Jay Stevens said he didn’t want to jeopardize the ongoing investigation into the homicide of his son, Alexander A. “Alex” Stevens, 24, who died on Jan. 4.
The Frostburg resident on Friday seemed to choose his words carefully, thoughtfully and — what came across most — lovingly of his son, whose death has been the feature, and sometimes speculation, of news reports at home and abroad for roughly six months.
The reports contain information surrounding the young man’s death — which include a caged cat, burnt candles, abandoned clothes, fall from a 33-foot cliff and transfer of roughly $188,000.
Because those details have raised questions from reporters and other folks, Jay Stevens said he wanted to "set the record straight."
According to Circuit Court for Allegany County documents, Alexander Stevens on Dec. 28 — one week before his death — authorized a wire transaction and closed the funds in a Stifel Nicolaus investment account. He transferred the funds, $188,003.98, to financial services firm Edward Jones and named Megan Shaffer as beneficiary of the new account.
“Money was given to (Alex) over time,” Jay Stevens said and added his aunt, who had no children of her own, put a large sum of money in a trust for minors for her great-nephew before she died. When Alex Stevens turned 18 years old, the money became his. “He did some investing on his own,” Jay Stevens said. “He was a confident lad … It’s straight, law-abiding money.”
The cat in the cage and dog missing in the woods
When Alexander Stevens’ family deemed him missing, a friend, Steven Moon, drove to High Rock — within the Savage River State Forest in Garrett County — to search for the young man on the night of Jan. 3. Moon told authorities he started hiking the 1-mile trail that leads to High Rock, eventually finding candles that had been burned and a live cat in a cage.
“The cat was (Alex’s) cat,” Jay Stevens said of the feline named Sybilla, which was turned over to the Stevens family after it was found in the woods and is alive and well today. “The cat was never harmed.”
Court records state Jay Stevens told investigators that shortly before Alexander went missing, he was told his son had taken the family dog, telling his grandmother he was removing the pet to take it for a walk. A search for the dog by authorities and the family took place in the High Rock vicinity. Court records indicate only that the search was abandoned and make no mention of the pet being found.
“He was never harmed,” Jay Stevens said of the family dog, Cid, and added the pet was sitting in the room with him as he talked via phone on Friday.
What happened at the Academy
The Associated Press reported in January that Alex Stevens attended the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, after graduating from Frostburg's Mountain Ridge High School in 2010. In 2013, a lower-ranking female cadet accused him of entering her barracks room while she was sleeping, reaching under a blanket and touching her thigh. Stevens maintained he was drunk and mistook the room for his girlfriend's. After an investigation, he was "disenrolled" from the academy as part of a non-judicial punishment, academy spokesman David Santos said.
“The (U.S. Coast Guard Academy) is the only place (Alex) wanted to go to college,” Jay Stevens said and added the incident happened in September. “Every September, they change rooms. His girlfriend had been in that room.” Alexander was drunk the night he entered that familiar room, which was dark, where he touched the thigh of a young woman. “Only it was someone else," Jay Stevens said. "He turned himself in because of the honor code.” Having to leave the military in his senior year, when he was so very close to graduating, “devastated” Alex, his father said. “I think it just hurt him so bad.”
Jay Stevens said Alex also had "a great voice" and performed with the Idlers ensemble of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Glee Club in concert at McDaniel College on Nov. 10, 2012. Click here to experience that performance.
Court records state Jay Stevens, Alexander Stevens’ father told police that his son had been acting strangely ever since being forced out of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 2014.
“He’d grown his hair longer … was reading about religions, thinking about his place in society,” Jay Stevens said. “I never, never, ever, ever thought that he was suicidal … I know my son … He had all these plans to do things … had purchased all these toys for the cat.”
Alex Stevens’ mom, Janet Stevens, via text message on Friday said she wants folks to know of her son’s many qualities. Alex was creative, loved the outdoors, was a former lifeguard at Dan’s Mountain State Park, loved to travel and had a great sense of humor, she said.
Alex’s Eagle Scout project was the construction of the brick and stone sign at the Frostburg Museum, Janet Stevens said.
“He worked to rectify bad or wrong situations,” she said.
“He meant a lot to us ... We really miss him," Jay Stevens said. "He really was ... quite a promising young man."
(Editor's note: The following videos, that show Alexander Stevens singing, are supplied by his father, Jay Stevens.)