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The trumpet was his life, but music may have led to his brutal death

In life, Scott Sessions was known for his love of music. 

But after the beloved Colorado musician’s horrific murder nearly four years ago, the fate of his instrument — a Yamaha trumpet — remained unclear.

Now, there are plans for Sessions’ horn to be memorialized more than 500 miles away from his Colorado home, in the Kansas living room of his half-sister, Allison Weldon. Sessions’ father gave Weldon the instrument in September.  

“He loved that trumpet,” Allison Weldon, 47, told NBC News. “It was his life. I just want it to be respected.”

For more on Scott Sessions’ death, watch “The Last Weekend” on “Dateline” at 10 ET/9 CT tonight.

Weldon, who didn’t know she had an older brother until she was in her mid-teens, later developed a special bond with Sessions. But she described having a connection with him long before they’d met.

When she was younger, Weldon said, she would blurt out that she had a brother — even though the only sibling she knew of was her sister. Then, when she was 15, her mother delivered the news: She had a brother whom she’d given up for adoption years before.

Her mother was young at the time of the birth, Weldon said, and the child’s father — a musician — had disappeared. She came from a family of strict Mormons, Weldon added, and “you didn’t come home pregnant. She knew she couldn’t provide a life for him.”

Instant connection

Sessions’ adoption was open, meaning he could have a relationship with his biological family, and Weldon’s mother said her half-sibling wanted to contact them.

“Then, I got a call from Scott,” Weldon told NBC’s “Dateline.” “And he said, ‘Hey, sis, I guess I’m your brother.’”

“We just automatically clicked,” she said.

Although they saw each other in person only a handful of times, Weldon said, they regularly talked on the phone or messaged each other, bonding over their love of cats and a band whose members dress as mummies or commiserating over their failed relationships. And she marveled at how similar they were.

“He’d sing on the phone to me or take pictures of himself making funny faces in the mirror,” she said. “We’d just start laughing. We found a way to calm each other down when it seemed like the rest of the world didn’t understand.”

Music as a way of life

Sessions lived in Greeley, a city of roughly 109,000 north of Denver, and he played in the horn sections of two local bands — an Elvis Presley cover group, George Gray and the Elvis Experience, and a “high-energy” rhythm and blues act, The Movers & Shakers. Weldon never saw Sessions perform live, but they often discussed his musical pursuits, and she watched videos of his performances.

“It didn’t matter if Scott was sad or happy or depressed, when he played that trumpet, it was a whole other thing,” she said. “He just was full of life. Down to his feet, fingertips, I mean, he was just full of life.”

Scott Sessions with his trumpet.Dateline

Jazz, rock ’n’ roll and rhythm and blues were Sessions’ favorites, his bandmates said. George Gray, the leader of the Elvis Experience, said that even though the group’s music was largely scripted, there was considerable room for the horn section to improvise.

“Scott added that,” Gray told “Dateline.”

Eddie Gavaldon, a saxophonist who played for years with Sessions in The Movers & Shakers, described him as a talented musician with a remarkable memory and an ear that could easily discern the key elements of a song. 

“We’d walk into a club and I’d say: ‘Scott, hear that song? What key is that in?’” Gavaldon recalled. “This guy could figure it out. He’d say in the note of C or whatever. I mean, to have that innate ability is pretty special.”   

murder victim
Scott Sessions holds his trumpet.Dateline

To earn a living, Sessions painted houses. But his dream was to earn enough money from his music to quit the painting business, said Gavaldon, who also works as a criminal defense lawyer.

There were signs of progress in that pursuit: In 2019, the year before his death, the Colorado Blues Society selected The Movers & Shakers’ horn section — which included Sessions and Gavaldon, who played under the stage name Eddie Silk — for its member choice awards.

In January 2020, the month before Sessions was killed, the band made it to the semifinals at the International Blues Competition in Memphis, Tennessee, a sprawling multiday event featuring acts from around the world.

“That man did pretty damn well,” Sessions’ father, Stanley Sessions, told “Dateline.” “He was flying high.”

A brutal end

In a cruel twist of irony, Sessions’ music created the circumstances that led to his killing on Feb. 8, 2020, shortly after his return from Memphis: After he’d started dating a woman who’d seen him perform, authorities said, the woman’s ex-boyfriend lured him to her home in a brutal killing that authorities believe was driven by jealousy.

The former boyfriend, Kevin Eastman, later killed the woman, Heather Frank. Eastman denied the charges but was found guilty of killing both Sessions and Frank at a trial last year. 

He was sentenced to two life terms in prison.

To Gray, the killing was beyond comprehension. But the outpouring of sympathy that followed offered a measure of support.

“My cellphone would not stop ringing,” he said. “The studio line would not stop ringing. People were coming by the studio, offering their condolences, giving me big hugs, cards and flowers, on-air dedications.”

“I can’t tell you how many cards I got that weren’t signed by anybody saying, ‘I’m so sorry for your loss,'” he added. “‘He’s in heaven, just know he’s in heaven.'”

A home for the horn 

Stanley Sessions, 83, said that in the years that followed his son’s murder, he wasn’t sure what to do with the horn. No one had expressed interest in it, he said, and besides possibly donating it, he didn’t have much of a plan. 

Earlier this year, Weldon learned of its potential fate and dialed Stanley Sessions.

“I don’t want it to go to someone that doesn’t respect it,” she recalled telling him. “Can you promise me it’ll stay in the family? He said: ‘I can definitely make that promise. Do you want it?’”

Weldon recalled saying that she didn’t think she deserved it and that that wasn’t why she’d reached out to him.

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