Philip Clayton Chandler’s Story
On Saturday, July 17, 1993, Philip (16 yrs.) went to the barbershop around eleven o’clock. As he was headed to his car in the parking lot after getting his hair cut, he was approached by two teenagers who asked for a ride home. He thought he recognized one of them from school, and being the nice guy that he is, Philip agreed to give them a lift. They said they lived in the Georgetown Apartments which was a very short distance away.
When they arrived at Georgetown, instead of getting out of the car they pulled a gun on Philip and forced him in the back seat of his car. They drove behind a shopping center and put Philip in the trunk where he remained for the next five hours or so.
They stopped the car several times during the five hours, but never to let him out. Once when they stopped they opened the trunk and told him to be quiet. Another time they robbed him of his allowance – $7.00, and his driver’s license.
The last time they opened the trunk was around 5:30 pm in the parking lot of a community college in Debary, FL. They removed Philip’s comatose body from the trunk, head first, onto the hot pavement, then stomped on his chest and kicked him several times. They left him there to die as they drove off in his car. A security guard saw Philip in the parking lot and called 911.
Philip was admitted as a John Doe to Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford, FL in a coma. The doctors did not expect him to live through the night. Someone saw the missing persons report on the news and called the Sheriff’s office. They Identified Philip from the picture I had given them when we reported him missing. We were notified at 2:30 am Sunday morning that Philip had been found and was in a hospital in Sanford. We were told his condition was serious and to come right away. We didn’t know what to expect, but certainly nothing like what we found when we entered the hospital.
Dr. Kevin Scanlon told us about Philip’s condition saying he was in a deep, deep coma. They were baffled about what had happened to him. We explained what we knew or suspected because the police had found his car and it looked like some type of activity had gone on in the trunk. We told the doctor that we believed Philip had been placed in the trunk. It was determined that the car had been driven approximately 150 miles during the afternoon before the police stopped it in Maitland, FL with 3 teens inside – 2 males and 1 female.
Dr. Scanlon believes Philip suffered a heatstroke from being in the trunk of his car where the temperature reached 130-135 degrees. He said Philip had respiratory failure, liver failure, renal failure, cerebral edema, acute pancreatitis, anoxic brain damage, seizures, major blood loss, gastritis with GI bleed and on and on he went. This was so unreal. We were devastated.
We knew it must be bad as we walked into ICU and saw tears in the eyes of the nurses. Some of the nurses had teenage children and later told us it could have been their child. We were not prepared for what we saw when we walked into Philip’s room. He looked dead lying there with tubes everywhere. Blood was pouring out of his mouth and nose. The nurses were constantly changing the towel that was under his head because it was completely covered in blood.
During his stay at CFRH, Philip had over 30 units of blood transfusions. He began coming out of his coma around 12:30 am on August 1, 1993. It took several days for him to completely wake up. He could not talk, sit up, walk, or do anything for himself. When we had gone in there that night to tell him goodnight we did not expect him to live through the night because we had signed papers around 1:00 pm on July 31, 1993, to have his life support system discontinued. Signing those papers was the hardest thing we ever did.
The doctors told us he would die but it might take several hours, and that he would probably have a heart attack. Philip had signed a Living Will many years before, stating he did not want to be kept alive by machines if he were ever in such a situation. As we were about to leave his room I leaned over and gave Philip a hug and said, “Philip, you need to get better so you can give me a hug.” I felt a movement as Philip lifted his arm to give me a hug. I was shocked and couldn’t believe what was happening! I asked for another hug just to make sure it was real, and he hugged me again.
His dad also got a hug. I wanted to call everybody and shout it from the rooftops that Philip was coming out of his coma, but Jim wanted to keep it quiet for now. We did tell the nurses and they had to have hugs too! News soon spread throughout the hospital, but his doctors were skeptical. At one time we had planned Philip’s funeral and now they were telling us to find a nursing home for him. We knew we were going to someday bring our son home!
After spending 23 days at CFRH, Philip was transferred to Florida Hospital Rehabilitation in Orlando, FL, for therapy on August 9, 1993. He had to relearn everything all over again. He finally spoke about two months after the kidnapping. He was allowed to come home for short visits, and finally discharged from the hospital on October 1, 1993. (He spent a total of 75 days in hospitals.) He had out-patient therapy until February of 1994, at the Wellness Center, then continued therapy for a while at Health South.
In October 1994, Philip was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia – possibly as a result of taking Dilantin, a drug to control seizures. He was hospitalized for 11 days in the ICU at Florida Hospital.
Philip graduated from Heritage Preparatory School in Orlando on May 21, 1995 against all odds. He also attended Orange County Vo-Tech. He started working part-time at Blockbuster Video in September of 1996. He began driving a car in 1998 and is doing well.
Update on the perpetrators who kidnapped Philip:
The two male teens, who asked for the ride were found guilty of attempted first degree murder, armed kidnapping, and armed robbery. They are serving life in prison without parole. The 13 year old girl they picked up along the way testified against her boyfriend and cousin. She was given community service and sent to New York to live with her mother.
(Parents of victim: Jim and Eve Chandler)