It's hard for me to call him "friend" because he just joined our little group last year, but there was definitely a friendship building between us. He was about the same age as Kitty and myself and had discovered the fandom very late in life. He attended a few furmeets and really seemed to enjoy himself. He was constantly making posts to the Facebook group, and you could sense his enthusiasm for the fandom. He had a horse fursona and constantly wore his horse hat at furmeets. If the parties had been thrown by the younger crowd, he could have easily been labeled "the creepy old guy," but with the wide range of ages we have in the group and the parties being thrown by the other creepy old guy, me *lol*, it was no big deal.
We knew he was having a bad time with his wife. I think he was pretty open about the "furry thing" with her and she just didn't get it. Kitty and I offered to go out to dinner with them to show that there are semi-normal people in the fandom. It wasn't some weird cult thing. Obviously the problems in the marriage went deeper.
It has been very hard to look over at the kitchen table the past few days. I can still picture him sitting there enjoying the party. I had a conversation with him about the comic strip "Dark Side of the Horse" figuring he would enjoy it because of his fursona. You could see his face light up with the mention of an anthropomorphic horse character. He was also all smiles as all of the fursuiters came out into the kitchen after I had put a bunch of them into suit for the first time.
There was no real sign of the darkness that lurked under the surface. There may have been mention of bi-polar tendencies. He also had cross-chatted with Kitty where he sent her an expletive-filled rant that was meant for his sister. He apologized profusely and was worried that I would kick his ass since it looked like he was cursing out Kitty. We assured him that it was all good since we have all sent messages to the wrong person at some time.
I'm just hoping against hope that this was all some sort of mix up. They haven't put a picture up in the news yet. An email was sent to our Yahoo group from supposedly his sister saying that, yes, it was in fact her brother. She let us know that his interest in furry was very deep and he loved his interactions with the group. His FB page is gone. All of his posts to the FB group are gone. This is just the sort of drama that happens elsewhere. It all feels so surreal.