. They were surely damaged by losing their father not once but twice. I doubt she will ever trust a man again.In case you wonder, yes, I do plan to send my version to Justin, not that it will make any difference to or impression on him. I just think he needs to take at least one look at some other people’s pain besides his own. For me, I am glad Jennifer was out of Ray’s life before he finally went berserk or whatever happened. Her father and I were both very thankful for that. She lived as did her children; in that she had the ‘last laugh’ although it is rather hollow.