I Never Thought A Life Would End This Way

“Darling, may the coming year and those to follow bring joy and happiness. May all your dreams come through before the dawn of another of another birthday. Happy, Happy Birthday To You”–Love Leon.

These tender words of love were written on December 30th, 1949 by Leon Elveson to the love of his life Sylvia Elveson. Out of that union of love came Francine, Joel, & Deborah Elveson. On October 12th, 1979 on a clear crisp sunny fall day in New York the life of Francine Elveson who overcame years of physical adversity to realize her dream of becoming a teacher of children ended at the hands of the son of our next door neighbor who raped, robbed, strangled  and mutilated her on the rooftop of our apartment building.  She valiantly fought for life but met her death none the same.

“Francine Elveson-Beloved Daughter, Dear Sister, July 21st, 1953-October 12, 1979 –Love For Teaching Children.” 5’ tall 80 pounds. Obtained a Master’s Degree in Education from Fordham University. Francine (we called her Fran) was very protective if not overprotective of her younger sister Deborah (Debby) with a sometimes conflictual relationship with her younger brother (me) whose close and dear friends the Muller’s (aka his second family) were not her favorite people. The elongated stays in the hospital to repair her spine so she could walk and breathe on her own were punctuated by short visits home so the family could feel like a whole family again.

That faithful morning one innocent person was unmercifully killed while four other people lay mentally mortally wounded. None of their lives would ever be the same.

That faithful morning one innocent person was unmercifully killed while four other people lay mentally mortally wounded. None of their lives would ever be the same. Debby (Fran’s baby sister) completed her education at New York University and would soon successfully graduate. Although her effervescent personality remained there seemed to an underlying cold indifference to her. Despite that, she went on to marry and raise three extraordinary children none of which passed up a college education.

Leon (dad) was surrounded by his friends during the Shiva (mourning) period from Victory Day Care Center where he unselfishly devoted a great deal of time too. Sylvia (mom) tried to put on a brave face but she would inevitably break down. The two remaining children Joel and Debby were less than thrilled by the presence of the Victory Day Care Center employees as they (we) felt too much of dad was there and not enough at home. Fran hated them with a passion. She would not hold back on the use of vulgarity to dad as she berated him about them.

When the Shiva period ended it was the Muller’s (Joel’s treasured friends) who came to take him out so he could get back to life. He was ushered in and out of the building by Guy Mulller who had a 357 Magnum whose chamber was blocked off so it could not shoot. It took a while for him to be able to go back to his “normal” life and even then it was difficult as initially, the murder investigators focused their eyes on him. The police had this absurd exaggerated theory that Fran was killed as revenge for the spate of drug deals that Guy and he executed. Guy was never into cigarettes much less drugs. Joel never sold drugs. Drug-induced sex orgies that were conducted in a carriage room of a building we all lived in prior to moving into the execution building in Pelham Parkway Houses in The Bronx  was also looked into as a revenge-motivated killing  by pimps who were never paid but that “suspicion” proved to be nothing more than that as Joel passed his police-administered lie detector test with flying colors. Joel could never kill a bug nonetheless another human being especially his own sister. How I felt when I found out especially after a verbal war Fran and I had the night prior to her death I….. The real killer (see above) was eventually apprehended but at no time after that did we feel relief or a sense of closure. It remains that way to this very day.

Joel was on and off as he like his father hid his feelings. In between his Friday night shenanigans, he would drive up to the Bronx to see his Mom and Dad. He saw with his own sagging blue eyes that his father physically was deteriorating. It was on a sick feeling day when the phone on Joel’s desk at work rang with the quivering voice of his mother delivering the devastating news that his father had passed away in Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn whose library he planned, organized and ran. One morning just as he was heading out the door to begin his journey to work on the iron horses (subway trains) he looked back at his wife  (with the bags under his eyes very much in evidence) whom he had fought with throughout their marriage as if  he  subconsciously knew he was taking his last steps out of his marriage and ultimately his life.

At age 65 he was too young to be due for death but his heart gave out from all of those years of keeping his feelings hidden (except for anger) from all of us. In essence, he too was killed along with his eldest daughter on the morning of that fateful day when nothing would ever be the same again. I now being the eldest was appointed to go the hospital to “identify” my father’s body (I had to ride down the elevator to the morgue of the hospital with his body) and to collect his belongings especially his precious solid gold wedding band that would soon find its way onto my finger where it remains to this day.

