An Oregon woman searching for the son she gave up for adoption 45 years ago was met with heartbreak when she learned he died nearly 25 years ago.
Carol King-Eckersley, 65, began looking for her son after her husband’s death in 2012 only to learn he died with 270 others in the 1988 bombing of Pan-Am flight 103.
"270 people died in that tragedy and one of those happened to be the only child I ever had. And I didn't even know it until last April," King-Eckersley told BBC News. "So it became a kind of double tragedy. I found him and I lost him on the same day."
King-Eckersley knew the name of the boy she gave up when she was just 19, but she didn’t interfere in his life, just as she promised. The daughter of a high school principal, she gave up her baby to save her father’s reputation, not her own.
"I'm just starting to get to know him," she said. "In a way I'm going backwards because the getting to know him makes it sharper, makes the regret deeper."
An internet search of Kenneth Bissett’s name appeared on the remembrance list for those who died in the bombing. He was student at Cornel University who was participating in a study-abroad program in London. He was due to fly home days earlier, but decided to stay in London a little longer to celebrate his 21st birthday with friends.
On Dec. 21, 1988, the transatlantic flight from London’s Heathrow Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City exploded, killing 243 passengers, 16 crew, and another 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland.
"I'm still in the semi-numb part after you lose a loved one," said King-Eckersley. "Even though I didn't have him with me physically he was always in my heart. I thought of him pretty much every day."
She said she can’t imagine how devastated his adopted parents, Florence and John, must have felt.
"I saw a baby picture for the first time the other day,” she said. “I had never seen him except for wrapped up in a yellow blanket on the day we left hospital and the attorney was taking him to his new parents."
"There was always the hope and dream that some day there would come a knock at the door and I would open it and there would be this tall handsome gentleman saying, 'Hi, I guess you are my mom'," she said. "When I saw that on my computer it was like somebody had turned out a light because that hope was gone."
While Libya took responsibility for the bombing in 2003, the motive is unclear. It is generally believed it was retaliation for a Navy warship, which shot down an Iranian passenger airplane when it mistook it for an F-14 fighter.
Pan Am flight 103 change airport security forever. The bomb, which was inside a Samsonite suitcase, was put on the plane by Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, head of security for Libyan Arab Airlines and an alleged intelligence officer. He was convicted of 270 counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison in Scotland. He was released in 2012 after he was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer and given three months to live.
Al-Megrahi returned to Libya and lived another two years and nine months.