- 2016 Elections
- 2016 Lunch Debates
- Special Reports
- Maps & Data
- Dear Abby
- Games & Puzzles
- Events & Exhibits
- Food & Drink
- Arts & Music
- Movies & TV
New London - Angela Bogart spent the afternoon of Feb. 20, 2003, styling and coloring the hair of her mother and sister, a fun mother-daughter day.
On what was normally a busy day for the salon that Bogart worked at, her mother, Jude Henault, then 37, and her sister, had walked in. Eerily, no one else came in to the salon.
"It was like we were supposed to have that time together," Bogart said earlier this month.
It was the last time she would see her mother, who was one of the 100 people who died in a fire during a concert in a Rhode Island nightclub that night.
"It was questionable if she was even going that night, then I called her when I got out of work and she said she was going and asked if I wanted to come," Bogart said. "I told her it wasn't really my thing."
She woke up to hear the news of the fire on the radio but was confused at first because radio reports said it was a Great White concert but remembered her mother telling her she was going to see White Snake.
"She had been on vacation from work that week and was supposed to be back at work Friday morning. I called and she wasn't there," Bogart said.
"I finally put it all together and realized that she was at that concert and that's when all chaos went loose. Deaths were rising and we couldn't find her."
Her mother's boyfriend, Samuel Miceli, 37, of Lisbon, also died in the fire.
For four days in Rhode Island she pinned a picture of her mother on her shirt so that when Red Cross disaster personnel walked through groups of distraught family members the faces of the missing looked back at them. They pulled aside those whose family members' matched the remains that had been found.
"It was a nightmare. It was so surreal. I didn't get any sleep for the four days while I was waiting. I had to get dental records and a police officer had to pick them up from my house because they were considered evidence. It was just..." she said.
The bodies of Henault and Miceli were identified within hours of each other.
"The fact that she dies in something like this, I just don't get how it could have been in her cards. My mom went through a lot of stuff in her life and she really came out on top. She went to have a good time with her boyfriend and to jam out to an '80s band and have a good time. And she died."
Bogart said she doesn't harbor any anger over the tragedy, but she feels cheated. Cheated out of a mom, cheated out of a best friend.
Closure comes gradually
Over the last 10 years, Bogart has passed through most of her 20s, been married and divorced, had a child, celebrated birthdays, loved and lost. She'll turn 30 in July. Her sister, Rachael Henault, is 22, and her brother, Andrew, is 20. They live in Griswold.
"It's been years of little door closures. You had the four days where you wait to find out if your loved one was among the 100 that were killed. You did the funeral. Then the trials. Then the jail time and settlements," she said. "Then the nightclub fire in Brazil where 200 people died and they show the burning building and then the burning building in Rhode Island, and you wonder, 'Am I ever going to get closure?' No, I'm not."
America's fourth-deadliest nightclub fire will always be compared to something.
There were years of back and forth calls with lawyers over the settlement, which Bogart won't discuss except to say the amount of "blood money" she received was enough to take care of her daughter, pay for day care three times a week and maintain their standard of living. She squirreled some away in savings, too.
On April 20, Sharlee will celebrate her second birthday.
"I have this beautiful little baby that my mom would completely adore, but she doesn't have a grandmother. Her father's mother isn't around. It's just the milestones in life that make you think it would be a whole lot better if my mom was around," Bogart said.
Hanging above her crib in the corner of her purple, teal and green-themed room, there's a picture of Henault, "so she's always watching over her," Bogart said.
A month after Sharlee's birth was Mother's Day, the first Mother's Day that Bogart said "wasn't hard."
Mom, daughter drew closer
Jude Henault had her first of three children at 17 years old. Bogart lived with her grandparents until she was 6.
"She was around, she was a teen mom. We did things together but she did what she needed to do," Bogart said.
Bogart describes Miceli as "an awesome guy."
Bogart admits her teenage years weren't so kind to the mother-daughter pair but one life-changing event turned what was a struggling relationship into one that provided three more meaningful years.
On Nov. 4, 2000, the same day as Jude Henault's birthday, Angela Bogart's best friend committed suicide.
"I wanted to call my mom but I couldn't because I was crying. From that day on, we never fought again. It was as if we had been best friends forever, our relationship just blossomed from that day, she got it because she's a mom," Bogart said. "It was just one of those things, like what happened in Newtown. I didn't know any of those poor kids, but I left my work and drove to Sharlee's day care just to give her a hug. It destroyed me."
Bogart said that since she's become a mother herself, she better understands what she went through with her mother.
"You never understand until you become a mom. She always told me that. Looking back, maybe she was right at the time but when I had my daughter it all made perfect sense," Bogart said.
When she moved in with Miceli, Henault became interested in gardening even though she was allergic to flowers, became an "awesome cook" and was always taking on a new hobby. She had an unfinished, brightly colored, jungle-themed tattoo on her shoulder - something Miceli's brother, Tim, was working on.
Henault also was quick to laugh.
A few weeks before she died, Henault called her daughter, laughing so hard that Bogart thought she was crying.
"She had to hand the phone to my sister," Bogart said, "because she was laughing so hard."
"She told me that mom drove away with the gas pump still in the tank, and mom was hysterical and couldn't stop laughing," Bogart said. "I think about it every time I get gas now. That's just the kind of person she was. Laughing about everything, always finding the humor in life."