Mom officially died three years ago after succumbing to a stroke but when mom buried her daughter and then her husband she died. Her death spiral increased over the years as she cut herself off from the world. Her grandchildren whom she loved so dearly (especially  Joel’s son Lee David Elveson) who was named after his father and his father’s father) with facial features that made him resemble his mother, his father, his late sister, and his grandfather. It was Lee who fed his grandmother baby food on a spoon just a day or so before she died. Something inside of Lee (although he will never admit it as he is a typical Elveson male) died as well. It can be said that Lee was also killed the day of the murder even though he was not even close to being conceived.

Debby’s kids are all on their own. Lee is on his own as well although like his father he suffers from seizures (his are far more severe) a fierce temper that still overcomes him at times. Depression grabs and pulls on him but unlike dad, he has not succumbed. Joel lives on to some degree but his life is nowhere what it once was during his working years. Joel has taken direct hits on the chin (physically and mentally) over these many years so he struggles with life. Relationships are difficult for him to maintain. Too frequently he lives in his past.

One day one actual brutal murder with four other lives that were taken as well. Why he (the murderer) did what he did is a question that has never been answered. Why did he murder and why did he have to go to the sexually graphic extremes that he did?

If you stroll through my published archives on this Site, some bits and pieces about my family are there waiting to be read but it was only after seeing that picture from 1949, my mother’s wedding day gown, and other memories in color while many more in black and white this became an article I felt I had to for some unknown reason write. It has taken me close to two weeks to finish it as I deleted it off my computer several times in anguish and disgust only to finish it tonight having restored it last week. This was the end result.  The Elveson name it seems would always be synonymous with turbulent. We lived as one until one by one we died or are busy dying. I never knew a life (lives) could end this way. No happy ending here.

“There’s no place in this world where I’ll belong when I’m gone” –When I’m Gone-Phil Ochs


Joel Elveson
Joel Elveson
INDEPENDENT Executive Recruiting By Joel is an "up and coming" Executive Search Firm formed and headed up by Joel Elveson whose visionary ideas, leadership & creativity have brought to life a more "user-friendly" approach to recruiting. His clients and candidates form powerful strategic partnerships that we use to help you. Joel’s Firm offers Permanent, Temporary (case by case), & Temporary To Permanent staffing solutions for all of your Human Capital Requirements. Contract IT/Consultants are available if needed. Above and beyond they are experts (by way of their personal industry work experience) with mortgage, mortgage banking, middle-market banking, accounting, along with many others under the vast financial spectrum of disciplines. Their business goes beyond candidate recruiting as they also train, mentor and develop your internal recruiting staff with an eye towards helping you reduce the cost of hiring. They will also work in areas such as compensation, effective onboarding processes and alike. In other words, their business is to help your business by becoming an extension of you by filling in gaps that cause delay or waste. The recruiting methods employed by Joel’s team are time tested that results in a high rate of successful placements. Joel was trained in the art of recruiting by some of the top staffing industry executives in addition to the best recruiter trainers who to this day drive me to exceed the lofty goals he has set forth.

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  1. Hi Joel,
    I can understand the difficulty and struggle to write this. That is the difficulty in writing. Sharing something so close to us, so much feeling bottled up and then our pens let it out and we wonder why are we doing this….
    Because it is history and it is real.
    This life is just a test and Heaven will have no pain and sadness only beauty how God created it. Justice will prevail and be done. You need not fear or be sad.

    • Laurie, thank you for taking the time to read on comment on this piece. Until I opened my e-mail this morning I did not know it had been reposted. Your comments are very meaningful and so very true.

    • When I saw what my father wrote on that card to my mother it broke me up. Indeed there was love although life tested them both. Thank you, Larry, for sharing these feelings along with me.

  2. Joel – My dear friend, I always sensed a note of unbelievable sadness in your writing. But I had no idea the depth of your pain until I read this piece and wept with you (I wish I could have been with you while I read this). Please know that my heartfelt prayers are with you today and every day. And I hope you have come to realize that the fact you were able to write this piece means you are showing far more strengh than you give yourself credit for and will provide a path to healing for others who are deparately trying to find a way to live with a past event that will never make sense. Shalom, my friend.

