Six months later, his picture appeared on the local news one morning. June 17, 2008, he was shot and killed during a traffic stop.
Shot and killed.
And he was Josh's age.
Over the next days and weeks, we learned quite a bit about Trooper Blanton. And his wife. They'd been married a little less than a year. And they had a son, Tye. He was a premie and only 2 weeks old when his dad was killed.
We learned that his wife, Michaela, was by Tye's side when she learned that her husband was in the emergency room of the same hospital with a gunshot wound. It brings tears to my eyes to even think of it.
The mass majority of us in town had no way of even beginning to understand what his wife and family were going through. Add a teeny tiny baby who was barely hanging on to life, and everyone was speechless.
I mean, what do you do if you are that person? She lost her husband instantly and suddenly. And she wasn't able to see him before he died. Their lives together had really just begun.
A few months later, in October, Tye passed away, too. He was just too fragile for this world. If anyone on earth could have saved him, that baby would be alive today. Everyone was pulling for him.
That was two years ago. Thankfully, they caught the murderer that same night. He went to trial in another county because there was no way on earth he would have a fair trial in the county where he'd killed a trooper.
And yesterday evening, the jury reach a verdict. A unanimous verdict. Guilty of first degree murder.
Having someone charged with murder doesn't bring our trooper back, and it doesn't give his wife her life back, but perhaps it does let us all rest just a tad bit easier at night.
My thoughts and prayers continue to go out to all the families involved. It certainly can't be easy being on either side of this case.