He hitchhiked his way to Texas to see his sister, Ciravolo. He went to the apartment in Euless where he had lived for that wonderful year, but she wasn't there. She'd moved to North Richland Hills. He walked to a nearby church. That was the secret of penniless travel he had learned from his grandmother: When in need, find a house of worship. Someone helped him track his sister down in the phone book. He called her and she drove to the church. Jonny stayed the night with her. The next day, she took him to a shelter in Fort Worth. She could see he was tweaking on meth, and she explained that he could not be around her twins, just toddlers then, in his state. It broke her heart to turn him away, but Jonny seemed to understand. Ciravolo gave him $5 and told him to use it to call her.

But Jonny drifted back up to Oklahoma. He bounced around the state, occasionally getting arrested for petty misdemeanors and one felony, including the alleged looting of dairy products from a milk truck and the theft of a Baptist church van. The court sent him to a halfway house in Boley, Oklahoma, east of Oklahoma City. In September of 2011, he washed up in the LeFlore County jail. When Ciravolo arrived to finally bring him home, he was a husk of his former self. "He was not the Jonny I knew."

As his thin frame receded from Ciravolo's house at around 11 in the morning on March 4, Jonny would have headed north, probably along Davis Boulevard. It is not known whether he walked the entire 10 miles through Keller before he ended up in Westlake, or if he caught a ride. What is known is that a little after 7 that evening, a call from the Marriott Hotel came in to the Keller police. A "suspicious white male" was seen attempting to enter the employees' locker room. He seemed to be "under the influence of an intoxicating substance." He carried an orange bucket, and he filled it with food from the cafeteria.

Jonny Holden (far left, in overalls) with his grandmother Catherine Ciravolo in the nursing home.
Courtesy Jennifer Ciravolo
Jonny Holden (far left, in overalls) with his grandmother Catherine Ciravolo in the nursing home.
Jonny and his sister, Jennifer Ciravolo.
Courtesy Jennifer Ciravolo
Jonny and his sister, Jennifer Ciravolo.


Less than four hours later, Keller police received a second call from a nearby Wells Fargo call center. It was cold out that night, dipping into the 30s. An employee exited the building and was walking through the parking lot. She told police she heard a man yell a racial slur from inside a Honda Civic. If Jonny did in fact use racist language, it would have surprised his sister. He grew up around her son, who is of mixed race. A moment later, the Civic's owner stepped outside and confronted Jonny. The man saw him huddled inside, broken glass from the driver's side window glinting on the pavement below. Jonny scrambled through the shattered window and fled, leaping over two concrete dividers. When police arrived, they found an orange bucket containing food, utensils, a headset with a microphone, several wall chargers, toilet paper, fruit beverages and packets of condiments. They found a bloody handprint on the concrete divider Jonny had jumped. The Civic's owner said he was missing a blue sport coat and an iPod, which was never recovered and which the police did not attribute to Jonny.

It all sounded very much like something he would do, attending to his immediate needs without giving thought to property and ownership. Jonny was hungry, so he took food. He was cold, so he broke into a vehicle and warmed himself with the coat he found inside.

Police stopped at a nearby 7-Eleven in Trophy Club. The cashier said a man came in who matched their description twice that night. In fact, he left five minutes ago, and walked west along Highway 114. His hands were bloody, and he seemed to be under the influence of some substance. Trophy Club police caught up with Jonny shortly thereafter. He admitted everything except taking the iPod. The jacket, however, he'd stashed in the trash bin of the 7-Eleven men's room.

The next day, Jonny was booked into the main Tarrant County lockup in Fort Worth. A mental health assessment recommended placing him in a suicide-prevention cell. It noted he took Risperdal, a drug used to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia. Jonny told the mental-health screener he had attempted suicide three weeks ago, by cutting. His sister says she never saw any evidence of that. The evaluation described Jonny as "psychotic" and in need of a competency evaluation to determine whether he was sane enough to answer for his crimes. When asked if he had a good support network, Jonny listed his sister.

The following day, a scuffle occurred in the infirmary. The report says Jonny struck a jailer. He said he was "scared with the officer. He didn't tell me, and he didn't let me go." He said he wanted to get back on his medication. The next several days passed without incident, though Jonny asked for his pills time and again. In talks with the jail doctor, he mentioned repeatedly that he had not heard from his sister. He listed her in his application for a court-appointed lawyer, though he couldn't remember her phone number or the street number for her address.

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My Voice Nation Help

thank you. to the family for telling this story. to the writer for capturing it so well. and for the paper, for printing it.

truth is, i'm just like "those people" both the article and comments are related to. i'm a lot like jonny, from the opioids in utero to the methamphetamine abuse i now attribute to a mental health issue + circumstances i couldn't face without it. i am just one of the lucky ones, who got out of the cycle before ODing or jail got me first.

i'm MOST disturbed by the chain of events leading to jonny's death and how much the prison F&ck#D up...

HOW does this prison justify such colossal errors like putting a petty-criminal in a high-risk cell block?

HOW does this prison justify the fact that an inmate was not in solitary as a punishment (at the least) following repeated attacks using HUMAN WASTE?!

HOW were Jonny's repeated attempts to get his medication denied?

i really hope someone is held accountable. his voice should be heard. thank you for lending it.


Wow, this is a fantastic article about an event I don't think anyone knows about.  Kudos to the Observer.


A very well written story of a horrific subject.  


All the best to the family and I hope they receive donations to cover the interment. 


Awful story. The sister is a good person. I don't think a lot people fully understand the depths of hell mental illness and drug addiction drives a person to.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Jennifer Ciravolo is truly an angel of mercy.  Living downtown, I see so many Jonny Holdens every day and I get heartsick looking at the wreckage their bodies and minds have become.  I always remind myself that these are people who have mothers and fathers, sister and brothers.  I imagine them as the children they once were.  So very sad.