“He had no desire to play football because he didn’t want to hurt anybody,” his father said.
His son’s real passion was reading. After helping his father milk cows, he would plow through “Harry Potter” or classics such as “The Count of Monte Cristo.” But he wasn’t just good with words. His father said Eric was an A student who was as conversant in calculus and biology as he was with literature and Civil War history.
“I would have liked to have seen him go onto Teen Tournament on ‘Jeopardy!,’ ” his father said. “Can you tell I’m proud of him?”
Ricky Rash said the only time Eric ever did something notably defiant was when he set up a Facebook page after they had told him he couldn’t. When his parents found out, they forced him to deactivate it — a decision they later reversed. But nothing he did ever suggested he was battling inner demons.
“The night before I found him, Eric did his homework. He helped me at the barn. We had a family dinner,” Rash said. “He literally kissed his mother good night.”
The next morning, at 5 on Jan. 20, 2011, as Ricky Rash was preparing to milk cows, he got a call from the county’s 911 dispatcher. The dispatcher said Eric had just reported finding a dead body on Harper Road.
Finding his son’s bed empty, Ricky Rash drove to Harper Road. There, not far from his son’s car, Ricky Rash saw a body lying face down in a field and assumed it was a prank.
“I was yelling for Eric to stop playing,” Ricky Rash recalled. But as he walked toward the figure, each step brought him closer to a horrifying realization.
“I knew it was his shoes. I knew it was his size, his hair,” Rash said. “I could see enough of the shotgun to know it was mine.”
There in the field on a cold, dreadful morning, under a full moon, his grieving began. So did the questions. Sheriff’s deputies posed more: Did his son have a girlfriend? Was he in trouble? Had he gotten a bad grade? Had he been visiting troubling sites on the Internet?
When Ricky Rash returned home, he went straight to the computer to see for himself. But he discovered that he could not get onto his son’s Facebook page. They tried guessing his passwords, to no avail.
Facebook eventually turned over some information from Eric’s page, but his father was not satisfied.
“I’m still locked out, to this day,” Rash said.