In his quiet moments, Tracy Martin keeps replaying the night of Feb. 26, when his son Trayvon Martin died
, allegedly at the hands of neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman.
"I had gone out for dinner," says Tracy, "and when I got home, Trayvon wasn't there. I tried calling his cell phone several times, and it went straight to voicemail. I wasn't that worried, because he had been spending time with my 20-year-old nephew who was a responsible young man. There wasn't a panic that he wasn't at home. I figured that they had gone to the movies, because they had said they might. So I laid down, thinking they would show up later."
The next morning, when he woke up, Tracy realized that Trayvon had not returned home.
"I started making calls, and I reached my nephew," Martin says. "He said he hadn't seen Trayvon. Then I really started getting worried. So I called the Sheriff's department to file a missing persons report. I let them know it hadn't been 24 hours, but it was unusual for Trayvon not to return home."
Three police cars soon pulled up and a detective asked Tracy for a recent picture of his son. "I had one on my phone, so I showed it to him," Tracy says, his voice tightening. "He told me he was going to show me a photo and ask if it was my son. He pulled out a photo of Trayvon's dead body. And the nightmare began."
Stunned and devastated, Tracy called Trayvon's mother, Sybrina Fulton, from whom he's been divorced for several years.
"I couldn't believe what I was hearing; it just didn't seem real," recalls Fulton, her eyes filling with tears. "And finally I said, 'I need you to go and actually identify his body.' I needed to know if that was my baby, dead."
The next few hours were a blur for the family.
After Tracy identified the body, the family started dealing with the fact that Trayvon was gone.
"It's that call that's every parent's nightmare," says Fulton, a programs manager for a local government agency. "I just started to cry and cry. People tell me I'm strong; I'm not strong. I'm a mother. I still have trouble believing that he's gone. I look at every door and think, he's just going to walk through it any minute. I just want to see him again; but I can't. He's in heaven, looking down at me."