Patrick Wyatt McKinley
18 Years Old

March 19, 1985 to January 1, 2004

Patrick was born in Newport News, VA, and after a very difficult delivery, he was celebrated as the first born grandchild to both his mom and dad’s families. While his mom and dad’s marriage did not survive—Patrick did, against incredible odds. Within three weeks of being born, he was deathly ill from bacterial meningitis. He fought long and hard, and after extensive testing doctors determined that he did not have the neurological damage that they were certain he had. Viral meningitis followed at 5 mos, and again he fought for his life. He was rarely sick after these two life-threatening illnesses. He thrived after that, and was the light of his Nana and Bandaddy’s life. He lived near Rotterdam, Holland as a baby for two years—he dreamed of going back. His mom remarried and Patrick was raised by his dad, David and mom, Jeanette. Patrick had a cool spirit, he was a people pleaser, and everybody loved him. He never had an enemy and he trusted and forgave easily anyone who disappointed him. His friends called him “the great mediator,” because he always wanted people to get along. Patrick was a Buddhist, and above all believed in the sanctity of all life. He demonstrated the strength and beauty of his character by so many acts of compassion that a book could be filled with stories of his love, humor and hope. Patrick’s most amazing passion and talent, though, was his art. He was a driven and extraordinary artist. He could draw anything, anywhere—he was an illustrator of life and imagination. When he was 15, he announced to his mom that he would like to be a comic book artist. She said fine, as long as he got into the best art school and receive a bachelor’s degree first. He was accepted to the Ringling School of Art and Design—a world class institution in Sarasota, FL. He enjoyed the best possible first semester a college freshman could, the stories his new friends told us were priceless, and his grades were great, too. His expectations of his school were huge, and he told us he was the happiest he had ever been. Patrick’s favorite colors were black and red. He loved barbecue sauce, and we used to say that he could eat an old shoe as long as it was slathered in BBQ sauce. His best friend was Skylar, and he was looking for love at the time that he was killed. He was so incredibly good looking and charming beyond reason that we all knew love would find him. Patrick was a lifeguard, a golfer, a plumber’s helper, a soccer player, a music lover (he loved techno, classical, and some rap). He was a mentor to his two younger brothers Hayden, 13, and Jake, 10—at the time of his death. Over a thousand people paid their respects to him, up and down the east coast after his murder. His friends are incredible, he affected so many. In April, 2005, Patrick’s mom and dad welcomed a new baby boy Bryce Patrick into their lives. He will never know his legendary brother—one bittersweet day we will explain the story to him. Patrick believed in the goodness in all people and he believed in peace, period.


Patrick had been visiting with a group of friends on New Year’s Eve, not far from his home in a beautiful suburb. He returned home with a small group of his college friends, a party down the street was breaking up as Patrick arrived to his home. Patrick’s murder was committed by absolute strangers. There was a car double parked in front of Patrick’s home when a vehicle from the party drove up behind it, and the driver started honking and yelling. Patrick approached the driver to tell him that the vehicle would be moved, and the driver jumped out and attacked Patrick, knocking him to the ground. The passenger then got out of the vehicle and assaulted Patrick from the back, and a struggle followed. Patrick’s friends tried pulling the two boys off of him, to no avail. Before they knew it, the passenger had called on his cell, then physically went back to the party to get a boy named Kyle. A few words were spoken after that, and then Kyle Sanders shot and killed Patrick with one hollow point bullet to the chest. The murder was witnessed by 20 or so people (including 2 children looking out their window) and the 3 assailants immediately fled the scene. The police stopped the vehicle within 15 minutes of the murder, they had the plate number and description of the car. There were 3 guns at the party up the street, being shot off to celebrate new Year’s Eve. The passenger was never charged with anything, the driver was eventually charged with accessory to murder ( a misdemeanor in VA.) and served 4 months. The shooter wound up getting 22 years for 2nd degree murder. He will serve almost 19 years of that if he behaves in jail --he will serve the same amount of time Patrick got to live. There is no parole in VA. Just weeks before Patrick was taken, during Thanksgiving break, Patrick rented a documentary called Bowling for Columbine and he was insistent that his dad and I watch it, he was on fire with this film. It was Patrick’s wish that everyone watch this film and discuss it. Patrick was murdered with a stolen .45 loaded with hydro-shockbullets. His mother and father summoned right after and watched their beautiful boy die in his fathers arms, surrounded by some of his best friends. Thank goodness his brothers were not at home at the time-None of us who knew and loved Patrick will ever be the same.

Patrick’s mom is a founding board member of the Chapter of Murdered Children of VA Beach and is also a member of the Brady Campaign.

back to 27

Patrick McKinley