The father of the boy dubbed "Wylie's Angel" said nothing he has seen as a Marine could have prepared him to cope with the death of his son.
“Is it killing me inside? I don't know a father who wouldn't be dying right now,” Staff Sgt. Jerry Isgrigg said.
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It took investigators eight days to learn Gerren’s identity. In meantime, he was referred to as "Wylie's Angel."
Isgrigg saw his son's body at the Collin County morgue on Tuesday.
“He was covered completely except for his face -- the top part of his head," he said. "Everything else was covered. I'll never forget his face. That image alone is forever burned in my mind.”
He said he also broke down at the site Gerren was found at, where a memorial now honors his memory.
“The letters, the little sayings that they write, the little handprints, all the stuffed animals, the flowers, the candles -- it was that was probably the time that the majority of it really hit me,” he said.
Isgrigg said a bad divorce, his deployments and base reassignments kept him from seeing his son during the last three years. Gerren had violent seizures that prevented him from traveling, Isgrigg said. He said that every time he tried to see his son, there was always a miscommunication or something else that prevented a visit.
But he said he supported his son financially. His military health care plan paid for Gerren’s care, but Isgrigg said he didn't know his former mother-in-law was acting as the boy's primary caregiver.
Isgrigg said he last spoke to his former wife, Nyki Phillips, in mid-April, around the time Gerren's body was found in Wylie. He said he had a short conversation about a change in his benefits, but she never mentioned any issues with Gerren's care.
Police have said that Phillips, who lives in Oklahoma, had not seen her child in three months.
Isgrigg said the only time he met Darlene Phillips, his former wife's mother, was shortly after his son’s birth.
“She wouldn't let him go," he said. "She was always holding him, doing what grandmothers do -- cuddling, spoiling."
Isgrigg said the outpouring of support in North Texas for his son has overwhelmed him. He said he’s considering moving to Wylie, saying the people there are family.
A public memorial service for Gerren will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at the First Baptist Church in Wylie.
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