In 1994 I took a job that I’ve always thought sort of changed the trajectory of my life. It was just a small fast food restaurant, but I met a boy, whom we will call B (because I have no clue about the legality of using other people’s names) that would become a big part of my life for a long time, for better or worse.
I was definitely more interested in him than he was in me, but I hung on his every word like a teenager is apt to do with their first love. Maybe someday I will get into this whole saga more, but that’s a story for another time. Ultimately we started our (off and on) romantic relationship in 1995 when I was 15, found out I was pregnant when I was 16, and had our son when I was 17. The relevance of this is that he introduced me to the case that I’ve been trying to research on and off for years.
When B and I first started dating, in my eyes he was very much the misunderstood, tortured soul. I felt certain in my naive, teenaged heart that he had a heart of gold underneath it all. One of pieces of evidence I had to support this, was a big family secret. B’s biological dad was a murderer.
B’s mom (we will call her G) and her 4 siblings had grown up in a small town and lived down the street from another large working class family that they spent much of their childhood with. G’s older sister married and had children with a brother from this family, and G ended up having B with another brother, his name is Michael Shavkey. G’s sister had 2 kids with his brother and realized she’d chosen a drunk, irresponsible, deeply disturbed man to have kids with. G’s luck wasn’t much better. She dated and saw B’s dad on and off for years, but he never took responsibility of B and ultimately moved away.
B had been adopted by his step-dad and it was never discussed, but he definitely knew his real dad and his mom would allow him to come and visit on the very rare occasion he asked. He was said to be a “family friend”. The subterfuge of this practice is very nuanced and has so many other details and problematic justifications, but the 80’s and 90’s were wild I guess.
At some point Mike went from popping in every year or two, to not at all. Then a few years later he made contact again: via collect call from prison. This is the time frame that I had entered the picture and it was downplayed by G, but B was angry and really didn’t know how to process the whole situation. G often spoke with Mike and B didn’t understand why she would, when confronted back then she’d say that he had addiction issues and was in jail for drugs and she wanted to be supportive. We later found out that he had actually stalked and killed a former girlfriend, strangling her with her daughter’s jump rope, while her daughter watched. I didn’t see any of this as a red flag, I saw this as the way that families keep secrets out of shame and worry about backlash, the way that moms hurt their kids when they think they’re making the best choice, and the way that people commit crimes that have so many victims. I would later see all of these circumstances and so many more for what they actually were: HUGE red flags. But that would take me way too long to really understand.
I want to take this opportunity to say that the woman who was killed was Christine Saroya. She was a 34 year old woman that had previously been letting Mike live with her as they were in a relationship, but things had turned sour and she kicked him out. She had a 4 year old daughter that was victimized worse than any other peripheral person involved in this story, and she had a mother that participated in a March on Lansing Michigan the year after her daughter’s death, to encourage stricter enforcement of stalking laws in Michigan as a way to honor her daughter in some way. My interest in this case has been piqued since I first learned about it, but I have always wanted to know more about this woman and offer some type of recognition for her and the life she was living before someone senselessly took it from her.
I realized while writing this post that I am going to need to be better organized. A. I am going to need to create a folder specifically to save information and keep every piece I can find. B. My writing will be a work in progress. As with all projects and particularly those involved in documenting things in writing, it is so difficult to include all the details and supporting information without being scattered. Any suggestions are appreciated. 🙂