Ciravolo stood beneath an umbrella in the gray, diffused light of a drizzly afternoon. She visits Jonny each Sunday in this Mansfield cemetery. He has no marker, so she finds him by looking for the empty space between tombstones she recognizes. The marker next to his belongs to a man named Frank. She won't forget this because that is her son's name. She only got to spend a few moments there. The thunder, at first a distant rumbling, grew near. She trudged through the wet grass and mud back to her car.

A couple of weeks later, she met Bristow in Broken Bow to visit the cemetery where they would like Jonny to be moved. Only they don't have a spare six grand lying around. For now, it seems to Jonny's sister as though his bones are restless, not permanently interred in Mansfield, nor destined imminently for Broken Bow. Ciravolo feels the same way: Anxious, unsettled, as if Jonny can't rest yet, and neither can she. Too much about his death remains a mystery. Too much about his death still burdens her with guilt she carries like a heavy stone.

Bristow peered out at her through the windshield in a Mexican-food restaurant parking lot in nearby Idabel and wiped tears from her eyes. "I don't want Jennifer to blame herself." She shouldn't, she says. She did so much for him, even while raising four boys all alone like that.

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.


Ciravolo pulled a pack of cigarettes from her pocket. She picked up the habit again after Jonny died. She lit one, drew the smoke deep into her lungs and stared out into some interminable distance, past the auction barn across the street.

"God says, 'Vengeance is mine, and I will repay,'" Bristow said. "We don't want to wait that long."

Contributions to help pay the costs of relocating Jonny Holden's grave can be made to the Justice for Jonny fund at local Bank of America branches.

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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.