FORT WORTH — More than 200 people turned out on the day that Jack Wilborn Jr. was buried next to his father, nearly five months after his death, his sister said.
But not until a few days before Christmas was a marker finally set in place at their graves, sealing the return of a lost son to his family.
Wilborn, 47, known as Jackie and a member of a well-known Fort Worth family, was found dead, slumped on a park picnic table, on Dec. 4, 2008.
The Tarrant County medical examiner’s office identified Wilborn from his fingerprints. And staff members learned that his parents — Jack and Priscilla Wilborn — were dead. But they said they could not find living relatives for the younger Wilborn.
He was first buried at county expense in Cedar Hill Memorial Park in Arlington.
In fact, Wilborn had children and siblings. They might have been easier to find if the medical examiner’s staff had realized that his mother was better known as Priscilla Davis. After divorcing Jackie’s father, she married a third husband, Cullen Davis, and kept his name until her death.
It was February before Wilborn’s relatives learned of his death from a social worker who was following up on Wilborn’s treatment — or lack of it — for alcoholism and drug addiction.
And it wasn’t until May 2 that Wilborn was re-buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery, said his sister, Dee Davis. Tarrant County Medical Examiner Nizam Peerwani paid for the body to be exhumed and moved, she said.
Because of the expense, it took until the week before Christmas for the family to place a marker with the names of father and son, Davis said.
"I know that life is absolutely fragile and precious, and there is nowhere I would want to be during the holidays other than with family," Davis said. "I would give anything to have my little brother back with me during the holidays."
A place in history
Wilborn’s family commandeered a permanent place in Fort Worth, even Texas, history when on Aug. 2, 1976, a man dressed in black fatally wounded Jack Wilborn Jr.’s sister, Andrea Wilborn, 12. Also killed was Priscilla Davis’ boyfriend, Stan Farr, 30. Priscilla and a chance visitor that night, Bubba Gavrel, 22, were wounded.
Priscilla Davis and others accused Cullen Davis, by then her estranged husband, of the killings. But after trials that made national headlines, Cullen Davis won acquittal. No other suspect has emerged in the case, authorities say.
Family and friends said Jackie Wilborn was handsome, charming and smart, but alcoholism and his addiction to prescription drugs ruined his life. Dee Davis wrote a letter to her brother on the anniversary of his death.
"I was at a total loss as to what would help you, to save you from that dark, lonely inevitable place of pain and self-destruction," the letter says. "I felt helpless and ineffective. It wasn’t getting any better; it was actually getting worse each month and year that passed . . . and certainly more painful for you . . . and for the ones like me who loved you and had to watch helplessly as you lived in so much misery.
"I would have done absolutely anything for you. I love you and I miss you terribly."
Dee Davis said it is still hard to believe that her brother is gone.
"Part of me expects to see [Jackie] walk in the door or call me through a pay phone," Dee Davis said. "That was the way he was. He’d be gone for a couple of months and then he would call."