MARK AND JOEL WERE BEST FRIENDS, BUT DEPRESSION CAST AN UGLY SHADOW ON THIS SUBURBAN FAMILY. NOW ONE BROTHER IS DEAD OF A STAB IN THE BACK — (Rocky Mountain News)

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Rocky Mountain News (CO)

March 6, 1995

Author: JAMES B. MEADOW, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS STAFF WRITER  []

Everybody who knew the Jaynes boys said they were more like best friends than brothers. Blood, love, home, cars – Joel and Mark shared just about everything.  Including the terrible darkness of clinical depression.   Police speculate that from a private hell inside Mark Jaynes, darkness erupted into a rage that led him to plunge a knife into his older brother last Monday morning and kill him.

A story of brotherly love

There is the temptation to read about a brother killing a brother, shudder and then uneasily dismiss it as Cain and Abel.   But neither jealousy nor festering sibling rivalry lies at the heart of what happened on the morning of Feb. 27.   This much is known: Responding to a 911 call at 8:13 a.m., Jefferson County deputies arrived at 5644 W. Indore Drive, a two-story yellow house in a pleasant suburban neighborhood near Littleton.

There, they found 26-year-old Joel in his upstairs bedroom, dead from a single stab wound in the back. Nearby, in the doorway of his own bedroom, they found 24-year-old Mark. He was on his knees. His shoulders were rigid. His eyes didn’t blink. He didn’t speak. He didn’t move.    Eleanor Jaynes, the boys’ mother, had been sleeping in the next room. She didn’t hear a struggle. She didn’t hear an argument.   The phone rang and she got up. The call was for the brothers. It was a trucking firm. Mark and Joel were about to go into business together.  This much is also known: On Feb. 24, just as her sons were finishing up their move back into her house, Eleanor Jaynes called Mark’s psychiatrist.

“He wasn’t speaking. He was pacing a lot, walking around in a trance. I had to tell him what to do,” she said Thursday.   Eleanor had seen her son like that before. Over the years, Mark had had severe episodes that required hospitalization.   The psychiatrist told Eleanor he didn’t think Mark should be in the hospital.   “I remember, he told me ‘That would be like a kick in the teeth.’ ”   Instead, the psychiatrist told her to increase the dosage of Mark’s medication. He said to call back Monday.  Eleanor was uneasy. Mark just didn’t seem right.

A close-knit family

To the neighbors, the Jayneses were a normal, loving family.   Marlene Storms, who lived nearby for 20 years, said, “The main ambition of Ellie and Jim was to raise the boys and to do what was best for them. They were serious parents.”    Jim was close to the boys, accompanying them on Boy Scout trips, serving as a soccer referee, playing baseball with them. In 1976, Jim and Ellie bought a family membership at Pinehurst Country Club.   The boys were always together, playing, hanging out. Sometimes Eleanor worried that they spent too much time with each other.   “I remember she told me once that the boys didn’t want to take advantage of the country club activities. They kept to themselves,” said Storms. ”Ellie wished they would get involved with organized activities like swimming or golf.”

Jim was a devout golfer, and he loved to be around people.   “Everybody liked Jim,” said Don Marxhausen, the pastor of St. Philip Lutheran Church, which Jim and Ellie attended.   It must have been hard for Jim when Eleanor suffered a breakdown in the mid-1980s and was treated for depression. Then 19-year-old Joel was diagnosed with a bipolar disorder, meaning he was subject to periods of serious mania and depression and put on lithium. A year later, Mark was evaluated as clinically depressed and put on anti-depressants. But then, Jim knew something about depression. He had seen it in his mother’s side of the family when he was growing up.

Making the best of it

Despite his problems, Joel did well in school, graduating from Mullen High School and attending Colorado State University.  “He was conscientious, quiet, hard-working,” said his academic adviser, Kenneth Blehm. “With Joel, the word that comes to mind is ‘nice.’ ”

Joel talked of working for the federal government like his father, who was a manager at the General Services Administration regional office at the Denver Federal Center.  After Joel graduated with a bachelor’s degree in environmental health in 1991, he was hired as an independent contractor with the Division of Federal Occupational Health.

For Mark, things were more difficult. After graduating from Columbine High School in 1989, he joined the Army. But two years later, he received a medical discharge. The depression had gotten worse.  He worked as a truck driver for a while. But that was sometimes difficult  because of the episodes that put him in the hospital.

The depression may have been a family secret, but the Jayneses seemed to be doing just fine.  Then Jim got sick.

Losing their mooring

It was a rare pulmonary disease that caused bleeding in the lung. Over two years, it grew steadily worse, but Jim managed to stay upbeat, continuing to go to work and church. He would beat this thing, he told friends.   But in April 1993, Eleanor returned to the house from running errands. She went upstairs and found her husband dead on the bathroom floor.

“When he died, the family system lost its mooring,” said Marxhausen. ”They were suddenly three people who were trying, really trying, to locate a center, but they couldn’t find it.”
The best of friends

Their father’s death drew the brothers closer.  “Ninety-five percent of the time, if you invited one to something, the other one would show up with him,” said Galan Almy, a close friend. ”Sometimes, we’d just call the two of them by one name, JoelMark.”   The brothers played pool together, camped together, rode bicycles together, sold cars back and forth to each other, lifted weights together, drank beer together, went on dates together, and, occasionally, fought together.  “It wasn’t any big deal,” said Almy. “They’d get into it like brothers do.”

Yet there were problems. Joel lost his contract position at the Federal Center. Mark’s episodes of depression made steady work difficult. The boys’ lack of employment troubled some family friends. They worried that Joel and Mark seemed to be living off their mother.  Then they began moving back to the house on West Indore Drive. They finished on Friday, Feb. 24.

His eyes shut tight

When the police took Mark into custody, they had to escort him from the house. He didn’t resist arrest; he just couldn’t seem to move. As he was led away, his eyes were shut tight.  When a deputy asked Eleanor who Joel’s best friend was, she quickly replied, “Mark.”   On Tuesday, when a judge read Mark his rights, he said nothing. He hadn’t spoken in two days.  On Thursday, he was formally charged with second-degree murder. He said nothing.   Acknowledging that Mark’s competency to stand trial was questionable, Jefferson County Judge Robert Morris ordered him sent to the Mental Health Institute at Pueblo for evaluation.

Later that day, Eleanor and Galan Almy visited Mark in jail.  “He spoke a little, but he was incoherent,” said Almy.   “I’m sure Mark doesn’t know what’s happened,” said his mother.

Questions about the case

Mark’s attorney, Pamela Mackey, says she is not convinced that Mark is guilty. There are inconsistencies that suggest someone else may have killed Joel Jaynes, she said.  “Even with Mark’s history of mental illness, we don’t want to jump to any conclusions.”

The missing mourner

They buried Joel Jaynes on a sunny Friday in a casket that was topped with a spray of red roses. During the funeral, the pews of St. Philip were thick with family members and other mourners.   Perhaps the only person missing was Joel’s best friend.

Eleanor and the late Jim Jaynes, left, were “serious parents” who  worked hard to give their sons Joel, top, and Mark a good upbringing.   Until depression took a heavy toll on them, the family was a model of  suburban stability.

Record Number:  9501120521