Deborah Wells sat down days after learning of her only child’s death and penned an obituary that gives a gut wrenching view on the lifestyle her son chose to live and the violent way in which his short life ended.
She hesitated to publish it, afraid she may receive backlash for an obituary so honest and non-typical. But if it could reach just one person and give them motivation to change their life, she told herself, any backlash would be worth it.
Robert was murdered in February, gunned down in the 2100 block of Generes Drive in Harahan. According to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, he was sitting in a car in front of a house where he’d been living when he was shot multiple times.
“His life ended almost instantly at 22 years old, alone in a car under a barrage of gunfire,” Deborah wrote in her son’s obituary. “All the fast money, cars and ‘things’ that seemingly were of importance to him, meant nothing at his crossing.”
No arrests have been made in the case.
“Robert’s girlfriend called to tell me he was shot, but still alive,” Deborah said. “Within minutes of the call while I was talking to the EMS, he passed away.”
She had grown distant from her son over the past year because of his lifestyle, and said most of their conversations ended in an argument.
“I would not allow him to move home while he was living the way he was,” she said. “He refused rehab or any counseling to help himself.”
All love was never lost between the two, however.
“Shortly before his murder, he had my name tattooed on his arm,” Deborah said. “I never did see it, but his girlfriend sent me a short video of it.”
Several years ago, Deborah had Robert’s initials tattooed across her heart.
She described Robert as a happy kid who got along well with other children.
“Robert was a very sweet boy,” Deborah said. “Always obedient and eager to please us … He loved to draw, was very creative, and a great student.”
The Wells family moved to St. Rose, where Deborah still lives, after Hurricane Katrina. Deborah and Robert’s father eventually divorced, and Robert attended Albert Cammon Middle School and Destrehan High School.
“After he began at Cammon, and our divorce, Robert began to play us against one another,” she said of herself and her ex-husband. “He began getting in trouble and not doing what he was supposed to do in the ninth grade … I couldn’t trust him and he began stealing from me and taking my vehicle.”
In his obituary, Deborah wrote that her son “was a wonderful, funny, intelligent, talented and compassionate young man until the false desires of fast money and instant gratification lured him away from the morals and ethics instilled in him from a young age.”
If she could speak to her son today, Deborah said she would say “the same thing I always did – I love you with all my heart son, but I don’t accept your lifestyle. I’m always here to help you do the right thing, whenever you’re ready.”
Robert’s obituary reads as follows:
“Robert Wells, III was born in St. Bernard Parish, October 9, 1997 to Robert Wells, Jr. and Deborah Wells.
He spent the years after Hurricane Katrina in the St. Charles Parish area until his murder on Sunday, February 16, 2020. As loving parents, we were not prepared for the untimely, tragic death of our young son.
He was a wonderful, funny, intelligent, talented and compassionate young man until the false desires of fast money and instant gratification lured him away from the morals and ethics instilled in him from a young age.
Tough love did not deter his mindset to stay involved in the streets. We always hoped that one day his parents’ love and commitment to him would prevail and he would abandon that life. It did not.
His life ended almost instantly at 22 years old, alone in a car under a barrage of gunfire. All the fast money, cars and ‘things’ that seemingly were of importance to him, meant nothing at his crossing.
We hope and pray that Robert never bestowed this kind of senseless violence upon anyone else’s child, and if this obituary can offer the opportunity for another young person to realize the streets offer nothing but heartache, pain, and ultimately death, Robert’s life will not have been in vain. His pained soul is now set free from all worldly desires.
Dear God, please take our son, the most precious gift you could bestow upon us at his birth, back once again as your Heavenly son. Lord, keep him in your loving arms for eternity and, forgive us.
Robert was predeceased by his grandparents Robert and Bertha Wells, Sr. and George H. Dupard, Sr., Ingeborg Thurston (Richard). He leaves behind a brother, Antonio, girlfriend Hailey, and many loving aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins. There will be no service for Robert. Instead we kindly ask you to make a small donation in his name to any at-risk youth programs. Until we meet again Son, you’ll forever be in our hearts.”