RANDLE, Wash. -- One father is turning the tragic and violent loss of his only son into a way to give back to his community.
For the last seven months, BJ Eastman has lived any parent’s worst nightmare. Last summer, investigators found the body of his 16-year-old son, Ben Eastman, in a shallow grave.
“This is the thing you envision happening, and then you want to erase it out of your mind as quick as possible,” said BJ Eastman.
Eastman says it’s been more than half a year since he found out his only son was killed, and the feeling of loss has not left him.
“I miss his presence, yeah,” said BJ Eastman.
For Eastman, the light went out, a light that once shined not just on him and his family, but also on the entire community.
“You felt the loss when we started school,” said Chris Schumaker, Ben Eastman’s principal.
To honor Eastman, Schumaker’s school decided to turn Ben’s locker into a memorial. The door has been removed. The inside of the locker is painted in Miami Dolphins colors (Ben’s favorite football team). There are several pictures of Ben and his family within the locker, and his family has written loving messages on the walls of the locker.
“I was really taken aback,” said BJ Eastman.
Eastman says the school dedicated the locker to him and his family during a special assembly.
These signs of support from the community are what have helped him get through this difficult time.
Eastman says he’s felt so inspired by this love and support from the Randle community, he wants to keep spreading it.
"What better way to honor Ben than to share some love,” said Eastman.
About three months ago, BJ Eastman created a new foundation called Blessings from Ben.
Eastman said it was created to give back to local kids interested in sports, but since the foundation’s start the focus has spread to anyone in need.
Eastman says with the work of his foundation, his son will always live on.
“Anyone that wants to hear about my boy, I’ll be there to honor him,” he said.