Almost as soon as he arrived at the Eighteenth Street Lounge, Loevner said, Belcher departed, telling someone in the group, “I don’t want to be a burden on you guys.” Loevner tried calling and texting him after he left. Belcher did not answer.
Martin, his business partner, found him dead in his bedroom the following afternoon.
Mimi Belcher and Townsend, Joey’s girlfriend, went to his apartment four days later, after the police had finished dusting for fingerprints and searching for clues to his death.
In Belcher’s bedroom, Townsend noticed something beneath the nightstand: a pen cap in which there was a coating of a white powder that looked like cocaine. She handed it to Mimi. Yes, Mimi thought, looks like cocaine.
Mimi Belcher tossed the pen cap in the garbage. Whatever it was and whomever it belonged to, she didn’t want Joey’s mother finding it.
At Joey Belcher’s funeral on Dec. 22, his friends and sister recounted Joey’s boundless spirit and playful charm; his bunny and kitty tattoos, and his pranks. How he celebrated the birth of his niece by buying a Ferrari. How he once said the best thing he had ever eaten was a gummy bear.
“He never quit seeking,” Mimi Belcher said in her eulogy, “of chasing his rainbows’ ends.”
In the coming days, his girlfriend would dream of Joey getting on one knee and giving her a ring box that, when opened, was empty. His friends would struggle with questions about his drinking. His father would ruminate about whether everyone had been “lulled into a false sense that everything was okay.” Mostly, everyone just missed him.
As the funeral ended, the room filled with the strains of a song that Belcher once told a friend he wanted played at his funeral, a lilting instrumental from the 1950s called “Sleepwalk.”
As the tune faded, the silence was interrupted only by the sounds of weeping.
Peter Hermann and Julie Tate contributed to this report.