On Oct. 17, Nick Sears' battle with brain cancer made Seattle Weekly's cover. But Sears didn't get a chance to look at that issue at the time, as he was locked up in a Snohomish County juvenile detention facility.
Life has been increasingly difficult of late for Sears, whose family moved to Lynnwood four months ago. On the afternoon of Sept. 24, Lynnwood police were called to a city fire station, where they found a juvenile wearing a suit and covered in mud. It was Sears.
According to police, Sears said he "didn't want to be here anymore." The responding officer described him as articulate and eerily calm. Sears was taken to Stevens Hospital for a mental health evaluation. The officer then went to Sears' home and found the place trashed: Appliances were smashed, light fixtures and windows were broken, and water ran from a faucet.
Sears' mother, Jonae Cachero, told police her son had wanted to meet a girl he'd been corresponding with online. Before she would allow it, however, she called the girl's parents to discuss her son's medical condition. Sears was upset, and she took her other son to the store for a while to let Nick calm down. That's when he did an estimated $15,000 in damage to the house before wandering to the nearby fire station. Sears was declared mentally fit for release by a mental health professional at Stevens, charged with felony first-degree malicious mischief, and booked at the Denny Youth Center. (He's since pleaded guilty and received a deferred disposition, wherein the case against Sears will be dismissed if he complies with the terms of his probation.)
This isn't the first time Sears has been in trouble with the law. While spending the better part of a year with Sears and his family, Bianca Giaever, the teenage author of the aforementioned cover story, learned that he had set fires at Mercer Middle School.
Sears was released from the detention center Oct. 19. He called the Weekly offices a few days later from a Shorewood teen shelter called Teen Hope, which is situated in a residential neighborhood off Aurora Avenue North.
A staff worker at the shelter confirms that Sears spent one night there. While the shelter gives teens a place to get a meal, clean up, and sleep, the staffer says it isn't equipped to deal with his kind of physical illness or the violent mood swings that Nick has. His presence put people at risk, she claims, echoing Cachero, who says the location of her son's tumor can alter his personality at times.
On Oct. 24, Sears was taken to Children's Hospital in Seattle, where he remains. Here, he is receiving both mental and physical care, though he stopped receiving chemo before the incident in September, switching to a naturopathic medication regimen instead. Cachero says he continued taking the medication in the detention center until it ran out. She says she offered to pick up more, but he refused. "He hasn't been on anything" since then, she says.
Cachero hasn't been in contact with her son since he was admitted to Children's. "He doesn't want to speak to me," she says, noting that she relies instead on updates from hospital staff. "It's a really sad story."