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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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With sons dead, a father's grim task
The cost of getting his boys back home to Louisiana is more than he can afford.
By THOMAS LAKE
Published July 11, 2007
Kirby Baudin (left) alongside his longtime friend Brad Heaverlo outside Whitney Bank in Trinity where Baudin set up a donation account on Tuesday. He can't afford the $20,000 it costs to ship the boys' bodies back to the family plot in St. Rose, La.
[Times photo: Brendan Fitterer]
[Special to the Times]
Jules (above) and Parker (below) Baudin were found dead by their mother on Monday in their beds. The Medical Examiner determined the boys' cause of death: carbon monoxide poisoning.
[Special to the Times]
Ten feet above sea level, by the Mississippi River, in a Louisiana town called St. Rose, there is a graveyard. Kirby Baudin's father lies there. Now he must deliver his sons.
They were Jules and Parker, 14 and 12. They lived in Louisiana until Hurricane Katrina swept them away. The family found refuge in New Port Richey. And then, on Monday, the boys were found dead.
They were at home with their mother. The family van was in the garage. Police said the key was turned in the ignition and the gas tank was empty. After autopsies Tuesday, the Medical Examiner determined the boys' cause of death: carbon monoxide poisoning.
Mystery still surrounds the case. It was not known who left the van running, or why. Police continue to investigate whether the deaths were an accident.
Meanwhile, Kirby Baudin had a different job. With his wife in the hospital, recovering from an apparent case of carbon monoxide poisoning herself, he had to find the money to ship the boys' bodies back to the family plot in St. Rose.
Which is why, at about 2 p.m. Tuesday, he found himself at the Whitney Bank in Trinity. He'd been told that delivery and burial would cost nearly $20,000 - a sum he could not pay.
* * *
Baudin remodels homes for a living. He is 54 years old. He has brush-cut gray hair and a Louisiana drawl and he touches your arm when he talks to you. He sat in the corner of the bank's soft-lit lobby, chatting with an employee named Eileen Peters, and every few seconds, his cell phone rang.
Peters studied her flat-screen monitor, trying to set up his account. Baudin could not get comfortable. He got up, walked to the door, looked out and sighed. The radio crackled with Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time.
"I need to open a donation account," Peters told a colleague on the phone. "It's a father who lost two children, so..."
Baudin's phone rang again. Unlike most cell-phone ringtones, it sounded like a real phone ringing. He had the charger plugged into the wall of the bank so it wouldn't go dead. He picked up.
"I'll take care of it," he said. His voice was soft and hoarse. "I'll handle it."
"Okay, thank you, man."
"I'm gonna take care of it."
He hung up. The radio, tuned to Magic 94.9, played a song called Listen To Your Heart. His phone rang again.
"I had an emergency out of town," he said.
* * *
Baudin was in Louisiana when the boys died. He was helping to repair the hurricane damage. His family had come to Pasco County on an invitation from his longtime friend Brad Heaverlo, who lives in Trinity, and the children liked it here so much that they didn't want to leave.
His wife, Barbara Beauvais Baudin, told the St. Petersburg Times by phone that she expected to be discharged Wednesday from Bayfront Medical Center. She would not answer any other questions.
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Assistant Chief Darryl Garman of the New Port Richey Police Department said detectives were trying to assemble a timeline of events to better understand what had happened in the Gulf Harbors duplex where the family lived.
"Detectives will be making an effort to determine if the incident was accidental or intentional," he said.
In Pasco County history, there is at least one case in which authorities determined a mother did, in fact, poison her sons with carbon monoxide. In April 1999, a Land O'Lakes home health nurse named Kristina Gaime injected her boys with morphine, put them in her minivan, ran a hose from the tailpipe inside the van and let the engine run.
Mathew, 6, was killed. Adam, 8, survived. Gaime pleaded guilty in 2005 to second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder; she was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
In the Baudin case, police have not disclosed any evidence suggesting foul play.
* * *
Kirby Baudin was back on the phone. Alanis Morrissette played on the radio. He unwrapped a free lollipop and put it in his mouth.
"Yeah, Mom," he said. "I'm in the bank. I'm opening up an account."
Peters finished her business. The Kirby J. Baudin Benefit Account was open for donations at any of more than 100 branches from Florida to Texas.
Baudin walked outside.
"I'm trying to do all my crying out here," he said.
He stood by a tall flagpole beneath an overcast sky. He still had his son Logan, 8, who was sleeping over at a friend's house when the gas began to leak.
"Thank God my baby got away," he said. "I had to tell him his two brothers were dead last night."
"He started asking me questions about heaven."
At 2:37 p.m., his phone rang again.
He pressed it to his ear.
"I'm doing pretty good," he said. "I'm trying to get these bodies home."
Thomas Lake can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6245.
How to help
The dead boys' father says it will cost more than $20,000 to transport and bury them. Donations can be made at any Whitney Bank to the Kirby J. Baudin Benefit Account. The bank has nearly 150 branches in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.