When a child commits suicide, those who love them search for a reason, answers to the question “why?”
Sometimes, though, there are only the facts.
Rae Prock, a 17 year old Hilton Head Island resident, died Feb. 4, a day she was found in a Wild Horse Road home with a gunshot wound to the head.
On Tuesday, the Beaufort County Coroner’s Office ruled her death a suicide.
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“We met with the Sheriff’s Office and they informed us that she had done it herself,” Alicia Keota-Prock, Rae’s mother, said Wednesday. “It’s hard for me to believe, but I don’t have much of a choice. ... I knew she was unhappy, but never to that extent.”
Rae Prock had left Oregon to escape the unhappiness of a breakup with her on-again, off-again girlfriend. She arrived on Hilton Head to live with her step-sisters three weeks before she died.
Rae’s father, Robert Prock, thought the move was the best thing.
We met with the Sheriff’s Office and they informed us that she had done it herself. It’s hard for me to believe, but I don’t have much of a choice. ... I knew she was unhappy, but never to that extent.
Alicia Keota-Prock, Rae’s mother
Hilton Head was far away from the memories and distractions of Oregon.
And, for a time, Rae seemed happier, Robert Prock said. She’d met a boy.
That happiness did not last.
On Feb. 3, a friend told Robert Prock Rae had been shot. He caught a flight from Oregon within an hour.
He next saw his daughter in a Savannah hospital bed.
The girl he remembered as happy and always singing was comatose, her body attached to life support systems.
“I couldn’t even stay in the room, and I’m a pretty tough guy,” Prock said.
Rae Prock was pronounced dead at 4:44 p.m. Feb. 4, her father said.
“That number has been surrounding me all of the time,” Prock said.
Before the ruling on Rae’s death, Robert Prock said he didn’t believe his daughter killed herself.
“She’s not that type of person,” he said. “They’re not really going to make me believe that unless they can prove it.”
He wept as he said that to a reporter Monday.
Outside the room where they talked, a Beaufort County Detention Center officer stood guard.
He was released from jail three days later.
Alcohol and grief
Three days later after his daughter died, Robert Prock was charged with first-degree assault and battery.
A Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office report alleges he bit off the right earlobe of a man he calls his friend at the Beach Break Bar on Palmetto Bay Road.
He was, by his own admission, extremely intoxicated and distraught over the death of his daughter.
His memories of the night of the alleged assault are anything but clear.
He knows he hit at least two bars and a strip club.
By the time he got to Beach Break, things had become “fuzzy.”
“To be honest, I was real angry and couldn’t (deal with) the fact that my daughter shot herself,” he said.
According to the Sheriff’s Office report, witnesses said a distraught and obviously inebriated Prock began yelling about killing someone.
He then wrapped his arms around the victim and bit off his earlobe.
Deputies later found him at a residence on Ansley Court on Hilton Head.
During an interview with deputies, Prock said of the bar assault, “I did it and you know it,” the report said.
During his detention center interview, he tried to address the attack.
“I’m hoping this will all work itself out and he (the victim) can understand where I was and how I got there, but I’m not allowed to talk to him,” he said before his voice trailed off to silence.
A family divided
Rae’s family dynamic is anything but typical, according to Keota-Prock.
She said she and Robert had used drugs in the past. She said she no longer does.
Rae was their only child.
Robert Prock had been told he could not have children when the pair married, only see Rae born a year later.
“She kind of was my miracle,” Keota-Prock said.
The child was a uniting force in her extended family, including her grandfather, Mike Graham, who is Robert Prock’s stepfather and lives in Oklahoma.
While her mother has come to accept the facts surrounding Rae’s death, her grandfather has not.
“My granddaughter would in no way put a gun to her head and kill herself,” Mike Graham said by phone Wednesday. “Investigators are not giving details of how she could kill herself and have a gun when she didn’t own a gun.
Graham, who last saw his granddaughter at Christmas, said he believes foul play was involved. He says there are rumors of a possible sexual assault. He wants to meet with investigators.
Prior to her death, Rae Prock spoke vaguely about a night with several males that she could not remember clearly, Keota-Prock said.
“She said, ‘I think someone put something in my drink. I woke up and had bruises,’” Keota-Prock said.
But “I can’t just go pointing fingers if I don’t know (what happened),” Keota-Prock said.
A sexual assault was not reported to law enforcement. It was brought up during the investigation into her death and it was investigated and has not been substantiated.
Capt. Bob Bromage, Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office
Capt. Bob Bromage said Thursday investigators looked into the claims of sexual assault and that the forensic autopsy conducted on Rae’s body did not find injuries consistent with a sexual assault.
“A sexual assault was not reported to law enforcement,” he said. “It was brought up during the investigation into her death and it was investigated and has not been substantiated.”
Keota-Prock said she and her daughter did not file police report.
‘Let it be’
No criminal charges have been filed in the shooting case.
Rae Prock’s boyfriend was present at the time of the shooting and has been interviewed by investigators, according to his mother, Sherry White. The newspaper is not naming him because he has not been charged with a crime.
What remains are the hard facts found in the sheriff’s and coroner’s office investigations.
Rae Prock, a 17 year old girl living on Hilton Head who, like most people, could be both sad and joyful, took her own life.
For Keota-Prock, those facts, while difficult, explain why her daughter is gone.
“Everyone wants to blame someone, but I don’t think there’s any reason for that,” she said. “This is already enough hurt. Let it be.”
Family mourns teen found shot on Hilton Head Feb. 8, 2016
Bitten-off earlobe leads to Hilton head man’s arrest Feb. 10, 2016
Hilton Head teen’s death ruled a suicide Feb. 23, 2016