Audio by Austin Jenkins

Jeremy Lavender opens gifts with his daughter in an undated photo.
KUOW Photo/Sydney Brownstone

When Jeremy Lavender came back from a 15-month Army deployment in Iraq to live with his wife and new baby, “he wasn’t the same person,” according to Lavender’s ex-wife, Myra Shearer.

Shearer met Lavender when they were both just shy of 21. They loved hiking, fishing, taking trips to the ocean. Lavender was a great boyfriend — attentive, emotionally aware. Shearer said she was the only person he let touch his rebuilt, teal green Camaro, his “baby.”

The couple got married in 2006 while Lavender was home on leave. Shearer had found out she was pregnant.