"They say you learn by your mistakes. Lord, how I learn by mine. I hope and pray you'll forgive me for what I've done. Just give me one, one more chance." James Stevens

When Jamie Stevens was 11 years old his mother Judy bought him a guitar. He was hospitalized because of a growth in his lung and she thought singing would help him exercise his lungs.

"Jamie sometimes displayed a real shyness. But when he was singing he came out of it," said his aunt Linda Stevens.

Stevens, according to friends and relatives, was warm, friendly, kind, on the quiet side and very hard-working. He like cars, baseball, soccer and hunting with his father.

But most of his friends said his real hobby was his music. His mother said he had been studying voice with an opera singer for about a month. He wrote numerous songs, mostly country and western, and loved to perform.

Friends recalled Stevens at last spring's annual Lake Braddock Secondary School variety show, where he sang a song he wrote. The song was called "Hit and Run Lover," and Stevens strutted across the stage Elvis Presley-style, moved into the audience and sang it to a couple of giggling girls.

"He was very talented for someone his age. He had lots of possibility as a songwriter and as an entertainer, said Jerry Paxson, music director for WPKX, known as the "Kix Country Radio Station."

Paxson became friendly with Stevens about two years ago, when the youth began entering singing contests at Christopher's Restaurant, a country-and-western bar on Rte. 1 in Fairfax County.

The contests were held once a week for about 12 weeks. Winners competed in semifinals and then finals for the opportunity to perform at the Bull Run Jamboree, an all-day country-western event.

After several tries, Stevens made it to the semifinals. "The boy has basically got a lot of talent. But he did have a tendency to get depressed," said Paxson. "He would get down on himself. He would get frustrated and say 'I'm not any good. I'm going to give up the guitar.' I would spend about 20 minutes talking to him" to persuade him he had talent and should not give up.

Some friends said Stevens was hard on himself, often felt frustrated with what he felt were his shortcomings. Others said he was sometimes lonely.

Police said Wednesday night they feared the 18-year-old had suicidal tendencies, and noted that he was outraged when he heard a radio news broadcast that described him as "rejected" by his girlfriend.

Melinda Stevens, a cousin, said that when he talked to her over the phone Wednesday night from the school, he told her, "I don't care what happens. Nobody cares about me."

A former girlfriend, Tammy Edwards, said Stevens told her Tuesday night that girls always broke up with him because they thought he was "a bum."

His aunt, Linda Stevens, said the problem was that he "was very emotional, very loving. He wanted to be close. He liked to hug and kiss you when you saw him. He tended to form very close relations. I've seen him thrown before by a girlfriend when they'd break up."

"Jamie's a beautiful person. He's very strong. He loves me and he loves family. He's a good Christian boy," said his mother. "He's frightened. He's just sorry. He's just very sorry." "You don't know it but I love you, more than yesterday. And my feeling's so strong for you, I just can't turn away. And I don't know what I'm going to do, Without your love I'm feeling sad, Cause I still, still love you, more than I realize." James Stevens