To the father of 21-year-old Alex Bautista, a former student at Spanish Springs High School who killed himself in October, there are a number of questions and no concrete answers.
“How do they get to this point?” Bautista’s father, Nikos Theologitis, asked. “I’m a strong believer nothing is worth taking your life.”
The most puzzling part to Theologitis is his son always agreed with that philosophy.
“He wasn’t the type to be depressed and I could never see him as a wimp that he would take his own life,” he said. “There had to be something strong there to make him do this. He had a son that he loved and a woman that he loved.”
That “something strong,” Theologitis believes, was a combination of things, which could have included mental illness coupled with his son’s involvement with a group that calls itself “The Illuminati.”
Theologitis said he does not know how long his son was mixed up with the group, but he believes Bautista joined on the Internet and began experiencing problems after that.
“As a parent, you know these things after,” he said. “Alex didn’t really talk about it. He kept those things inside.”
The specific Illuminati group Bautista was involved with could not be identified, as there are a number of secret societies that call themselves the Illuminati, or “enlightened ones.” Theologitis said the group his son was associated with projects a lot of negative imagery and uses mind control techniques and possibly devil worship as a way to gain power and money.
Theologitis said the Illuminati he is referring to is a society that “supposedly runs the world” from behind the scenes.
“They get kids to believe if they do something bad they will become famous,” Theologitis said. “It is a big attraction because a lot of musicians are involved.”
The Sparks Tribune could not confirm the existence of the group. The FBI refused to comment on any group under investigation, and the Sparks Police Department said they have never encountered such a group.
“I have no idea what that is,” SPD spokesman Rocky Triplett said.
Exit the light
At the time of Bautista’s death, he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Theologitis said the symptoms developed rapidly and his son went from being normal to dead in a period of about one month.
“Is it (the Illuminati) the only reason (Alex committed suicide)?” Theologitis asked. “We know that there was a chemical imbalance in his brain, and it is a whole culmination of things, but I would say it had a big, big effect.”
Bautista began experiencing visual and auditory hallucinations, Theologitis said, subsequent to becoming a part of the Illuminati.
When asked if his son was taking any illegal drugs, Theologitis said, “Not that I know of.”
The Medical Examiner and Coroner’s Office of Washoe County could not confirm or deny whether any drugs were found in Bautista’s system at the time of his death, but did confirm a toxicology exam is pending.
Theologitis said he and his son were very close, and when Bautista began experiencing hallucinations, he went to his dad for help.
“He said, ‘Dad, something is not right,’ ” Theologitis said. “I said, ‘Let’s talk, son.’ I told him we would spend more time together and I would do whatever I could to help.”
Bautista told his father he was hearing voices telling him to kill his wife and 1-year-old son, and he was scared he might hurt them.
“Two or three days later he was feeling the same way, so his wife took him to a hospital,” he said. “They automatically admitted him and kept him there because he was hearing voices.”
Several medications were prescribed to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia, Theologitis said.
“They gave him medications and he stopped hearing the voices,” Theologitis said, but the light in his son’s eyes was gone.
“The eyes is the window to the soul,” he said. “There was no light. It was like the blinds were down.”
Theologitis also noticed a change in his son’s behavior. Instead of being the friendly and talkative Alex everyone knew and loved, he withdrew, Theologitis said.
“He didn’t speak as much,” Theologitis said. “It was like I had to drag things out of him.”
A beautiful soul
“Alex wanted to be just like his dad,” Theologitis said. “He admired me, he loved me, and he was a beautiful person.”
Theologitis owns and operates Niko’s Greek Kitchen located in the West Street Market in downtown Reno.
“I’ve known this family for years and they are wonderful people,” Jakki Ford said.
Ford said she knew Bautista for most of his life, as she has a son who is the same age.
Theologitis treats every customer who comes through the door like an old friend, often helping those in need and giving out plenty of hugs.
“My son was the same way,” Theologitis said. “He would walk up to people in here (the family restaurant) and hug people. He wanted to find the best way to make life beautiful every day.”
According to his dad, Bautista was generous and had many friends.
“After his death, I found out he had a bunch of friends who owed him money,” he said. “He would loan them $100 here or $50 there. He’d say, ‘That person owes me money, but I don’t care.’”
Theologitis said his son always made sure his family members knew he loved them.
“How many 21-year-olds do you know who say, ‘I love you, dad,’ at the end of every conversation?” Theologitis asked. “Not very many. He always said, ‘I love you.’ ”
The darkest of days
The day before Bautista died, he called his father and asked to spend some time with him. The two had dinner together, talked and played pool. Theologitis said Bautista seemed to be doing better.
“I think he probably started to feel better and stopped taking his medication,” Theologitis said.
The morning of Oct. 28, Bautista shot himself in the head in the upstairs of his home while his wife, sister-in-law and son slept.
Theologitis said Bautista’s wife, Ana, woke up when she heard the gunshot, but was not sure what it was.
Ana went upstairs and found her husband, still alive, in the closet.
“She picked him up and said whatever she said to him, probably something like, ‘Why, Alex?’ or ‘Oh, God, please don’t take him,’” Theologitis said, adding that his son died on the way to the hospital.
“All I can think is he started hearing the voices again telling him to kill his wife and son, and said ‘You can’t have them, you’re taking me first,’” Theologitis said. “You know your kid, you know?”
Theologitis said his family has experienced an overwhelming outpouring of love and support from the community.
After Bautista’s death, the entire Riverwalk District, which surrounds Niko’s Greek Kitchen, gathered to support the family in their time of mourning. Many musicians, including Jorrell Torres (known by the stage name “VS”), Michelle Pappas, Eric Anderson, Tree Woods and Bautista’s sister, Athena Ashley, performed at Se7en to raise money to cover funeral costs.
Bautista’s father, mother Jacqui and son — also named Nikos — and a number of other family members greeted guests with smiles, hugs and a few tears.
Although it is impossible to know what was going through Bautista’s mind at the time of his death, his father will continue to search for answers. While he admits he might just be a dad who is trying to make sense of a bad situation, he said he wants to warn parents and children about getting involved with groups such as the Illuminati.
“If someone is thinking about doing it, don’t,” Theologitis said.