A Study of Gothic Subculture

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Deseret News
April 6, 1997
By Hans Moran, Staff Writer

West Valley Teen Sought Acceptance, Mom Says

"Jens Martin Dietz was not a perfect kid, his mother says. But he was always giving, kind and eager to please. "The one thing he wanted so much is to have acceptance in his life," said the 14-year-old's mother, Brenda Patterson. "It hurts me that he wanted so much to have a friend and yet (he was treated) so poorly the last minutes of his life." Dietz, a diabetic, was found dead inside a car at a West Valley home on March 11 after spending the weekend with two friends. The death is connected to Dietz's diabetes, but investigators are considering filing criminal charges against individuals who may have been with the boy but apparently did not try to get him the medical help he needed. The boy's death was also not reported until he had been dead for several hours, a West Valley police report states. Patterson said her son's body also appeared bruised in the back and the forehead when she viewed it. She said her son's friends let him die because they are involved in the "Gothic" subculture in which people dress in black and focus on death, darkness and the occult.

Patterson said she last saw her son on the morning of Thursday, March 6, when she dropped him off at school. That night, Dietz, who had run away from home twice in the past year, called her saying he was at a friend's house and would be home Sunday. The two argued over the phone. "I got angry with him, as any parent would, because I wanted him to come home," she said. Patterson's main concern was whether Dietz had his insulin, which he was supposed to take three times a day. The boy told her he had enough. But Patterson decided to call police the next day after finding the insulin in his room, she said. According to a police log, the boy was reported as an endangered runaway March 7. That same day, Dietz called home and told his mother he would be home the next day, Patterson said. "That was the last I heard from him," she said. It is unknown whether Dietz took insulin during his stay.

West Valley police detectives refused to discuss the case. The 14-year-old host told police that Dietz and a 15-year-old boy had spent the weekend at his house. He said Dietz arrived at his home that Thursday and told him his mother had kicked him out of his house, a police report states. At different times, the boys smoked marijuana and visited a 15-year-old girl. But Dietz never complained of illness, although he seemed "excessively tired," the host told police. However, on Sunday, the teen host said, he found Dietz lying on the basement family room floor and, for the rest of the day, Dietz remained "extremely tired" and "somewhat sick and despondent," the report states. The host's mother said her son had told her Dietz had been kicked out of his house. She said Dietz appeared to be in good health during the few times she saw him walking into the kitchen to get something to eat, the report states. She entered the family room Sunday and saw Dietz lying on the carpet but did not see his face. She asked her son why he was on the floor, and he told her that Dietz was very tired, the report states. [There was an adult present the entire time, and she was unable to tell that Dietz needed medical attention. Were the kids able to tell?] Later that day, she said, her son told her that Dietz had gone home. But the 14-year-old host told police that he and the 15-year-old friend "escorted" Dietz out to a car in the garage about noon Sunday. [The boy did believe Dietz was still alive, it's a mystery why he would put him in a car. I do not doubt these kids' actions were stupid. I don't wish to excuse their negligence, but were their actions due to the fact that they supposedly are Gothic?]

The teen host said he went out to check on Dietz about 10 p.m., saw him sleeping, and took him an extra blanket. "It appeared to him that Dietz was still alive because he heard him breathing," the report states. About noon the next day, the host said, he checked on Dietz and realized the boy was dead. He said he didn't call police because he was scared, the report states. The host, the 15-year-old friend and three other teens were at the house that afternoon to discuss the situation, according to the report.

A 15-year-old girl who was visiting at the time saw the five teens go to the garage to view the body. The girl told police the 15-year-old boy lit up a cigarette, saying Dietz had told him he wanted them "to have a cigarette with him" when he died, according to the report. The girl said she became upset and left the garage. Later that night, she told her 19-year-old sister what she had seen, the report states. The two sisters went to the house and informed the teen host's mother about the body. The woman called police about 3 a.m. Tuesday, March 11. Officers found the body lying on its back "hunched over the center divider" of the rear-seat compartment of the car. Some blood had dried around Dietz's nostrils and mouth, the report states. A large stain of either vomit or dried blood was also found near the spot in the basement where the boy had been lying. Some ibuprofen pills were also found nearby, and a rag with a matching stain was found in a trash can.

"I firmly believe that they may have let him die," Patterson said of the teens. [Of course in searching for some meaning in this tragedy, it is easier to blame them than accept responsibility. There must have been family problems that led him to run away, and it was he who did not take his insulin.] Although Dietz was not a "Goth," Patterson said a friend (the 15-year-old boy) had begun to dress and act like one. "Friendships were real important for (Dietz)," Patterson said. "He was always giving because he wanted so much to have acceptance." If prosecutors decide to file charges against any of the six teenagers and one adult who were around Dietz prior to and after his death, it will occur next week, said deputy district attorney Charles Behrens. After getting sick, Dietz would not have been able to help himself, Patterson says. She says anything, even dumping him at a gas station, would have been better than just letting him die in a garage. "I'm real disturbed that a 20-second phone call would have saved my child, and there was nobody who did this," she said. [It is a very unfortunate and senseless death, but to scapegoat Goths does no good.]