When you have a father of the caliber of Portsmouth Police Officer Michael Queen, you probably learn a lot about character and hard work. Tanner Queen was getting such a life lesson Wednesday as he joined with his father to try to clean up the property on Mabert Road where the body of Joseph Tyler Caudill, 6, was found last week in a bizarre murder case.
“I just felt like it was the right thing to do because this kid never had a chance,” Tanner Queen said as he tried to hold back tears. “I got a chance, I’m thankful to my dad, and I figure that, if he didn’t have a chance, we might as well just clean up this place.”
The front porch had become a makeshift memorial and gifts were beginning to build up. In fact, the Queens had to take many of them and temporarily place them in the back of their truck so they could run the lawn mower and the weed-eater.
“I guess it has now become a place for a memorial to this young man and it ought to look presentable and it didn’t,” Michael Queen said. “I guess we’re just trying to brighten it up a little bit and make it look more presentable for the folks who come to pay their respects and leave animals or toys or light candles in his memory.”
Michael Queen said he had to inform neighbors that he wasn’t stealing the gifts, just placing them there while he worked. He said he was going to put them back when he was done.
“Because of how it looked, I was worried people who wanted to wouldn’t stop to say a prayer or leave a stuffed animal or light a candle,” Michael Queen said. “So we decided to get it cleaned up a little bit so people can come out and reflect a minute, with Thanksgiving coming up.”
The two worked in a drizzle with a cold wind blowing, and stacked leaves and trash onto the sidewalk where Bill Beaumont of the Portsmouth Service Department had arranged to have a truck come and pick it up.
One of the people proud of Michael’s and Tanner’s efforts is Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware
“Anytime we have a tragedy it affects the entire community including the police officers,” Ware said. “Mike had asked if, because it looked pretty bad up there, if he could go up there and make it presentable. People had turned it into a memorial area, and I gave him the go-ahead and he took his son up there to teach his son service to the community and it’s a real positive thing and it shows that officers care.”
What is Michael Queen thankful for this Thanksgiving season?
“I’m thankful I have my son with me, able to do this, to show him this is what you do,” Michael Queen said. “It’s just a way to say thanks that I still have my son and I appreciate it every day.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.