    • Len, your words (as usual) mean so much coming from a man like you. I wrote this article a few years back but the memories along with emotions will never go away. My friends back then were pillars of support and strength for me. I was them that got me back to living life again. In general, there have been numerous “life events” that I look back at in sadness, regret, and even some anger.

    • Larry, I can’t thank you enough for your kind words. In a way, it is a bit ironic in that I feel the same exact way about your articles.

    • Larry,
      Seeing in print how much love you shared with your mother and your father is truly heartwarming. It saddens me when I read about some children who did not have the same bond as we did with our parents. They will be in our hearts until the day we pass in. Thank you for reading in addition to your truly wonderful comments. I look forward to being back on BC360 as soon as I can.

  3. First things first, Dear Joel Sir, no amount of words can ever provide lasting comfort against what torment you and your family have gone through. I, or for that matter anyone else, can only express our shock, sympathy, and distress at your terrible loss. However, a person of your intelligence knows, within heart of hearts, how important it is for you to maintain a certain level of emotional control so the rest of the family can look up to you for strength.

    My family joins me in offering Prayers so you may gather the necessary courage to bear the loss, stand tall, and provide both succor and support to the rest of the Elveson family.

    Please pardon me for voicing my opinion a little beyond a message of consolation as I believe those surviving can use much needed strength, no matter how shaken you are. Remember, you are the eldest, so be prepared to be the beacon of hope.

    Peace be with You, and the Elveson clan!

    • Bharat, the words that you provided in your comment were quite touching. Your opinions are always welcomed. In this case, you yet again display the tremendous wisdom I see in you. Thank you for your kind wishes in addition to your humanity.

  4. Wow!This is shocking! As I read I was thinking that rapist and murderer took the lives of more than one person. You confirmed what ran through my mind. God bless you Joel. My heart is broken for what you lost that could never be replaced.

    • Jane,
      Thank you for reading and commenting on my story. While he only physically assaulted and murdered one person the end effect was that he killed or did irreparable harm to a whole family. Your words mean a lot as they revealed all that is good about you. Thank you once again.

    • Sandy, I must thank you for all the friendship you have shown me. I wrote this article at this time as that fateful day on the calendar is fast approaching. This article took a lot out of me to write. Sometimes things happen in life and although we don’t know why the memories and the feelings live on. I am not sure we (family) should ever forget. Life is so precious and so short so we must always be mindful of the fact life can end at any time. Thank you, Sandy

    • Very wise words, Joel, and I agree it is extremely difficult to let such a terrible experience just fade away. On some level, you want to, but you also want to remember your sister, in a good way, and as you mentioned, just how precious life is and that we must live every day well. I am sure every time that anniversary arrives it is a sad day. I think our religion as some good ways of dealing with that, though, yahrzeits are good for remembering and also “celebrating” that person’s life. My dad’s is coming up next week as he passed away Erev Rosh Hashana. It was a hard yontiv that year but now I know exactly when to celebrate his passing. Be well and Shana Tova v’Metukah to you and your family.

    • Sandy,
      You are very wise! Yahrzeits can be painful but as we look at the flcikering flame from the candle we are reminded of how much those we have lost meant to us. It is a wonderful feeling to have friend such as yourslef who is caring, sensitive, and just an all around good person not to mention a shining example of what it really means to be a religious Jew. You have done more for me than you will ever know. THANK YOU! L’Shannah Tova!

    • My pleasure, Joel, I am so glad we are getting to know each other even though we are on opposite sides of the continent. We actually have Dennis to thank for putting us together in this great family on Bizcatatlyst360.

    • I could not agree with you more! It’s nice to have a friend that understands people, their feelings, and how to relate to them. Not everybody can or will do this.

  5. May the grace of God strengthen you and yours and provide comfort. There is a blessed hope of a joyful eternity where there will be no tears nor pain – just pure love and complete happiness for all of us who are true believers and doeRd. The best is yet to come my brother! You and yours are in my prayers.

  6. Blessings Joel, there are no words to comfort or say to all that is written above. I feel that your faith is some if not a lot of comfort and for those who believe in God, life here is temporary. The memories are also for they are gone when we are gone. Your family story will be remembered in my daily prayers. Thank you for sharing and I will share with some friends of mine.

    • Lynn, thank you for your kind and comforting words. Although this brutality occurred many years ago its aftereffects similar to those you experience after an earthquake. Thank you again.