A Bible verse hung visible to customers: “I have loved you with an everlasting love

Russell was active in Campus Crusade for Christ, an evangelical student group, and volunteered, mentoring high schoolers

“You bring such humor and unpredictability to our lives,” reads his family’s yearbook dedication. “As you write the rest of this story, always remember you are loved.”

Recruited to play football at North Dakota’s Valley City State University, an hour outside of Fargo, Russell hoped to emulate Dallas Clark, a college All-American who would star for the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. But Russell’s athletic chops didn’t translate to the college game. In Wasilla, his exploits regularly made the pages of the Frontiersman. But in Valley City he redshirted his freshman year; in 2009 he traveled with the team, but the only public record of game action came against Concordia, when he gained three yards. His college coach Dennis McCulloch remembers Russell as “a no-issue guy on our team,” but says he left the team after that season. “My guess, because he wasn’t playing a lot.”

Russell landed in Coos Bay, a small timber town on the Oregon coast. He enrolled in Southwestern Oregon Community College, a two-year school with a green, residential campus that attracts many students from the Pacific Rim. God took up space left over by football.

“If you look at his picture, he looks like a smiling teddy bear kind of guy. And he was,” says Pete Schaefers, who was Campus Crusade’s adult adviser. “You could count on him.” Schaefers recalls joining Russell to help clean the trash out of a young couple’s messy garage – “shlucking out the refuse, throwing it into a trailer.” Dirty work didn’t phase Russell. “He was super good-natured, always,” Schaefers recalls. “I never saw fitness dating app him when he wasn’t.”

At Campus Crusade meetings, Russell met Hannah, his future wife, who studied in the school’s culinary program. “They went from sitting across the table to sitting next to each other,” Schaefers recalls. Beebo and Hannah were . In wedding pictures, he wore a red tie and a tuxedo vest, she wore a strapless white gown. Beebo smirked as if stoned on his own good fortune.

A newspaper profile described Hannah as the perfectionist master baker; Beebo was cast as the mischievous apprentice who experimented with “wild” recipes. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt.”

To Schaefers, who’d often pop in for a bite and linger to chat, “both of them just seemed stellar.” But by the end of 2014, Beebo and Hannah had wearied of the isolation of Coos Bay, a six-and-a-half-hour drive from Seattle. To Russell’s chagrin, they chose suburban Sumner, Washington, over Wasilla. “Failing to convince Hannah of Alaska’s greatness,” Russell later wrote, “we settled on Sumner because of its close proximity to her family.” They sold the bakery that fall, alerting customers to “stop in for some Christmas cookies and a last hurrah.”

Two months after they wed, the Russells opened Hannah Marie’s Artisan Breads and Pastries, offering biscotti, maple-pecan scones, and pumpkin muffins

Russell’s voice cracked out on an air-traffic recording about 10 minutes into his flight. He sounded strong, jocular, clear. But there was a buzzy undercurrent. A mix of adrenaline and panic. Russell was speaking to an air-traffic controller, whom the FBI identifies as Andrew Drury, at the Seattle Terminal Radar Approach Control, an FAA facility near SeaTac. The controller’s question doesn’t come through in the air-traffic recording, but Russell laughed it off: “Man, I’m a ground-service agent! I don’t know what that is.”

Russell told the controller his objective with the Q400 was to “start it up [and] get it to go – a couple of hours, I guess.” But he confessed a disturbing lack of an end game. “Um, yeah, I wouldn’t know how to land it. I wasn’t really planning on landing it,” he said. “I just kinda wanna do a couple maneuvers – see what it can do before I put her down, ya know?”

Related Article