Before taking her own life, Nicole Porter wrote two last letters to her family. "Dear Mom and Dad, I love you guys so much," one began. But her parents no longer have the original letters, just digital copies—because Chicago police accidentally destroyed them. Police kept the suicide notes as evidence in Nicole's death investigation after she took a lethal dose of insulin on Feb. 27, 2015, and the detective who emailed her parents copies of the notes "said once the investigation was complete, that they would be released to us," Nicole's mom Terry tells CBS Chicago. But, even after Nicole's death was officially ruled a suicide in May 2015, the notes never arrived. In August, after asking the detective about them, he said that the case wasn't closed and they couldn't be released.
In April of this year, he told the family he had the final report on Nicole's death and would release the notes, but when her parents went to pick them up, they found the letters had been destroyed. "I almost hit the floor. I was devastated," Terry tells the Washington Post. "Those letters were ... meant for her sister, and for me and her dad." CPD has apologized for what it's calling an administrative error, but that's little comfort to the Porters. "It was the last 'I love you' she ever said to us. It's the last physical thing she ever left for us," Terry tells CBS. "If I could just hold them in my hand, it would feel like I could hold a part of her," she adds to the Post. She's hoping CPD will review its evidence policies so that no other family endures the same thing, and the department says it has put a new safeguard in place to ensure just that. (This obituary tells the painful truth of a sister's depression.)