The Jonathan Sellers & Charlie Keever Outdoor Education Center opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, November 26, at the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, located on the north end of 13th Street along Imperial Beach’s Bayshore Bikeway. I.B. mayor Jim Janney, San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders, and county supervisor Greg Cox (who helped get the $175,000 needed to build the activity center) were in attendance.
The education center honors the memory of two local boys who were abducted and murdered almost 20 years ago.
Milena Sellers-Phillips, Jonathan Sellers’s mother, said the park was “Beautiful, better than I imagined. This memorializes their life. My kids, my grandkids can come here and not feel sad but feel happy." Maria Keever, Charlie’s mother, was also at the ceremony.
Climbing rocks, wildlife viewing telescopes, and a curved seating area surround the floor of the activity center, which is in the shape of a spiraling nautilus shell, 30 feet wide, with stones and small pictures of the boys embedded into a mosaic tiling by the mothers.
Glowing tiles added as an accent were placed by artist Amanda Conahan to guide the way through the story of the boys and symbolically light their way. “The blue squares,” as Sellers-Phillips called them, “glow in the dark like angels. A fitting way to memorialize the boys who liked going on adventures. This is an adventure for the boys looking down at us now.”
Jonathan Sellers and Charlie Keever, ages 9 and 13, were abducted and murdered by Scott Thomas Erskine in March of 1993 after he lured them into a homemade fort near the Otay River bed behind the Home Depot on Saturn Boulevard.
The boys were returning home on their bikes after a Saturday outing for hamburgers, candy, and visiting a local pet store. They disappeared along the banks of the Otay River.
Two days later, their bodies were found inside a man-made brush enclosure by the river bank. They had been raped, tortured, and strangled.
Eight years later, DNA connected the killings to Scott Erskine, already serving a 77-year sentence for the brutal rape of a woman that happened six months after the boys were killed. He was sentenced to die in 2004 for killing the boys and is on San Quentin’s death row.